Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church

In Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church, Carson interacts with the key players of the Emergent Church “conversation”. One might think that he, based on his previous writings & ties with TEDS would be very anti-emergent. But in Becoming Conversant, Dr. Carson speaks as one in no camp, but being purely objective. He speaks of positives - things which the universal Church can embrace & come together over; he also offers constructive criticism & things which people should be wary of, regarding the movement.
Dr. Carson spends a chapter each on the pros & cons of the Emergent Church. Dr. Carson is insistent that we must continually evaluate & weigh new philosophies of ministry as well as new cultural trends. We must be leery of jumping on the bandwagon of “the new thing” just because it is new & different. He mentions in the opening chapter that in 2003, 1,100 pastors chose to attend the Emergent Church convention over & above the National Pastor’s Convention. “Doubtless many…did not consider themselves part of the emerging church: they were exploring…” We must explore & understand the dynamics of a movement (any movement) before we give ourselves to it.
I have spent time looking at websites which have an emergent bent in their opinions & readers. Many, it seems, latch onto the outward trappings of the movement, which I easily could do, but rarely do you see average blogger speak of the philosophical implications of the movement.
God said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance…The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” We should take our cue from this passage. Don’t be all caught up in the candles, couches & coffee. What are the real implications of the movement? What is the philosophy behind it? What does it say about Truth?
Dr. Carson wants us to think about these things. He lays out the philosophy behind the whole postmodern thinking, so we will understand what we are getting into. He succinctly lays out the implications of postmodernism – good & not-so-good. He next looks at how the Emergent church reacts & critiques postmodernism.
Dr. Carson also interacts with Brian McLaren in critiquing his thought from his various publications including, but not limited to A Generous Orthodoxy, & A New Kind of Christian. This is a thoughtful review of the philosophy Mr. McLaren lays out in his writings. Dr. Carson’s discourse on Mr. McLaren’s works was fair, & balanced & very helpful to me. I found myself attempting to guess the response Dr. Carson would have to a certain quoted passage from Mr. McLaren.
This was a fascinating read which was witty, insightful & very helpful in trying to understand the Emergent Church. I greatly appreciated the list of Bible passages Dr. Carson listed “to help us in our evaluation.” A great resource for anyone trying to evaluate & get started interacting with the Emergent “conversation”.

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