D.A. Carson on gospel proclamation as an intellectual, truth-conveying exercise

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“I am not for a moment denying that there is an affective element to gospel preaching, or that there is no appeal to the will. Far from it: I insist on both. But the affective element must spring from the play of truth on personality; the appeal to the will must be grounded in content. Gospel proclamation is, in this sense, an intellectual exercise; it is a truth-conveying exercise. There is a battle going on for the minds of men and women; well does the apostle know that in the Spirit-empowered proclamation of the whole counsel of God, men and women escape conformity to this world and are transformed by the renewing of their minds (Rom. 12:2).

American evangelicalism is in desperate need of intellectual and theological input. We have noted that not a little evangelical television is almost empty of content. It is mawkishly sentimental, naively optimistic, frighteningly ignorant, openly manipulative. Let me again insist: I am not arguing for dry intellectualism, for abstract disputation. But entertainment is not enough; emotional appeals based on tear-jerking stories do not change human behavior; subjective experiences cannot substitute for divine revelation; evangelical cliches can never make up for lack of thought. The mentality that thinks in terms of marketing Jesus inevitably moves toward progressive distortion of him; the pursuit of the next emotional round of experience easily disintegrates into an intoxicating substitute for the spirituality of the Word. There is non-negotiable, biblical, intellectual content to be proclaimed. By all means insist that this content be heralded with conviction and compassion; by all means seek the unction of the Spirit; by all means try to think through how to cast this content in ways that engage the modern secularist. But when all the footnotes are in place, my point remains the same: the historic gospel is unavoidably cast as intellectual content that must be taught and proclaimed.”

– D.A. Carson, The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism, p. 507-508

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One thought on “D.A. Carson on gospel proclamation as an intellectual, truth-conveying exercise

  1. Great excerpt from an even better book.

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