Andrew Jones at TallSkinnyKiwi has offered an initial "Open Blog Post for Don Carson."
Having studied under D. A. Carson at Trinity, I've felt the need to wade into this debate as well. (I remember one professor [who shall remain unnamed] calling him "E.F. Hutton" because the old commercials for the E.F. Hutton company had this tagline: "When E.F. Hutton speaks, everyone listens.") I respect Carson's research capabilities; I own almost every book he's ever published.
But as I listened to his Cedarville lectures about Emergent, I kept thinking, "This is not like him...he is usually more thorough in his research…he is fighting against straw men, something that he is usually so good at avoiding…what’s up with this?”
I think that he really DOES need to become “conversant with emergent” in order for his preconceptions to be changed. Having interacted with him personally, I know what his mode of operation is—he interacts with what has been published in books or academic journals and does it through being published in books and academic journals. His title is “Research Professor.” That’s what he does. And, maybe the fact that what he needs to research is in blogdom, he is missing a major chunk of the research he needs to conduct. (Though I suspect that he is computer-savvy enough to read blogs—he was one of the initial researchers to use computers in Greek syntax research. The guy is extremely bright.)
I think that the problem lies in the fact that he assumes that the goal of emergent is to overthrow Reformation Calvinist Christianity, and so he has taken a defensive posture. When we are defensive, our ability to hear what others are actually saying gets muddied. I noticed a few times in the Cedarville lectures that you could hear his frustration—this seems to me to be PERSONAL for Carson, not just academic (though it is mostly academic). Maybe Emergents need to be a little more gracious toward Calvinists and then he would be more willing to step closer to hear what we are saying.
Andrew Jones says to Carson, "I don’t want to argue your points or your criticism. I have done so briefly, half-heartedly, as have many others."
But somebody has to argue Carson’s points (and NOT half-heartedly)…
It is the language that Carson understands—a point-by-point refutation of his arguments.
Who will do this?