An Open Blog Post for Don Carson 1.1

[1.1 update: I wish I had chosen a better name and genre for this. An open post should only be used after interaction, and i did not get any email response from my requests in Sept 2004 – a better and less threatening post title would have been “Some questions I Would Ask Dr Don Carson if We Met in a Coffee Shop.” My apologies if i stirred up unrest in the Body by using a genre that is too formal. AJ]

Hi Don. Your book “Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church” comes out in June and I am awaiting my copy [after listening to the 3 tapes on which the book is based] But some clarification before then would help me. We bloggers are sticklers for the truth . . as Dan Rather found out.

Hey – I hate open letters . . . they are too long, too formal and they assume a personal enmity that is not always there. I thought an open blog post would be a little less formal, and would carry an extra level of communal accountability – for both of us. Readers would be welcome to say if my post was unfair or inaccurate, and they could also hear you say something (anything you want) as a response. Or you could ignore it and no one would ever know if you read it or not – then you could maintain your reputation without resorting the demands of us bloggers.

Sorry to bring you over to our new media world. I requested your email address on September 3, 2004, hoping to send you a personal email, but was denied by Christway Media – they said you would respond before Christmas in your book – and now we have to wait until June . . and even then we don’t know if you will be responding to our concerns or not. Forgive me if i am impatient, but there is a lot at stake.

Firstly, you need to know that YOU ARE LOVED. People credit your character whenever they mention you. Many of the leaders in the Emerging Church were trained by you. Your books are on their shelves and you have brought people closer to the Scriptures and their Author. Please do not assume disrespect in this blog posting. I just want to clear up a few things so that I know the skinny on where you stand and can be truthful in what I say about your tape series (which I listened to) and your book “Becoming Conversant with Emergent” (which I have already ordered). Under different circumstances, you and I would get on really well, apart from you being a well known Bible teacher and me just a poor missionary who blogs instead of sending a traditional monthly prayer letter. I write this as a leader in what is now known as the emerging church or emergent church. We are not committed to that name, but there is much criticism towards it at the moment and I feel that standing into the criticism rather than running from it will do us good in the long run, even though it may tarnish our reputations in the short term. But if the name was taken from us, we would no doubt continue starting church planting movements in the emerging culture in the same way, but then we would have to wait for a new identity to build, so that people could criticize us . . and why should we wait that long? Much better to accept the current criticism and respond to it. It sharpens us like iron, and righteous people welcome criticism.

I also write this as a blogger with a loud voice on the internet. When people type “Don Carson, emerging church” into their Google search engines, the postings on my blog (tallskinnykiwi.com) have been coming up in the Top 3 listings – well ahead of your tapes or book, making me somewhat of a doorway to your material. This was not intentional. Just a perk of being a new media publisher rather than an old media book person. (You wont find my writings in a book store). For the record, I had a Sleepless Night when I first listened to your tape and then responded with The Skinny on Carson’s Emerging Church Tapes. You also made it into my Emergent Criticism Hall of Fame and I responded to you and Al Mohler in

Are We A Threat to the Gospel? These posts are worth reading, simply for the intelligent comments from people – which may serve you as an accurate reflector of the response to your upcoming book.

After thinking on your tape series for 5 months, I return to what i initially stated after my sleepless night:

“Regarding the accusation that emerging church people do not believe in truth or moral absolutes and that they tolerate everything, my response is this . . .

1. That is not true.

2. That is not right.

3. I will not tolerate it.

4. Because of answers 1-3, either Carson’s description of someone in the emerging church is not correct, or I am not a part of the emerging church.” Link

