DA Carson and the Emergent Movement, Part 8

DA Carson and the Emergent Movement, Part 8 April 18, 2005

The final chapter of DA Carson’s book is a biblical meditation on Truth and Experience, and largely a gentle, but well-informed, commentary on 2 Peter 1. Here’s his opening line:

“A good deal of the discussion of this book could be recast as a debate between the claims of truth and the claims of experience” (218). For the traditionalist, there is an emphasis on truth-claims, but with the Emergent movement there is not. But DA Carson knows there is plenty of appeal to experience in the Bible – though for some odd reason he fails here to bring in Jonathan Edwards nearly unsurpassable brilliant book, Religious Affections.

2 Peter 1 works both truth claims and experience together. Let me give you the big picture. For “experience,” there is a reality of experience being grounded in God’s power (1:3-4), attested by spiritual growth and productivity (1:5-8), and attested by our unflagging perseverance (1:9-11). Look the passages up and read them for yourself.

And on “truth,” he makes these points: our confidence in the truth is stabilized by constant review (1:12-15), established on historical witness (1:16-18), and grounded in biblical revelation (1:19-21).

Here’s something I’ve not heard from DA Carson and I’ve talked with on and off (except when he was off on sabbatical, which was not infrequent) since the early 1980s: “Damn all false antitheses to hell, for they generate false gods, they perpetuate idols, they twist and distort our souls, they launch the church into violent pendulum swings whose oscillations succeed only in dividing brothers and sisters in Christ” (234).

My only questions will “emerge” in my last installment, which will be my take on this debate.

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  • Tim

    Why is it always framed as “truth vs experience” rather than “reason vs experience”?

  • Tim,This is a good and fair questions, though I think DA Carson would probably grant you the point, thinking that “reason” is a part of the truth (and that experience should not be excluded from the truth).

  • Nick

    Good point about Religious Affections–that is the best on the topic, and it would no doubt have much potential to further the discussion today between these two groups.

  • Rob

    I’ve enoyed reading your thoughts on this, Scot. And I’m glad to see your blog being “discovered”.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Prof. McKnight,You wrote: “My only questions will “emerge” in my last installment, which will be my take on this debate.”Where does this last installment appear on your site? I cannot find it. I’d like to read your take on the debate.Please could you post the url.Kim.

  • Dear Anonymous,It begins on April 19 with “Preface.”