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Becoming Conversant With the Emerging Church

Becoming Conversant With the Emerging Church
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Becoming Conversant With the Emerging Church

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A perceptive evaluation of the new "emerging church" movement showing how we must not only interact with a fast-changing culture but also have our vision and practice of ministry shaped by biblical theology with Scripture as the norm.

A careful and informed assessment of the "emerging church" by a respected author and scholar.

The "emerging church" movement has generated a lot of excitement and exerts an astonishingly broad influence. Is it the wave of the future or a passing fancy? Who are the leaders and what are they saying?

The time has come for a mature assessment. D. A. Carson not only gives those who may be unfamiliar with it a perceptive introduction to the emerging church movement, but also includes a skilful assessment of its theological views. Carson addresses some troubling weaknesses of the movement frankly and thoughtfully, while at the same time recognizing that it has important things to say to the rest of Christianity. The author strives to provide a perspective that is both honest and fair. Anyone interested in the future of the church in a rapidly changing world will find this an informative and stimulating read.


- Publisher Becoming Conversant with the Emerging ChurchCopyright 2005 by D. A. CarsonRequests for information should be addressed to:Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataCarson, D. A.Becoming conversant with the emerging church : understanding a movement andits implications / D. A. Carson.p. cm.Includes bibliographical references and indexes.ISBN-10: 0-310-25947-9 (pbk.)ISBN-13: 978-0-310-25947-3 (pbk.)1. Postmodernism-Religious aspects-Christianity. 2. Non-institutionalchurches. I. Title.BR115.P74C37 2005262-dc22 2005000360CIPAll Scripture quotations from the Old Testament, unless otherwise indicated, are takenfrom the Holy Bible, New International Version. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.All Scripture quotations from the New Testament, unless otherwise indicated, are takenfrom the Holy Bible, Today''s New International Version. TNIV. Copyright 2002,2004 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.The website addresses recommended throughout this book are offered as a resource toyou. These websites are not intended in any way to be or imply an endorsement on the partof Zondervan, nor do we vouch for their content for the life of this book.All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrievalsystem, or transmitted in any form or by any means-electronic, mechanical, photocopy,recording, or any other-except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the priorpermission of the publisher.Interior design by Tracey WalkerPrinted in the United States of America05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 /?DCI/ 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1PREFACEA simplified form of the substance of this book was first delivered as threeStaley Lectures at Cedarville University in February 2004. I would like tothank the president and faculty who welcomed me so warmly, and thenumerous students who went out of their way to engage thoughtfully withwhat I was saying.As I attempt to make clear in the opening chapter, the "emerging (or''emergent'') church" movement, though scarcely a dozen years old, exertsan astonishingly broad influence. An entire literature has sprung up, withthose on the inside quoting and supporting one another in publicationsand conferences. In other words, a self-identity has already been established.Nevertheless, the diversity of the movement, as well as its porousborders, ensure that I have not found it easy to portray it fairly. I have triedto be accurate in description and evenhanded in evaluation. Even so, I mustunderscore the fact that when I am forced (for the sake of avoiding endlessqualifications) to resort to generalization in order to move the discussionalong, one can almost always find some people in the movement forwhom the generalization is not true, and others who do not think of themselvesas belonging to the emerging church movement who neverthelessshare most of its values and priorities. (Also, let it be noted that some of theleaders feel that this has not yet reached the dimensions of a movementand prefer to call it a "conversation.")I have tried to avoid too much technical discussion. The flavor of thelecture series has not been entirely removed. In reality that means this bookwill probably frustrate some readers in opposite ways: some will find thetreatment of postmodernism to be too elementary, and perhaps others willfind parts of it heavy going. The notes will help the former, and I hope thatrereading will help the latter. But the book is several times longer than themanuscript of the lectures. The brevity of the latter meant that I could notindulge in detailed documentation or introduce a lot of nuances and exceptions.Owing not least to the fact that some emerging church leaders havecriticized the lectures, in various blogs, for such omissions, I have tried inthis book to fill that gap as much as possible.Whenever a Christian mo

