Carson’s second critique of the Emerging movement is that it does not handle modernism very well. Why? Because the Emerging Church engages in making false antitheses, that is, setting up as opposites that which are not truly in conflicting categories.
Carson told the pastors in attendance at this seminar that the Emerging Church “says that ‘modernism is bad and postmodernism is good.’” Carson says that this is a false antithesis which launches Christians into a violent pendulum swing which succeeds only to divide brothers and sisters in Christ.
Carson's critique is that since the Emerging Church has embraced postmodernism and has rejected modernism in such a radical way, they exclude anybody who is not postmodern into their ranks, often based on age. If you accept postmodernism, you’re in, if not, you’re out. The Emerging Church’s false antithesis that modernism is bad while postmodernism is good creates a division in the Church.
This is a critique that the Emerging Church’s main voices need to hear. I’ve raised the red flag myself about how we in the EC can be too defensive, too combative, too ready to make a clear distinction between a “new way of doing things” and those “old fuddy-duds of the modern evangelical church.” Sometimes the rhetoric sounds like an adolescent that is trying to stake out her new-found independence from her parents – mom and dad are fools and I’m going to do things differently.
I wish we all could learn to be more careful in the way we try to criticize others. In our efforts to argue for change, the Emerging Church’s critique of the evangelical church of the last 100 years can often cross the line into false anthesis.
I am very aware that it is extremely difficult to nuance all of our arguments in this way. It’s easier to make stark contrasts – like when we say that “the modern church trusted Reason to prove their faith, while the postmodern church will trust faith in God (which may or may not lead to Reason).” That’s a simple, straight-forward statement that clearly dilineates the difference. But in reality, not everyone in the modern church trusted Reason as blatantly or simply as that. So, how do we nuance our rhetoric so that we can make clear the changes that we feel need to be made (in general categories) without creating false antitheses?
Posts in this series:
DA Carson versus the Emerging Church, 01
DA Carson versus the Emerging Church, 02
DA Carson versus the Emerging Church, 03
DA Carson versus the Emerging Church, 04
DA Carson versus the Emerging Church, 05
DA Carson versus the Emerging Church, 06
technorati: emerging church