The Skinny on Carson’s Emerging Church Tapes 1.2

I heard the great Don Carson attempt a critique at emerging church. But he ended up spanking an early skeptical de-constructive postmodernist thought that is linked with existentialism and moral relativism. And as I listened, I felt a welt on my backside, reddening and swelling.
And for the life of me, I could not piece together why I and my colleagues from the global emerging church were getting a whippin’ from a Bible teacher. I found myself in a weird space, like getting told off by a mean uncle for something bad that one of my cousins had done. Only my cousin wasn’t around anymore and I was.
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The following is a really long post and a continuation of something I posted a few days ago called Don Carson and My Sleepless Night.  You may want to go back and join the conversation there, or go and see some other critiques that give a:

Thumbs Up – Out of the Woodwork, Sacred Journey
Thumbs Down – Alan Creech, Coop, Messy Christian., GatheringGrace, Maggi Dawn.
Thumbs Horizontal – Dwight Friesen
(In German) – Johannesserver.de and Mike B

The best response (much better than this) is by David Mills, PhD, who was present at the lectures and wrote  The Emergent Church – Another Perspective: A Critical Response to D.A. Carson’s Staley Lectures (pdf).

UPDATE: April 05 – I wrote an Open Blog Post to Don Carson.

Thanks everyone for your comments on my sleepless night. I have taken your advice, slept on it, sent an email to Christway media requesting Carson’s email address (how i wish there was a comments section next to the tape series), and now have enough clearness of thought to piece together why i was so disturbed by Don Carson’s tapes.

Right. The Skinny on Carson. And why i was disappointed. I write these thoughts out, not so much for you or him, but for myself, so that i can have some peace of mind and move on . . .

I was disappointed because i thought we in the emerging church we about to get some good criticism. We really need this. Hardly anyone of Carson’s calibre has taken a decent shot at it. And because others of lesser calibre have tried, and tried badly, none of us really wanted to argue with them. Carson is smarter than that. And since he did some homework to give compliments and a critique, he could have given us some well-needed advice. We are open to it. I know i am.

Thoughts.

– EC birthed out of Frustration? Pendalum swing?
Yes. We should own up to this. Carson’s critique that most of us are responding to our previous backgrounds is a good call. Chuck Smith Jnr’s book "The End of the World As We Know It" (not mentioned by Carson) is a good example.
But lets remember, as Bishop Tom Wright reminded us recently at an English event for emerging church, that what we are experiencing may also be a "breaking in of God’s future". This is a prophetic element that is often missed. When i was starting emerging church forms among street kids in San Francisco in the 90’s, i felt that we were preparing a new generation of God’s people for a very different future – one that is more dangerous, and one with far less resources. I did not see myself as reacting to my fundamentalist past.

– Emerging/Emergent Church? The name is temporary. The name has weaknesses. Yes. We agree.
But . . 
a).  the name is better than "Postmodern", a word that has given us a lot of problems and a word that we have tried to get rid of for a number of years. In 1998, at the National Gen X conference in Florida, Doug Pagitt and I successfully taught an entire seminar on emerging church without using the word "postmodern". We used the word "Cultural Creatives" to talk about this one third of the population who thought differently. I still use that phrase Cultural Creative. "Emerging" was better than "postmodern" which in turn, was better than "GenX". And "Emergent" was a better name than "Young Leaders" which is what we were called originally.
b) the name emergent means more than "new". It relates to emergent theory in systems and organization. Check out its use in church at Movable Theoblogical and in regards to blogs.  Kester Brewin’s "Complex Christ: Signs of Emergence in the Urban Church" does a good job contrasting "emerging" with "emergent" using emergent theory.
c) We see ourselves as missional before we are emergent. None of us will go to the stake for the "emergent" term. And Carson is right – one day we will use a different word.

– Sloganeering?
Yes. We have come up with slogans. We normally avoid them and offer them apologetically. We hardly ever use them among ourselves. We have been using them reluctantly due to the older folk requesting them. Apparently they didnt understand when we spoke in parables and stories and used art forms. They wanted tables, powerpoints, slogans, reductionist alliterations. And we gave in to them. Now we get flak from both the emergent and non-emergent people for sloganeering – serves us right – ha! ha! ha!

