Item description for Letters Along the Way: A Novel of the Christian Life by D. A. Carson & John D. Woodbridge...
Overview Written in the form of correspondence between two men over the course of 15 years, Letters Along the Way uniquely explains the growth process that should be evident in Christian life. Filled with a great deal of distilled wisdom concerning spiritual, moral, biblical, and thelogical issues, the letters offer commentary on the changing face of evangelicalism and American culture.
For anyone who likes to read other people's mail, here is an intriguing batch of letters from a "senior saint to a junior saint." The new believer will find invaluable help in taking those early steps of faith. Others will find a wealth of information on topics such as apologetics, science and faith, inerrancy, heart versus head faith, prayer, the changing face of evangelicalism, and trends emerging in American culture--all from a unique personal perspective.
"The personal letter, when rendered with spiritual insight and graceful economy, can provide a remarkably personal and practical theological aide-memoire. And Drs. Carson and Woodbridge, a.k.a. 'Dr. Woodson, ' have provided such to young Mr. Timothy Journeyman--and all who are fortunate ought to possess Letters Along the Way. Terrific " --Dr. R. Kent Hughes, Pastor, College Church, Wheaton, IL.
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D. A. Carson (PhD, Cambridge University) is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he has taught since 1978. He is a cofounder of the Gospel Coalition and has written or edited nearly 120 books. He and his wife, Joy, have two children and live in the north suburbs of Chicago.
John Piper (DTheol, University of Munich) is the founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and the chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. He served for 33 years as the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is the author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God, Don't Waste Your Life, This Momentary Marriage, A Peculiar Glory, and Reading the Bible Supernaturally.
Philip Graham Ryken (DPhil, University of Oxford) is the eighth president of Wheaton College. Formerly, he served as senior minister of Philadelphia's historic Tenth Presbyterian Church. He has written or edited more than 40 books, including the popular title Loving the Way Jesus Loves, and has lectured and preached at universities and seminaries worldwide.
Bryan Chapell is the senior pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Peoria, Illinois. He is also the host of a daily half-hour radio Bible teaching program, Unlimited Grace, and the founder and chairman of Unlimited Grace Media (unlimitedgrace.com). Bryan previously served as the president of Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, and is the author of a number of books, including Holiness by Grace.
Ligon Duncan (PhD, University of Edinburgh) is the chancellor & CEO and the John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary. He previously served as the senior minister of the historic First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Mississippi, for seventeen years. He is a cofounder of Together for the Gospel, a senior fellow of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and was the president of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals from 2004-2012. Duncan has edited, written, or contributed to numerous books. Ligon and his wife, Anne, have two children and live in Jackson, Mississippi.
D. A. Carson currently resides in Deerfield, in the state of Illinois. D. A. Carson was born in 1959.
D. A. Carson has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Letters Along the Way: A Novel of the Christian Life?
From Paul to Timothy Dec 7, 2007
[Below is the original review, most of which still stands. The only thing I would say is that, much to my dismay, I discovered that these letters are likely not real but were created. I sort of want to throw something at Carson for being so deceiving about that. But, keep this in mind. The book is still incredible.]
I should start by saying that it would be impossible to give a brief analysis, or even review, of this book. It is simply a compilation of letters from a professor to a student. It was, however, incredible to see how God worked in both of their lives to bring them together. If Timothy Journeyman (a fitting last name) had never lost his father, he may have never written to Dr. Paul Woodson. But, he did, and a relationship started that would literally transform the life of this young man. A distant old professor-friend of his father's would, slowly but surely, become his mentor and counselor in life.
How does one do any sort of book review of a man who covered hundreds of topics in his letters? He could ramble about French society; he could go on and on about Karl Barth and systems of theology; truly, there seemed to be no end to Dr. Woodson's brilliance. The hard part for this review, then, will be to pick a few of the many things that--and I sincerely mean this--had a huge impact on me. This is my apologia, I suppose, of this book.
I mentioned in a college class of mine how good the book was, but I didn't fully understand at that point how amazing it really is. Since many teachers have often spoken of discipleship and how that is missing in today's church, this book seems like a must. Or, what about us young graduates who struggle with the same things Timothy did (ironic name, considering Paul and Timothy in Scripture)? Any time Timothy Journeyman was struggling along his "journey", he would write Woodson. Any time a new event in life happened, he would relate it to Dr. Woodson. Any time he was at a loss as to what he should do, Dr. Woodson would receive another letter.
A small book review on this work is, frankly, impossible. That is what I'm trying to convey. Many small tidbits of golden information were interspersed all throughout his writing, such as this: "If you set yourself to seek God's face at the beginning of each day, then you will be far more likely to turn the more academic parts of your day into devotion" (LATW, 170). He, as anyone, loved academia; this is apparent throughout the book, just by viewing how much he really knows. At the same time, he was quick to instruct a young man like Timothy in the way he should think and go. In other words, he was very perceptive in regards to discipling a younger man who could easily--as all young men can--take something good and use it for the wrong purposes: "I doubt very much that evangelicals are wise to pursue academic respectability. What we need is academic responsibility. There is a world of difference" (pg. 174).
