The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why (Emergent Village Resources for Communities of Faith)

by Phyllis Tickle

Hardcover, 2008



Call number




Baker Books (2008), Edition: First Edition, 176 pages


Addressing a historically pivotal moment in church history, a respected authority on religion in America combines history, causes of social upheaval, and current events to explain what the Great Emergence in church and culture is, how it came to be, and where it is headed.

User reviews

LibraryThing member baggas
This is a great little book - very easy to read and pretty incisive. Tickle takes a quick overview of church history and observes that every 500 years or so Christianity goes through a major period of upheaval and redifinition, a "rummage sale" is the metaphor she uses. Looking in more detail at
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the Reformation she notes how this process is inextricably entwined with changes in culture, technology, philosophy. She then goes on to point out how in terms of time, and in terms of recent history, that the church is ripe for another such upheaval, the "Great Emergence"

So far so good. I like the way she puts it and agree with her analysis. Where the book leaves a little to be desired is her analysis of what the great Emergence will look like. Examining a number of current streams of Christianity she ponders the directions in which things are moving and the burning religious questions of our time, among which she correctly raises the nature of scriptural authority and Christian exclusivity. But she does not suggest answers to these questions or paint a very clear of what the 'ascendant' church of the Great Emergence will look like. I can't seriously fault her for this, as I don't think it's possible to accurately predict the outcome of a current period of turmoil. Could Luther have predicted where his 95 theses would lead?

Definitely worth a read by anyone with an interest in where the church has come from and where it might be going. No clear answers, but some great history and some very good questions.
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LibraryThing member vpfluke
Phyllis Tickle sets out in this book to show how Christianity is going through a radical reformation in the 21 century. This is a process already underway and is evident in much of the English-speaking world. Religion goes through major shifts in the world about every 500 years. This can be seen
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through what Christianity did to survive into the Dark Ages from around 500, the severing of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox forms in the 11 th century, the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century (think Martin Luther), and now the appearance of emergent Christianity. This is marked by a greater sense of community, and the amelioration of the central Protestant idea of "sola scriptua" which has been under bombardment since the abolition of slavery in the 19th century. As we are living in the midst of this change, it is not obvious that Christianity right is going through this big change, but Tickle makes a vreyintersting case for it, and the book is a worthwhile read.
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LibraryThing member JustBecuz
While describing herself as an "academic," the author makes broad generalizations without validating her historical "facts," and presents herself as an expert in an area in which she admits she has no expertise. She broadly dismisses and belittles anyone or any denomination that disagrees with her
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theology. The only good thing about this book is that it is mercifully as short in pages as it is in substance.
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LibraryThing member StephenBarkley
History will decide whether Tickle is a prophet or not.

Here’s her idea: Every 500 years the church undergoes major change. During that period of change, a new form of Christianity is born which becomes the dominant form of the age. The remaining forms of Christianity stick around but lose their
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priority. Every time this happens, the gospel is proclaimed to more people than ever before.

Around 500, Gregory the Great laid the foundation that saved the Church during the fall of the Roman Empire and into the dark ages. Around 1000, the Great Schism took place which separated the Eastern and Western church. Of course, around 1500, the Great Reformation took place which spawned Protestantism. Now, 500 years after the Great Reformation, Tickle places us on the cusp of The Great Emergence.

Her final chapters on how modern denominations are shifting towards a common center are very important. Tickle seems to know precisely how to interpret the multitude of changes that are taking place in our churches.

This is a book about hope. Even the forms of Christianity that do not get involved with the Great Emergence have an important role to play in the future of the Kingdom of God (albeit as ballast).

I think history will treat Phyllis Tickle very well.
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LibraryThing member illecanom
I have great admiration for Phyllis Tickle, so I was intrigued by the perspective she puts forth in this book, that the church is ripe for reformation. I have experienced many of the early warning signs she points to, as old ways of doing religion become stale and decline, as conservative members
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of denominations retreat into their respective positions against change and liberals gather in the center around similar ideas. I doubt if any reformers knew what they were unleashing in their own times, but Tickle gives us much food for thought about how to understand the changes we are living. It is a very hopeful book.
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LibraryThing member bas615
This little book was quite thought-provoking. That being said having been thinking about it I dont agree with much of it. I think that personally we all think that our time in history is different and a dynamic important part of history. Of course there is no unimportant point in history but it is
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a bit presumptuous, and almost arrogant, to conclude that our time is a monumental moment in history. Tickle's theory of 500 year cycles strikes me as way too simple. I think history more than likely works in cycles but to set a time for that is a bit much. Additionally, she glosses over a great deal. There is so much that happened inside those 500 years that is arguably as important as the events she lists. Having said all that it does make a reasonable conversation starter. She does put together some interesting thoughts about the new directions in Christianity.
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LibraryThing member deusvitae
An investigation into the many changes in and influencing Christianity over the past few generations in terms of a 500 year cycle.

The author seeks to understand the many great changes going on throughout Christianity over the past few generations in terms of a 500 year cycle in which Christianity
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and society at large go through great tempestuous changes and come out with a new consensus, the first as the first century, then around 500-600 with the shift from the Roman Empire to medievalism and the rise of Gregory the Great and the monasteries, then 1054 with the Great Schism between East and West, the Reformation et al in the 1500s, and now in our own times.

The narrative is the strongest in terms of the discussion of the past: the analysis of the Reformation and how it came about is excellent, and the discussion of the changes that have come to modern society over the past century and a half is excellent as well.

By necessity, the challenge of such a work involves trying to figure out where everything is going. Perhaps people in the future will find this work rather prophetic, but we cannot know that yet. The author's analysis of how current trends might play out in the near future is insightful, but time will tell about how it all turns out.

This book presents an interesting prism through which to see the history of Christianity and where it might lead, and is worth exploring.
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LibraryThing member jpe9
Every five hundred years, Christianity has a rummage sale, and emerges much changed. We're in the midst of such change now.


Physical description

176 p.; 9 inches


0801013135 / 9780801013133

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