– Do we use Manipulative sloganeering?
That’s different. Them ah fightin’ words where ah come from!
Manipulative? Ma genoito! (Excuse my Greek) God forbid! May it never be! And if we have used manipulation, let someone reprove us. Manipulation in our world is wrong, sinful, mean, abusive, and as such it is rarely found in the emerging church. Manipulation is building a straw man out of falsity, creating fear and distrust of the false construct, and then appealing emotionally to foundational teachings that one’s audience is sure to agree with. And then setting up the communication cycle to be one-way only, to forbid the loop, to not allow feedback and iteration. Thats manipulative. Thats not handling the Bible accurately, as we are commanded to do. And if i am honest with myself, i might say that this is what was keeping me up. It was the tone of voice more than the actual words. And the helpless inability to speak back. No wonder so many of us in the emerging church prefer blogging.

– Tolerance? Do we really tolerate everything?
This is an old argument. It came up in the 1930’s by the Prague School Linguistic Circle that criticised structuralism (Saussurean structuralism was informing Russian formalism in the 1920’s and many Russians moved down to Prague, including Ramon Jakobson) as unable to make value judgments. Its a good argument, but we have already been there and moved on. At least the Europeans have.

May I suggest a tolerance test?
a) Dump your old car oil on the beach and see if emerging people tolerate it.
b) Use the names on someones group email to sell your book, and see if the emerging people you are spamming tolerate it.
c) Dress up as prosperity preacher, fly to the poorest country in Africa and offer to preach in their churches. Take up an offering at every church. Tell the young believers that God will reward their generosity. Keep doing it until you have $20,000. Fly home on a first class flight and buy a new car with your profits. Then tell the emerging church people what you have done and see if they tolerate it.
Reality check: If i say something on my blog that is not right, judgment will come swiftly and harshly upon me, within hours, within minutes. We believe in right and wrong. We make value judgments based on right and wrong. We do not tolerate evil. Must not. I am not tolerating wrong teaching by standing up against it.

– Don’t believe in sin?
Then there should not be a problem with dropping bombs in Iraq.

– Divisive?
I suppose that by focusing on the differences between emergent church and traditional/residual church, we do create an artificial and momentary division, if only for sake of illustration. This is regrettable. But then we have also received the criticism that there is nothing new at all in the emerging church. This also is partly true. Most models of emerging church (house churches, underground publications, coffee shop, club, intentional community, monastic orders, etc) all have their parallels in 1968, as an ecclesial response to the counterculture.
But our aim is to help build the body of Christ in unity. I personally believe that modernism has produced a disunified church that has been fragmented and is in need of unity.
We belong to One Church (1 Cor. 12:27) and would rather slit our own wrists than see division in Christ’s body.

– Is the emergent church movement only 10 years old? Well. I see 1968 as the watershed year for new church models. I started my first EC model (a lame coffee shop/comedy club environment) in Portland, Oregon in 1989  – but thats not too important.

– "The emergent church movement is really American"
Lets forgive him on this one. He might not get out much.
Hey you English  – we know you have been informing EC in USA since the 80’s (yes, you guys downunder also) but lets just let this one go.

– Rational Truth? Do we really hate it?
What i am doing and appealing to right now as I write this?

– No hierarchy in chatrooms?
Maybe Spencer sees this differently, but there is hierarchy in my chat room. When you visit Suddenly Seminary, my visual chatroom, you will see that it is my room and i am in charge. When my 13 year old kicks you out for bad manners, you know that the organizational structure is actually quite complicated. Even more when certain people (older and wiser) get to speak uninterrupted and a newbie does not.

– Postmodern Critical Theory? 
We do not [all] get excited about books from French deconstructionists written in the 1970’s.  If you are going to find parallels to the emerging church movement and postmodernism, then look at postmodern architecture, postmodern fashion, postmodern art, postmodern cuisine – these can be quite helpful, despsite that the movements are probably all over and have given birth to new forms.
But postmodern critical theory can be a dead end. New media theory and emergent theory in organization, and complexity theory – these things have more parallels and are a much more valuable read than deconstructionist thinking. Postmodern aesthetics (which was over in the 1980’s) was another good source for understanding postmodernism. But postmodern aesthetics (darkness, shading, smudging) is radically different from today’s computer aesthetics. Opposite, actually.

