Friday, May 27, 2005

9 resources on Emerging Church

Well, here we go, my first attempt at blogging. It's been no mean feat getting me to this point: thanks Dave Bish!

I've no idea how long I'll keep this up for or how often but I thought I'd push the boat out here a bit wider than our usual focus on biblical theology. I've been reading a bit recently about the 'emerging church' and so wondered if it might help to post some resources here for folks to find out more about it and also find some resources for responding. My guess is that it is going to get bigger and bigger in the UK and rest of the world.

A huge amount of emerging church material exists in blogging cyberspace although there are also numerous books as well. Here are just a smattering of things (and it's important to realise how quickly, given the nature of blogging and emerging conversation, some of these links will go out of date) ... but they might get you into the picture:

1. This link from a critical perspective provides an orientation to the emerging church (although it seems to operate with an unfortunate blurring of the distinctions between emergent and emerging. The former arguably refers specifically to Brian McLaren's movement and the latter more generally to emerging churches. I am not sure it's straightforwardly correct to refer generically to 'emergent churches', although I myself could be wrong here and am open to correction! At the very least, caveat emptor)!
Emergent Movement

This site also lists a good blog called "Emerging No" - I have seen one key emerging leader refer to it as one of the best anti-emerging blogs.

2. D. A. Carson's new book on it is a must read: "Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and its Implications" (Zondervan, 2005). This book is an expanded version of lectures Carson gave in the USA.

3. David Mills wrote an online response to Carson's lectures:
David Mills

Carson responds in his book to some of Mills' critique.

4. Andrew Jones (tallskinnykiwi) is a well respected figure in emerging circles and listened to Carson's lectures. He then wrote an open letter to Carson which you can read here:

Andrew Jones & Don Carson

5. Justin Taylor, who has recently co-edited some books with John Piper, has responded to Andrew Jones' open letter to Carson. He charges Jones with both misrepresenting Carson and not really understanding him; he even calls on Jones to issue a public aplogy to Carson! Although Jones does reply in Taylor's blog he is not able to respond to his charges and as far as I am aware has yet to do so. Read Taylor's blog here and be sure to follow the link in this blog to "my blog post":

Justin Taylor

6. If you'd like more Justin Tyalor, you can listen to him being interviewed about the emerging church at the website I listed under point 1). He has important things to say.

7. Taylor is also one of the editors of a great book called: "Reclaiming the Center: Confronting Evangelical Accommodation in Postmodern Times". I mention this book because it contains D. A. Carson's review article of the late Stanley Grenz's book "Renewing the Center." Grenz's work scores highly for many in the emerging movement and they look to him for more academic support of their views. In Carson's new book he has a few references to his critique of Grenz so these books (Grenz/Taylor) are probably a must read if you really want to dig deep into this.

8. Andrew Jones has had some dialogue with Michael Horton, a prominent and well-respected Reformed theologian. Horton models courteous and clear disagreement and there are some parallels with Carson's critique. You can read some of that here:

Andrew Jones & Michael Horton

9. Scot McKnight who used to teach at TEDS with Carson and who has some broad sympathy with the emerging church has provided one of the first online analyses of Carson's book going through it chapter by chapter. You can get to this here:

Scot McKnight & Don Carson

McKnight seems to take seriously Carson's criticisms of Brian McClaren but broadly falls into the camp of those who think Carson has fallen short of his usual high standards by focusing on a) epistemology generally and b) Brian McLaren in particular. (McKnight says Carson's book is really about becoming conversant with McLaren's epistemology!!).

This is wrong. The book does say a lot about McLaren - a huge amount, in fact - but the title of Carson's book is not misleading. Read it and digest it and you will be able to converse intelligently with emerging folks, including ones who Carson does not deal with and who adopt different views from McLaren. Carson's book is simply looking at one prominent exponent in a way which gives concerned Christians a framework to adopt, questions to ask and things to think about in relation to the emerging church. In all my web browsing I haven't yet come across anything new or different in non-McLarenite emerging church leaders that Carson's book didn't give me something to converse with them about.

