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The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why: How Christianity Is Changing and Why (Emersion: Emergent Villages Resources for Communities of Faith) Hardcover – 1 Nov 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group (1 Nov. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801013135
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801013133
  • Product Dimensions: 22.1 x 15.4 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 335,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Phyllis Tickle, founding editor of the religion department at Publishers Weekly, is the author of more than two dozen books on the subject. She is frequently quoted and interviewed in such media outlets as the New York Times, USA Today, Newsweek, Time, CNN, C-SPAN, and PBS. A lector and lay eucharistic minister in the Episcopal Church, she holds the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from both Berkeley School of Divinity at Yale University and from North Park University. She makes her home on a small farm in Tennessee. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JayneS on 1 Jun. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Gave me a lot to think about and was interesting in that it drew on the history of the church
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 118 reviews
230 of 247 people found the following review helpful
Flawed, but informative 26 Sept. 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Phyllis Tickle's newest book, The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why, arrived yesterday. At 172 pages, this small but elegant volume (aren't all Tickle's books elegant?) both informs and disappoints. Tickle takes on the daunting task of reviewing the major turning points or `Great' events in the life of the Christian church. Her contention is that every 500 years or so the church goes through a `great' transformation.

Counting back from the present, the Great Reformation took place about 500 years ago -- 1517 to be exact. Prior to that, The Great Schism occurred when the Eastern and Western churches split over icons and statues. Five hundred years earlier, Gregory the Great blessed and encouraged the monastic orders which would preserve the Christian faith through the Dark Ages. Of course, 500 years before that, we're back in the first century and the time of the apostles. Today, Tickle contends, the church in in the throes of The Great Emergence.

But, the Great Emergence is not just religious. It is also cultural, technological, and sociological. Of course, context shaped each of the other `great' church transformations as well, and this time is no different. Tickle takes the reader on an overflight of church history, world events, and charts the shifts in the center of authority in the life of the church. In the Great Reformation, of course, the cry of authority was sola scriptura - only scripture. Tickle traces the diminution of the authoritative place of scripture in culture and Christianity from its heady beginnings in the Reformation to its marginalization in the current postmodern era. The book provides thoughtful tracing of influential elements as Tickle leads the reader on a quest for a center of authority.

But, while Tickle's insights and examples provide clues to the transformative forces in our culture and society, the book disappoints when we arrive at the present. Tickle sees all denominations, all churches, all movements in the quadrant of Christianity -- conservative, liturgical, renewalist, and social justice -- as converging toward the center. Granted, there are those denominations and groups that cling to their identities in a kind of resistant pushback, but Tickle's vision is that we are all being swept up into the next great moment of the church -- The Great Emergence. Every church, not just the cool emerging church types, are part of The Great Emergence. I'm not sure that is happening, but I could have lived with Tickle's opinion except for some examples she uses.

Tickle uses John Wimber and the Vineyard churches as an example of this new kind of emergence. She correctly credits Quakers -- Richard Foster, Parker Palmer, etc -- with great influence on the spirituality of the Great Emergence. I might add Elton Trueblood to that list, as mentor to Foster, but Tickle doesn't. But, in her citing of John Wimber, she goes off track. She credits Wimber with being a "founder" of the Church Growth department at Fuller, and calls Peter Wagner his colleague. I was present at Fuller during Wagner's tenure, and I was enrolled in the DMin program in church growth. I attended one of the Signs and Wonders classes, heard Wimber speak, and got a sense of his idea of `power evangelism.'

Wimber was not a founder of the church growth movement. He was an adjunct faculty member at Fuller. Dr. Donald McGavran was the founder, Peter Wagner was his protege. I met McGavran once, although he had retired when I was enrolled at Fuller. Tickle misunderstands Wimber's approach, and also overestimates the Quaker influence on Wimber. Wimber left the traditional church in which he had become a Christian because he wanted to `do the stuff' -- heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, and so on. I also attended the Vineyard church that Wimber headed, and it was no Quaker meeting. So, at the end of the book, Tickle disappoints. Simple fact-checking could have offered a corrective to her inclusion of Wimber.

