The first substantial thing I read about the emerging church was Don Carson’s Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church. Carson is careful to note the positives that can be found in the emerging movement, but also identifies some major problems. Particularly noteworthy are his critiques of Steve Chalke’s unfortunate The Lost Message of Jesus and Brian McLaren’s frustrating A Generous Orthodoxy. I have read both these latter books too and I’m convinced that Carson has got his evaluation about right. (Read my summary of Carson on McLaren here).
Emerging Churches, by Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger has been a more recent read for me. It gives a positive account, based on a survey of the views of 50 emerging church leaders in both the US and the UK. Brian McLaren, in a rather obvious jibe at Carson, says, “If you want to be truly conversant with emerging churches, this is the book to read.” It’s certainly a thorough and informed account of a complex movement. But I’m afraid the book confirmed my view that the emerging church is all too often the departing church (departing, that is, from biblical, historic orthodoxy). I hope to summarise and review some of the more interesting and important bits of the book before too long.
My next stop will be Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck’s Why We’re Not Emergent (by two guys who should be). I’ve ordered it on the strength of a review by Sam Storms, and I’m looking forward to getting hold of it. For the time being, you can read Storms’ enthusiastic review here.