I also write as a leader inside Emergent, and one who gave the thumbs up for Brian McLaren to join the group. We were called Young Leaders back then, as you know, and were sponsored by Leadership Network. At the time, the group was getting negative press for an angry spirit (partly true – but certainly not me!) and I thought Brian would add some gentleness to the group and help with image management. Which happened! I am glad to have Brian as a friend, even though his theology is different than mine. I see him not as THE leader, but as one of the many players in the group, although he has become more famous because of his books. Brian does not represent the group’s theology, anymore than I represent the group’s ecclesiology (I have been bugging Brian about simple organic church for years but so far he hasn’t heard me). Actually, I think diversity in the group is more a strength than a weakness and we have been criticized for lack of it. I also write as a missions consultant, working to connect the global emerging church with the traditional mission and denominational structures. I have been involved in dozens of countries and am happy to report that there are great inroads into the emerging cultures with the gospel. There are new churches being started with little or no resources in Europe, Asia, South and North America, and these new wineskins are finding much in common with emerging churches around the globe. Your tape series and book may discredit their ministries and threaten their connection with those who sent them. I feel somewhat responsible to defend them against your accusations, since I have recommended this particular course of ministry to their leaders and to the young people on the ground,. I don’t want to argue your points or your criticism. I have done so briefly, half-heartedly, as have many others. There is a lot of talk. Traditionals say that Emergents don’t believe in truth and Emergents say that Traditionals are not honest. I don’t want to add to it. But I do want to ask you a few questions, so that all of us will have greater access to the Truth, truth that is absolutely true as much as is possible in this murky blogosphere of ours.

4 QUESTIONS FOR DR. DA CARSON:

1. It has been said that you have never visited an emerging church, and yet you have written a book called “Becoming Conversant with Emergent”. Earlier on, we assumed (and I WRONGLY stated) that you had attended the Emergent Convention but now people say that you did not attend that either. I have since recanted my statement, in accord with the truth, and have apologized for my misinformation. But the question remains. So . . . have you ever been to an emerging church or gathering, and if so, which one?

2. By not responding to any of us, you seem to have risen above mutual accountability in the Body of Christ. We would consider this dangerous and would not tolerate such behavior if we encountered it among our own leaders. Such behavior could lead to heresy or worse. So . . . have you responded to anyone in the emerging church who, like me, have offered a defence and a reason for the hope within us, and can we read what you have written? This may be the single most important issue for some of us.

3. Our friends in the Vineyard Movement say that your unwillingness to reconsider or even respond to critics is a pattern. They apparently feel that you misrepresented them in one of your earlier writings and, just like now, you would not respond to their questionings and demands for truthfulness. So . . . did you ever respond to them, recant or apologize for mistakes or at least write something for them that we could read or link to?

4. We admit that some of our churches suck. And there are thousands of them around the globe, many of them brand new, immature, unwise and adolescent, so finding the ones that suck is not that difficult. But you have not yet given us a good model of church to compare ourselves to, or a direction to take if we choose NOT to start emerging churches out of our new believers instead of traditional churches. Please bear in mind that many of us in global ministry are starting churches in VERY non-Christian countries, and often with no budget or support, and therefore buying a building or renting one is not always an option – neither is paying a full time pastor, or paying for a seminary education. So . . .

before we tell our emerging house churches to look for real estate, and

before we tell our front line missionaries to leave the drug addicts on the streets and return to the suburbs, and

before we shut down our web-sites and move back to books and articles, and

before we retool our simple church training at festivals and drum up funding to rent conference centers and hotels, and

before we take ministry out of believers homes and place it in an A-Frame building with a big parking lot . . .

please tell us about the local church you give leadership to and why you think it would make a better model than the churches we are starting. Don, I wish you every rich blessing in our Lord Jesus Christ, and I ask you to pray for me that God will teach me his ways, and that I will always remain open to the Truth of his revelation,

Respectfully Submitted,

Andrew Jones

April 15, 2005

[1.1 UPDATE]

THE WHOLE CARSON SERIES

1. Carson and My Sleepless Night

2. The Skinny on Carson’s Emerging Church Tapes

3. The Skinny on Emergent Criticism

4. Are We A Threat to the Gospel?

5. Open Blog Post for Don Carson 1.0

6. The Carson Chronicles: Where Now?

7. The Book of Dr. DA Carson

Update: June 2006 – Still no word from Dr DA Carson but thats OK. He doesn’t need to contact me about anything. But I kinda did think he would send an email or something.

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" :-)

54 Comments

  • Here is the URL for the Vineyard’s response to D.A. Carson’s critique in the book “Power Religion: The Selling Out of the Evangelical Church?”. The Vineyard’s response is downloadable as a PDF on this page.
    http://www.vineyardusa.org/publications/positionpapers.aspx
    Interesting that even though Carson and Grudem (the author of the Vineyard’s response) were both teaching at the same seminary at the time, it appears that Carson didn’t take the time to interact with a valuable, theologically astute colleague before writing his critique.
    A pattern?

