Many evangelicals, especially those who label themselves "reformed," stand in opposition to the emerging church movement. Few actually know why. In this book, D.A. Carson does a credible job critiquing the strengths and weaknesses of the movement, as well as to help the reader understand its relationship to the "non-absolute" nature of postmodern thought. Carson's treatment is quite fair. He does not try to dump all emerging church thinkers into one category, differentiating between "soft" and "hard" postmodernists. Much of the book is an critical evaluation of the writings of Brian McLaren, perhaps the most recognized emerging church proponent in America. The author seems to go out of his way (perhaps too much so) in order to give the benefit of the doubt to McLaren and his neatly nuanced theology. This is not to say that a clear case for the trustworthiness of Scripture is not laid out in "Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church," because it is. In fact, after carefully scrutinizing the emerging church movement, Carson invests the final two chapters to presenting Scriptural arguments that warn us that experience must never trump truth, even though both have their place in the Christian life. His treatment of 1 Peter 1 is especially noteworthy. One criticism I have of the book is the author's failure to distinguish the terms, "emerging" and "emergent. That may be because he chooses instead to replace them with his "soft" and "hard" postmodern categories (mentioned above). Clearly, the emerging/emergent church movement is a confusing one for most contemporary followers of Christ. Clearer boundary lines need to be drawn between these various strands of the emerging church, as well as in demarcating what is biblical-truth from what are significant departures from that truth. Perhaps this book is a good place where to begin that conversation.
Bought this book with the understanding that it was one of the best books out on the Emergent Church. Carson has great understanding and deals with the movement on it's intelluctual level. The reviews of McLaren and Chalk are insightful. Disappointed that he did not deal with Emergent Village, Leadership Network and Neo-facism. All in all, it is a good book for those who want more insight to deal with the "conversation".
One of the few books I have ever purchased from C.B.D. that I could not finish. Seemed to be an apologetic for the Emergent Church. An excellent book by way of recommendation is "Their God Is Too Small" by Bruce Ware, also at C.B.D. If you have not already purchased this book, please don't waste your money. If you have already purchased this book, please don't waste your time.
D.A. has become one of my favorite authors and this book is one of the reasons. He is very fair and even handed, he admits that authenticity of worship is missing in parts of evangelicalism, but scrapping our history of confessions and belief of objective truth and absolutes to embrace parts of mid-evil traditions as well as jumping head long into the pool of 'post-modernism' (as hard as it is to define) is not the answer. He clearly shows the movement to be self refuting and contradictory with their belief that absolutes don't exist but they make the absolute statement "That no one can know objective truth objectively, beside one who is omniscient". Im nearly 75% done with this book and am devouring it. Get it, it is the best handling of the 'emergent problem' that I've found.
This is an excellent critique of the Emerging Church for anyone interested in the subject. As only Carson can do, he gives an overview of the movement, its leaders, and its practices. He effectively shows it to be a questionable movement, not well grounded theologically or scripturally. As one who was formerly part of this movement I find his assessment of it fair and evenhanded, honest and dead on.