- Publisher Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church Copyright 2005 by D. A. Carson Requests for information should be addressed to: Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Carson, D. A. Becoming conversant with the emerging church : understanding a movement and its implications / D. A. Carson. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and indexes. ISBN-10: 0-310-25947-9 (pbk.) ISBN-13: 978-0-310-25947-3 (pbk.) 1. Postmodernism-Religious aspects-Christianity. 2. Non-institutional churches. I. Title. BR115.P74C37 2005 262-dc22 2005000360 CIP All Scripture quotations from the Old Testament, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. All Scripture quotations from the New Testament, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, Today's New International Version. TNIV. Copyright 2002, 2004 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. The website addresses recommended throughout this book are offered as a resource to you. These websites are not intended in any way to be or imply an endorsement on the part of Zondervan, nor do we vouch for their content for the life of this book. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means-electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other-except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher. Interior design by Tracey Walker Printed in the United States of America 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 /?DCI/ 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 PREFACE A simplified form of the substance of this book was first delivered as three Staley Lectures at Cedarville University in February 2004. I would like to thank the president and faculty who welcomed me so warmly, and the numerous students who went out of their way to engage thoughtfully with what I was saying. As I attempt to make clear in the opening chapter, the "emerging (or 'emergent') church" movement, though scarcely a dozen years old, exerts an astonishingly broad influence. An entire literature has sprung up, with those on the inside quoting and supporting one another in publications and conferences. In other words, a self-identity has already been established. 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. (Also, let it be noted that some of the leaders feel that this has not yet reached the dimensions of a movement and prefer to call it a "conversation.") I have tried to avoid too much technical discussion. The flavor of the lecture series has not been entirely removed. In reality that means this book will probably frustrate some readers in opposite ways: some will find the treatment of postmodernism to be too elementary, and perhaps others will find parts of it heavy going. The notes will help the former, and I hope that rereading will help the latter. But the book is several times longer than the manuscript of the lectures. The brevity of the latter meant

- Publisher
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About "Becoming Conversant With the Emerging Church"

A perceptive evaluation of the new "emerging church" movement showing how we must not only interact with a fast-changing culture but also have our vision and practice of ministry shaped by biblical theology with Scripture as the norm.

A careful and informed assessment of the "emerging church" by a respected author and scholar.

The "emerging church" movement has generated a lot of excitement and exerts an astonishingly broad influence. Is it the wave of the future or a passing fancy? Who are the leaders and what are they saying?

The time has come for a mature assessment. D. A. Carson not only gives those who may be unfamiliar with it a perceptive introduction to the emerging church movement, but also includes a skilful assessment of its theological views. Carson addresses some troubling weaknesses of the movement frankly and thoughtfully, while at the same time recognizing that it has important things to say to the rest of Christianity. The author strives to provide a perspective that is both honest and fair. Anyone interested in the future of the church in a rapidly changing world will find this an informative and stimulating read.