  • My respect for Carson is his ability to research. In listening to his lectures on emergent, his research methods have failed him. With so much of emergent online and in the form of dialogue and discussion, I have found his title to be ironic. A more appropriate title woud be “Becoming Researchant With Emergent.”
    I do want to be gracious and kind to Carson in that I think he has waded into something that he does not fully grasp (and he has not grasped that he has not fully grasped it!). I know some Koine Greek, but if I went toe to toe with him, everybody knows that Carson is the expert. Likewise, I think that many emergent bloggers have a much firmer grasp on the “language” of emergent than Carson. Even if he doesn’t want to hear it, we owe it to our Christian brother to humbly fill him in on what he may be missing.
    Thanks Andrew for your gentle step forward, I think you’re on the right track.

  • Having studied under Dr. Carson at Trinity, I’ve felt the need to wade into this debate as well. Like Ed, I respect Carson’s research capabilities; I own almost every book he’s ever published.
    But as I listened to his Cedarville lectures about Emergent, I kept thinking, “This is not like him…he is usually more thorough in his research…he is fighting against straw men, something that he is usually so good at avoiding…what’s up with this?”
    I think that he really DOES need to become “conversant with emergent” in order for his preconceptions to be changed. Having interacted with him personally, I know that Ed nails his mode of operation exactly—he interacts with what has been published in books or academic journals and does it through being published in books and academic journals. Is suspect (though I don’t know him well enough to make this presumption), that he does not do as well with actually having heart-to-heart talks with people. His title is “research Professor.” That’s what he does. And, maybe the fact that what he needs to research is in blogdom, he is missing a major chunk of the research he needs to conduct. (Though I suspect that he is computer-savvy enough to read blogs—he was one of the initial researchers to use computers in Greek syntax research. The guy is extremely bright.
    I think that the problem lies in the fact that he assumes that the goal of emergent is to overthrow Reformation Calvinist Christianity, and so he has taken a defensive posture. When we are defensive, our ability to hear what others are actually saying gets muddied. I noticed a few times in the Cedarville lectures that you could hear his frustration—this seems to me to be PERSONAL for Carson, not just academic (though it is mostly academic). Maybe Emergents need to be a little more gracious toward Calvinists and then he would be more willing to step closer to hear what we are saying.
    Andrew, I appreciate your not wanting to “argue [Carson’s] points or [his] criticism. [You] have done so briefly, half-heartedly, as have many others.” I know that this is not the point of this particular blog. But somebody has to argue Carson’s points (and NOT half-heartedly)…It is the language that Carson understands—a point-by-point refutation of his arguments.
    Who will do this?

  • On thing in defense of Carson. The Emergent Church is, well, emergent. That means that things aren’t very well defined and all nailed down. Each of us conceives of what the Emergent Church is (both inside and outside the conversation) and react to that positively or negatively.
    Carson is not known for tilting at strawmen. As Bob pointed out, that simply isn’t his style. What may be happening is that he’s read certain material and is reacting to that. Not everyone in the conversation agrees with 100% of what McLaren says but he’s the most prominent spokesman. Not everyone on agrees with everything Yaconelli wrote, and yet he was published as a leader.
    So, pick your niche of the Emergent conversation and you get your view of it. I doubt that Carson set out to select only the worst in the movement, but I’d bet he did consider who the most prominent voices in it are and then dealt with them.
    Let’s proceed slowly here. Mohler’s critique and possibly Carson’s book may be premature but don’t repeat the “mistake” and respond to his book before it is published! Talk about a preemptive strike. 🙂

  • Great Post Andrew! From listening to his lectures I got the impressing that most of his criticism was against Brian McLaren – some criticism that I would also support.
    The problem is that people are not making a difference between the emerging church and McLaren. I think McLaren makes a lot of us in the conversation look like relativist morons to the outsiders…
    Am I wrong?

