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Wes Allen

I would be nice if DA Responded...


1. I don't think Dr. Carson sits at home and surfs the net all day. How would he even know about this?

2. As one who actually knows Carson, he's an incredibly busy person. His wife undergoing Cancer, a million and one people from all directions wanting him to read or comment upon something either he or someone else has written or said, Classes to teach, books and articles to write and edit, conferences to attend and oversee, raise his family, etc. In fact, I don't know anyone busier than Dr. Carson. I was amazed at how much he had to deal with and take on as opposed to other Professors and Pastors. I would cut him some slack and not view his lack of response to you as apathy.

chris lancaster

No human being is too busy to answer the four questions posed in the post. If Carson is going to bash people, he should at least respond in some form to their repeated requests for some sort of contact with him. It seems like he's just wanting to attack them, but not actually treat them like people worthy of meeting with and talking to. He apprently has shown no interest so far in talking to anyone in the movement--he just wants to attack it with a book. How can you respect that? And if it's part of a pattern of that kind of behavior, you're getting a glimpse into the kind of man and scholar he is.


This just goes to show how hate-filled and intolerant you people really are. You know nothing about him. It may seem like no one is too busy to answer four questions (which by the way turn into 4,000 questions when it becomes everyone wanting your attention and time) when YOU aren't him, and sit around all day answering blogs, but he is just that busy. And the four "minute and simple" questions are really just loaded questions, filled with all sorts of other things to address. It would take, oh i don't know, A BOOK to answer them. Oh yeah, he has done that, so attack away, but you're losing all credibiliy of niceness and understanding, and turning back into the "I just hate my Dad" movement.

jeff stilwell

tooaugust and Chris,
I believe the post was written for clarification. An "out" has been given to Dr. Carson. I believe this post has given him the utmost respect from every aspect. Niether of you are proving your point, just your disdain for the other side. I thought emergent was more than that. I value my SBC education and upbringing and weep for my consevative brothers who are missing out on more. Not because I'm better than them. I see everyday how small I really am. Let's not throw the mud, wait for Dr. Carson's response, or his book and go from their. Theological differences aside, I hope we're still on the same team.

chris lancaster

How is my response "hate-filled"? I just wondered how he could be too busy to address any of these questions, visit an emergent church, talk on the phone with anyone in the emergent leadership, or write a simple email. If you have a problem with someone, the biblical method is to go to them and address it personally. He hasn't made an attempt to do that, although emergent people have repeatedly tried to reach out to him. He did the same thing to the Vineyard churches when he criticized them and to others--so this is nothing new. What does this repeated pattern say about his method and his personality?

And what is "loaded" about the questions Andrew asked? They seem pretty straight-forward to me: Have you visited an emergent church? Have you talked to anyone in emergent? Have you responded to anyone from Vineyard? Can you tell us about your church? Nothing too complicated. He could probably answer them in five minutes.

If he doesn't answer them, I think that says something about him. And to say that is not hate-filled in the least.


Whatever makes you sleep at night, Chris. My whole point is that you don't know him or who he has responded to. He didn't respond to anyone in the Vineyard movment? That's funny. He worked with Grudem at Trinity for about a decade. His students are from all areas of the Church (from Vineyard to Emergent to Eastern Orthodox--there were even some Roman Catholics there when I was there). You no nothing of what his experience is in dealing with people. Secondly, does someone have to EXPERIENCE something in order to critique it. That sounds very cult-like to me. "Oh you just don't know what a great Church and Christian life the Book of Mormon has brought about in my life because you have never really prayed about it, gone to a Mormon Church, etc." Newflash: Experience is data coming into your life. You interpret with a worldview. You therefore don't interpret experience with experience, so it is irrelevant whether or not he has visited an emergent church or not. I have never been to an emergent church and yet can get what it is saying from its major proponents and you on the net. Am I at a loss because I didn't go to one and have an emotional experience there to where i would lose my ability to test the spirits because of my newfound partiality to my experience? Do I need to experience suicide to talk about why its wrong, or sell drugs before I criticize a drug dealer? I understand that if what is being said is that he needs clarification on what emergent is, then he needs to get that from emergent people; but it seems to me that much of what Andrew brought up is true of a lot of emergent folk I have spoken to. The difference is not that it is moral relativism (although on many moral issues I have seen in the movement moral relativists), but instead an attitude of theological irrelevance to the Christian life and unity (which is a practical form of relativism whether or not it stems from a philosophical form or not). So the questions are loaded and seek to dismiss Carson's concerns by using different definitions for what each means by faith, unity, Christian mind, etc. And you Chris, should obey Scripture and "not judge before the time." I've seen God crush the man through his wife's battle with Cancer, his concern for the Church in all areas of CHurch life (including even trying to produce deeper music for it), a concern for His students in all aspects of life, etc. And he is one of the most well balanced people theologically. He always listens to what is being said and takes far more ecumenical positions than I ever would. Once again, Chris, I'm sure everyone will "side" with you on it since you're the emergent guy and i'm not, but I am the one who actually knows anything about him in this conversation, so your judgmental dogmatism that he should answer you at your beck and call is but a noisy gong and clanging symbol.


