DA Carson and the Emergent Movement, Part 7

DA Carson and the Emergent Movement, Part 7 April 18, 2005

This chapter is easier to cover because of the nature of the chapter:

Chapter 7 of DA Carson’s book tones down the rhetoric.

DA Carson is a biblical theologian (shaped as he is by the Reformers and esp the Calvinistic Baptist tradition, and now an Evangelical Free Church leader), but whatever you want to say about him, he knows his Bible and he wants this whole Emergent movement to be biblical (more biblical would be the expression).

So, in chapter 7 he trots out the Bible’s statements about “truth.” The reason he does this is because DA Carson has reduced the debate about the Emergent movement to an issue of epistemology, he thinks it is wobbling on the issue of truth, and so he sets out what the Bible means by truth. “One What is True,” “On Knowing Some Truths, Even with Certainty,” and “On Knowing Enough to Call Religions Idolatrous”are the topics under which he collects and quotes Bible verses (pages of them, my friend, pages).

Then he makes comments on ten texts: Rom 1:18—3:20; 3:21—4:25; John 3:1-21; 4:1-42; Gal 1:8-9; Parables of warning; Rev 14:6-20; 1—2 Corinthians; Isa 6; John 8; 2 Thess 2; John 20:29; 1 Cor 15 (he groups these into ten texts).

He concludes with a quotation from GK Chesterton, and anyone who does that knows he’s got a clincher.

#1: Is the overwhelming biblical witness to Truth something that is embraced by the Emergent movement? Has it overreacted?

#2: What is Truth? And how can we know it? And to what degree can we know it? And what does that mean when it comes to what others think that is contrary to Truth as we know it?

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  • I wonder if one of the issues going on here is what ‘certainty’ means. As far as I can tell, all use of such terms in scripture seems to have to do with being more assured of something. After all, the term for ‘certainty’ gets used of investigations in Acts that simply involve asking the accused what happened. How can that lead to certainty in the Cartesian sense? But it seems to me that a number of people show resistance the idea that we even have knowledge because knowledge requires Cartesian certainty, which we don’t have.The dominant perspective in epistemology today i that knowledge doesn’t at all require Cartesian certainty. Therefore, those who require certainty and say we have it (e.g. just about all presuppositionalists, though I don’t know if Carson’s Framean version is with the rest on this) and those who insist that we don’t have knowledge because we don’t have certainty (e.g. at least some of the emergent people I’ve read) both seem to me to be operating from a very modern premise.