Classic Carson with some real sting.
The Christian gospel is news to be preached:
‘… it is not surprising that Paul speaks of the foolishness of what was preached rather than the foolishness of what was taught, or discussed, or reasoned over… the gospel is primarily displayed in heraldic proclamation: the gospel is announced, proclaimed, preached, precisely because it is God’s spectacular news.
So when one hears the frequently repeated slogan, “Preach the gospel – use words if necessary,” one has to say, as gently but as firmly as one can, that this is smug nonsense,’ page 158.
His footnote references the apocryphal link of this phrase to St. Francis of Assisi.
In contrast to so many today that seek to extract an ethical ‘gospel’ from the teaching corpus of the Gospels, Carson rightly challenges:
‘All that the canonical Gospels say must be read in the light of the plotline of these books: they move inevitably toward Jesus’ cross and resurrection, which provides forgiveness and the remission of sins. That is why it is so hermeneutically backward to try to understand the teaching of Jesus in a manner cut off from what he accomplished; it is hermeneutically backward to divorce the sayings of Jesus in the Gospels from the plotline of the Gospels,’ page 160.
The article can be found in the anthology: “For the Fame of God’s Name – Essays in Honor of John Piper”, edited by Storms and Taylor, Crossway Books 2011.