Monday, 25 November 2013


 Reviewed for the British Church Newspaper. 

Title of book: The Difficult Love of God 
Author: D.A. Carson Publisher: IVP 
Publisher’s Address or address where book may be obtained: Norton Street, Nottingham NG7 3HR, England
Year of publication: 2000  This edition: 2010
Number of Pages: 111  Hdbk or pbk: Pbk
Price: £7.99 ISBN: 978-1-84474-427-5

 At first one struggles with the title of this book. How could any Christian find such a fundamental gospel doctrine difficult at all?  Had this well known Trinity Evangelical Divinity School Professor chose the subject of God’s wrath as the object of his evident unease, then we would all understand his concerns. In this short and easily read little book, the Professor seeks to free the doctrine of God’s love from three misconceptions.

First of all, Carson seeks to free it from the modern world perception of love. These views are shaped by the anti God forces either of atheists or New Age gurus.   This was probably the hardest part of the book to read, partly because the modern view of love is so far removed from the Scripture.

Secondly, the author seeks to free God’s love from Christians who may emphasise any one of the five different facets which he lists and briefly expounds to the exclusion of the rest. Thus to keep emphasising (say) God’s electing love in an unbalanced way will inevitably lead to Hyper Calvism.

Thirdly, he desires to free God’s love from being merely theoretical without any practical bearing on the life of the Christian. Carson is evidently not a fan of armchair theologians!

In these pages, Carson lets his Calvinistic hermeneutic loose. He deals with God’s electing love to the church and also how to preach the love of God to a world peopled by elect and reprobates alike. This book grew out of a series of lectures which Carson delivered in various locations around the world. Unfortunately (in my opinion) the verbal style of communication is maintained. However good it sounds when spoken, I feel that it seldom transfers across to the written page.

The book itself is well produced with easy to read print and two indexes. I get the impression that the author used his own translation of the Bible since it is not the AV and the customary acknowledgements that attend the use of modern versions are missing from the usual page. A useful enough primer on this glorious jewel in the gospel crown.

Colin Maxwell. 

Available here in .pdf file


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