Wednesday, December 30, 2009

D.A. Carson on the Emergent Church -2-

Well I've made some more progress in the Carson book, he displays some significantly worthwhile insights into the outlook of leading writer Brian McLaren especially. One of Carson's points, without giving too much away, is that the emergent church employs a 'flat' critique of modernism. But it does so without normally acknowledging the benefits of modernism. While Carson doesn't go quite this far, what I liked too coming off of that and the Carson long quotes of others is the realization that no culture is itself holy. Pre-modernism, modernism, postmodernism; all have/will be full of good aspects and not so good aspects. This balance is worth taking into account no matter where one comes down on it. At times Carson seems a bit modern, I'll admit, but at other times he seems somewhat postmodern. Especially when he recoils to the useful (although typical) missions influence on us and our healthy self-critique idea. He mentions that one a couple of times as a positive of looking beyond our own culture. Perhaps this is a strength of Carson, he is open to more than just what he holds culturally.
One thing that Carson hasn't used, but I suspect would be useful is the obvious use of absolute principles of postmodern church ideals to wield against non-postmodern churches. That is to say, postmoderns get on a high bench to look down upon the poor moderns, but not only in attitude but judging in principle. These principles are taken as established fact (something that Carson mentions in vague passing, but rightly mentions at least). While some of the emergent/postmodern critiques are valid I agree (though not all of them), this at least doesn't fit well with McLaren's core points on avoiding absolutism. McLaren said one concern was absolutism has caused all of these bad old things in history, so it must be wrong. But cleverly, Carson comes along at this point to offer pre-modern bad old things in history. Ironically, it is a lot of the pre-modern church structure/image/thinking that post moderns want to rehabilitate Carson says. And this is combined with the positives of modernism, like medical care today, etc. Interesting stuff. I'll definitely have to read other viewpoints to see how this all fits, but I am more or less writing out of excitement that the Carson book has really started to engage after the first few chapters. I suspect it will get better as I continue reading.

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