- Publisher

Becoming Conversant with the Emerging ChurchCopyright 2005 by D. A. CarsonRequests for information should be addressed to:Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataCarson, D. A.Becoming conversant with the emerging church : understanding a movement andits implications / D. A. Carson.p. cm.Includes bibliographical references and indexes.ISBN-10: 0-310-25947-9 (pbk.)ISBN-13: 978-0-310-25947-3 (pbk.)1. Postmodernism-Religious aspects-Christianity. 2. Non-institutionalchurches. I. Title.BR115.P74C37 2005262-dc22 2005000360CIPAll Scripture quotations from the Old Testament, unless otherwise indicated, are takenfrom the Holy Bible, New International Version. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.All Scripture quotations from the New Testament, unless otherwise indicated, are takenfrom the Holy Bible, Today''s New International Version. TNIV. Copyright 2002,2004 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.The website addresses recommended throughout this book are offered as a resource toyou. These websites are not intended in any way to be or imply an endorsement on the partof Zondervan, nor do we vouch for their content for the life of this book.All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrievalsystem, or transmitted in any form or by any means-electronic, mechanical, photocopy,recording, or any other-except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the priorpermission of the publisher.Interior design by Tracey WalkerPrinted in the United States of America05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 /?DCI/ 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1PREFACEA simplified form of the substance of this book was first delivered as threeStaley Lectures at Cedarville University in February 2004. I would like tothank the president and faculty who welcomed me so warmly, and thenumerous students who went out of their way to engage thoughtfully withwhat I was saying.As I attempt to make clear in the opening chapter, the "emerging (or''emergent'') church" movement, though scarcely a dozen years old, exertsan astonishingly broad influence. An entire literature has sprung up, withthose on the inside quoting and supporting one another in publicationsand conferences. In other words, a self-identity has already been established.Nevertheless, the diversity of the movement, as well as its porousborders, ensure that I have not found it easy to portray it fairly. I have triedto be accurate in description and evenhanded in evaluation. Even so, I mustunderscore the fact that when I am forced (for the sake of avoiding endlessqualifications) to resort to generalization in order to move the discussionalong, one can almost always find some people in the movement forwhom the generalization is not true, and others who do not think of themselvesas belonging to the emerging church movement who neverthelessshare most of its values and priorities. (Also, let it be noted that some of theleaders feel that this has not yet reached the dimensions of a movementand prefer to call it a "conversation.")I have tried to avoid too much technical discussion. The flavor of thelecture series has not been entirely removed. In reality that means this bookwill probably frustrate some readers in opposite ways: some will find thetreatment of postmodernism to be too elementary, and perhaps others willfind parts of it heavy going. The notes will help the former, and I hope thatrereading will help the latter. But the book is several times longer than themanuscript of the lectures. The brevity of the latter meant that I could notindulge in detailed documentation or introduce a lot of nuances and exceptions.Owing not least to the fact that some emerging church leaders havecriticized the lectures, in various blogs, for such omissions, I have tried inthis book to fill that gap as much as possible.Whenever a Christian mo
- Publisher

Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church Copyright 2005 by D. A. Carson Requests for information should be addressed to: Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Carson, D. A. Becoming conversant with the emerging church : understanding a movement and its implications / D. A. Carson. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and indexes. ISBN-10: 0-310-25947-9 (pbk.) ISBN-13: 978-0-310-25947-3 (pbk.) 1. Postmodernism-Religious aspects-Christianity. 2. Non-institutional churches. I. Title. BR115.P74C37 2005 262-dc22 2005000360 CIP All Scripture quotations from the Old Testament, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. All Scripture quotations from the New Testament, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, Today's New International Version. TNIV. Copyright 2002, 2004 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. The website addresses recommended throughout this book are offered as a resource to you. These websites are not intended in any way to be or imply an endorsement on the part of Zondervan, nor do we vouch for their content for the life of this book. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means-electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other-except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher. Interior design by Tracey Walker Printed in the United States of America 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 /?DCI/ 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 PREFACE A simplified form of the substance of this book was first delivered as three Staley Lectures at Cedarville University in February 2004. I would like to thank the president and faculty who welcomed me so warmly, and the numerous students who went out of their way to engage thoughtfully with what I was saying. As I attempt to make clear in the opening chapter, the "emerging (or 'emergent') church" movement, though scarcely a dozen years old, exerts an astonishingly broad influence. An entire literature has sprung up, with those on the inside quoting and supporting one another in publications and conferences. In other words, a self-identity has already been established. 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. (Also, let it be noted that some of the leaders feel that this has not yet reached the dimensions of a movement and prefer to call it a "conversation.") I have tried to avoid too much technical discussion. The flavor of the lecture series has not been entirely removed. In reality that means this book will probably frustrate some readers in opposite ways: some will find the treatment of postmodernism to be too elementary, and perhaps others will find parts of it heavy going. The notes will help the former, and I hope that rereading will help the latter. But the book is several times longer than the manuscript of the lectures. The brevity of the latter meant
- Publisher

Meet the Author

D A Carson

Dr Don (D. A.) Carson is currently Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. His areas of expertise include biblical theology, the historical Jesus, postmodernism, pluralism, Greek grammar, Johannine theology, Pauline theology, and questions of suffering and evil. Carson has written prolifically and profoundly on all these subjects.

