Book Review: Scandalous

Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus, D. A. Carson, Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2010.  Paperback, 173 pages, $17.99.

I’ve always enjoyed and been edified by Don Carson’s books.  From his commentary on Matthew to his Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God to his surgical dissection of postmodernism in The Gagging of God to the loving story of his father in Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor, I’ve come to expect excellence from this author.  Recently I had the opportunity to listen to him speak just a couple of blocks from where I live.  He was one of the featured speakers at the Canadian Gospel Coalition Conference.  I heard a man with conviction, intelligence, and a gift to communicate basic gospel truths clearly and effectively.  Shortly afterwards, I received Scandalous.  This book is comprised of five presentations that he made at a conference in Seattle in 2008.  It’s vintage Carson.

The five presentations here are all expositions of Scripture passages having to do with the cross and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  The passages are all found in the New Testament.  As to be expected, three of the expositions are from the gospels (Matthew 27; John 11 and 20), while the other two are drawn from Romans 3:21-26 and Revelation 12.  So, we get teaching from narrative passages, an epistle, and apocalyptic – a holistic picture of what the New Testament teaches about the cross and resurrection of Christ.

There are three valuable features of this little book.  Of course, at the top has to be the faithful teaching that you’ll find from Scripture.  Carson is a seasoned, careful student of the Word of God and that’s evident throughout.  But all of that faithful teaching means little if it can’t be successfully communicated.  Carson knows how.  With fresh, vivid language and timely illustrations and anecdotes, he keeps the reader’s attention throughout.  The last feature that I value in Scandalous is its devotional character.  The author is passionate about his message and his passion contagiously directs the reader’s heart to Christ.  Various excerpts from hymns and poetry (some of which Carson himself has written) contribute nicely to this aspect.  The book makes for excellent devotional reading on a Sunday afternoon.

This introductory explanation to the cross and resurrection of Christ is a treasure.  These are truths that can be easily taken for granted.  Don Carson is dedicated to making sure that we don’t.  Even though I write a lot of reviews I don’t often say this, but I will about Scandalous:  highly recommended!

About Wes Bredenhof

Pastor of the Free Reformed Church, Launceston, Tasmania. View all posts by Wes Bredenhof

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