  • I cringed back in September when I heard his thoughts that the emergent movement was “American and 10 years old.”
    And Bob, while Carson might want/need a point by point refutation, that really doesn’t answer the larger issue.
    As believers, it’s good theology to do our stuff in community with mutual accountability. The latest pattern of firing solo missles out in the darkness is disturbing and I’m not sure it’s helping anybody.
    Then again, what do I know.
    Great read. I linked it.

  • There is an actual conversation taking place in Southern California in May. The guys sitting around the table represent some of the most compassionate and articulate representatives of the evangelical movement in it’s most rational forms, and I have a lot of confidence in their motivations – they want a conversation, not a debate.
    Here’s the thing: McLaren’s NKOC series shouldn’t be the only basis for their understanding of the emerging movement, but it will be unless we connect them with other resources. I’ll post email addresses over at my corner of the net, and if you want to influence the conversation, send them links, links, links.
    -ml

  • Andrew, you have done a nice job of asking the right questions of Dr. Carson. I sure hope he enters the conversation, so we can move forward. I appreciate your voice so much.

  • Andrew,
    We’ve never met, but from the southeast US, let me say that you’ve done a biblically sound job of trying to converse with someone who may not want to be conversing. Nothing in your “Open Blog” comes off as being guilty of the things about which you have concerns.
    Cruise missiles can do worlds of damage, but sometimes miss the intended target. I hope, for all our sakes, that Drs. Carson, et al, don’t fire missiles at individuals with whom they disagree, and, unintentionally, demolish a lot of kingdom colaborers, bystanders and searchers.

  • Andrew,
    Extremely well said. I applaud you. One of the best things I’ve read by you in the year plus that I’ve been following your blog.
    I would respectfully like to address something Bob Robinson wrote in a comment above. And no disrespect meant to Bob. I don’t know him, but what he wrote struck me. He wrote, “somebody has to argue Carson’s points (and NOT half-heartedly)…It is the language that Carson understands—a point-by-point refutation of his arguments.”
    Does somebody really need to do this? I’ve never once in my entire life seen a debate convince anyone. I happen to be from the Vineyard Movement and I know that at one point, John Wimber decided that he would not spend his time and energy constantly defending the movement against its critics anymore, that the truth was best served simply by going ahead and “doing the stuff” and living it out.
    There will always be crtics. There will always be those who only understand “point by point refutations.” Because they refuse to understand anything else?
    Call me simplistic if you will (and I probably am), but I am of the view that we err if we pay so much attention to the critics that our attention is diverted away from the stuff that really matters. I’ve seen it happen too many times.
    Ok, I’ve said my two cents. Now I’ll go back to doing what I am called to do and not getting my shorts in a wad over Don Carson. No disrespect meant to anyone. Peace be with you all. Out.

  • A,
    thanks for your comment re; Vineyard. This morning i read Grudem’s response to Carson for the first time – amazing how many similarities between now and then.
    I would say that we in the emerging church are the NEW CHARASMATICS in that regard. (PDF here) Although, I would have sided with Carson 15 years ago on the charo/vineyard issue and have since moved on.
    but there are differences:
    – the Vineyard would not have invited Carson to speak at their conferences because he thought differently . .. where we would probably be quite delighted to have Carson teach us the Bible and tolerate him with joy, even though he doesnt like us.
    – The Vineyard response was a single shot by a heavy hitter, whereas we are hundreds of bloggers all contributing our thoughts in community, with a half dozen people out front to bat.

  • Great post, Andrew!
    “Ed C” may be onto something when he notes that Carson could see emergent theology as basically hostile to “Reformation Cavinist Christianity.” Now, my own theological leanings are reformed, (“charismatic reformed baptist,” thank you!), and I do not see emergent as an attack on protestant orthodoxy. We need the dialogue. On a general note, it conjures a “straw man” to say either, a) historic orthodoxy is not open to mystery — hey, what then do you do with the doctrine of the Trinity? — or, b) that postmodern theologies are completely untethered from absolute truth claims — which has been noted by Andrew in his response to Carson’s tape series! There’s much more common ground between these diverse streams of Christian thought and practice. I personally believe that emergent is contributing significantly to the dialogue. I hope that traditionalists, of any theological persuasion, will see this conversation as productive, and as part of the way the universal church is going about loving G-d with heart, mind and soul in our day.

