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Current Read

Current Read

D. A. Carson's Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church has been sitting on my side bar as a "Current Read" almost as long as I've actually been reading it. So after finally breezing through the last chapter and a half, I figure I'll give my two cents, which is as much stock as most of my readers give to what I have to say.

Becoming Conversant above all is an extremely accessible book that gives a fair, yet biased, analysis of the Emerging Church and many of the main proponents of the Emerging Church. Carson steps through, as complete as he can, what the emerging church is, how they view current cultural trends and how they respond to those trends, before he gives his own analysis of their response and his own critique of where the emerging types have gone awry. As Carson admits, it is a difficult task to evaluate the emergents, because of the vast breadth that the term covers, just as postmodernism is as much a blanket term that encompasses both hard- and soft- postmoderns, who are very distinct in their epistemology.

In his most practical chapter, Carson takes a look at Brian McLaren's book A Generous Orthodoxy and to a lesser extent The Lost Message of Jesus, by Steve Chalke. Very un-generously, Carson takes apart McLaren's book, not in one fell swoop, but slowly and carefully like a surgeon, drawing out the many inconsistencies in McLaren's theology. The best, and briefest, example of this would be McLaren calling himself a Calvinist, but then takes apart the TULIP acronym and places his own meaning behind the letters, which has nothing to do with historical Calvinism. Even if you disagree completely with Calvinism, you can see the inconsistencies this brings.

So do we rely on our own experiences or on the truth of Scripture? Carson answers in this way:

Experience or truth? The left wing of an airplane, or the right? Love or integrity? Study or service? Evangelism or discipleship?... Damn all false antitheses to hell, for they generate false gods, they perpetuate idols, they twist and distort our souls, they launch the church into violent pendulum swings whose oscillations succeed only in dividing brothers and sisters in Christ. The truth is that Jesus Christ is Lord of all--of the truth and of our experience. The Bible insists that we take everyt thought captice to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Carson has put out an introductory book that is useful for anyone still trying to get a grasp of what postmodernism and the emerging church are all about. Further it rightly critiques many of their inconsistencies, while also acknowledging some of the contributions they bring-- but you have to search for those acknowledgments.