Carson has written or edited 57 books - as well as numerous journal articles - ranging from New Testament commentaries to topical studies on the state of the contemporary church and its wider cultural context. His work is characterised by brilliant theological insight, thorough scholarship, and an uncompromising commitment to the essentials of Reformed doctrine.

Carson's landmark book, The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism won the 1997 Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Gold Medallion Award. Other works that examine the interaction of church and culture include The Inclusive Language Debate (1998), Becoming Conversant With the Emerging Church (2005), Christ and Culture Revisited (2008) and The Intolerance of Tolerance (2012).

Carson's exegetical works include volumes on individual New Testament books in the Revised Expositor's Bible Commentary, Pillar New Testament Commentary, Baker Exegetical Commentary, and New International Greek Testament Commentary. In Exegetical Fallacies (1984, 1996, 2nd ed.), Carson is at his incisive best, analysing the root causes of errors in biblical interpretation. He has also notably edited the New Testament Commentary Survey up to its 7th edition (2013), as well as the Zondervan Study Bible (2015).

Donald Arthur Carson was born in Montreal, Canada, in 1946. His undergraduate degree majored in mathematics and chemistry. He went on to undertake a Master of Divinity with a Baptist seminary and earned his PhD in New Testament from Cambridge University in 1975, the same year he married his wife Joy. In 1978, Carson joined the faculty of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he has worked ever since. In 2005 with Tim Keller, Carson founded The Gospel Coalition (TGC) - a network of Reformed churches dedicated to engaging and transforming the wider culture through speaking events, online advocacy, and publication. He continues to be an active guest lecturer in church and academic settings around the world.

Carson lives with his family in Liberty, Illinois. In his spare time he enjoys reading, hiking, and woodworking.

Table Of Contents

  • Contents
  • Preface...9
  • 1. The Emerging Church Profile...11
  • 2. Emerging Church Strengths In Reading The Times...45
  • 3. Emerging Church Analysis Of Contemporary Culture...57
  • 4. Personal Reflections On Postmodernism's Contribution
  • And Challenges...87
  • 5. Emerging Church Critique Of Postmodernism...125
  • 6. Emerging Church Weakness Illustrated In Two
  • Significant Books...157
  • 7. Some Biblical Passages To Help Us In Our Evaluation...188
  • 8. A Biblical Meditation On Truth And Experience...218
  • Scripture Index...237
  • Index Of Names...241
  • Subject Index...245

