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DC-Area Lectures Ken is Looking Forward To

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June 14, 2005



Thanks for this post ... as a pastor, I appreciated especially the first two paragraphs of the fourth point. :-)


good post.

it would be easier to link to if you allowed the full address to appear on the top.

Nicolas Nelson

Fascinating— makes me want to get a copy of DA's book to cross-reference your critique with his stuff.

I tried to download this post in .pdf form, but it came up all boxes and "y."s. Check your .pdf file for integrity.

Thanks for all the work you put into this blog. It's a service to the Body.
Grace and peace to you!

andrew jones


i really like your piece - fair and balanced. well done!!!!

Mark Miron

You make my brain hurt... I think I like it. I have to add you to my bloated blog rolls.

Matthew Putz

I read Carson's book, I read your review (and quite a few others), and without getting into extremely small points about the history of epistemology, it strikes me that your statement at the beginning of your review frames the discussion fairly well when you faulted Carson for "criticism of a primarily pastoral movement called the Emerging Church for what is a failure of academics." And I presume by the word "academics" in this case you are roughly getting at "doing your historical/theological/philosophical homework." This, in my view, is the whole point. I believe that Carson, as a practicing evangelical, would have a hard time separating the pastoral from all of that, because it is what is historical/theological/philosophical that provides the foundation for what is pastoral. If he believes that, then I agree with him. Without foundational theological constructions, for example, Christian pastoral work loses its context and eventually descends into something else. Just what it descends into is for another discussion, but there is a point at which is ceases to be Christian. And the excuse of "Hey, we're just doing pastoral work - don't expect us to understand the historical/theological/philosophical implications of what we're preaching..." is irresponsible at best, and blurs the distinctions between sociology and theology as far as Christian pastoral work is concerned. Carson's critique is primarily leveled at those (such as McLaren and the late Stan Grenz) who ought to know better. For all of the positive light many of McLaren's metaphors (for example) shed on our notions of Christian community (and I continue to learn much from postmodern writers), these metaphors tend to lose traction when applied to more foundational, historically-based, decidedly Christian issues such as biblical truth claims (difficult to explain away) and the atonement.


I think the passing of Dr. Grenz is so much more relevant when considering the new work by Dr. Carson. I have not yet read his critique, but hope to soon. Dr. Grenz challenged much of my thinking in his writting, and more than any other "Emergent" he embodied responsible and scholarly authorship in the conversation. I enjoy Mclaren's books, but I have come to see him as much more poet/prophet than theologian, which I doubt he would disagree with. It is also very interesting to see just how wide the chasm is between those who have crossed the post-modern bridge and those who are still opporating from a primarily modern vantage point. I think this was brought out very clearly in your critique of Carson's term "Premodern Epistomology". I think this is another part of the debate, what place should modern terminology like "Innerent, porpositional, and didactic" have on our hermanuetics when the documents we study were written before such modern conceptions. Anyway, I guess I just wanted to say good post, I can't wait to read Carson's new book, and see if you're as right as you sound.

adrian walker

Dear Ken,

Thanks for this post. I think your idea that pre-modern thought is, or could help in working out, the third way some people are calling for is dead on. Keep on keeping on, as the Bard said.


John Chan

Very good critique. I echo one of the earlier postings, I need to read Carson's book. It is very philosophical, and I have to admit, I'm not well versed in the philosophical arena. However, I find that your discussion of premodern-modern-postmodern is perhaps too one-sidedly "Western". What about "premodern" Eastern philosophy? What about the Hebrew philosophies found in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament to Christians)which predates Greek Philosophy? Surely there are more options than even the ones you offered?



No such thing as a premodern epistemology? On the basis of a google search? Of course there was epistemology pre-Descartes. Certainly there were no epistemologies in the Cartesian sense, that would obviously be absurd. Criteriology is a "premodern" epistemology off hand; granted, of a theistic sort. Also, if you consider Descartes the father of epistemology, and yet you call his meditations "contrived", then would it not follow that epistemology in general is contrived?

I have to say that you give a good critique of Carson's book - but I am confused about this non existense of the question of knowledge and its nature (i.e. epistemology) prior to Descartes.


I think you have missed Carson's point about false antithesis. He criticizes emergents for creating a straw man out of their misrepresentation of "modern" Evangelicalism, and then portraying their beliefs and practices as the only alternative. I think if you would correspond with Carson on his intent he could clarify the matter for you.


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