  • Who is Don Carson and why should I care what he has to say?
    I know I know, I need to read more posts and other items etc. etc. blah blah blah.
    I’ve been scratching a little at a time at the “emergent” whatever it is. I’m not sure that I would say its the “emergent church” because I’ve not heard enough people committed to that phrase. I am slow and methodicial and I am coming from the core of one the the “traditional church’s” so I may not be able to fully appreciate fullness of the circumstances. But, what I do know is this, if whatever “Emergent” is or will be is going to stand the test of time then it will have to quit worrying about the descenters. AND it will have to quit being descenters. Look, don’t be seek to be “emergent” just because your angry and fed up with “traditional” church and all its foibles. Because you will end up creating the same smelly stuff that you hope to emerge from. Be “emergent” because that is what you believe God is calling you to be.
    I’m going to the Nashville Convention to further explore what “emergent” is, and wether or not its something that I can find respit and resource in. And quite prayerfully to find out if its something that could assist my tradition in the transitions that are happening right now.
    If I have to hear alot of whining debate and tit for tat one up man ship between individuals that are so prideful of their own existence that they have to credit themselves with their place on a Google search I’m not sure that it will have alot of interest for me.
    I don’t know who either or you people are or why I would want to listen to anymore of your debate. It quite honestly sounds like a bunch of the crap I have to listen to within my own tradition.
    Peace
    John D. Palmer

  • Andrew, thanks for this post. It was straightforward and yet grace-full. This is a great posture for all of to learn from as we face criticism toward Emergent, ourselves, our communities, etc. Thank you.

  • Great post Andrew. You and Brian McLaren are two incredibly gracious people.
    Side note to John Palmer: I’m an Episcopalian and also had no clue, nor cared, who Don Carson is. I’ve become somewhat familiar in the past months purely because of spats like this. I now know more about the Calvinist jihad than I really care to.
    A lot of the emergent movement in the US is people moving out of old school reformed and evangelical traditions. As they leave, the powers that be seem to feel a need to condemn them for rejecting those traditions.
    For those of us who are not in that situation it gets pretty tiresome, but the fact is it’s not where most of the creativity and energy of the emerging church is concentrated. I think you’ll find Nashville to be a great experience, and it won’t be focused on defense from criticism, it will be more looking ahead to what’s on the horizon.
    I’m hopeful that more Christians from non-fundamentalist, non-evangelical backgrounds will become involved with emergent to provide more diversity and get away from this “who owns the evangelical mind” type of debate.
    So welcome 🙂

  • Emergent-Evangelical Smackdown Continues (Mainliners look on bemused)

    Andrew Jones posts an open blogpost to Don Carson, related in particular to Carson’s imminent book critiquing the emerging church. For those of you, like me, who go

  • Emergent-Evangelical Smackdown Continues (Mainliners look on bemused)

    Andrew Jones posts an open blogpost to Don Carson, related in particular to Carson’s imminent book critiquing the emerging church. For those of you, like me, who go

  • The greatest thing about the church is diversity of thought. There are many people in traditional churches that will never hear the word emergent. That’s fine. Also, there are some that have heard of emerging churches, and don’t want to be involved with the conversation. That’s fine too. The thing that I’ve noticed while running in emerging circles (kind of a funny picture) is that thoughtful, intellectual discussion is common. Notice the word discussion, not lecturing. A teacher within or without the emerging church is going to have to be intellectually honest and open. They will be challenged about their thinking. Sweeping generalities won’t stand.
    Good response Andrew.

  • thanks for pursuing the conversation with Carson. the spirit of your open entry reflects a willingness to be wrong and to learn. it’s great.
    something i’ve noticed of “Reformation Calvinist Christians” (and this is a general statement, all are not like this), is that they have difficulty dealing with gray issues, their comfort zone is black and white. the emerging church is quite comfortable in the gray areas and dealing with the tension of meshing theology and culture. so, he’s gone on the offense. sadly, many will read his book (those who are not reading the internet and blogs) and will assume it is THE truth.
    thanks andrew, for showing everyone that there is a better way to deal with the issue. look forward to hearing carson’s response. (i hope!)

