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Review: Prophetic from the Center

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Posted by Alison Brewis, 16 Oct 2020

Alison Brewis reviews this collection of sermons by Don Carson on 1 Corinthians 15.

Prophetic From the Center: The Gospel of Jesus Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:1-19
Picture of a book cover with a red background and a dark cross

This slim volume is a written form of sermons given by Don Carson on 1 Cor 15 at the Gospel Coalition Conference. It contains a brief introduction, including the text of 1 Cor 15:1-19, and three further chapters. Carson’s thesis is that too often the gospel is assumed, and peripheral issues define us. His call is to put the gospel of Jesus Christ at the centre, and let it powerfully address all the other issues.

Chapter one summarises the text in eight words: the gospel is Christological, theological, biblical, apostolic, historical, personal, universal, and eschatological. Chapter two unpacks this further by clarifying that the gospel is normally preached, should be received by faith, is disclosed in self-humiliation, is the central confession of the church, and is advancing under the contested reign and inevitable victory of Jesus the king. Chapter three closes the book by highlighting the place of 1 Cor 15 in the book of 1 Corinthians and how the gospel transforms morals, relationships, and ethics.
Carson’s book very powerfully reminds us of the heart of the gospel and its power to transform lives. He particularly emphasises the Christ- and God-centred nature of the gospel, and its firm historical roots. The final chapter helpfully points towards how the gospel might start to answer life questions of high-flying students such as the pressure of grades, and the expectation you will have a rich and full life and be physically attractive, and therefore, begins to suggest how all sorts of issues are addressed.

The shortness and price of the book means it would be great to read with PCC members, and to discuss the mission and heart of the church. However, the use of untransliterated Greek on one page and the number of typos are something to be aware of. Another small niggle for me was the use of pull quotes which I find distracting from the text. But aside from these small issues (which could be rectified in a reprint), this is a heart-warming and helpful book.

Alison Brewis is a vicar's wife and mum of three who lives in Oldham.

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