– Compliments.
I felt that Carson’s compliments were condescending.

1. "They are trying to read the times . . they are trying really hard to understand the surrounding culture" Racial integration is given as an example.
2. Authenticity – "their push for authenticity is not a bad thing"
3. "They do recognize at least some of the parameters of the changing culture bound up with this category "postmodernism". They are not all wrong in what they perceive as the front edge of the culture. Now in my view some of their analysis has to be questioned. . .  Moreover, whether or not they have the appropriate response to it at every juncture is another question that has to be raised."

Ahhhh, that’s a compliment?

Regarding the front edge of the culture – i would not say that postmodernism is at the front edge of culture. It might have been before. Certainly in the 1984, as i mentioned, postmodern aesthetics could have informed us a lot about culture back then. But it is now 2004 and the world is very different. The front edge has moved on and so have we. Suggesting that we dig around in the critical theories of the 70’s and 80’s is actually an insult, and not a compliment.

Regarding our exegesis of the culture,  you don’t need Jesus to read the culture or to have different ethnic groups together in a room. That happens everyday in a movie theater.
We are called not only to read the culture but to transform it with the presence of Christ. We are missional before we are emergent.  We are called to change the times.
A new breed of missionaries are starting emerging churches in the darkest areas of the world, and with far less resources than previous generations of missionaries have enjoyed. There is no retirement fund for these young missionaries, and dying of natural causes may not be an option either. Still, they crucify the idea of a career, or real estate, or a steady income so that new churches might be started in the postmodern cultures of our globe. They are delivering people from darkness, expelling demons, setting people free, explaining the story of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in an understandable way, starting ministries with creativity instead of budget, they are exceeding the prayerful hopes of past generations.
A huge hat tip to the unsung heros of emerging church who are living out the command of Christ and presenting the Truth to a skeptical world.
Trying to read the culture? Dammit! Its more than that!!  They are leading culture. They are pioneering, innovating, collaborating with culture leaders, offering ethical guidance for a world that is still forming, standing against millenium3 idols, bringing Jesus into the time and space of current culture, calling out prophetically against sin, willing to pay the price. These emerging church apostles need our cheering encouragement, not a paternal nod.

OK, you say, where should people be looking for a better picture of what is going on?
Here are a few links.

a. The definition of Emerging Church at Wikipedia helpfully explains that we are responding to postmodernism, rather than "catering" to it. the definition iw not perfect, and is still in process, but it is better than much of the misinformation out there.
"The Emerging Church is a label that has been used to refer to a particular subset of Christians who are rethinking Christianity against the backdrop of Postmodernism. In order to explain fully what it is, it is necessary to look at what it is moving away from. . . One definition of the Emerging Church is that it is the collective noun for individuals who are emerging from this process of deconstruction and reconstruction of Christianity." Wikipedia

b. Some things i published earlier this year onNext-Wave might be helpful on where the "front edge" of culture is moving. From 5 Answers . .
– "Check Out New Media [Theory]
It does not do much good to read Christian apologists from the 90’s summarizing French philosophers from the 70’s who were trying to explain the surrealist painters from the 20’s. That is not the most direct route to understand us, and can actually be quite misleading. Check out the new media instead. In the 1990’s, I suggested churches look at the postmodern subcultures and the rave scene to find emerging values and dynamics. But now i say new media. Take a look at the renaissance of writing that is happening in our current world of post-post-literacy. Christian bloggers (theoblogians) are a part of this movement. Charlie Wear’s blog is a good place to start.
–  Its not your Father’s Postmodernism.
Take everything you have read about the emerging culture being materialist, nihilistic, relativistic, consumeristic, individualistic, and of having no ethical code or moral standard. Now, invert it. Because the opposite is much closer to the truth.You are now looking at a culture with a deeper code of ethics, greater capacity for spirituality, a desire for less rather than more, a holistic view of following Jesus and a stronger relational commitment to community. That is a real challenge for the church and requires a whole new level of faith, godliness, prayerful reliance on God and an honesty that has been previously absent."

