The Evangelicalism of Alexander Carson
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This dissertation was under embargo until 2014-05-23.
This dissertation examines the evangelicalism of Alexander Carson (ca. 1776- 1844) using David Bebbington's evangelical quadrilateral--biblicism, crucicentrism, conversionism, and activism--as a framework. Chapter 1 gives an introduction to the study and a biographical sketch of Carson's life and ministry. Chapter 2 examines Carson's view of Scripture in the areas of inspiration, Bible translation, and the transmission of Scripture. Carson's views on the inspiration of Scripture and the principles by which it was to be translated were given within the context of the theological controversies in which he was involved. Chapter 3 examines Carson's view of the atonement. It looks at his understanding of humanity's sin, divine justice and mercy, God's sovereignty, and the completed nature of the atonement. Chapter 4 is a study of Carson's understanding of how people are converted. The chapter discusses his views on the definition of saving faith, the relation between faith and works, the conversion experience, and the divine role in conversion. Chapter 5 looks at Carson's views on evangelism in four areas: the use of the Bible in evangelism, the importance of religious liberty to evangelize, the role of divine providence in evangelism, and the Christian's duty to evangelize. Although the four characteristics of evangelicalism set forth by Bebbington do not include other areas of theology important to Carson, such as his views on baptism and church order, the quadrilaterial does focus on what Carson believed to be central to Christianity, namely, the gospel. Therefore, considering Bebbington's quadrilateral to be a sound framework for understanding Carson's view of the gospel, the thesis of this study is that Carson's belief in the Bible as a verbally and completely inspired text was an infallible source for his understanding of the gospel as being centered upon the atonement, effective through justification by faith alone, and the motivation for evangelism.