I'm not really interested in entering the apparent free with Chris and TooAugust but I would like to say I think Andrew did a commendable job of inviting serious discourse. The questions are reasonable and I would think one could give an intial answer without much effort. While I wholeheartedly sympathize with kind of harried schedule Carson must have I would suggest that if he has time to write and talk about the subject (in more than just a simple editorial column)he ought to make time for those on the receiving end of his criticism who would like to engage with him. I would not think it wise for him to do so via this sort of forum but I think meeting with or corresponding with a few folks like the Emergen leadership team would be quite reasonable.


I comment with much trepidation. I don't want to enter into the fray that is happening here on the blog and may be beginning in a more broad context. I also potentially will have to face the man (D.A.) and his colleagues/community in an upcoming graduation ceremony.

I made a post back in December but removed it in fear of retribution. The faculty at Trinity have to do some sort of "vote of approval" for graduates before they allow you to graduate. I really don't know the details or what is required or what it means. I had experienced enough negative attention while there and in my writing that in a small way I was afraid of being "black balled" and not given a degree. So, I removed the post. Not sure how I feel about that...I have mixed feelings.

But I removed it because...I am afraid of them and the power they yield. Not because they are malicious - far from it. I learned incredible things from them and I believe they have hearts for God. If given a chance I believe each one of them would stand with Peter at risk of being stoned and say, "by no other name is man saved" and that makes them men and women I want to be close to and have on my side, regardless of my fear of them. The fear I have is because I believe there is a legitimate blindspot in their theological/epistemological/paradigmatic perspective. I don't think they understand. Not because they can't but they don't need to...do they? I'm not sure myself. And they probably don't have the time to either.

What was said about them not having time is soooo true! They don't. They have lives, families, their own people to shepherd and care for (regardless of whether you agree with the structure or methods in which their community ask them to shepherd them). They are pursuing God and just as Paul they struggle with their own flesh and blood in the midst of all that. The men and women teaching at Trinity (and in D.A.'s community) are in the body of Christ struggling to honor God with all they have, and they have done quite a good job at doing that...but they haven't seen Him face to face yet either.

So...what's my point.

I think they are playing chess on another chess board. Or, it could be stated, we are playing chess on another chess board. The word "dialogue" means something different. The word "truth" means something different. Our epistemologies (the way we categories and process what we know) is different. Our theologies, and the names in which we cry out to, and in particular the person we cry out through for forgiveness is stil Jesus Christ, son of God.

It is kind of like trying to play chess with someone who is playing on a different board than you are. They make a move but not on the board you are playing on, so you can’t ever make a move for them to respond to. Of course, vice-versa, they can never make a move for you to respond to. There really is no game because there really is no common chess board.

And, in this I believe there really is no dialogue because there really is not common ground...except maybe...Scripture and who they cry out to.

What does it mean when Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life?" I think, in the end, both Andrew and D.A. will say things with the same "meaning" and live very similarly.


So let me get this straight...the man who wrote a book critiquing something has no time to talk about that subject...no time to talk to or fellowship with those whom he has criticized? Yeah, that totally makes sense.

chris lancaster

It's sad that you have to live in such fear, Matt.


about the time...

It's not that he doesn't "have" the time...he chooses what to do with his time - as do we all. He wrote a book and I'm sure it will say what he wants to say. Maybe a response, maybe just his thoughts. But "how" he responds will be so different I don't think we will "hear" it. It really is like another language...I can't explain it better than that after living and studying there 2 years.

But my point is, that his choice on how to use his time (and many other things) is like it's made in another culture - it's probably so different than some of us that it's almost like in another time or age or "dimension."

It's different. How his "community" thinks about all this is different. So different, I don't think there is going to be a connection made (but I could be wrong)


about the fear...

it is sad and much commentary could be spilled on that in many ways...

But...it should speak louder than anything else I wrote in that long post (in multiple ways, some in which are quite humbling for me).

Ken Archer

As a friend and participant in these Emergent conversations, I am confused by our general response to criticism from outsiders like Carson, Mohler and others. I have boiled this confusion down to four questions I'd like to pose. Hopefully you can help me see something in the criticism from Carson and others that I don't currently see.

(1) Why, friends, aren't we looking forward to criticism from outsiders?

(2) Didn't Carson, Erickson and others have worthwhile comments in Reclaiming the Center that many of us could learn from?

(3) What better way to demonstrate our belief in truth than to anticipate, welcome and then thoughtfully and respectfully respond to criticism?

(4) Shouldn't we distinguish the substance of criticism (which we may learn from) from the context and manner with which it is delivered, and focus on the substance?


(4) Shouldn't we distinguish the substance of criticism (which we may learn from) from the context and manner with which it is delivered, and focus on the substance?

