The Book by Dr. D.A. Carson

BeingconvDr DA Carson’s eagerly awaited book has just came out. Its called "Being Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications". The book is based on a tape series (Tape 1 and 2) which many of us have been considering and discussing over a 5 month period.  Its no secret that many, many emerging church people feel ripped off and misrepresented by the analysis. I have done my best to get the skinny over the past 5 months – research, discussions, blogs, and even a few emails. A personal response from Dr Don Carson would have been nice, but then he is a busy man. No hard feelings. And he given the American emerging church some valuable warnings and advice.


– beware of a reactionary nature

– beware of manipulative sloganeering

– don’t be reluctant to communicate things in propositional form

– don’t project your limited backgrounds on the entire evangelical confessional movement

– recapture the sweep of biblical texts

– avoid sectarianism

– realize that the word "postmodern" is a red flag to many evangelicals

– begin talking about where postmodernism should be confronted

But there is a lot of disagreement and unrest from the emerging church camp regarding Dr. Carson’s analysis. This is how my thinking has progressed,  blog by blog, comment by comment. My journey with Carson’s material is chronicled in 6 comment-loaded blog posts, each one building on the other, pushing the conversation forward, inviting community response and interaction. It has been an emotional ride for me – and along the way I have shared my feelings, my doubts, my occasional bursts of anger, and my respect for teaches like Carson who have taken the time to give critique.


1. Carson and My Sleepless Night (Sept 1, 2004)

2. The Skinny on Carson’s Emerging Church Tapes (Sept 2, 2004)

3. The Skinny on Emergent Criticism (Dec 13, 2004)

4. Are We A Threat to the Gospel? (March 26, 2005)

5. Open Blog Post for Don Carson 1.1 (April 15, 2005)

6. The Carson Chronicles: Where Now? (April 16, 2005)

7. The Book of Dr. D.A. Carson


1.  "I am wondering how to address his remarks without disrespect to him or disunity within the church."

Carson and My Sleepless Night

2.  "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".

The Skinny on Carson’s Emerging Church Tapes

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3. "His attempt at a critique was therefore either a broken promise, or the beginning a relationship with us that is just beginning. I am hoping for the latter. In fact, i think once he meets us in person, he will like us, and we will be reconciled. . . and I therefore treat our relationship as it will exist in the future, Gods preferable future. And in this future, Don Carson finishes what he started, and gives us some necessary counsel."

The Skinny on Emergent Criticism

4. "Al Mohler and Don Carson are both worth reading because they have given attention to us. . .  I think its great that they are taking the effort and they deserve our respectful treatment as we respond to them."

Are We A Threat to the Gospel?

5. " . .  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. . . Under different circumstances, you and I would get on really well."

Open Blog Post for Don Carson 1.0

6. "Lets all continue with many counselors, synoptic vision and the enlightenment of God."

The Carson Chronicles: Where Now?

Consider my thoughts as just a tall skinny guy with a big nose being vulnerable with his thoughts and wanting to include others in the conversation for self-correction, and wanting a foundation to speak accurately and truthfully. Thanks to all who tracked with me and joined me in processing, discussing and bantering. It has been a good and healthy experience. Those of you that wish to critique Dr Carson’s book on your blogs or on Amazon, please be nice and godly and gentle and generous, even if you don’t agree with his accusations. We need critics to blow-torch us and we should honor all who try. Sometimes we must be willing to lose the battle so that the Body of Christ can win.

Buy The Book?

As a book that claims to be a "careful and informed assessment of the ’emerging church’" it fails badly.  .  . . so its hard for me to recommend you buying it. Much of the content is also blogged and easy to find. However, since the book has generated so much response on the internet by bloggers and emerging church people around the world, it may become something of a cult classic. So I am glad I ordered my copy. And if you find yourself talking to fundamental/evangelical groups and want to learn how to communicate your story without making their hair stand on end, then Carson’s book will be very helpful.

Those who want to discuss further are invited to check out Scot McKnight’s detailed response which is summarized by Bob Robinson here.


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" :-)


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    1. Banned from Commenting
    In pursuing a whim by starting, I’ve come across a number of people who have been severly mistreated over at, the site which a friend described as “a train wreck – it’s ho…

  • I think you’ve shown Dr. Carson all the respect he deserves and perhaps more.
    He did a hatchet job on the work of one of the foremost thinkers in my fellowship, Rubel Shelly, and his work I Just Want To Be A Christian.
    It’s just the beginning of a long list of critiques he has written. It’s his self-appointed job. He critiques. He’s a critic. We need them. But I’m not sure we need them to be as uncharitable as he has shown himself to be about those with whom he disagrees.
    You can disagree with someone without being dismissive or belittling. And I think you are obligated by the title “critic” to explain fully why you disagree.
    I appreciate your kind spirit in attempting to dialogue with him.

  • Dear Dr.Carson,
    I would like to know about some Greek word, for example koinonia, fobos, and hamatia.Now I study about “Greek word study” I am a student at Bangkok Bible College&seminary, my English not quite well but I can read. I heard about your book “Bible fallacy” {not sure} I would like to know the new meaning of NT Greek.
    I hope to hear from you.
    God bless

  • Banned Books, when banned for the right reason will somehow never reemerge back into the thoughtstreams of a civil society. I particularily enjoy politically banned books like God in the pits by mark andrew ritchie, and think that you may enjoy it as well.

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