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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Whence Matt: D.A. Carson

Andreas Kostenberger has posted a biographical sketch of D.A. Carson a former professor of mine at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. It seems very accurate to me (including some of the less flattering items). I am currently reading Carson's tribute to his father: Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor.

Reading it this morning was a good reminder of the mentoring effect Carson's example and writings have had on me, personally.

Kostenberger's description could be, in many ways, a description of what I've tried to be and do in my "patch" (as Carson would say). No one can or should be "another Carson," but a lot of the principles that drive him (unswerving gospel-centeredness, biblical scholarship driven by a belief in Scripture's inspiration, inerrancy and authority, lucidity and clarity in interpretation and exposition, pastoral passion for the church, etc) are a wonderful example for others. He is one of a select group of Christian leaders who forge a workable (though messy at times) middle-way between fundamentalism and liberalism--those leaders are one of the biggest reason that I carry the label "evangelical."

I remember Carson speaking on Psalm 1 in chapel at Moody Bible Institute, long before I knew who he was. That day, I wrote in my Bible, "Lord, make me a Psalm 1 man." And that's still my prayer.

For those of us who need heroes in the gospel (flawed as all of us may be), I think that Carson is a worthy choice, and I am extremely thankful for him.

[HT: JT]

Note: One of the best one-stop places for listening to lectures and sermons from Carson is this page maintained by Andy Naselli.


D.A. Carson has contributed a great deal to the world of Christian Evangelical Orthodoxy in his writings and thinking. What an honor that must have been to learn under him. Right now my cousin is taking a PhD class under Carson and says that Carson is on a whole different level, but that he goes about teaching in a gracious fashion that is both doctrinally true, but also practically relevant. I have many heros, but being at seminary now I am still waiting to see who my hero might become... it could be Tim Keller or John Piper, but one of my professors John Frame has really been a great personal influence on me. Time will tell. Thanks for sharing!


I think it's a good idea to have heroes (plural). Each one of them will fail us in some ways, so it's good to have a plurality of heroes to look up to and learn from but not idolize. I like the ones on your list!

Pastor Matt,
On the subject of 'heroes', it has been advocated by some to select a departed saint and make them a special life-long project to understand and learn from. I am curious, have you heard this suggestion and, if so, any thoughts you might share?

Thank you for your blog.

Great question, Dave.

Yes, I have heard of that suggestion. I don't have a historical hero that I'm devoted to, though I think we should read biography to be inspired, instructed, and helped to fight chronological snobbery.

If someone wants to pick one central one and has the time to devote, I think that could be profitable. I could see some down-sides, too, especially if they don't also read more broadly. But I'm not against it.

On the subject of Carson, I'm working my way through his protege Andy Naselli's description of Carson's theological method. Very helpful.