THE GAGGING OF GOD – D.A. Carson (1996)

The Gagging of God seeks  to equip Christians to be intelligent, culturally sensitive, and to remain faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  In general the book argues that philosophical pluralism (also coined religious pluralism) may be the most dangerous threat to the gospel since the rise of the Gnostic heresy.  Thus, the central purpose of this 569 page tome is to think through how Christians should responsibly confront contemporary philosophical pluralism.

The author lays the foundation at the beginning of the book by distinguishing between empirical, cherished and philosophical pluralism.  One the chief arguments is that confessional Christianity cannot wholly embrace either modernity or postmodernity, yet it must learn lessons from both; it must vigorously oppose many features of philosophical pluralism, without retreating into modernism.

The book is divided into four parts.  Part one discusses hermeneutical issues that have tremendous bearing on the whole postmodern discussion.  Indeed, “all the challenges” writes Dr. Carson, “arising from postmodernism and philosophical pluralism are connected in some way with hermeneutics, how we interpret things.”  He proceeds to specifically discuss the various approaches of deconstruction and it’s influence even among evangelical churches.

Part two details religious pluralism which insists that all assertions of worldview and outlook that make exclusive truth claims are necessarily wrong.  The author’s primary concern in this section is communicating that a grasp of the Bible’s plot line is of utmost importance.  It is crucial for believers who seek to share the gospel to understand the puzzle pieces that form the mosaic of redemptive history.  The author, further argues that communicating the gospel must be bold, yet must be communicated in a spirit of humility.

Part three answers the question, “How can Christians live in a pluralistic culture?”  Aspects of government, religious freedom, law, education, economics and ethics are discussed with appropriate Christian responses to the dilemma that is confronted in culture.

Part four deals with pluralism in the evangelical camp.  Most interesting,  is the author’s discussion of communicating the gospel when the church itself is immersed in pluralistic thinking.  Again, Dr. Carson stresses the importance of starting from the beginning and nailing down the turning points in redemptive history in order to have maximum evangelistic success.  Further, he stresses the primacy of biblical theology and helpfully adds, “The good news of Jesus Christ is virtually incoherent unless it is securely set into a biblical worldview . . . A world both biblically illiterate and sold out to philosophical pluralism demands that our proclamation of the gospel be a subset of biblical theology.”

The Gagging of God is a phenomenal book.  The author presents a clear and scholarly look at pluralism and how the Church can effectively evangelize in a culture that has largely given up on absolutes and biblical truth.  The author writes with precision and wit and stimulates readers to pursue this subject further.

Dr. Carson writes, “Postmodernism defines itself most clearly in terms of what it isn’t – and that inevitably means a critique of the past.  It has nowhere to go, for it has no vision of a transcendent reality pulling us onward.”  Here lies the great opportunity for Christians committed to the evangelistic endeavor, namely, to express truth revealed in Scripture and communicating the “God who is there and who is not silent” with bold conviction and love.

Carson’s work is probably not for everyone.  But if you love apologetics and worldview issues, it will be a key resource on your book shelf and will influence and encourage you in countless ways.

5 stars

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