Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications” as Want to Read:
Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  489 ratings  ·  39 reviews
A careful and informed assessment of the “emerging church” by a respected author and scholarThe “emerging church” movement has generated a lot of excitement and exerts an astonishingly broad influence. Is it the wave of the future or a passing fancy? Who are the leaders and what are they saying? The time has come for a mature assessment. D. A. Carson not only gives those w ...more
Paperback, 234 pages
Published May 5th 2005 by Zondervan (first published May 1st 2005)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  489 ratings  ·  39 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Note: I read McLaren's "A Generous Orthodoxy" the week before I read this book.

I found it difficult to read Carson's book (I hate conflict), yet I was impressed by several of his arguments and by his ability to maintain an open mind about the emergent church while still correcting its weaknesses. In that spirit, I also tried to maintain an open mind about Carson's opinion.

He makes very good points in some places, especially about the emergent church's aversion to certain aspects of
Jacob Aitken


The book is an honest critique. Nothing more, nothing less. Carson begins gently and then pulls no punches.

The Problem of Definition

So what is “emergent” or “postmodernism?” This is an annoying question because at any moment in the critique, someone can say, “Yeah, but that’s not our position.” Emergent is easy enough to define. Most of the emergent guys write books with emergent in the titles, so we can assume that is their position. Postmodernism on the oth
Aaron Kleinheksel
Jan 20, 2014 rated it liked it
This book is a very thorough examination of the modern "Emerging Church" movement spearheaded by such men as Brian McLaren. D.A. Carson does his usual superlative job presenting the Biblical arguments for true Christian Orthodoxy in opposition to the mostly warmed-over ideas of early 20th c. Christian liberalism marketed by the so-called "Emergent Christian Conversation."

This book misses 2 more stars primarily because while D.A. Carson is a very intelligent academic of the highest caliber, his
James Tyler
Feb 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic analysis of the Emerging Church.
John Brackbill
Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am a bit late to the party on this one. Certainly the "Emerging Church" has already emerged by now. However, I found it helpful in thinking through modernism and postmodernism. His distinction between hard postmodernism and softmodernism was helpful. Modernism made the mistake of thinking we can know the truth omnisciently. Postmodernism made the mistake of thinking we can not know the truth. In Carson's words, softmodernism acknowledges we cannot know the truth omnisciently but we can know it ...more
Valerie Romero
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
ok... this book didn't turn out to be quite what i expected... though im not sure what i expected.... i appreciate the history of the Emergent Movement.... and DA Carson was way more gracious than i am or would have been.... but that is more a reflection of my own sinfulness, sigh. there isn't anything i think i disagree with in this book... a good book to read.... if you are more aware of who the "emerging" really are.... now that there are so many.... i'm still sifting through my thoughts towa ...more
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I found Carson's approach to the emerging church as balanced, respectful, evenhanded, biblical and honest. I think it's an important read for any Christ followers who look for discernment on issues that arise from proponents of the emerging church such as Brian McLaren.
Marc Baldwin
Apr 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in theology
There's probably not a lot that I can add to what has already been written about this book, both good and bad, so I'll try to keep my comments brief.

This was a difficult read for me, both because of the contentiousness of Carson's arguments and the level of theology at which it is written. I normally don't take three months to read a book, but there was a lot to digest.

This book could have been titled, "Why Emergent Thinkers Are Actually Heretics Who Are Going To Hell". But he would
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I have never enjoyed a dense philosophical text as much as this one. Carson does an amazing job in this book with a penetrating analysis of some of the foundations of the emergent church (I use the term "foundations" deliberately, as postmodernism can be characterized by anti-foundationalism). Carson uses the term "epistemology" (how we know what we know, if anything) in enough contexts and with such a teaching gift that I think I understand its meaning after years of quietly refusing to admit m ...more
Feb 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
"The gospel of the Kingdom invites us into a large, all-encompassing story; the stories of Adam and Eve, Israel, and the church were always intended to be lived in. Living there is a huge privilege. Choosing to live outside God's story has serious ramifications (a wasted life and hell come immediately to mind)." [p. 22]

"We want to learn to live faithfully in a fragmented world." [p. 33]

"Evangelism is disciple making and is bound up with conversation, friendship, influence
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
I slowly ruminated on this book (just a chapter or so a week) right alongside another title: Above All Earthly Powers: Christ in a Postmodern World", by David F. Wells. Both works are provocative and call into question a lot of the assumptions made by churches and writers in their attempts to reach post-moderns, while affirming them at other times. The main critique I've read about this book is that he picks on his critics unfairly without ever actually entering into personal dialogue with any o ...more
Nov 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The fallacies of the more radical wing of the Emerging Church movement are evaluated with clarity, passion, exegetical competence, and grace. Above all is Carson's glorious, ironclad commitment to the truth of the Gospel.

Besides all of that, Carson writes extremely well. Favorite phrases: referring to both conservatives and liberals as having been "snookered by modernism"; saying that MacLaren's points are often alternately "right, wrong, and silly"; and giving credit to MacLaren cre
Geo Philips
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology, church
This is often quoted as the standard evangelical appraisal of the emergent movement. However, it is not a comprehensive look at all the various strands of the movement; Carson devotes his attention to the views of the major thinkers in the movement. Brian McLaren gets a lot of attention (you can read some of McLaren's responses on the Internet) amongst others.

