This year I have been teaching my kids the game of baseball. When one stops to consider, there are a lot of rules in this game: three outs, nine innings, four balls, fly outs, tag outs, force outs, relief pitchers, pitch hitters, singles, doubles, triples, home runs, infield fly rule, ad infinitum.
For years I have also been teaching my kids about a much more important subject, namely, the Bible. The Bible is a little bit like baseball. Again consider, there is an awful lot of information in the Book! Commandments and covenants, warnings and worship, promises and parables, sacrifices and substitution, prophets and predestination, tabernacles and temples. You get the idea. A little bit intimidating for a rookie Bible reader.
D.A. Carson invites readers to “Spring Training” in his newest book, The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story. He assumes that many readers will “step up to the plate” with little or no knowledge of the Bible. So unlike most of Carson’s other books, this little gem is designed specifically for new believers and folks who have never been to the “ball park”; folks who are new to the content of the Bible.
Carson begins where the Bible begins – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” His first pitch may be difficult for postmodern people to handle. God made everything. He is the Creator. He is the first cause. In many ways, the first chapter is one of the most (or perhaps the most important) chapter in the book. Carson carefully and gently refutes evolutionary theory. And he shares some simple and undeniable truths about God:
- God simply is
- God made everything that is non-God
- There is only one of him
- God is a talking God
- Everything God makes is good – very good
- God comes to an end of his creative works, and he rests
- The creation proclaims his greatness and his glory
Carson continues by contrasting the Creator with the creature:
- We are made in the image of God
- We were made male and female
- The man and his wife were innocent
The author clearly delineates the Creator-creator distinction and continues to articulate a biblical anthropology in chapter two. Man has fallen and has rebelled against a good God. He makes it clear that sin is more than merely “breaking rules.” Carson writes, “What is at stake here is something deeper, bigger, sadder, uglier, more heinous. It is a revolution. It makes me god and thus de-gods God.”
Sinful man has been separated from God. Therefore his greatest need is reconciliation and forgiveness. We need someone to save us from our sins. The rest of the book unfolds how God saves sinful people. Carson skillfully weaves his way through Scripture to demonstrate how God keeps his promise in Genesis 3 and Genesis 12. The chapter titles give a general idea of the book’s flow:
- The God Who Made Everything
- The God Who Does Not Wipe Out Rebels
- The God Who Writes His Own Agreements
- The God Who Legislates
- The God Who Reigns
- The God Who is Unfathomably Wise
- The God Who Becomes a Human Being
- The God Who Grants the New Birth
- The God Who Loves
- The God Who Dies – and Lives Again
- The God Who Declares the Guilty Just
- The God Who Gathers and Transforms His People
- The God Who Is Very Angry
- The God Who Triumphs
This book has many strengths worth discussing. But the chief strength is the author’s ability to present the biblical meta-narrative and make sense of the puzzle pieces that emerge in Scripture. Carson make a compelling case for the Christian worldview and accurately describes the flow of redemptive history.
The God Who is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story is a book that can be utilized at multiple levels. Most importantly, the book should be utilized in personal evangelism and small groups. Video content may be downloaded at http://www.thegospelcoalition.org.
Readers who have never “been to the park” should check out D.A. Carson’s book. It truly is an invitation to the “big game.”