  • Well, there are a few reasons to care what Don Carson says:
    1) Many of us in the Emergent conversation are in the same basic camp as Carson, and respect what he says (as one of our key scholars). I know that many in Emergent are not from this camp, but for many of us, it is important to seek harmony in our fellowship.
    2) His criticisms are not ALL out in left field. He has some things to say that we should hear and respond to in a positive manner. Thus, I really think that a dialogue—a “point-by-point” dialogue—would benefit both Carson (and his camp) and those in the Emergent camp.
    3) If we become haughty and turn our noses up at those who criticize us without seeking to engage in conversation for the sake of understanding, then we are no better.
    4) I am very familiar with Wayne Grudem—he was one of my theology professors in seminary (while Carson was one of my NT profs)—and I found it amazing that colleagues on the same faculty could not communicate better than they did about the Vineyard issue. Wayne Grudem is one of the gentlest, kindest men I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, and another of the highest regarded scholars of the Calvinist camp. I know the pattern that Carson seems to have and I have been critical of it myself in the past, but grace still calls for emergent to reach out and try anyway.

  • just posted today on the fact that the church is and has been emerging, long before the Emergent conversation became a formal and organized entity.
    Your open letter will be one i send many readers to, as they wonder about and wander into the current controversy. Thank you for broadening the discussion with wisdom, truth and humility; the mud slinging has become tiring and unproductive, i hope your gracious efforts yield fruit

  • emerging church teens

    In response to the skinny kiwi’s open letter to don carson: some of us are babies, needing nuture, care and gentleness. to be abandoned by parents is devasting. some of us are teenagers, still wanting the approval of our fathers…

  • Thanks Andrew.
    Carson was my advisor when I was at Trinity in the early 90’s. I have great respect and admiration for him. I thank God for Dr. Carson. So, yes, I so identify with your description of those who love Don and who have a heart for for those of a non-traditional mindset.
    Since Trinity, God put me on an “emergent” journey before I even knew that was what “it” was “supposed” to be called. (tongue planted firmly in cheek) It is within this movement where I find my gifts and life experiences fit “for such a time as this.”
    Andrew, you’re my proxy for this conversation with Don. I’ll be listening intently as one who has been taught by both parties.

  • I taught with DA Carson, whom I affectionately called “DA What’s-his-name?” in class, for eleven years at TEDS, and consider him a friend, and a very careful scholar. We don’t always agree, but he deserves our respect.
    Tomorrow, on my website, I’ll begin blogging a summary of Carson’s book and some responses to what he says. I won’t summarize the whole content of each chapter, but I’ll do my best to put the stuff on the table and try to help the conversation going.
    But, I’ll begin with this observation here: to understand Emergent requires one to read blogs, to attend Emergent conferences, to go to some of their churches, and to chat with their leaders. This stuff can’t really be found in books yet. McLaren is but one voice in this polyphonic and creative attempt to reach into our world with a new embodiment of the gospel for a new generation.
    Scot McKnight
    http://www.jesuscreed.blogspot.com
    http://www.scotmcknight.com

  • reminds me of something an actual pharisee said 😉
    Acts 5:38-39
    “So my advice is, leave these men alone. If they are teaching and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is of God, you will not be able to stop them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God.”
    I reckon people on both sides could take a leaf out of Gamaliel’s book here….

  • I think the post is needed but to me, it has a bit of an edge that is unnecessary. We’re all on the same side. Let Love be our #1 argument.

  • Andrew Jones: An Open Blog Post for Don Carson 1.0

    Our favorite height-endowed girth-challenged Kiwi has virtually inked “An Open Blog Post for Don Carson” which is a good read. Give it a read… you’ll find four questions to D.A. Carson rather than 4 refutations. Of course, unless mine is the onl…

  • thanks everyone for your comments and thoughts. If Scot McKnight wants to pick up the conversation and take it from here, then i am happy to pass the baton today over to him.
    My interaction with Acts 15 and my reason for giving it to a teacher is blogged this morning at The Carson Chronicles – Where Now?and an intro to Scot with the appropriate link is there also.
    Blessings on all.

