3/05/2007

DA Carson versus the Emerging Church, 05

The “most important” point that Carson wished to make is this:
He said that much in the movement fails to listen very intently to what Scripture says.

Carson explains that there are three streams in the Emerging Movement, which he called “Heterodox,” “Confessional,” and a “middle ground.” He praised those in the “Confessional” stream, naming Mark Driscoll, but he made it clear that most in the Emerging Church are not being biblical.

Too many in the Emerging Church are not focused, to Carson’s satisfaction, on expository preaching or on confessionalism.

Carson believes that the whole council of God is not being taught in Emerging Churches. Focusing more on experience, they are not leading their congregants into a catechetic confession of the faith. When the only thing people read are books like Blue Like Jazz or all they watch is Rob Bell’s Nooma videos, then they will never understand the historical redemptive storyline of the Bible. Rob Bell only offers “snippets” that are not connected to the whole counsel of God.

According to Carson, this is not “worldview evangelism.”

The Emerging Church is not passing along to their followers Christian doctrinal orthodoxy; what they are passing along to their followers is simply cultural analysis. “The Emerging Movement is excited about being emerging,” says Carson. And because that is what the leadership is excited about, that is all they can pass on to their followers.

Carson said that the emerging Church is attempting to be prophetic. However, in order to be prophetic, you must do so from the center. “You only sound prophetic from the margins.”

Carson’s main criticism of the Emerging Church's mishandling of Scripture has to do with the EC’s not embracing his understanding of the Atonement. I’ll look at that tomorrow.

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

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6 comments:

everythingbelongs said...

Bob,

Wouldn't you say this is where being "conversant" breaks down? Thinking a new believer "only" reads Blue Like Jazz and/or whatches Nooma videos is just a weird thought. Who can imagine a church that sits around reading Blue Like Jazz and watching Noomas as faith forming activities? This is where the EC people that have tried to engage the Carson's and others get frustrated. Watching a Nooma or reading a Blue Like Jazz does not represent what a year in the life of an ACTUAL church looks like.

Robert said...

Bob you are falling into the same evil generalizations that DA does. The nooma videos are not an end in themselves, they are conversation starters. They are one of the best evangelism tools around for this generation. Check out Ben Witherington's blog for his review of the nooma videos and you will see their purpose more clearly than listeing to DA.
bobtpa

Matt Wiebe said...

Carson said that the emerging Church is attempting to be prophetic. However, in order to be prophetic, you must do so from the center. “You only sound prophetic from the margins.”

That's an obtuse, patently ridiculous statement. This excludes most of the biblical prophets and more contemporary voices like Martin Luther King Jr.

Bob Robinson said...

Robert,

I think you're mistakenly thinking that I agree with Carson on these points. I'm just telling you what Carson said, because the weaknesses of the arguments (I believe) are so apparent.

I agree with you. Everythingbelongs and Matt Wiebe are also stating what I feel needs to be the assessment of Carson's statements.

postmodernegro said...

"Carson said that the emerging Church is attempting to be prophetic. However, in order to be prophetic, you must do so from the center. “You only sound prophetic from the margins.”

As a New Testament scholar you'd think he'd consider John the Baptist, Jesus, and the early discipleship communities before making such a statement. Peter was not from the 'center' of first century Palestinian society being the first leader of the early church after Jesus ascends. The New Testament is quite clear that the Jesus-ekklesia begins at the extremities of the Roman Imperial order. I thought this gentleman was a N.T. scholar?

As far as the Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures you get a mixed bag there. You do have prophetic voices from the margins and from the center. But even when it is from the center it is in the midst of an exilic siuation or colonial occupation. I am thinking of Isaiah at this point. He was far from representing the people of God from the position of 'privilege' nor 'power'.

This further reveals Carson giving interpretation as one from a social location of privilege and power. This is quite striking if we just read carefully his thoughts about the nature of the prophetic. He seems to be suggesting that the 'prophetic' is defacto 'status quo'. Strange indeed.

As a theologian sitting in seats of power and privilege his 'critique' of the emerging church is definitely colored and laced by status-quo-maintaining hermenuetic which seems to be standard fair for those who hold to foundationalist epistemologies.

thunderbeard said...

The sad part here is that while I know that Carson's arguments here are off base for numerous reasons, I do know plenty "mall emerging" folk who do pretty much only read Donald Miller and Rob Bell.

I think that Carson's arguments don't hold a bit of water in regard to the thoughtful emerging folk, but the problem is that "emerging" is increasingly becoming an aesthetic, like "punk" or "emo." There's no substance, only the look. That's what I see happening with the white, suburban kids who aren't happy with their parents' megachurch (I know an ever-increasing amount of people like this). They have no idea what it means to be emerging, they just don't want to be square like their mom and dad.