c. Its a little long in the tooth, and probably a smart guy like Carson would find a hundred errors in it, but my article "Postmodernism and Global Worldviews has a few thoughts worth salvaging. Notice that I say "experience precedes explanation", which is very different from Carson’s view that emerging church people believe in "experience over and against explanation".

d. Similar discussions have taken place with great thinkers and great men – like Charles Colson.

e. Steve Taylor’s PhD thesis asks the question "how effective is the emerging church as a postmodern expression of faith?" I have not read it yet, but would imagine that it should offer some good critical insights. (You can buy it from him)
Kester Brewin’s "Complex Christ: Signs of Emergence in the Urban Church" offers a better analysis of emerging church than Carson read. Brewin’s table offers a 3-way contrast/comparison involving Rigid Church, Emergent/Conjunctive Church and Anarchic church.

More links? I will leave that to you in the comments section . . . but in the meantime, let me end this post by saying

1. I would love to hear Carson read a few other books, take a look at what we are being informed by right now, and take another shot at an honest critique of emerging church. The guy knows his Bible better than us and therefore we should listen to whatever he comes up with, especially since he has taken an interest in us. Doug Pagitt has invited him up to Solomon’s Porch to check out a more "normal" model of emerging church.

2. Carson challenges us to stick to the Bible. Lets take up that challenge. Lets read it more often. Lets quote the Bible more often. Lets listen more to God’s word. Lets continue to be informed by it.

Interesting sideline: I had a coffee at Scooterworks Cafe yesterday with Si Johnston who told me he was sitting on a plane with Don Carson 2 weeks ago. Si was participating at the Epicentre Roundtable for Global Emerging Church last week at Greenbelt, where he shared his challenge for the Emerging Church to tackle the social problem of human trafficking – (modern day slavery). We all agreed to it and the Protest4.com website has already gone up. Our hope is that we can significantly reduce human trafficking by 2007, the 200th anniversary of Wilberforce’s 1807 law banning slave trade. Si told me that his church base (Oasis- church.co.uk ) is where William Wilberforce used to base his ministry.
This is why i thought it amusing that Carson was using slavery as such a major point.

Another interesting sideline. The Emerging Church is not the only part of the Body of Christ that is accused of postmodern relativism. Baptist missionaries who refused to sign the Baptist Faith and Message were given the same spanking.
Keith Parks:
(Rankin) accuses those who reject the 2000 BF&M of postmodern theology which he seems to define as rejection of absolute truth as revealed in Jesus Christ and recorded in scripture," said Parks. "Let it be understood that liberal, postmodern theology was never accepted among staff or missionaries of the Foreign Mission Board (now the IMB)." Keith Parks in Baptists Today.
I agree with Parks. The missionaries (like many of us in the emerging church) have not necessarilly changed their view on Scripture. But they are more aware (suspicious) of the abuse of texts by powerful people. To be forced to sign a 1963 document written by men, even if they agree with it, is credalism and in conflict with their beliefs. In this sense, the emerging church finds itself in a large community of misunderstood believers.

Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name “Precious” :-)

39 Comments

  • Wow… Thanks. I was trying to make sense of the “critique” as well. I definitely don’t think that they were…necessary. I think that the emerging church needs criticism — as does every “organization” — but Carson’s opinions were a little much.
    “[A] large community of misunderstood believers.”
    But, that kind of has a nice ring to it. 🙂

  • great response — really helpful. i’ve sent a link to our staff at YS, because many of Carsons reductionist or misguided critiques are the questions our staff gets about our involvement with emergentYS and the emergent convention.
    it was great to finally meet you and share a pint and a cuban, andrew.

  • oh, and i am still blown away by the random-ness (or small-world-ness) of running into to you in the gift shop of the Tate Modern in London yesterday!

  • Skinny: this is brilliant! You know that I have some reservations about elements of what may be termed emerging church but what you relay here is on the button. A thoughtful, godly response full of wisdom and coming from a mature prophetic place. Thankyou

  • I think we can expect more of this from more “Bible preacheres” like d. carson. As the trad church looses its control and its base it going to lash out at anything and everything. Get used to it.