It also misses the point to suggest that Carson focuses too much on epistemology when emerging is either not really about that or is about so much more. Carson's point is not that emerging is all about epistemology but that key leaders adopt a faulty one in a way which skews a lot of the things that emerging is about. To respond properly to Carson someone needs to argue not that emerging is not about epistemology but that its epistemology is correct and does not skew its stance on other issues. That would count as an actual engagment with Carson. So long as there remains no response to Carson on this particular issue emerging theology will actually go some way to proving his argument about emerging epistemology (i.e. a reluctance to address truth claims head on)!!

Further, apart from some of McKnight's sympathy for Carson's critique of McClaren (and McKnight himself is not an emerging leader), I have not yet come across any emerging leaders who formally distance themselves from McLaren's theology in any of its key areas or lovingly call him to change his mind and stop propagating extremely misleading teaching. It makes little difference to plead that there are so many other emerging leaders out there who Carson does not deal with when just about everyone involved in emerging is raving about Brian McLaren in some form or other. By focusing on him, Carson gives us some vital bearings to take in conversing with other emerging proponents. The book delivers what the title promises: it will help you become conversant with emerging, not be an expert in emerging.

I might post in any new sites of note if I come across them.



Andrew Jones said...


welcome to the world of blogging

i saw you on my RSS reader and was hoping to get some resources on the emerging church, instead of some critiques of Brian McLaren and the critiques of the critiques.

Have you thought of a section where people could get resources for prayer, evangelism among those in emerging culture, resources for those starting new churches without any money, etc. That would be really helpful.

As for your list of 9 resources - i might recommend Dr Ryan Bolger's thoughts at"

I think i am the guy who said that emergentNo was my number one anti-emergent site - which is true - i like going there for fun and i think it is a well run blog - but as a consultant for mission organizations i cannot in good consciensce recommend it as a serious critique of emerging church. (just for the record)

oh . . btw. . . i am tallskinnykiwi and i DID respond to Justin's blog post.

hey - a little trick on blogger (that non-blogspot bloggers will thank you for) is to allow anonymous comments - then we can sign in with our actual blog addresses.

so nice to have you in the blogosphere, hope my comments do not dampen your spirit.

blog on, and publish glad tidings daily!!!!!

Unknown said...

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for calling in.
And thanks for the tips on other things we could look into - will get David Gibson on the case on that one

I'll get the comments opened back out. Thanks.


David said...

Hi Andrew,

Thanks very much for dropping by and for your charitable comments! They didn't put a dampner on things at all ... I feel honoured you found us and even bothered to drop in!

A few things by way of reply:

1) I am sorry the list of resources wasn't what you were expecting and I accept my title could have been somewhat misleading. I guess we wouldn't see eye to eye about the emerging church and hence some of the choices re. my resources.

2)Can I ask why you cannot in good conscience recommend emergentNo as offering a serious critique of the emerging church?

3) I am aware that you have posted a reply on Justin's blog post. However, my point here is that as far as I can tell you have not replied to these charges offered by Justin: "There’s just one small problem—well, actually three small problems: (1) Carson didn’t say that emerging church people don’t believe in truth; (2) Carson didn’t say that emerging church people don’t believe in moral absolutes; and (3) Carson didn’t say that emerging church people believe in everything."

I think initially you said you would go away and listen to the lectures again to see whether what Justin says is right and my comment in my original blog was that I can't see that you have done this? Your latest post seems to simply respond by saying that whereas Justin thinks you have misunderstood Carson other people think you haven't ... and I don't really think this answers Justin's charges as you don't show why you haven't misunderstood him.

4) Can I ask what, exactly, you think is inaccurate about Carson's critique and in answering could you say whether you are referring to the lectures or the book?