  • andrew –
    dude, you are so much kinder then i 🙂 i am not a fan or carson, and i tried to read a book of his once, and never finished it – i find it par for the course for those in the “modern evagelcial” camp to make statements about us (in the emerging) without even knowing who we are – and the most interesting part of the whole deal is that others in the camp take their words as “pure truth.”
    in that, i would love to express that i find most emerging churches (even the ones that suck) are striving hard to truly express the christ they see in the reality of their walk – suck or not, it is easy to pick on the young, they have less of a voice 🙂 so, carson needs to know that others are seeking to help give voice to those young churches – and people like carson do not “push us around.” 🙂
    great post bro – loved it 🙂

  • g’day tsk
    good thoughts mate!
    I have listened to two of Carson’s talks and am yet to get to the third.
    I am fine with legit critique – a small portion of what I heard. I am angry at poorly researched broad brush critique. A biblcal scholar ought to know better.
    There is a time to call a spade a spade – and maybe this is the Aussie in me, but Carson is asking for a bloody big fight with some of those comments.
    I realise I have been less gracious than you in this comment. But I am sick of (somewhat) uninformed people speaking as some kind of authority on an expression of church i identify with and trivialising it.
    i am in the process of some writing of my own and one chapter will be devotedd to dealng with the critique of the emergening missional church by Carson et al.
    I will be nice 🙂

  • Andrew — I think the most part of this hub-bub is something you only hinted at early in this post, Why should we care if emergent or the emerging church is criticized by DA Carson? I had to research the guy before I even knew who he was (being a Catholic turned Pentecostal).
    Is it to protect our “brand” (for lack of a better term). The thing that makes the emerging church unique and different (and I may say a formidable subversive force for the Kingdom) is that it won’t go away just because someone critiques it or “tarnishes” our good brand.
    I can’t imaging Alan Creech shutting down Vines and Branches after reading a book or if the emerging church because a “negative” description.
    Why? The this phenomenon grew out of critique, deconstruction, debate and conversation. We thrive on books like this, it makes us stronger, more convinced in what we’re doing. It unifies us, gets us to talk with one another and even talk more with others who disagree with us.
    And what Carson and others don’t realize is we’ll change, especially if we think we’re wrong. We’ll change even if we don’t think we’re wrong.
    I find it odd that a book needs to be written to describe the emerging church; it’s all out there online. (I’ve often maintained that this so-called movement could only have occurred after the advent of the Internet.) We don’t hide what we believe. Just use Google and learn all about us.
    But that is a problem?
    Why because you’ll get 50 different explanations from 1000 different people and learn of 80 churches in 25 countries all claiming affiliation. The beauty of a book like Carson’s is that we are distilled, reduced. Why? So we can be studied. In our multifaceted form, it is too overwhelming. But we are overwhelming.
    But that is who we are, diverse, but somehow we find commonality with one another.
    In strictly PR strategic terms, Carson is making a mistake in taking on the emerging church in a published book. If his hope is the quell the emerging church, or warn the unsuspecting church or whatever. (For all I’ve read, it is not to engage in conversation?)
    It is the same PR mistake the Anti-defamation League made when it protested the Passion; it just made the Passion bigger. Others are making the same mistake with the Da Vinci Code; they will make the Ron Howard movie a huge success. Just like the Emergent No blog, all this will eventually backfire on them.
    We are experts in word of mouth, conversation and debate. Granted, we will help him sell lots of books, but our conversation will dominate the mindspace of more people.
    His best strategy would be to let us alone and hope we disintegrate much like the Jesus People movement did in the US a few decades ago. Instead, he is using a old form (a book) to make an apologetic against a new form that isn’t well codified in book form.

    FYI: Notice that Zondervan is benefiting from both sides of this, publishing both Brian and Carson.
    Sorry for the length and maybe being off topic.

  • tim
    you are not off topic at all – all very interesting and relevant . . . and funny (the Zondervan part)
    maybe Dr carson should give us royalties on his book? And tapes.
    i deleted your first comment so no one will ever see your lame spelling mistakes.
    thanks much

  • Tim Bendar wrote:
    And what Carson and others don’t realize is we’ll change, especially if we think we’re wrong. We’ll change even if we don’t think we’re wrong.

