Book of the Week: Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church

This week’s book of the week is D. A. Carson’s Becoming Conversant with the Emergent Church.

The emerging church is a relatively new movement in church world.  What’s hard about this movement is that there is a wide spectrum of people who are categorized as emergent.  I know of “emergent” church leaders who keep the gospel at the center and strive on doctrinal integrity but just use new approaches to reaching people and focus on meeting needs in their community.  I know some of “emergent” leaders who openly doubt commands of Scripture and have a wider hope mentality towards salvation.  There is a big difference between those two!

Respected theologian, D. A. Carson wrote this book that talked a lot about how the emergent church got to where it is today.  He spoke of the postmodern mindset, the good that the emergent church is doing, but also the hidden and obvious dangers.

Top 5 Thoughts:

  1. “The majority view, however, is that the fundamental issue in the move from modernism to postmodernism is epistemology – i.e., how we know things, or think we know things” (27).
  2. “And since many of those whom the emerging church movement is reaching are often not reached by others, one cannot help but be grateful to God for genuine conversions and spiritual fruit” (54).
  3. Speaking concerning ill-defined spirituality, Carson stated, “Religions that speak of being right or wrong on certain matters or that support any form of exclusive claim or that uphold rigorous standards of personal and public morality will be dismissed as ‘intolerant,’ even if they vigorously support the right of all religions to defend their own patch and seek new converts” (100).
  4. Concerning postmodernism’s effect on spirituality, Carson stated, “It has shown, more clearly than modernism, how many and diverse are the personal and social factors that go into all human knowing” (115).
  5. Carson refuted the postmodern belief that knowledge about God is improbable.  “An omniscient, talking God changes everything.  It does not change the fact that I will always be finite and that my knowledge of him and about him will always be partial.  But once I know that he exists, that he is the Creator and my Savior and Judge, it is improper, even idolatrous, to try to think of my knowing things without reference to him” (123).