Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor, an Interesting Read for Fundamentalists


I just finished Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor (free .pdf here) via the Amazon Kindle application for my ipod touch. I simply couldn’t put this book down. I was drawn to the book because I had never heard of Tom Carson and because being “ordinary” resonates with just about every heart. 

Most of the book highlighted Tom Carson’s (DA Carson’s father) struggles as a church-planter in francophone Canada. The man was a militant witness in a highly Catholic atmosphere, often spending significant time in personal correspondence as well as visitation, passionately pleading with men and women to abandon the false teaching of the Catholic church and embrace Jesus Christ alone for salvation. His family sacrificed significantly in the financial realm, but was never characterized by a spirit of complaint or worry. Even towards the end of his life when his wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, Tom Carson remained faithful to Jesus Christ and never abandoned his calling as a minister of the gospel. 

Of special interest to me as a fundamentalist…

Being a part of Baptist Fundamentalism myself, I was intrigued to read about T.T. Shields of Toronto and the Baptist Union of that time. Having studied a little bit about the debates and controversy there, it was interesting to hear the episodes again from Tom Carson’s point of view, as well as how DA Carson interpreted the happenings through his more broadly evangelical perspective (he believes it unfortunate that Shields was so offensive and that he didn’t heed the warning of Martin Lloyd-Jones). Interestingly, Tom Carson disagreed with Shields on an issue (trying to force a pastor to take a church if I remember correctly) and ended up losing financial support for a mission-church in french-speaking Quebec. 

Also of note was Tom Carson’s apparent concern for DA in his pursuit of higher education. Shortly after returning from his PhD studies in England, DA Carson was asked to provide his viewpoint on the atonement in an edition of Christianity Today. Carson boldly defended the penal substitutionary view as being the paradigm through which we can understand all the other angles on the atonement. His father was pleased with the article and wrote a note, rejoicing that DA hadn’t shown any signs of liberalism from his training in England. 

Regarding Billy Graham and his campaigns, in one of his journal entries, he didn’t expound much, but indicated that he believed Graham was Jehoshaphat with Ahab.

Have you read this book? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts as well.

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  1. #1 by Robert Castillo on April 11, 2011 - 11:13 pm

    I will have to read it. I heard C.J. Mahaney preach at T4G a message title “Ordinary Pastors” and he quoted extensively from Carson’s book about his father. Thanks for the link to the pdf will have to read it now.

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