Why Anne Rice Loves to Read D.A. Carson

D.A. Carson

In an interview with Christianity Today, novelist Anne Rice discusses why she once again left the church. However, she still is a follower of Christ, she says, and she still loves to read D.A. Carson and other conservative Protestant biblical scholars. In the Q&A, Rice says:

Are there any other religious authors you read?

I read theology and biblical scholarship all the time. I love the biblical scholarship of D.A. Carson. I very much love Craig S. Keener. His books on Matthew and John are right here on my desk all the time. I go to Craig Keener for answers because his commentary on Scripture is so thorough. I still read N.T. Wright. I love the Catholic theologian Karl Rahner. I love his writing on Jesus Christ. It’s very beautiful to me, and I study a little bit of it every day. Of course, I love Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.

You mentioned D.A. Carson, Craig Keener, and N.T. Wright. They are fairly conservative Protestants.

Sometimes the most conservative people are the most biblically and scholastically sound. They have studied Scripture and have studied skeptical scholarship. They make brilliant arguments for the way something in the Bible reads and how it’s been interpreted. I don’t go to them necessarily to know more about their personal beliefs. It’s the brilliance they bring to bear on the text that appeals to me. Of all the people I’ve read over the years, it’s their work that I keep on my desk. They’re all non-Catholics, but they’re believers, they document their books well, they write well, they’re scrupulously honest as scholars, and they don’t have a bias. Many of the skeptical non-believer biblical scholars have a terrible bias. To them, Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, so there’s no point in discussing it. I want someone to approach the text and tell me what it says, how the language worked.

Dr. Priest in the Wall Street Journal

Dr. Robert PriestTrinity professor Robert Priest is referenced in the latest Wall Street Journal Houses of Worship column, “How Missionaries Lost Their Chariots of Fire.” Author Brad Greenberg writes about the decline in missions—or rather the decline in missions that include evangelization. “The overwhelming majority of American missionaries today are ‘vacationaries.’ Joining mission trips of two weeks or less, they serve in locales where Christianity already predominates,” Greenberg writes. “The purpose, then, of their visit is to battle the ills of poverty and to stretch their own spirituality.”

Greenberg then refers to studies by Priest in which he finds, “82% of short-term missions today go to countries in the most-Christian third of the world. Only 2% land in the Middle East.”

In other words, short term mission trips are not about the people being visited but the visitors. The trend toward providing physical care without spiritual care attached to it is also a part of longer term missions work. “Christians today typically travel abroad to serve others, but not necessarily to spread the gospel.”

An extensive discussion of this issue between Trinity’s Robert Priest and Calvin College professor Kurt Ver Beek is available at Christianity Today. In the discussion, Priest warns about the effect that funding short term missions (STM) can have on career missionaries. Using the justification that a mission trip will benefit others, it can be simply an excuse to fund a youth outing.

A case could be made that many American congregations and youth ministry programs have discovered a way to fund programs that benefit their own congregations’ memberships much more consistently than those they ostensibly serve (while in the process making the challenge of funding the career missionary enterprise more difficult). It raises uncomfortable questions about whose interests are truly being served when the rhetoric justifying the funding of STM stresses results in the lives of those being served, while virtually all research by STM leaders has focused on the benefits to the short-term missionaries and their congregations.

These are tough questions of course, ones that the Trinity community is seeking to engage.

Read the entire WSJ story, “How Missionaries Lost Their Chariots of Fire.” →