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Emergence Christianity: What It Is, Where It Is Going, and Why It Matters Hardcover – September 1, 2012
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From the Inside Flap
Welcome to the story that's still being written . . .
Whatever else one might say about Emergence Christianity, one must agree it is shifting and reconfiguring itself in such a prodigious way as to defy any final assessments or absolute pronouncements. Yet in Emergence Christianity, Phyllis Tickle gathers the tangled threads of history and weaves the story of this fascinating movement into a beautiful and understandable whole.
Through her careful study and culture-watching, Tickle invites you to join this investigation and conversation as an open-minded explorer. You will discover fascinating insights into the concerns, organizational patterns, theology, and most pressing questions facing the church today. And you'll get a tantalizing glimpse of the future.|Phyllis Tickle, founding editor of the religion department at Publishers Weekly, is the author of more than two dozen books. 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 North Park University. She makes her home on a small farm in Tennessee. For more information, visit www.phyllistickle.com.
From the Back Cover
Praise for Emergence Christianity
"You will find many wonderful things between the covers of this book: provocative questions and astute observations about sacred space, hierarchy, authority. Tickle's insights will help the church reflect on a larger question: How can we best serve the kingdom of God right now?"-- Lauren F. Winner, author of Mudhouse Sabbath and Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis
"Phyllis Tickle is in a unique position by reason of experience, education, and personal courage to say things that many cannot say--or cannot see. Here she does it very well--once again. Christianity is emerging with or without Phyllis Tickle, but she is sure helping the rest of us to emerge along with it!"--Richard Rohr, O.F.M., Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico
"Finally someone has put the emergence conversation in the wider historical context it deserves--showing how what is now emerging owes so much to contributors over the last century. Phyllis Tickle gets it right and conveys it beautifully, so more and more readers can be a part of it . . . with a clearer understanding of what 'it' is!"--Brian D. McLaren, author/speaker/networker
"What a fascinating read! A page turner! I read through each story with anticipation as I eagerly awaited the next set of connections Phyllis Tickle would make between seemingly unrelated people, movements, faith, and culture. Never in one volume have I seen such a diverse set of Christian movements not only listed but analyzed for their meaning as it related to the bigger picture. As we have come to expect, Tickle has done her homework, and the result is a unique contribution to the conversation about what Christianity has and will become in the twenty-first century."--Ryan Bolger, associate professor, Church in Contemporary Culture,
Fuller Theological Seminary
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Top Customer Reviews
"But the Hyphenateds are conduits, and conduits, by definition, flow in two directions. While they may be carrying the ancient, the tried, and the exquisitely honed into Emergence thought, they are also infusing into their natal traditions the sensibilities, contextualized theology, and reinvigorated praxis of the Emergence Christian community that they likewise refuse to leave. It is, as a result, defensible to contend, as many observers now do, that it is the Hyphenateds who ultimately may prove to be the unique group. They move with no animosity toward either what has been or what is becoming. The result is an impunity that grants them effectual credence in both camps. Nothing could be more singular than that, or more laden with possibilities."
I'm now reading Brian McLaren instead.
"Emergence Christianity" is not about the emerging church. It is about an emerging mindset. The author uses three questions to frame her book.
1) What is Emergence Christianity?
2) Where It is Going?
3) Why It Matters?
Tickle makes it clear that "Emergence Christianity" is not a new kind of church, but a movement mentality (North American context) that can shrink or grow, begin or end, far reaching and also potentially impactful. The basic assumption of church is one of people rather than institutional places. It is organized by consensus. It is "open source" that requires appropriate discernment and guidance of ordained clergy. Emergence Christianity is one that is inclusive and diverse in worship. Informal and social, it places a heavy emphasis on community life. They practice a form of liberated worship but are anchored in tradition and orthodoxy. It is not easily restricted by forms and structures, but aims to allow the exercise of spiritual gifts by all members. It readily combines orthodoxy, both Eastern and Western. Sacraments are open. So is their readiness to adopt technology.
