Worldwide Church in Midst of ‘Great Emergence’

Post a Comment » Written on February 4th, 2009     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (February 4, 2009) –The worldwide church is in the midst of the “Great Emergence,” and decisions over the next 50 years about the nature of scripture will impact the following five centuries of the Christian faith, Phyllis Tickle told worshipers at the Midwinter Pastors Conference on Tuesday night.

Tickle, best known as author of the Divine Hours, took the gathering on a trip through history to show that Western history has run in 500-year cycles. She noted that the Reformation was 500 years ago, which was preceded by the Great Schism, which was preceded by the fall of Rome and beginnings of monasticism.

The core issue always has been who is in authority and thus the conveyors of scripture’s meaning and how it should be read, she explained.

The cycle is not mystical but more related to human psychology, she added. “What seems to happen is that it takes us about 500 years to so encrust, doctrinalize, dogmatize and get it rigid, and get it just like this until we squeeze the life out of it, and the life inside suddenly bursts forth,” Tickle said.

“It’s kind of like the cocoon or the chrysalis. Just suddenly it bursts out and we are off and running again.”

Currently, Tickle said, all of society – including religion – is undergoing dramatic change.  “Everything has been thrown up in the air and it’s going to all settle back down into some kind of new configuration.”

Tickle punctuated her talk with droll southern humor. For example, the great emergence is easily seen, she said, “When you get home and you are so tired of learning things, when you just don’t want to see a computer screen again, and yet you are so addicted to it because somebody either breathed or went to the bathroom on Facebook.”

Tickle emphasized that the new does not replace what has existed previously. The earlier form “simply gets driven back – it doesn’t get destroyed.”

Each new shift brings a religion that is filled with more vitality and a deeper understanding of God, Tickle said.

She praised the Evangelical Covenant Church for focusing on the centrality of the word of God, and “understanding what the questions are, understanding what it means to slip from pure Protestantism over into whatever this new thing is, this new thing God is doing.”

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