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May 26, 2005



All you're doing is claiming that Carson didn't get the sources or the culture right. Because the emerging church is a moving, living mass that is never the same as it was two minutes ago. You can never write anything clear, precise, or true about it without offending half of the people in it for different reasons.

Postmodernism is retarded.


Once the postmodern era has become stale and stagnant, we will remember our foolishness with regret, as we move on to appease the culture we now face, our children's generation, our grandchildren's generation.

And they will mock our swayed minds and hearts.

Could we not stand strong on God's word? Did we have to give in to the culture's ridiculous theories and theologies?

Let's not look at each other and say, you are not right because my culture is doing things this way, let's decide right and wrong from the Scripture, the only lasting thing in life. Our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, remember?


I appreciate your concerns about postmodernism, and share some of them. The problem is that you are assuming that there is one way to interpret the word of God, and history has shown that to be a false premise.
The emerging church, and all missional Christians, are trying to re-think how we faithfully interpret God's word. As I have reexamined my faith, I find that a lot of what I accepted as Biblical had a lot more to do with contemporary culture than the Bible. It is a healthy thing to ask these questions, but we're all going to need some grace from our Brothers and Sisters in Christ as we come up with new answers, and inevitably get some wrong.

God's Peace, Rich

Drew Addington

Interesting critique, however, in understanding the part of Carson's book that critiques post modernity, it seems given that some parts of every culture will be challenged by Christianity—Carson was trying to identify some of these. Also, as one who has studied philosophy your critique of his emphasis epistemology is misguided. In philosophy, a position held in one area such as epistemology will necessarily affects all other areas such as ethics or methodology. Hence a discussion on the most primary issue is most beneficial. I appreciate the time you have spent vocalizing your reaction to Carson's book.

tad DeLay

my opinion on this work here:

I liked his critique of postmodernism, but it would have been nice if he had shown any indication that he had talked to people in or tried to understand the emergent before he wrote a book called "becoming conversant..."


I am just now trying to wrap my brain around what Emergent or Emerging, or the Emergent Church, or what the Emergent Village actually is, mostly because it does affect me. I have a sister who is a pastor of a church that claims to be "emergent." We were both raised by loving parents in "the ministry." My family is a Spirit-Filled family with conservative Weslyan Evangelical roots. So I see myself and my sister, moving from those roots into Spirit-filled things and engaging in our cultures to be obvious "target candidates" for the movement (meaning, likely to be somewhat more comfortable with the movement.)

Here is a quick "critique" of this critique: The Emergent notion of a "conversation" is a new way of simply describing what is fundamentally not a conversation but a Greco-Roman style of "public speaking" to people who have moved from pews to couches. I am only half joking, but there is a lot of truth in it. Said another way, to join the "Emergent Conversation" you have to either sit in the couch / pew, or be writing pseudo-theological books (I say pseudo-theological because everytime the books / blogs/ articles are critiqued, the authors claim "foul! We aren't theologians!" - hence pseudo-theological.) The fact is that it really isn't a conversation any more than two people playing chess from two different countries via email. So, it is my opinion, that while we continue to imagine that the Emergent Conversation is really two people sitting across from each other having a coffee and baking the grey matter, the fact is that most Emergent churches are falling into one of two categories: (1) not knowing what the Emergent Village really thinks "theologically" but like the sound and ideas conveyed by the term "emergent" or "emerging" and so unintelligently identify with the movement, or (2) are reading the popular authors that Carson reviewed. They may be the "wrong" authors, but they are the ones that are being read. So, for as much as those books are "conversant" I believe Carson is adding to their notion of the "conversation." It isn't about "talking"... it is about adding to the body of what is said on a topic. This blog is more "conversant" that the body of opinion shared by emergent leaders within the scope of actual two-or-more-people-talking-conversations.

Having said that, I am not saying that all of the "talking points" coming out in the "emergent conversation" are wrong or that we cannot get something from them. But equally so, there is plenty of wacky stuff coming out of the movement (and yes, while we might start debating if "emergent" is a movement, I think the fact of the existance of the Emergent Village and that it employes people professionally takes that debate off of the table) and we need to examine it thoroughly. I imagine since we are critiquing a book, then we are comfortable with critiquing the movement it addresses.