Tickle is more of a bird's eye chronicler of some major happenings throughout history. It is not a bull's eye treatise that tells of what is happening exactly. Things are more vague than clear. It is basically to demonstrate how change is still happening today. The author is able to sense that something is going on, but her conclusion lets her down. Perhaps, it is the nature of a "Emergence Christianity" that is increasingly more like the Aquarian form of being more "spiritual" rather than "religious."
The first half of the book is an extremely brief overview about changes happening throughout in the first 1500 years. There are also lots of references to the modern church movements which inject modern relevance into the text. The second half of the book gets more tedious as I sense Tickle trying to make sense of being all things to all people. She goes easy on her critiques, preferring to be as inclusive as possible with her observations of the differences between the Emerging and the Emergent Church. At best, she is able to draw in the wide variety of groups and perspectives. At worst, it can confuse. Etymologically, the words 'emerging,' 'emergent,' and 'emergence' can be too academic that the layperson will be challenged to make sense of how different they are. Tickle attempts a big bite. Unfortunately, I think she has bitten on something too big and too difficult to lock down into a 242-page book. Perhaps, the nature of Emergence Christianity is by itself vague. Perhaps, Tickle has been somewhat influenced by the Age of Aquarian mindsets, that parallels spiritual-but-not-religious with emerging-but-not-conventional. At best, it is a proposal of how things are going to look like. At worst, it may lead readers to visualize something that is not really concrete to start with. I try to like this book, but I think the book is unfortunately too vague. When one tries to be many things to many people, it loses its very own identity that instead of emerging, it may very well be submerging.
Ratin: 3.25 stars of 5.
This book is provided to me free by Baker Books and Graf-Martin Communications in exchange for an honest review.
Answer: Emergence. This seems to be one of the labels that nobody understands; perhaps not even its practitioners. Emergence Christianity is a relatively new worldwide movement in the Christian world, and it's still evolving. It generally transcends such labels as "liberal" or "conservative," stepping sideways to address, instead, issues like social activism. It usually emphasizes the "here and now" over eternal salvation, but beyond that, its decentralized structure can make it very hard to tie the movement down in terms of doctrine. Tickle likes to think of Emergence Christianity as "spiritual Christ-knowing," not as religion. Compared to their secular neighbors, however, Tickle says Emergence Christians are both spiritual and religious.
Maybe it's best to explain by example. Readers of my reviews may recognize radical Christian leader Shane Claiborne and mega-church pastor Rob Bell, who share the face of Emergence Christianity. However, while the increase in mega-churches probably is a result of the same cultural pressures that evoked the Great Emergence, it would be wrong to put Emergence Christianity entirely in the mega-church corner. Most Emergence Christians may still prefer house churches, and an unwritten doctrine seems to be that the "church is a people to be, not a place to go." Says Tickle, "Emergence Christians think of themselves as communal and relational more than sacred or holy."
Still confused? Consider the title of Brian D. McLaren's recent book: A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, anabaptist/anglican, catholic, green, incarnational, depressed-yet-hopeful, emergent, unfinished Christian.
Yeah. Dig it. If you buy Tickle's book--and you should--I suggest eating dessert first: in the center of the book is an annotated section of full-color pictures. Start by paging through the pictures of Emergence Christianity in practice, and read there a little about its methodology, before returning to the meat in chapter 1. I particularly loved seeing the communion table in one picture: outdoors, on the grass, lies an American flag rug, and on top of that stands a beautiful chess set. On the chess board sits a small loaf of bread and a glass of red wine. (Scotch, perhaps? For you chess enthusiasts, the opening looks like it's transposing into the Scotch Gambit. Could this possibly be coincidence? Did anyone else notice this?)
This book hit the mark with me, because Tickle legitimizes Christianity among scholars. For better or worse, Emergence Christians generally share a higher education level, and more of a willingness to embrace technology in the service. If you find that authors like Bell and Claiborne write down to the eighth grade level of reader, you'll find the opposite is true of Tickle. Her writing is intelligent and informative, and she knows her stuff. I have not yet read Tickle's The Great Emergence (2008), but I'm thinking now that I must.