  • Your post filled me with what is probably a very unhealthy fear, as I pictured Mr Carson (who is unknown to me) as a sort of heavy Christian lifting and swinging his Bible as though it were a weapon. This discussion needs to be brought into the light where all sides can be heard calmly. I found myself unworthily (?) wondering whether he makes his living from what is conventionally understood as church and whether he sees his livelihood as under a threat. These are disturbing things to consider. In any case, the emerging church surely must suffer (more than it has!) if it wants to be truly church.

  • Hi Jeff – andrew here.
    good point about job security. This is one of the main reasons i hesitate to defend myself/ourselves against accusations from lesser people. And please believe me when i say that there have been countless opportunities to jump on people for saying the most outrageous and dumb things about us.
    but Don Carson is a great man and probably too important to come over to our blogs to read them. His job at TEDs ( a seminary) is secure. We will continue to love and respect him and invite furher interaction from him.
    but thanks for your comment – i see the heart of it and agree.

  • Hi Andrew
    Sorry to detract from the main subject but what do you mean when you say “lesser people”?
    Lisa
    [andrew] hi lisa – i mean people who have less status, less credibility, less expertise with knowledge and the Scriptures than Dr Carson. Lesser people, in this sense, cannot really stand up to a harsh examination of their ideas.
    Dr Carson, on the other hand, is someone we respect enough to be able to bounce back at us and offer us a good critique of where we are and where we need to go.
    Lisa, i think this is why we are all disappointed – because we think so highly of Carson, and we really need someone like him to give us some fatherly advice, even if it is harsh. Especially if it is harsh. He is competent enough to do it. Maybe we should bug him until he comes up with something worthy of his calibre?

  • The content looks to be interesting (I’m just downloading the MP3s) but I’ve seen no comments on the form – trad expository many-one lecture. Behaviour, here including form, is often more indicative than words. In my experience (and no matter DAC’s own standing and gifts) this is characteristic – “old church” behaves as if expecting “new church” to engage on its terms and within its forms. The lack of a personal mail address – and I have tried, a little, and failed to find one – is a tiny, but telling, detail. Gifted though DAC is, in failing to adapt his form he has missed the point that his audience in the “emerging church” (I agree with AJ about the ephemerality/inadequacy of terms!) responds more readily to engagement than exposition. Sadly, his destroying a straw man in this fashion may make such engagement more difficult – hopefully AJ’s intent to row back from this will have some effect.
    And it might bear such fruit. The Carson/Woodbridge “Letters along the way” (Crossway, 1993) is a series of imaginary letters between a novice pastor and his mentor. It’s not so far from the expository-stories-within-episodic-form of “The story we find ourselves in”. Imagine, therefore, an EmergentYS book (a Carson/Jones collaboration? 🙂 of imaginary letters between a “new church” leader and her mentor. Now that would be something.

  • I love Michael’s idea about the imaginary letters. Would Dr. Carson be in it?! And love that you, TSK are willing to go that deep and from criticism you want to take the most blessing out. GByour heart! Instructive to read your contemplations. an enthusiastic emerging gen member 🙂

  • Hey – i sent a link to my blog post to christway media and requested Dr. Carson’s email so that i could let him know my thoughts. They have kindly replied. No email address, but i do have a generic email address for TEDS.
    Here is the letter.
    Mr. Jones,
    Thank you for your recent email. Dr. Carson has received a lot of feedback regarding his recent lectures. He will be presenting a much more detailed analysis in his forthcoming book, “Becoming Conversant with Emergent”, due out before Christmas from Zondervan.
    Thank you for your interest.
    Ken Keilman
    Christway Media
    – nice of them. i will probably buy the book, since Carson’s view is actually quite common and it will be a good reference point for discussion.
    – i had a thought today. Maybe we should be helping teachers like Carson out by telling him the areas of interest/knowledge that are informing our ecclesiology. that way, they can get a head start on helping us think thru the issues. And teachers can be preparing students for the world to come rather than the world that was.
    I have sent out The Boaz Report in the past for this purpose, but i wonder if there should be encouragement for EC people to constanly be informing leaders and teachers of where their minds and thoughts and challenges are. Just a thought.