    So then why chaff at some criticism? Take the good to heart and ignore the bad. I’ve listened to 2 of 3 of Carson’s lectures and I recognized where I believe he missed the point. That doesn’t disqualify everything he’s said.

    Tim Bendar wrote:
    The beauty of a book like Carson’s is that we are distilled, reduced. Why? So we can be studied. In our multifaceted form, it is too overwhelming. But we are overwhelming.

    From Carson’s introduction:

    Nevertheless, the diversity of the movement, as well as its porous borders, ensure that I have not found it easy to portray it fairly. I have tried to be accurate in description and evenhanded in evaluation. Even so, I must underscore the fact that when I am forced (for the sake of avoiding endless qualifications) to resort to generalization in order to move the discussion along, one can almost always find some people in the movement for whom the generalization is not true, and others who do not think of themselves as belonging to the emerging church movement who nevertheless share most of its values and priorities.

    Tim Bendar wrote:
    If his hope is the quell the emerging church, or warn the unsuspecting church or whatever.

    The title of the book is Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications. I think his purpose is to make the non-Emergent folks aware of what the Emergent Church is about.

  • Andrew, you should talk about speling:) I’ve got you on record that you don’t pay much attention to such tings:)
    Anyways, my point is that if a movement is as DA Carson admits, fluid, dynamic and tough to define, then how do you proceed with the rest of the book.
    Should we just stop right there and say I don’t know.
    If what he says is true, then what is the book about? A generalization. And generalizations don’t exist, they only serve rhetorical purpose. And usually that type of rhetoric has a movivation and agenda that has nothing to do with the object being deconstructed.
    I found this out when I tried to write about “spiritual bloggers”. I eventually figured out that although they seem to exist, they don’t. They only exist so far as to have something to discuss but in reality there are none.
    Now, that doesn’t make the discussion useful.
    We often invent something, and make something there for the sole purpose of deconstructing it, but the problem is that the something we’re describing is not there. It’s an invention. Maybe a useful invention, science does this all the time; they call it the scientific method. But gravity and such is more complex in reality then an equation or observation leads one to believe.
    The emerging church is guilty of the same thing when we talk about the “traditional” church.
    I sound like Dick Cheney. Basically, it is like if a tree falls in the forest does it hit something called the emerging church.
    I wrote a post a long time ago telling critics not to worry because the emerging church doesn’t really exist. I still think that, despite all the thousands of bytes I’ve wasted writing about it.
    I think we should eat the chicken spit out the bones, go on with our mission and not get to sidetrack with a debate but focus on the conversation.

  • I did not mean “Now, that doesn’t make the discussion useful.” Rather I meant, “Now, that doesn’t mean the discussion isn’t useful.”

  • tim
    good point. the emerging church is so intertwined with the Other that it is almost futile to seperate them for the sake of a spanking or for a compliment.
    i would be happy to just move on with what we are doing, in cooperation with the traditional/residual/modern/whatever church, just as we have been doing for the last 10 years, and as i have been doing for the last 20 years.

  • that “Zondervan benefitting from Brian and DA books” bit is significant- is it encouraging dialogue or selling more books capitalizing on a “vulnerable” point of sincere people who are trying their best to “love Jesus and serve him”? That’s the naughty Chinese in me talking.
    I think the Aussie Hamo has good points, I look forward to read his chapter.
    [andrew] – it would be funny if zondervan were doing that on purpose, but i have met with the zondervan folk, and they are genuine people who are helping build the body of christ – and maybe having books from both sides is a way to add balance to the conversation.

  • Following the Zondervan comments just made I’m not sure how welcome this announcement will be but…
    I just bought Carson’s book from the TEDS bookstore so it has been released into the wild. Check your local Christian Trinket Store, they may have gotten it with the latest shipment of Precious Moments and The Jabez Driven Life Daily Devotional book. 🙂

  • Andrew– just thought you might like to know that Justin Taylor has continued his response to your post here. Makes me want to re-listen to the Carson lectures– and get my hands on the book. Blessings

  • Thanks Andrew for the [note]. I apologize if my comment came across as an accusation on Zondervan. I agree that publishers should be open to both sides … I was just wondering … but like in all things knowing the people makes a difference doesn’t it?
    BTW, I enjoyed your short talk at Harambee.