The conclusions won't surprise you but this book will make you smarter as to the philosophical assumptions of the emergent mov
Ted Rohe
May 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Post-Modern Emergent/ing Church
Shelves: theology
I did not plan on being part of an Emerging Church, but that is where God wanted me. I would not change anything in the world for the experience. This book helped me. Coming from an Evangelical perspective it helped me better appreciate the good things of the movement and to be better informed about the extremes of the movement. It helped me be less "reactionary" about some subjects and authors and better informed about discussing those topics and issues. I am no longer part of the Emerging Chur ...more
Danny Bennett
Aug 10, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: theology-bible
I am very glad I read this book as a contrast to everything else I've been reading. He brought up some good points here and there. I especially liked the last chapter that began to discuss how truth and experience could go together. At the same time, he had a lot of faults. While he accused a lot of emerging thinkers of creating straw man arguments, I think he falls to the same criticism at times. I also think it's interesting how both Carson and McLaren both condemn reductionism and praise Ches ...more
Apr 27, 2007 rated it liked it
Having been curious about the philosphy and practice of the emergent for quite sometime, I finally got around to reading this book. I've heard D.A. Carson speak several times and I have always been very impressed with his way of thinking and I trust his theology is Bible-based. I found this book to be a balanced approach to the movement that helped me better understand the major movements of thought throughout history, explore postmodernism, and grasp the reaction of the church to the movement o ...more
Sep 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Carson, I believe, does a good job at explaining the diverse "movement" and acknowledges it's strengths while not overlooking it's weaknesses. He's fair to describe the whole thing and tries not to generalize too much. I recommend this book to anyone who would like to try to grasp what some well known authors are trying to say about how to live in a post-modern society but this book reminds us that there are biblical thruths we must stand by and not compromise. We need to remember bot ...more
Oct 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Perhaps the "emergent" movement is past its prime, but in its wake there's still likely to be found a vast number of evangelical churches remaining sympathetic to emergent thinking. Carson is very careful to give attention to legitimate concerns of the emergent movement, as well as to where it goes wrong. His concluding chapter, where he lists many of the scriptures suggesting that truth can be (confidently) known, is almost worth the entire book's price.
Jul 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Very intellectual, and very focused on one specific topic--albeit a topic that should be very important to any Christian in the evangelical and confessional community. Carson gets a bit "scholarly", but this is still a great read that addresses some serious problems that face the Christian community as it continues to delve into a postmodern quagmire and "over-tolerance" within the confessional church. In short, Carson addresses the problems where the church has gone to a liberal extreme.
Jan 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
Here Carson offers a mostly evenhanded response to the Emerging Church Movement (or Conversation) and its association with postmodernism. Taking a balanced approach, Carson highlights both what the “Confessional” Church needs to learn from the Emerging Church, and vice versa. Carson’s criticisms are at times overdone, seemingly missing the forest for the trees, but is generally accurate and well stated. Carson also includes a useful Biblical reflection on truth and experience. A-
Stuart Elliott
Aug 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Engaging analysis, and Biblically solid. Carson does not mess around but tries to show what our basis of truth is, why it is important to maintain these truths, and why they should be central to engaging the culture in a way that is mindfull of the Gospel. While the Emergent movement raises some great questions about important issues, Carson shows that their answers fall short of Biblical truth.
Brandon H.
Nov 02, 2016 rated it liked it
A thorough look at the Emergent Church. I liked it, especially chapter 8 where Carson discussed the issue of experience and the word of God. It's clear the author is an outstanding Biblical scholar. The book may be a bit of challenge for the lay reader who may find parts of it dry and rather difficult at times to track with the author.
Darius Teichroew
Dec 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in a relatively even-handed analysis of the Emerging church movement
Shelves: christianity
Carson does a superb job of showing the reader both the strengths AND the weaknesses of the Emerging church movement. Perhaps he could have spent slightly more time on the positives, but considering many authors within the movement have already done so, it was probably unnecessary for him.
Daniel Hendon
Jan 10, 2014 rated it liked it
I have a lot of respect for D.A. Carson. Unfortunately, he is not that conversant with the emerging church and had to reach outside the emerging and/or emergent movement. I look forward to reading more by D.A Carson, but am unimpressed with this particular book.
Walt Walkowski
Feb 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
While I find Carson's analysis and critique fairly informational, I would not describe this book as an easy read.
Feb 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Need to buy this book!
Aug 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
An excellent read! D. A. Carson evaluates the Emergent Church movement and is even-handed dispensing both the pros and cons, with the latter overwhelmingly tipping the scale. A must read!
Apr 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book is not quick reading but an important reading considering the Emergent Movement is sweeping the country. An important read!
Shannon Reed
To misquote Magda, when the Vicar says read, I read.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be)
  • Above All Earthly Pow'rs: Christ in a Postmodern World
  • The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World
  • Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000
  • The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism
  • Confessions of a Reformission Rev.: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church
  • The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel
  • The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
  • Fit Bodies, Fat Minds: Why Evangelicals Don't Think and What to Do about It
  • The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition Reform
  • Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth (Today's Critical Concerns)
  • Reformation: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
  • Foundations of Grace, 1400 BC – AD 100 (A Long Line of Godly Men #1)
  • God of Promise: Introducing Covenant Theology
  • Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution
  • Spurgeon's Sermons Vol. 1-10 (5 double volumes)
See similar books…
D.A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He has been at Trinity since 1978. Carson came to Trinity from the faculty of Northwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he also served for two years as academic dean. He has served as assistant pastor and pastor and has done itinerant ministry in Cana ...more
“Some forms of absolutism are not bad; they may even be heroic.” 6 likes
More quotes…