  • There’s an interesting article here saying that DAC has get Derrida etc. wrong too. A quote: “Thus, when a philosopher rejects the notion of “objective truth,” Carson reads this as if it were a denial of any truth whatsoever, rather than a denial of a theory of truth that presupposes a radical subject-object dichotomy, a representationalist theory of mind, and the need for apodictic certainty in order to know anything at all.“. The conclusion is that DAC has some good points, but has not properly understood all of what he’s criticising.

  • Andrew, I have yet to read such a literate, passionate and humble “apologia” for the emerging church. The comments above are all informative as well. Thanks for going public with getting that sleepless night out of your system!
    I have read that Dr. Carson is sympathetic at least to a Bible hermaneutic that makes room for women as equals. I think this is good to know.
    Thanks again, and many blessings on you and the working out of your calling..
    Dana Ames

  • Andrew –
    Have you had much interaction with Paul Jackson (of GCC fame) about the Emerging Church? If so, what has been his thoughts/response?

  • Very helpful response. Thank you for taking the time to engage with some of his thoughts. I agree, Michael’s book idea is great.

  • I have listened to the first few minutes of Carson’s lecture. I fundamentally disagree that EC is somehow pandering to culture when the Reformation was a return to Biblical principles. The Reformation was fuelled by a cultural shift, away from mystery and towards words and rationalism.
    We too look at the Bible and see things in it that traditional Church (or whatever Carson wants to call it) are not doing right. For me its as simple as that.
    I am not interested in being trendy or post-modern for the sake of it, but I am committed to getting back to the the words spoken by Jesus and others, and what they mean today.

  • Why give him any credit? As far as I can tell, he isn’t a respected scholar outside his safety zone. He is strapped in his box and I find it arrogant on his behalf to attempt to speak for a generation and culture he has no clue about.
    Why not just be the Church and stop all the intellectualization of the Church?
    He is the part of the problem with much of Christianity– that is speaking about something he has LIVED himself. His thinking is one reason Evangelicals are attempting to “emerge”.
    Peace,
    Rick

  • Responding to Hutch who said . .
    “Andrew –
    Have you had much interaction with Paul Jackson (of GCC fame) about the Emerging Church? If so, what has been his thoughts/response?”
    Hutch – are you kidding? Paul was in my house recently with his family. In fact, I was on staff at Glenwood community church (Vancouver WA) in the late 1980’s and respect Rev. Paul Jackson very much.
    In a chat with Paul about this issue (re; Colson rather than Carson), he told me, that if some of these guys were to actually come and hang with me, and hear my heart, and see my ministry, then they would realize there that are not many big differences after all between us.

  • 1 Step Forward 2 Steps Back

    TallSkinnyKiwi: The Skinny on Carson’s Emerging Church Tapes 1.1 I’ve been paying a little attention to the conversation going round about D. A. Carson’s critique of the “emerging church.” Andrew Jones has a long post with his opinions about it….

  • andrew, thank you for these words. they are helping me to be able to define and explain to those around me who are so stuck in the same logic loop that carson seems stuck in.
    as always you speak theology from experience and the street instead of the ivory tower so many ‘bestow upon us’.

  • rick – how can you say that Carson is not a “a respected scholar outside his safety zone”? That is simply untrue. He’s one of the leading voices in contemporary New Testament studies, evangelical or not. Be a bit more mindful before you throw out epithets in such a childish manner. Carson is much more well-read (on a wide range of subjects) than most of us – so you may disagree with his conclusions, but you can’t just casually dismiss his critique. Thanks for blogging through this Andrew!

  • mike – this is the best response i have read and by one who was there at the presentation. i will put a link to it. much thanks. I understand that Dr. Carson has also slammed the Vineyard churches in a similar fashion . . . ?

