Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God” as Want to Read:
The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  1,957 ratings  ·  131 reviews
At first thought, understanding the doctrine of the love of God seems simple compared to trying to fathom other doctrines like that of the Trinity or predestination. Especially since the overwhelming majority of those who believe in God view Him as a loving being.

That is precisely what makes this doctrine so difficult. The only aspect of God's character the world still bel
Paperback, 93 pages
Published December 10th 1999 by Crossway Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Desiring God by John PiperMere Christianity by C.S. LewisThe Cross of Christ by John R.W. StottDon't Waste Your Life by John PiperKnowing God by J.I. Packer
Seminarian's Treasure Trove
84 books — 25 voters
American Gods by Neil GaimanAre You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy BlumeTheir Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale HurstonThe God of Small Things by Arundhati RoyThe Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan
774 books — 118 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,957 ratings  ·  131 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God
Jared Wilson
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was my 2nd reading of this little book, and it was even better this time around.
David Sarkies
Oct 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Christians who can handle Don Carson
Recommended to David by: My freind Lochy
Shelves: christian
Don Carson and his difficult doctrines
24 October 2011

I am going to sound very heretical by saying this but I have yet to be impressed by a Don Carson book. Granted, Carson is probably a great theologian, and many people say that they have been greatly encouraged by his books, and when he speaks he probably does have a substantial drawing power (when he came to Melbourne, each of his talks were sold out). Okay, I did found his daily devotionals quite helpful but the other books that I have read
Demetrius Rogers
Carson shows that the word 'love' has semantic range, but I found his way of categorizing texts to be fairly subjective and strongly guided by Reformed presuppositions. To me this was a frustrating read because I take Carson to be a brilliant expositor, but his generalizations and inconsistencies seemed fairly patent. For example, the guiding principle of his book was to nuance the word 'love' (agapao), yet when juxtaposing John 3:16 with 1 John 2:15-17 he failed to do that for the word 'world' ...more
Jan 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent, level-headed reflection upon the God of love as He is revealed in Scripture. We need more theologians like D.A. Carson who can handle the Bible with care, intelligently yet with real feeling, and who are brave enough to hold to the difficult doctrines of word of God. This book will yield many insights for all those who are willing to consider thoughtfully what he has to say.

Carson discusses five different aspects of the love of God:

1) the intra-Trinitarian love of God (that
Jeremiah Whiteman
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the book. Dr. Carson did a good job of making sure the reader was sober in their understanding of God’s love in multiple facets, and defended essential truths of God’s love such as His immutability, wrath, holiness, etc. I’d recommend the book as a good primer to obtaining a foundation for this doctrine.
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
DA Carson is one of the clearest and deepest thinkers in the Reformed evangelical world. In The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God Carson tackles what is perhaps the most difficult issue for Reformed thinkers to grapple with: if the God of the Bible is sovereign, can he really be loving?
Before making his case for what the love of God looks like, Carson grapples with the distortion of the love of God. In Carson’s words, “The love of God has been sanitized, democratized, and above all sentimen
Ryan Bare
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very good reminder of God's love for us, though undeserving. Because it is based off of a lecture series, it is easy to read, while still including deep theological content.
Callum Iles
Jul 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Donald Arthur Carson is a Canadian theologian currently serving as the Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois. He is a remarkable man with the understanding and confidence to tackle the most complex theological issues of our time such as evangelizing to post-moderns and the Emergent Church. The content of The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God is no exception.
The manuscript came from a series of lectures made to the Dallas Theological Seminary in 1998 an
Aaron Ventura
Jan 19, 2019 rated it liked it
What I liked: D.A. Carson articulates well the problems we have when we talk about the love of God. He does a good job of explaining cultural definitions of love over against the Bible's definition of love. There is a real need for preachers to make the necessary qualifications here so that the gospel can be understood.

What I didn't like: I was not satisfied with Carson's attempt to harmonize impassibility with the language of God's emotions in Scripture. I still have many questions about this a
Patrick Mulcahy
Oct 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
There were some things I really liked about this book, in particular how he talked about five aspects of God's love, and the danger of absolutizing any one of them. In some ways I felt like he had things just a bit too well figured out though - as though he had God and God's love and wrath figured out so that it fit his theological viewpoint. I do think what Carson does well in this book is to show that God's love and wrath aren't necessarily incompatible. What I took away from reading this was ...more
Ryan Jankowski
Jul 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology-proper
Though brief, this was a very helpful book. Highly recommended.
Too heady

I found the book hard to follow and thus get into. I was looking for a book to help me understand God's love better, n i think i am more confused.
This book is classic Carson. This is a brief book and is not meant to be a detailed exposition of this doctrine but rather offer doctrinal sketchings.