I would agree with a number of you that appreciate the fact that the Emergent movement seems to universally value the idea of people identifying with the "way of Jesus." This often plays out as various "journey" statements that seem to commonly value living a life like Jesus. But it is people like D.A. Carson who are simply addressing the fact that it is a dichotomy of belief to think that we can live life like Jesus, but have a hard time defining that since multiple Emergent authors in the "conversation" are rejecting "propositional theological statements" (basically saying that we can't know what is really meant, so even though Jesus said multiple times in the New Testament "Go and sin no more", propositionally we can't say "Jesus doesn't want people to engage in sin"... a bold propositional statement.)

Does every believer or author who calls himself emergent think this way about propositional theology? From what I can see, no. But that is the problem with emergent then. It is so nebulous to really not mean much of anything, but popular enough to sell books and want to print church logos with the word in the title.

On the topic of postModern versus Modern: Nothing is new under the sun. Most emergent authors know they are nearly quoting first and eleventh and fourteenth century authors. Analytical definitely predates "Modern" thought, was popular culturally since the days of Plato, and it is promoted in the writings of emergent authors (McLaren has written about the Christian love affair with "truth" and "clarrity" rejecting in one breath and saying "let me be clear" about some propositional truth he wants to communicate in the next.) It seems that people believe they can figure stuff out. People believe that they can find something that is more true than something else (if they think that they KNOW that universal truth doesn't exist, they are just simply believing that statement to be more true than a belief in universal truth.) This all naturally makes the point: Theology happens. Whether you decide to call it that, or claim that your theological statements do not have to be subjected to theological analysis, because you are not a theologan OR because you are post-modern makes no difference. It is symantical. These are a few mind-bending topics that come out of these popular books and I think I am concerned that people are absorbing this theology whole, but are being indoctrinated into thinking that "hey, we aren't theological, or hung up on clarriy or truth more than relationship" when the fact is that this IS some new theology that is just simply attempting to dodge reasonable introspection and real "conversation."

So far, in my "journey" I have met a hand full of post-modern emergent types, and they seem to (1) love people, and (2) talk about Jesus and (3) many of them simply reject a lot of Biblical stuff (meaning don't like the existance of certain bible verses or won't research what the Bible might have to say about a topic, but instead just rage against what they were taught about the Bible because suddenly "theology" is wrong or too limiting) because it doesn't fit into their world view (i.e. a lot of people are living together sexually and not getting married, so we should re-define love and commitment in this new post-modern context... not examining what the Bible has to say about it, in the context where it was said.)

I've also known a handfull of missionaries that have done pioneering works in South America. In some cases they were translating the Bible into a language that never had it before. They fought to find the right words that matched the context of that culture. What I tend to hear coming out of the emergent movement isn't an effort to contextualize the core message WITHIN the communication-tools of the culture, but to change the message itself (in some cases) to accomodate the norms of the culture. it is situations like this that have a reasonable person questioning if Emergent is really Christian, or just another religious perspective that is associating itself with some of the "characters" of the Hebrew and Christian texts.


Hi, you have a nice site, good Luck!.
I am from Uruguay and also now teach English, give true I wrote the following sentence: "Iris's route, ron, is local and often, but skate misinterprets him to be fuzion more than a local indicative open-wheel."

Thanks :P. Beatrice.

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One of the reasons I admire Thatcher is because she was clever, curious and well-informed. I think you need to get over your class analysis of this situation. I also think the idea of a conservative who has no time for the concept of the 'better' is a contradiction of terms.

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  • Hi, welcome to my former blog! My name is Ryan Bolger, and this is where I posted my thoughts on Jesus, culture, new forms of community, among other things. Come visit me at my new blog: http://www.ryanbolger.com. I still teach at Fuller Seminary in Southern California where I'm doing some writing as well. Feel free to bounce around the new or old website -- I hope it might stir your imagination -- feel free to stir mine as well by leaving some comments, preferably at the new site... Peace...


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