…well at least according to Dr Graeme Codrington. That is one of his summations of Carson’s ‘horrific’ book ‘Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church‘. Now I know the title of this post was provocative and that this whole issue is actually a bit of an old wound that doesn’t really need uncovering but I just felt that I needed to chip in with my two cents.
Now before entering this discussion its become customary, I’ve noticed, to lay out your credentials – as in you’ve read ‘x’ amount of books on the emerging church, subscribed to ‘x’ amount of podcasts, met and chatted with Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt and read ‘x’ amount of emerging blogs. So what are my credentials? Well I’ve read a few EC books, I’ve downloaded a few Rob Bell sermons and the odd talk from Tony Jones, I’ve seen Brian McLaren from a distance at a talk he gave in Stellenbosch – oh and Doug Pagitt commented on this blog once! Not a very impressive list, but it’ll do for now. In light of that I want to offer my own super brief critique of Carson’s book:
I thought it was desperately too narrow in terms of its focus – it simply singled out a few people in the EC.
I thought some people (like Steve Chalke) were incorrectly associated to the EC.
From what I understand Carson did almost nothing prior to writing the book with regards to contacting and speaking with EC practitioners.
I thought it, at times, betrayed a lack of understanding as to what the EC is trying to achieve.
I thought the title was terribly misleading.
And I thought that way too many EC people were painted with a ‘hard postmodernist’ brush unfairly.
I still think Carson made some important observations about those he did critique.
I think he did stress a number of times that the EC was way broader than his critique.
I think some of his concerns hit the Emergent Village spot on.
I think there are a number of high profile EC figures who are steeped in ‘hard postmodernism’.
All in all I think the book failed to really be conversant with the Emerging Church. But calling the book ‘horrific’? Suggesting that Carson blatantly included lies? Come on! I’m becoming increasingly frustrated by this sort of polemic and its beginning to make consider my engagement with the EC in general. Dr Graeme Codrington is a well known figure in South African church circles and if he’s going to air his opinions about the book then I feel that I, coming from a different perspective need to voice mine (with whatever little voice I have) just to ensure that people out there realise there’s more than one side to this story. Graeme is concerned that this book will damage many people’s perspective of what could ultimately prove to be an extremely positive and rejuvenating movement within the church and I think he’s well within his right to point out what he finds misleading (as I think his father, Dr Reg Codrington, did quite fairly in the original post). I, however am equally concerned that some of the books and thinking that come out of this same movement may not only damage people’s perspective but rather the gospel itself. I’m also concerned when he appears to bend over backwards to condemn a work that, in my opinion, doesn’t deserve the level of criticism it is receiving in some quarters.
For what I consider a balanced approach to Carson’s book I refer you to Dr Mark DeVine’s critique. I know some of you are going to be hacked off with me for writing this post but I felt compelled to, having been influenced by Dr Carson so much in my thinking, spirituality and theology. The man makes mistakes in judgment, like all of us, but he is not a liar.