While Wimber did create a powerful new church community called Vineyard, he used signs and wonders as power evangelism to win people to Christ. All of that was very much part of the church growth movement that believed in attractional evangelism. Wimber's brand just happened to be one of the more interesting versions of church growth techniques being used to gather people. She also wrongly attributes the concept of bounded sets and centered sets to Wimber when actually it was Paul Hiebert, the missiologist, who used those concepts to illustrate new approaches to understanding the place of persons in the Kingdom of God.

Would I recommend the book? A qualified yes is in order here. The book succeeds in all but the last chapter. If you want a great overview of where Christianity has been, what the influences were that got it there, and where it might be headed, Tickle's book provides a good, concise overview. My disappointment was that it fails to see clearly the way forward, and misinterprets some of the church's most recent experiements, such as Vineyard. But, Tickle is an elegant writer, and the book is a valuable resource to those aware of its short-comings.
60 of 76 people found the following review helpful
Why buy another Phyllis Tickle book? Because this one is a concise overview of her work, great for groups. 9 Sept. 2008
By David Crumm - Published on
Format: Hardcover
If you know the name "Phyllis Tickle," then you probably already own one or more of her books. You may own copies of her guides to recovering the tradition of fixed-hour prayer, such as "Christmastide: Prayers for Advent Through Epiphany from The Divine Hours" or "The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime (Tickle, Phyllis)." You may be a fan of her "Prayer Is a Place" or may have studied her "The Words of Jesus: A Gospel of the Sayings of Our Lord with Reflections by Phyllis Tickle" with a small group.

So, why buy another Tickle book?

The answer is that this short volume is conceived as really a summation and introduction to the vast sweep of Phyllis' work over the past decade. You'll find here her concise overview of 500-year cycles of religious change. You'll find here her system for sorting out the impact of various religious movements -- and the convergence of movements back toward a spiritual core in Christianity.

For a small book, though, this text deals with very big issues. While primarily a Christian book, there are important insights here for anyone interested in changing global culture and values.

This book is custom-made for small-group study.
23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
A great conversation piece for those engaging in the emergent church 4 Mar. 2009
By - Published on
Format: Hardcover
It's no secret that change is in the air. The evidence is found throughout our culture, felt in our economy and experienced in technology. Some of us are struggling to keep up with these changes, as they come so fast and from so many directions. Nowhere is that more apparent than within the church. As many Christians are struggling to reconcile what they're seeing and experiencing with their faith, they are asking hard questions of what it all means and where we're headed.

In the midst of so much change and the resulting angst, Phyllis Tickle offers a provocative look at where we are in history as people of faith in order to point to what's to come. As the founding editor of the Religion Department of Publishers Weekly and a respected authority on religion in America, she recently penned THE GREAT EMERGENCE: How Christianity is Changing and Why. The book offers an overview of church history in which she suggests that every 500 years, people of faith have a rummage sale of sorts in which they reassess Christianity. She writes: "About every five hundred years the empowered structures of institutional Christianity, whatever they may be at the time, become an intolerable carapace that must be shattered in order that renewal and new growth may occur."

Tickle is quick to point out that this emergence is not just religious but blends effortlessly into all aspects of society --- technological, cultural, scientific, even sociological. She points to shifts in church history, world history and technological breakthroughs as well as subtle but significant changes in the modern family to make her case. She argues quite persuasively that while the Great Reformation responded to the cry of sola scriptura, only scripture, that the Great Emergence is asking a similar question: Where do we get our authority from?

When that mighty upheaval happens, she says history shows us that there are always at least three consistent results: a more vital form of Christianity emerges; the organized expression of Christianity becomes more pure; and the church ends up with two new expressions rather than just one. She gently reminds readers that we're not just at the hinge of a 500-year period, we're also the direct product of one.

