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The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why (Emergent Village Resources for Communities of Faith) Hardcover – October 1, 2008

3.9 out of 5 stars 141 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. North American Christianity is presently undergoing a change every bit as radical as the Protestant Reformation, possibly even as monumental as its natal break with Judaism. And it's right on schedule. Tickle, author of God-Talk in America and PW's founding religion editor, observes that Christianity is holding its semimillennial rummage sale of ideas. With an elegance of argument and economy of description, Tickle escorts readers through the centuries of church history leading to this moment and persuasively charts the character of and possibilities for the emerging church. Don't let this book's brevity fool you. It is packed with keen insights about what this great emergence is, how it came to be and where it may be headed. Tickle issues a clear call to acknowledge the inevitability of change, discern the church's new shape and participate responsibly in the transformation. Although Tickle's particular focus excludes the dynamic forces of Asian, African and Central/South American Christianity, this is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the face and future of Christianity. (Oct.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Long an astute observer of religion, Tickle examines a phenomenon she refers to as the Great Emergence, a once-every-500-years trend within Christianity, in which a new and “more vital” form of the religion emerges. She believes such a development is happening now. To make her case, she examines the complex history of Christianity from Copernicus’ heretical idea that the earth circled the sun to the sixteenth-century Great Reformation to the Catholic Counter-Reformation. She also examines the effect on religion of great nineteenth- and twentieth-century cultural and social upheavals including those wrought by Darwin’s Origin of Species; Faraday’s field theory, which became foundational for the technology we all take for granted today; and the theories of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Albert Einstein, and Joseph Campbell. She explores the impact that the rise of the automobile has on Christian worship and church service while also making brief forays into the origins of Pentecostalism, the influence of Karl Marx, Buddhism, Alcoholics Anonymous, recreational drug use, and the changing roles of women and, hence, the notion of the traditional family, in society since World War II. Somehow all these diverse strands come together in a seamless fabric that, at fewer than 200 pages, is small but full of big ideas, a remarkable achievement of synthesis and thoughtful reflections. --June Sawyers

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Books; First Edition edition (October 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801013135
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801013133
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #416,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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