One of the things he discussed was something spoken about in my class: building a library (Ch. 30). Sign up to receive your favorite journals, he says; participate in book-sharing; "take advantage of any interlibrary service near you"; have your contact information with discount book distributors; plan ahead and read accordingly (pp. 187-188).
He simply knew too much, by my standards. What a man! For this reason, Timothy even said the following of him (after Woodson had told Timothy and Ginny, Timothy's wife, to call his wife and him "Paul and Elizabeth" rather than saying "Dr. Woodson"): "...there was an old-world dignity in Prof. Woodson which, however much it invited intimacy, gently repelled familiarity" (pg. 209). In other words, he felt bad about calling such a man as Dr. Woodson "Paul".
By the end of the book (which I was up in the early, or late, hours of the morning reading), I assumed that Paul Woodson was still alive. I didn't catch on to the fact that he would die (i.e. that he is no longer alive). I jokingly told another student today that, when I got to the point of the book where he became fatally ill, I felt almost as shocked as Timothy would have been. After all, I had read all their letters, hadn't I? From this book, I had felt a fondness and appreciation for this dead man whom I'd never met. I cannot imagine how much respect and love Timothy, who spent real time with him, must have had. I cannot imagine that kind of discipling relationship.
Why must this book be kept on the list of reading for all young men? Beyond the fact that it is emotionally moving, it also shows young men like myself why it is so crucial--so very, very crucial--to form these kind of relationships. From this relationship, Timothy Journeyman was later able to lead his own church. And like Elisha followed in the steps of Elijah, so it seems Timothy follows in the steps of the great Paul Woodson. I must list a diary entry from Woodson. He penned the following when he knew he would soon die:
"So far as I know myself, I am not afraid of death. I know whom I have believed and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day (Ed. note: 2 Timothy 1:12). I have some fear of pain, of losing control. I earnestly pray for grace to endure with gratitude to the end, to say and do only those things that will bring honor to Christ, to avoid all things that would bring reproach upon Him." --Pg. 281
This, I would think, is the prayer of every young man who finds himself in the grace of Jesus Christ; this is true especially for those young men who happen upon this book. It was truly a joy staying up and reading it all at once, even if I lost precious sleep for it. Likely, what I have gained through the reading of this book is much more precious than any amount of sleep I could ever put in.
In truth, this book is a resource book. I actually began writing labels on each chapter. Timothy would ask a question about any random topic, and Paul Woodson always had invaluable information to dispense. This is one more reason the book should be in the library of all young Christian men.
Much more could be said about this book, but I must stop here. After his death, Paul's wife prayed for his young protégé, Timothy, "Lord God, have mercy on my dear son in the faith, Tim Journeyman" (pg. 283). Paul and Elizabeth never had any biological children. Little did Timothy know that, by writing a random letter to an unknown professor named Dr. Woodson, he would soon become his son in the faith. There are many lessons here for all of us who share in that same devotion to Christ. As far as I know, Timothy Journeyman still pastors a church faithfully, fully aware that he will one day again meet his great friend and mentor, Dr. Paul Woodson.
A Journey With Carson and Woodbridge Dec 3, 2002
D.A. Carson and John Woodbridge have given to the young convert, minister, or seminarian a great gift indeed. It is a compiliation of fictitious letters between a professor and a young Christian who journeys from convert to pastor, and along the way there is distilled a great amount of helpful information about the Christian walk, seminary study, pastoring, evangelicalism, all done in bite sizes. The metaphor of a journey as the Christian life is appropriate, and well chosen, though it is not, of course, original. The ideas within are not original, nor is the style, approach, or much of anything, but what makes this so valuable is the approachable manner in which introduces the subjects dealt with and who the authors are. The authors are respected, well-known contributors to their specific fields of academia, and they are well known outside of their fields as devout Christian scholars and speakers. One can be sure the advice given within is not the surmising of arm-chair theologians, but the tested wisdom of two men well-acquainted with the academic and practical sides of Christian ministry. Really well done are the chapters on choosing a seminary, and building a library. There is also a great discussion on the difference between academic responsibility and respectability. There is a vast difference between the two! For the young Christian interested in the pastoral ministry and seminary I highly recommend this volume.
Great book, though hard to encapsulate it in short compass Nov 19, 2002
Carson and Woodbridge have done an excellent job telling the story of a man's life from a conversion to Christianity in college until he is mature and serving as a Presbyterian minister later in life. The struggles he deals with, both spiritually and intellectually, become focal points for the authors to share their own insights as professors in one of the foremost evangelical seminaries of our time (and at least Carson was once a pastor also). The story is told in the form of letters from a seminary professor who had been a friend of the main character's father, and the relationship continues and deepens over the years. While the story itself is interesting, the bits of reflection "along with way" are the real gems. The main character and the professor reflect on many topics from relating to our culture, American or otherwise, recent trends in theology and biblical studies, signficant issues of practice in the church today, and just how best to serve God in different contexts. This book is well worth reading no matter your place "along the way".