Until I read Don Carson’s book ‘Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church’(Zondervan,2005) I was not aware of the emergent church as a phenomenon. As I read the book however I realised that whilst I knew nothing of the emergent church as a movement I was familiar with many of its trappings and how they were becoming part of the evangelical scene- a reaction against confessional evangelicalism, an emphasis on evangelism as storytelling, a greater emphasis on symbols in the church, an emphasis on church as a holistic experience, not to mention the reworking of the atonement by Steve Chalke and the language ‘belonging before believing’ etc.
Carson provides a powerful critique of the movement whilst acknowledging some of its strengths. Even if like me you have not been conscious of the emergent church as a movement this book is well worth reading. It is worth reading because the trends that it has set in motion will undoubtedly impact our churches in this day of ecclesiastical meltdown. And it will help us see clearly where some trends which appear worthwhile are in fact heading. Not least it helps give a clear vision of the significance of maintaining the distinctives of historic evangelicalism.