  • found that article with a google search – “carson, emerging”. haven’t heard his critique of the vineyard. no surprise though…the vineyard is the whipping-boy of mainstream evangelicalism:)
    peace,
    mike

  • I added this on your other page, but I’ll put it here as well. Carson bashed the Vineyard movement in a chapter of a book called Power Religion published by Moody in 1992– he painted in broad strokes, was totally misinformed on a number of points. His colleague at the time Wayne Grudem wrote a scathing critique of his critique, and couldn’t really get Carson to own up to his mistakes. Grudem expressed similar dismay that an accomplished scholar of his stature who has blessed Christendom with so many wonderful books (and hymns and sonnets!) could miss so many things on that issue. It’s a shame he didn’t really dialogue with some of the leaders, spend a few weeks in some of the more “normal” Emergent churches, and really get a handle on it. Instead, it appears he saw a bit, and said: “Oh, I see what’s going on here. And here’s where they’re wrong,” and then wrote some lectures and a book. I get the feeling Carson isn’t really into “dialoguing” so much as putting out his beliefs and sticking to them. He’s just not that kind of guy. It’s a pretty typical seminary prof response– those guys do this all the time, and no one necessarily takes it personally. I would love a dialogue book between the two of you, but could never really see that happening. I think it would be good for him, though.

  • Andrew –
    I figured you had had some interaction with him lately; I was just curious to hear Paul’s response (as I haven’t been able to ask him myself since he’s technically not back from sabbatical yet). I currently attend Glenwood and Jed Brewster is one of my best friends. (who is the guy who pointed me to your blog). I’ve been keeping up with your blog for a while now and was curious to hear the impressions you had gotten from somebody who I respect very much as well, and who has known you for a muy long time. Thanks for letting me know. 🙂

  • Hi Andrew, people on both sides of the emerging church need to understand each other. This is how I see it: The emerging church is responding to chlture, the other side sees it pandering to the clture.
    I think the EC needs to understand the culture a lot more, but from where I sit the EC seems to be developing a culture on its own, and getting increasingly irelevant to the surrounding culture. I think you and Carson need to have a beer together.

  • What is Emergent Doing?!

    Jason Clark from Emergent UK gives us the skinny. Here are the highlights, as I see them: “Many talented bloggers are spreading the conversation about the gospel in the post-al world (postmodern, post-enlightenment, post-secular, post-colonial, etc.), …

  • What is Emergent Doing?!

    Jason Clark from Emergent UK gives us the skinny. Here are the highlights, as I see them: “Many talented bloggers are spreading the conversation about the gospel in the post-al world (postmodern, post-enlightenment, post-secular, post-colonial, etc.), …

  • David Mills Responds to the Staley Lectures

    This is a controversy that has died down since it first flared up in April, but I just came across the paper David Mills wrote in response to D.A. Carson’s scathing lecture about the emerging church. Mills writes, I only…

  • From what I read from Grudem’s critique of Carson, it seemed to me that Grudem was the one who didn’t understand Carson. Carson was talking about some genuine tendencies at the popular level and among some leaders, and he often uses qualifying phrases to show that he doesn’t think it’s true of everyone or especially of the best thinkers, but Grudem took it as if everything Carson was saying applies to the best and most careful Vineyard people, including Grudem himself. Anyone who has read Carson’s view on I Cor 12-14 knows that Carson agrees with Grudem on all those issues.
    I suspect the same sort of thing is going on here.

  • In touching one of the most important topics – Don’t believe in sin? you went sarcastic and avoided it.
    >Then there should not be a problem with dropping bombs in Iraq.
    That was just stupid but it was topical and spoke to knee jerk reactions. So, what is the answer and how do you define it?

  • We (open brackets,comma, capital w close brackets)all love order (apostrophe)cos we punctuate (fullstop)

  • Hi folks. Just a few thoughts to add to my one-liners. I have to say I’m really disappointed with Postmodernism. Having read Francis Schaeffer’s writings and having studied French Philosophy at Uni it seems to me that PM and its churchy equivalents are just another attempt to explore madness (e.g. a la Samuel Beckett). Sorry, but PM ends up jarring with the reality that I see, taste and touch. It doesn’t rationally resonate. For me it’s just a dishonest type of anarchy by any other name.

  • thanks for your thoughts on postmodernism, Fish.
    But this is a very old post and the conversation has moved on.
    The kind of decontructive postmodernism you mention is not resonating with many in the emerging church either. Why not find out where it is resonating, and make a comment there?