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important to realise how quickly, given the nature of blogging and emerging conversation, some of these links will go out of date) ...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)!
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:
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":
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.
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