While the analysis of where we've been is swift in this short volume, the suggestion of where we might be going will leave many readers wanting. The conclusion is so open-ended, the question must be asked if anything can be concluded at all. But maybe that's the point of the emergence we're in. The dust is still kicked up and where it will settle is yet to be determined. Each of us will play a role in the outcome whether we realize it or not.

Overall, THE GREAT EMERGENCE is a great conversation piece for those engaging in the emergent church. Those who read it will be better educated and equipped to talk about the church in today's ever-changing culture.

--- Reviewed by Margaret Oines
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why 30 Dec. 2008
By Eric Williams - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why. Phyllis Tickle. 176 pages. 2008.

My wife picked this book up for at the library on a whim. It sat on the shelf for about a week before I picked it up and read it.

The book is really divided into two sections. The first section is an excellent history of Christianity since about 500 AD. The history is brief, about 100 pages. The serious religious scholar will be disappointed because the focus is not on theological intricacies. The focus is on the general moves and its effects. Too often in seminaries the focus is narrowly theological and the wider context is lost. The author does a very good job of tracing out and extending the impact on society and society's reverse impact on theology. The strongest aspect here concerns the impact of sola scriptura and its reverberations. The context and effects was eye opening to me. I had not thought much of sola scriptura except in the theological bent I was trained in at seminary. The wider echoes are very thought provoking.

Because the author is going through almost 2,000 years in 100 pages there are many omissions which some readers will get hung up on. The focus here is not the details and pet niches but rather a generalization ... a big picture view of movements. The focus is also not on theological intricacies. This lack of nit-picking though is a great strength of the book.

The author traces various impacts of theology and society and the interplay in 500 year chunks. Sometimes these 500 year culminations make sense and a few of them seem contrived. The biggest contrivance is the current, "Great Emergence". The second part of the book is based on this notion of a Great Emergence.

I actually do not really understand what the Great Emergence is. The weakest aspect of the book is that the author writes from a point of assumption that the Great Emergence does exist and that everyone understands that it exists and what it is. To me it is still a mystery. Though I do admit that Christianity in America (and this is the decided focus of the book!) is going through a change away from the group and towards an individual version. This does present challenges to several denominations though it is really nothing new with in the Christian experience.

Perhaps the effects of the automobile and the changing dynamic of the family are of more important than many in standard denominations realize. All told this is a good book to read in the first 100 pages or so. It is more of an anthropological approach than a philosophical approach. It provides fresh insight into movements with in Christendom.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Strong Looking Back; Weak Looking Ahead 14 April 2010
By Dr Conrade Yap - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Phyllis Tickle is a prolific writer. This latest book does not disappoint. She has an amazing ability to weave nearly 1500 years of history into one book. The title of the book is compelling and very inviting to many observers of the Christian scene nowadays. The premise is simple. If we want to look ahead, we need to look back and learn from our past. Otherwise, we risk repeating past mistakes.

Tickle brings the reader through a fascinating journey into the early centuries; from papal domination to the Protestant Reformation; from the first Schism to the next; from Reformation to Renaissance. She did not stop at religion. With skill, she harnesses amazing scientific insights from Einstein, Jung, etc; philosophy from Hegel, Marx, and others; technology like automobile, the computer, the Internet and many others, to carefully remind us that any religious institution like the Church is never immune from these factors. What I enjoy most is the way she identifies the changing nuclear family, gently comparing and contrasting the traditional grandma image in the early 20th Century to the modern working couple family structure in the late 20th Century. She shows a keen understanding of women roles in society. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about her comprehensiveness with regards to the male gender.

Throughout the book, she poses an important point: Who/What is the authority during each era? Indeed, the Great Emergence is not exactly in terms of what shape Christianity or the Church is going to become. It is actually upon what kinds of authority does the world at large recognizes during each period. While she has a very clear sense of what kinds of authority exist per historical era, this mood fizzles out in the final part of the book. In fact, I think the weakest part of the book is in Part III, the strongest in Part II. I will commend her book with regards to learning from the past (Part I and II), but will hesitate to recommend her prescriptions for the future (Part III).

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