The Great Emergence

Phyllis Tickle is featured in this week’s article from syndicated columnist Terry Mattingly. Citing the “500 year wall,” he summarizes Tickle’s recent discussion of all the capital-letter, civilization-rearranging events in history and their tendency to happen about every half-millennium or so: The Reformation, the Great Schism, the Fall of the Roman Empire.

And, she continues, we’re on the verge of another: The Great Emergence.

Church leaders who can do the math should be looking over their shoulders about now, argued Tickle, speaking to clergy, educators and lay leaders at the recent National Youth Workers Convention in Atlanta.

After all, seismic changes have been rolling through Western culture for a century or more — from Charles Darwin to the World Wide Web and all points in between. The result is a whirlwind of spiritual trends and blends, with churches splintering into a dizzying variety of networks and affinity groups to create what scholars call the post-denominational age.

Tickle is ready to call this the “Great Emergence,” with a tip of her hat to the edgy flocks in the postmodern “emerging church movement.”

“Emerging or emergent Christianity is the new form of Christianity that will serve the whole of the Great Emergence in the same way that Protestantism served the Great Reformation,” she said, in a speech that mixed doses of academic content with the wit of a proud Episcopalian from the deeply Southern culture of Western Tennessee.

Read his entire column here.

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