Excerpt

Excerpt from: Becoming Conversant With the Emerging Church

Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church PREFACE A simplified form of the substance of this book was first delivered as three Staley Lectures at Cedarville University in February 2004. I would like to thank the president and faculty who welcomed me so warmly, and the numerous students who went out of their way to engage thoughtfully with what I was saying. As I attempt to make clear in the opening chapter, the 'emerging (or 'emergent') church' movement, though scarcely a dozen years old, exerts an astonishingly broad influence. An entire literature has sprung up, with those on the inside quoting and supporting one another in publications and conferences. In other words, a self-identity has already been established. 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. (Also, let it be noted that some of the leaders feel that this has not yet reached the dimensions of a movement and prefer to call it a 'conversation.') I have tried to avoid too much technical discussion. The flavor of the lecture series has not been entirely removed. In reality that means this book will probably frustrate some readers in opposite ways: some will find the treatment of postmodernism to be too elementary, and perhaps others will find parts of it heavy going. The notes will help the former, and I hope that rereading will help the latter. But the book is several times longer than the manuscript of the lectures. The brevity of the latter meant that I could not indulge in detailed documentation or introduce a lot of nuances and exceptions. Owing not least to the fact that some emerging church leaders have criticized the lectures, in various blogs, for such omissions, I have tried in this book to fill that gap as much as possible. Whenever a Christian movement comes along that presents itself as reformist, it should not be summarily dismissed. Even if one ultimately decides that the movement embraces a number of worrying weaknesses, it may also have some important things to say that the rest of the Christian world needs to hear. So I have tried to listen respectfully and carefully; I hope and pray that the leaders of this 'movement' will similarly listen to what I have to say. I would like to thank Jonathan Davis and Michael Thate for compiling the indexes. Soli Deo gloria. D. A. CARSON Trinity Evangelical Divinity School 10 BECOMING CONVERSANT WITH THE EMERGING CHURCH Chapter 1 THE EMERGING CHURCH PROFILE What Are We Talking About? When I have mentioned to a few friends that I am writing a book on the emerging church, I get rather diverse reactions. 'What's that?' one of them asked, betraying that his field of expertise does not encourage him to keep up with contemporary movements. 'Are you going to focus primarily on Acts, or are you going to include the Pauline and other epistles?' queried another, presupposing that I am writing about the church as it 'emerged' in the first century---since, after all, I teach in a New Testament department at a seminary. Another colleague, known for his worldwide connections, asked, 'How did you become interested in the difficult and challenging questions surrounding the emergence of the church in the Two-Thirds World?' After all, the last hundred years have witnessed remarkable stories of 'emergence' in Korea, many parts of sub-Saharan black Africa, Latin America, certain countries of Eastern Europe (especially Ukraine, Romania, and Moldova), and elsewhere. The responses are sensible enough, since 'emerging' and related terms are words that have been applied to these and other circumstances,2 including some fairly esoteric discussions in the philosophy of science. But during the last dozen years, 'emerging' and 'emergent' have become strongly associated with an important movement that is sweeping across America, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere. Many in the movement use 'emerging' or 'emergent' (I will use the two words as equivalents) as the defining adjective for their movement. A dozen books talk about 'the emergent church' and 'stories of emergence' and the like.3 One website encourages its patrons in 'emergent friendship,' which turns out to refer, not to friendship that is emerging, but to the importance of friendship in the movement---thus confirming that 'emergent' is, for those in the movement, a sufficient label of self-identification, so that 'emergent friendship' is formally akin to, say, 'house church friendship' or 'Baptist friendship.' At the heart of the 'movement'---or as some of its leaders prefer to call it, the 'conversation'---lies the conviction that changes in the culture signal that a new church is 'emerging.' Christian leaders must therefore adapt to this emerging church. Those who fail to do so are blind to the cultural accretions that hide the gospel behind forms of thought and modes of expression that no longer communicate with the new generation, the emerging generation. The National Pastors Convention and the Emergent Convention were held simultaneously in San Diego in 2003; of the three thousand pastors who attended, 1,900 chose the more traditional forum, the NPC, while 1,100 chose the other. Before attempting to outline its emphases, I should stress that not only is the movement amorphous, but its boundaries are ill-defined. Doubtless many (I have no idea how many) of the thousand pastors at the Emergent Convention did not (at that time, anyway) consider themselves part of the emerging church: they were exploring, aligning themselves perhaps with some aspects of the movement but not with others. By contrast, one reason why the movement has mushroomed so quickly is that it is bringing to focus a lot of hazy perceptions already widely circulating in the culture. It is articulating crisply and polemically what many pastors and others were already beginning to think, even though they did not enjoy---until the leaders of this movement came along---any champions who put their amorphous malaise into perspective.

Customer Reviews For "Becoming Conversant With the Emerging Church"

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Another Witch hunt
1 stars By CJW, Aug 31 2007
That Carson has an axe to grind is obvious. His research is limited - he looks for what he wants to find and looks no further. The use of a singular example (McLaren) as a sample shows how entirely unrepresentative his description of the emerging church is. Worse than this, Carson comes close to deliberately misrepresenting the movement by his category mistakes - attempting to portray the movements motivations as naive theological adventurism (as if George W. Bush were running the rock-show), instead of a multi-faceted attempt at greater missionary engagement with the contemporary context. 

Those who wish to embark on a witch-hunt will find all the 'absolutely true, objectively factual evidence' that they need here.
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Product Details
  • Catalogue Code 224030
  • Product Code 0310259479
  • EAN 9780310259473
  • UPC 025986259471
  • Pages 256
  • Department Academic
  • Category Church
  • Sub-Category General
  • Publisher Zondervan
  • Publication Date May 2005
  • Sales Rank #22545
  • Dimensions 203 x 134 x 17 mm
  • Weight 0.226kg

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