The book is short, 97 pages. Made up of four chapters: (1) On Distorting the Love of God; (2) God is Love; (3) God's Love and God's Sovereignty; and (4) God's Love and God's Wrath.


Chapter 1

Carson uses three sections to explain why the doctrine of God's love, of all doctrines (!), is a difficult doctrine.

A. Why the Doctrine of the Love of G
Jeffrey Niles
Aug 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Caleb Watson
Apr 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
D.A. Carson is an outstanding exegete, in my opinion, and this study of God’s Love displays this for all to see. In this short, yet remarkably dense volume, Carson does not put forward a unifying theory of God’s love, but rather he embraces the multifaceted nature of this doctrine, as presented to us in scripture.

I found Carson’s analysis of Divine impassibility to be particularly helpful. Carson displays terrific balance in holding to a God who displays appropriate affections, and yet is not
Musings of a Middle-aged Mum
My Growth Group at church has, for this year, been going through Cedarville University's Old Testament Literature course by Dr. Chris Miller. I've really enjoyed going through these lectures each week, and despite having read the Bible many times, there is plenty that I have missed. I recommend this for everybody interested in learning more about the Old Testament. I wish I had seen it when I was a knew Christian, but I equally recommend it for those long in the faith, as there is always more to ...more
Tyler Brown
May 29, 2020 rated it liked it
The good: I love the way Carson writes. This book was originally lectures given at a variety of seminaries, so his vocabulary is not basic, and many parts will over the head of laymen, but Carson has a beautiful way of communicating deep truths with comedy and levity, and then in the next sentence, solemn seriousness and pastoral care. In the first chapter, his reflection on the five ways the love of God can be defined in the Bible is the most helpful contribution. This will make us all better e ...more
Ben House
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A short book that is long on challenging doctrinal thoughts and clarifications on the love of God. It is easy to read right past the title, for it seems like God's love would be one of the easiest of doctrines to grasp. But that truth, which is never separated from other attributes of God, is rich and more powerful than a simple gushy feeling God is often projected as having.
Four chapters growing out of four lectures make up this short book of some 93 pages. Worthy for a quick read, a re-reading
Laurent Dv
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
An excellent book on the love of God. Perfectly short and selective.
It treats the four types of love of God :
1) God's intratrinitarian love (especially between the Father and the Son)
2) God's providential love for Creation
3) God's redemptive love for mankind
4) God's particular love for the elect
5) God's conditional love for those who obey him

It deals him with classic cliché like difference between eros and agape, modern views on God's nature, God's love in relation with his other attributes (so
Jordan Brown
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
God's love is broken down into 5 distinguishable characteristics in this book. The author reminds us that focusing on any one to the exclusion of the others misrepresents who God declares to be in His Word.

Some of the ways the Bible speaks of the love of God:

1. The peculiar love of the Father for the Son, and the Son for the Father
2. God's providential love over all that he has made
3. God's salvific stance toward his fallen world
4. God's particular, effective, selecting love toward his elect
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very thought provoking short, 84 page book that covers a variety of issues related to the love of God. The author, D.A. Carson does what Carson does best by taking on some of the common, unbiblical, but wildly popular views of God's love and clears away all of the false notions to help the reader come to a more accurate understanding of this critical doctrinal issue. It's not an easy read but one that would be certain to stimulate deep thought for any person who dares to tread into the pages.
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
A helpful and thought-provoking analysis of the part love plays in God's character, Carson's careful exegesis and insight provide food for thought in a context where the love of God is taken for granted, set in opposition to any idea of wrath, and caricatured easily. His ideas here could be extended with some synthesis of the doctrine of union with Christ. Most useful is the way he delineates between the love God has for his Church and the love he has for all mankind, such that the gospel is som ...more
Brient Kittrell
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dr. Carson came and spoke at my Church recently, and I was very impressed with his preaching, so I decided to give this little book a try. It was excellent! His discussion of how the wrath of God relates to the love of God is legitimately thrilling. The only reason it is 4 stars instead of 5 stars is due to the length. I read this book basically a page at a time, and it still felt short. There is much more that he could say on the subject, and I wish he had. I will definitely be looking for othe ...more
Allie Trice
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"We have been incalculably privileged not only to be saved by God's love, but to be shown it, to be informed about it, to be let in on the mind if God. God is love; and we are the friends of God."