I resonate deeply with Ken's last question. I struggled for a long time to "hear" the substance of the discussion that I found myself in the middle of at Trinity Divinity. It was quite the humbling experience to see my own struggle with context and manner rather than taking in the heart/substance. A humility I hope to remember and an experience that seems to have changed me...though time will continue to tell if I can change/repent of many things.


haven't joined in anything here, and don't want to stir the pot more, but have some thoughts.
i'm a pastor who would be considered emergent by evangelicals and evangelical by emergents. i guess that makes me a fence sitter.
i have listened to carson's lectures several times. i was deeply disappointed by his shallow analysis (perhaps this is a reflection that he truly doesn't have the time...or value the time...to engage in this conversation) of the EC. i thought a man of his stature should have done a better job.
on the other hand, i have searched far and wide for a reasonable response and have found few. Scot McKnight's is the best i've seen.
andrew's criticism in the "open post" seems to be directed toward Carson's unwillingness to respond. we need to be fair to dr. carson and recognize that he is not obligated to answer every query that comes his way (which i'm sure is an immense number).
THIS IS NOT A CRITICISM, PLEASE READ IT AS AN ILLUSTRATION. i have been working on an article regarding EC and Youth Ministry. as part of my research i sent out an email with about 5 questions to 10 "emergent bloggers" as listed by worship leader magazine. i also sent the email to several of the well-known authors from "Emergent". i only received substantive replies from 2. not sour grapes, i understand because i'm not always quick with my responses, but lets try to cut D.A. the same slack we cut ourselves!
...and lets hope his book is more substantive than his lectures!

andrew jones


just found this conversation - thanks for the comments.

Heres a quick resonse to your queries:

1. Don Carson may not have time to respond to me, and thats OK. He is busy and may want to chat with someone more academic or on the same institutional level. I understand.

2. We should pray for his wife.

3. People should read the series of blog posts i have written over the past 5 months to get a better picture of my own journey and struggle with Carson's tape series , as well as my respect for the man.

4. The post was written by myself, and maybe, in some ways, was more of a "what andrew would ask don carson if we met in a coffee shop" than an official challenge. I didnt realize the amount of response the post would get.

Scot McKnight

There have been some good things said about my column on this, and I appreciate it; I'm now done with a response (www.jesuscreed.blogspot.com).


McKnight's assessment on his blog speaks clarity into my experience of study with them and makes some more sense out of my struggle in studying under/with them. Though I bear little weight compared to Scott, I would say my experience of study with them (and subsequently D.A.) falls in the same description.


People who don't know Jesus don't give a rip what D.A Carson and Andrew Jones have to say.

I hope that good conflict can be had by all, but not at the cost of looking like fools. Should we argue theology in a way Jesus wouldn't? Where in the world is our deep ecclesiology? We're all brothers and sisters, but it doesn't require sibling rivalries.

Bob Robinson

I've never heard of a TEDS student being "black-balled". That surprises me. Hey, they graduated me! If you speak your mind (as I did on more than one occasion!), you may ruffle some feathers; but the overall tone on the Trinity campus is one of grace and dialogue. Most of the profs (though not all, of course) are both academic AND pastoral in their approach.

I have many issues with Don Carson's lecture series against Emergent. And I feel that he does indeed come across as haughty, aloof and maybe even arrogant at times. But he also is a top-notch New Testament scholar and is passionate for the Church--he is both academic and pastoral.

What did you do at TEDS to make so many enemies, Matt? That truely is hard to do.

Bob Robinson

I've never heard of a TEDS student being "black-balled". That surprises me. Hey, they graduated me! If you speak your mind (as I did on more than one occasion!), you may ruffle some feathers; but the overall tone on the Trinity campus is one of grace and dialogue. Most of the profs (though not all, of course) are both academic AND pastoral in their approach.

I have many issues with Don Carson's lecture series against Emergent. And I feel that he does indeed come across as haughty, aloof and maybe even arrogant at times. But he also is a top-notch New Testament scholar and is passionate for the Church--he is both academic and pastoral.

What did you do at TEDS to make so many enemies, Matt? That truely is hard to do.


I agree with Bob. The only thing I can think of Matt is that you're talking about a major sin issue that you would be unrepentant of. Otherwise, if not, I don't know any position that would get you isolated. As I said elsewhere, there are people from all walks of life (Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholic, Emergent, Evangelical, Calvinist, Arminian, etc.). This must be about something else than doctrine, no?


It is unfortunate that many, many people follow the people who write, teach, speak, pastor...but, it's a human characteristic and one Paul directly addressed.

It's also human nature to be defensive of our own "side" or belief, and even within such an "open" community, defensiveness will take a negative form.

The good news is, we are all fallen and sinful, errant, flawed...and thank God He has given us brains, mentors, His Own Word--in short, all we need to draw our own conclusions. And a thread that struck a chord with me--we can, indeed, learn from even those we disagree with.


I would be glad to express some of my story privately. But be careful how much you assume of me.

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