Tuesday, December 04, 2007
ScrippsNews on The Great Emergence
ScrippsNews has an article about Phyllis Tickle and what she has had to say about what she calls "The Great Emergence". The article says:

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.

However, Tickle is quick to point out that this emergence doesn't simply replace what has gone before:

However, anyone who studies history knows that the birth of something new doesn't mean the death of older forms of faith. The Vatican didn't disappear after the Protestant Reformation.

This kind of revolution, said Tickle, doesn't mean "any one of those forms of earlier Christianity ever ceases to be. It simply means that every time we have one of these great upheavals ... whatever was the dominant form of Christianity loses its pride of place and gives way to something new. What's giving way, right now, is Protestantism as you and I have always known it."

I've heard Tickle speak on this topic before, and basically she describes the emerging church as those Christians who are seeking to be post-denominational in a way that embraces what is valuable in many different streams of Christianity - whether liturgical, Pentecostal, evangelical, or social gospel churches. (I've written on this before in my post "The Converging Church".)

Anyhow, you can check out the rest of the article here.


posted by Mike Clawson at 9:27 PM | Permalink |


At 12/05/2007 09:58:00 AM, Anonymous Karl

Interesting article. Terry Mattingly is usually a pretty keen observer. His writing about his journey from evangelicalism into (and subsequent journey back out of) the Episcopal Church helped me frame some of my thoughts as we took a similar journey.

The convergence described reminds me of writings by Robert Weber and Richard Foster, among others. I think it remains to be seen how much of that convergence happens within existing expressions of Christianity such as evangelical protestantism, modifying them while leaving them recognizable, and how much happens outside, in an identifiably new expression of Christianity with fundamentally different theology, dogma and doctrine. There will obviously be some of both.

Mike, through the lens of history and our own experience within protestantism we see negative that came out of the protestant reformation, as well as positive. What do you think the dangers are in what Tickle describes as "Emerging or Emergent Christianity?"


At 12/26/2007 12:15:00 AM, Blogger Mike Clawson

Karl, (sorry it's taken me so long to answer your question) I know you're wanting me to do the whole "prove that emergents can be self-critical" thing here, but honestly, it's too soon. We're still in the midst of a critique of the current paradigm. The emerging church hasn't coalesced into enough of a "thing" yet to start deconstructing it already. It's still mainly a bunch of friends who hang out on blogs and at conferences asking questions and experimenting with new possibilities. Would you have grabbed Martin Luther just before the Diet of Worms and asked him what he thought the flaws of Lutheranism were?

Personally, the biggest danger I see in the emerging movement at the moment is that we might not have enough people courageous enough to stick by their critiques and also continue plowing forward in creating new alternatives. I can easily see this movement being coopted by those who only want it to stay on the innocuous, "coffe and candles" level, while the true radicals let their disillusionment drive them away from the church altogether without having the patience to actually work for change within (or outside of) existing structures that increasingly don't want them anymore anyway. I can easily see this whole thing just fizzling out because of that.


Links to this post

Links to this post:

Create a Link