This was a deep and powerful read, and its 84 pages pack a lunch. Carson explores difficult and divisive issues succinctly, fairly, and perceptively. He writes this knowing that our culture focuses a lot on the love of God without always understanding it. This made me more in awe of God's love and more
Matt Kottman
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, 2019, 2019-top
I should have read this book years ago. It would have helped me understand the love of God in a time when I was wrestling with various aspects of his love (I.e. intra-Trinitarian love,love for the world, and love for the elect). Carson addresses the fact that we water down the word love and lose the nuance and thus lose the power of God’s love. This book isn’t long but it isn’t light reading either. This is a theological book that will need to be read slowly by those who are not used to such wri ...more
Pig Rieke
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
People who love Gods word will love this book. People who have embraced modernism will have problems with it.

The book is most helpful in outlining five categories for love as displayed in scripture: 1) Gods intra-Trinitarian love, 2) Gods providential love, 3) Gods love for all to come to a knowledge of Him through Christ, 4) Gods love for the elect (the Shepard for the sheep, Bridegroom for the bride, Father for His children, etc.), 5) Gods disciplining love for His children.

Great book. Highl
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
A friend loaned this to my daughter and the title intrigued me. Truly, the love of God is difficult to understand. DA Carson does a good job breaking the topic into distinct portions. This made it easier for me to read at a pace that suited my schedule. Those pieces also made it easier for me to understand the concepts. I'd recommend it to anyone wanting to dig deeper into Christian faith-based studies.
Brian Zhang
Jan 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Nice and punchy read. I borrowed a copy and read it through quickly. This book reignited my interest in theology and got me interested in reading more of D. A. Carson. (A Call to Spiritual Reformation and How Long, O Lord are next on my list.) Unfortunately I don't remember too much of the content since it was borrowed and the topic is dense, but remember it being very clear for its topic.
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ministry-books
Clear yet profound

This gives very clear reasonings, explanations, and biblical foundations that I found very helpful in both my own understanding on and for teaching others about the love of God. Carson’s arguments are always written in humility coupled with conviction, which I find particularly inviting when reading a doctrinal or theological book.
Brandon Vaughan
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
There is so much meat in this short book. To me, one of the traits of a great book is that it will affect the way that you study Scripture on a given topic. Carson has definitely accomplished that with this book. A great read for preachers, or anyone seeking to know more about the love of God.
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith
  • The Cross of Christ
  • God Is the Gospel: Meditations on God's Love as the Gift of Himself
  • The Sovereignty of God
  • The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God's Delight in Being God
  • Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers
  • Redemption Accomplished and Applied
  • Taking God at His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me
  • Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God
  • The Holiness of God
  • Knowing God
  • Living the Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing
  • The Attributes of God
  • Chosen By God: Know God's Perfect Plan for His Glory and His Children
  • Don't Waste Your Life
  • On the Incarnation
  • Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change
  • The Discipline of Grace: God's Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness
See similar books…
D.A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He has been at Trinity since 1978. Carson came to Trinity from the faculty of Northwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he also served for two years as academic dean. He has served as assistant pastor and pastor and has done itinerant ministry in Cana ...more

News & Interviews

Luster is the breathtaking and often hilarious debut from novelist Raven Leilani. The story follows Edie, a 23-year-old trying to find her way ...
18 likes · 4 comments
“If this were all the Bible discloses about God, we would read in its pages of a holy God of impeccable justice. But what of God? The love of Allah is providential, which, as we saw in the first chapter, is one of the ways the Bible speaks of God. But here there is more: in eternity past, the Father loved the Son, and the Son loved the Father. There has always been an other-orientation to the love of God. All the manifestations of the love of God emerge out of this deeper, more fundamental reality: love is bound up in the very nature of God. God is love.” 0 likes
More quotes…