Thanks again,


Anonymous said...

hi guys

would you mind correcting the mistakes on your blog post? it makes me look like i have said things that i have not said, and that i am awaiting a response from Carson, etc, which has never been true.

best way to do it is not to delete but to use strikethough html which doesnt negate the comments below

could you also ammend the word "open letter". I never wrote an open letter, i have only been quoted as writing an open letter by many websites and now that the information is getting to be secondary source and tertiary source (and yours might be 4th hand) it only perpetuates the falsity.
I mentioned why it was only a "open blog post" and not a letter, and why i did not want to engage in an academinc debate publically which could damage the body of christ.

next time just send me an email and i can give you teh skinny

and i havent had an extra 4 hours to sit through the tapes again - nor do i want to. and since Dr Carson has published his book, any future discussion should be based around his book, and not the tapes. That conversation has already happened. It was September last year when i wrote my "Sleepless Night" post and the conversation has developed and matured fromthere.

1] we dont see eye to eye - well, i have seen emerging churches in about 20-30 countries and i base my conclusions on them. I dont know which emerging churches you have examined but they might be different and you are welcome to come to your own conclusions.

2}emergentNo - i have recently added it to my watchlist and do recommend people read it. Unfortunately, it gets accused of being divisive and argumentative and more . . so i dont recommend people wanting an accurate picture of the global emerging church get their information about it from that site.

3] I believe that Dr Carson did indeed imply these things in his taped lectures. This is a repeat of Carson's talks on the Vineyard church. Wayne Grudem writes here ("Power Religion" .pdf that Carson implies . . well . .let me quote it:

"But in the way that section on pages 94-98 was actually written, I found it to be misleading, because it interwove mentions of and allusions to the Vineyard in such a way that it suggested that these dangers characterized the miracles found in Vineyard churches. ...
The connection of Wimber with demonic healings is not explicit—it is by innuendo. But when the article mentions demonic healings just before and just after "one of the most perceptive analyses of Wimber," the strong suggestion is that healings in the Vineyard are demonic in origin"

4. i have laid out my points already in 6 different posts, all of which are hypertexted at "The book of D.A. Carson"

However - i do not feel it is right to take the scab off the wound again.

We said what we think, Carson wrote his book, we disagree, but we still like each other. I still think that the book was poorly reseached and that Dr CArson should have interviewed leaders, triangulated his research, and at least visited a n emerging church or event before writing a book that offered help in becoming conversant with the emerging church. Other people writing similar books are interviewing leaders from many countries to get an accurate picture.

We will still be inviting Carson to speak at our events and Carson will still allow emerging church people in his classrooms. We move on.

Time for all of us to go back to the task of following Jesus and living the truth out in honesty to those around us.

Now . . . could you please correct your blog post so that it is truthful and honest?


David said...

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for this. I am not trying to be difficult here ... but can you tell me what exactly I wrote that you regard as untruthful and dishonest? Are you referring to me calling your post an open letter rather than an open blog or something else? I can't work out what it is you're referring to? Once I know which points exactly you regard in this way I will have another look at them.



Scott Mackay said...

Another interesting guy in the whole emerging church scene is Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church Seattle ( He wrote a book called the Radical Reformission and held a conference by the same name which John Piper spoke at (
Driscoll's ministry is expositional preaching meets emerging church. He founded this church by preaching through Leviticus for a year!

Hey David, I'm in New Zealand btw. Involved as a student leader in the NZ equivalent of UCCF ( We have a bunch of UCCF Relay workers/Staff coming over to our campus in a few months.
I've only been recently introduced to Biblical Theology. I've been doing a correspondence course through Moore Theological College, on the recommendation of a Moore graduate who works for TSCF here in New Zealand.

Unknown said...

And you guys in TSCF are inheriting some great staff from us over in UCCF next year - seriously Andy & Nigel - people at whose feet you should sit and learn!

Scott Mackay said...

Yeah, Andy will have a huge challenge coming from his position as Relay Co-ordinator. We only have 1-2 interns nationwide in TSCF. I've met Nigel Pollock, we're very fortunate to have someone like him come over.

Have you ever thought of coming to NZ Dave? There aren't many Christian Hedonists like you over here.
p.s. sorry for hijacking this post :)