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D. A. Carson, Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians (Baker, 1996):

I would like to buy about three dollars worth of gospel, please.

Not too much—just enough to make me happy, but not so much that I get addicted.

I don’t want so much gospel that I learn to really hate covetousness and lust.

I certainly don’t want so much that I start to love my enemies, cherish self-denial, and contemplate missionary service in some alien culture.

I want ecstasy, not repentance; I want transcendence, not transformation.

I would like to be cherished by some nice, forgiving, broad-minded people, but I myself don’t want to love those from different races—especially if they smell.

I would like enough gospel to make my family secure and my children well behaved, but not so much that I find my ambitions redirected or my giving too greatly enlarged.

I would like about three dollars worth of the gospel, please. (pp. 12-13)

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5 thoughts on “I Would Like about Three Dollars Worth of the Gospel, Please”

  1. Rachael Starke says:


    Just to be fair, it appears Carson is doing a (great) riff on a poem written by a man named Wilbur Rees, called “Three Dollars Worth of God”. That and other writings are in a small (out of print) book by the same name –

    Just wanted to give credit where it’s very much due. That poem, and these thoughts, slay me every time I read them.

  2. Justin says:

    Could someone tell me what Dr. Carson’s commenting in reference to, either the verse or passage in Philippians or something else? A tad more context would help me out…

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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