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The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,727 Ratings  ·  156 Reviews
From the church's birth to the reign of St. Gregory the great, to the Great Schism and through the Reformation, Phyllis Tickle notes that every 500 years the church has been rocked by massive transitions. Remarkably enough, Tickle suggests to us that we live in such a time right now. The Great Emergence Examines history, social upheaval, and current events, showing how a n ...more
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Published October 1st 2008 by Baker Books
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Raima Larter
Apr 05, 2013 Raima Larter rated it really liked it
Although the subtitle of this latest book by Phyllis Tickle is "How Christianity is Changing and Why," the book is about so much more. The book's thesis is that the western Church is going through an upheaval and rearrangement, the likes of which have not been seen for 500 years.

Even more surprising, Tickle argues persuasively that similar transformations have occurred every 500 years, each one leading to huge and fundamental changes in religion, but also in society, culture and the individual p
***Dave Hill
(Boy, I hate it when GoodReads swallows my review when I go to save it ...)

"The Great Emergence" is a somewhat interesting but ultimately too-shallow book that sets out to tackle epic themes of religious history and predict where modern Christiantiy is going, and instead asserts a somewhat dubious historical pattern and engages in idle (but incomplete) speculation about contemporary faith evolution.

For a book talking about the world-changing phenomenon of the "Great Emergence," Tickle is either
The Great Emergence by Phyllis Tickle is a sociological study on the history and possible future of Christianity.

This text is unusual for its inclusion of and respect for both Catholicism and Orthodoxy in its 163 pages of exploration on how Christianity has changed, from just prior to the Reformation until today.

Its basic thesis is that society, and as a result, the church, changes drastically every 500 years, beginning with the rise of Monasticism about 500 years after Christ, with the transi
May 04, 2011 Michael rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christianity
I think it's pretty obvious to the unbiased reader of "The Great Emergence" that Tickle's arrangement of history, her beliefs about what is most important and why, and her assessment of where we're at and where we are going are all easily called into question. Since she both defines and applies her own terms as they relate to the monumental shift she describes, and then incorporates virtually everything we can possibly observe into it, it becomes apparent early on that if you don't just relax an ...more
Matt Root
May 17, 2014 Matt Root rated it really liked it
As someone who has been familiar with the emergent movement in practice since the late 1990s and intellectually/theologically since 2003, I judge such introductory discussions about it less on the content itself than on the presentation. In this respect, Tickle does a very admirable job in tracing a general trajectory for developments in Christian theology and church structure both in history and today. The author would no doubt agree that this is but one way of exploring these themes (indeed it ...more
Laura Cowan
Apr 08, 2013 Laura Cowan rated it it was amazing
I didn't expect such a historical or academic approach to this subject, but that's probably just because I'm new to Phyllis Tickle and didn't realize what a sharp mind she is. This is articulate and detailed in all the right places, but never dull. You may need a general understanding of the history of Christianity and particularly the Protestant denominational differences of the last century to understand everything the author is saying, but it's still a great overview of what is happening with ...more
Hansen Wendlandt
Wherever she is, Phyllis Tickle is the smartest person in the room. She has absolutely shaped any understanding of the Christian emergence movement. And when she describes, or one collects, her ideas about the history and future of the church, it could not be more persuasive and impressive. This particular book, however, does not quite fulfill those accolades. The Great Emergence is creative and descriptive, even one of the most important books in the field. For a layperson it might be shocking ...more
Jun 06, 2009 Becky rated it liked it
Impressive book from Phyllis Tickle about the Emergent Church and how history brought us to the changes currently taking place. It is a short book of ~150 pages. The theme being that every 500 years or so the Christian church "evolves" itself with a giant rummage sale of sorts. Great Schism, Great Reformation, etc... and guess what, you may not know it but we're in the latest evolution. The middle hundred pages of this book details church history and are fascinating as she describes how science ...more
Jan 16, 2012 Kyle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
More than a bit ambitius, Tickle tackles not only the history of Christendom (from a Protestant perspective) but the major players in post-renaissance science, politics, psychology, and sociology.

Tickle's thesis is that every 500 years, the Christian faith has a great "rummage sale" in which they re-orient themselves. While this 500 year division is too neat and tidy (she says as much) and it's presumptious to say we're experiencing one now (time will tell on that front), this is an excellent re
Jun 26, 2016 Libby rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: pastors, sociologists, historians, religion scholars and students
When I started reading the "forward" and first section of chapter one, my thoughts were that the author had a flowery writing style and took too long to make her point(s).

I was wrong. Phyllis Tickle wrote methodically in a style that built momentum in making her points about where Christians seem to be "today". It is "The Great Emergence": a timeframe in which people align themselves with megachurches that "welcome all" and focus on the wants of the people in a hybrid version of Christianity th
Feb 26, 2014 Richard rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Christianity.
Recommended to Richard by: Several people who recently heard her at a pastor's conference.
Excellent summary of Christianity from the first century until somewhere in the future with special emphasis on North American churches and practices crammed into about 150 small pages.

After raising several children on a Tennessee farm and a great career as a woman of letters in New York and D.C. she is still on the road at 80+ years old.
Janet Daniels
Apr 07, 2014 Janet Daniels rated it liked it
Great overview of the history of the Judeo-Christian tradition. However, I want more information about where the church is going and how it is being transformed.
Andy Hickman
Feb 28, 2016 Andy Hickman rated it really liked it
Phyllis Tickle, “The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why”, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2008)

“... about every five hundred years the Church feels compelled to hold a giant rummage sale.
Any usable discussion of the Great Emergence and what is happening in Christianity today must commence with yesterday and a discussion of history. Only history can expose the patterns and flow of our own times and occupy them more faithfully.” (p16)
“... about every five hundred years the empowered s
Robert Justice
A book about Christianity from a secular perspective, I found this little tome very interesting. According to Tickle, a leading Religion Professor, the layout of Christian History over the last 2000 years has followed a somewhat predictable flow.
The entire book centers on Tickle's argument that every 500 years, the corporate Christian Church has what she refers to as a "rummage sale", and begins to reevaluate what it teaches and values. She mentions the split between Catholicism and Eastern Or
Je lis donc je suis
I'm not really going to write a review as such here at this point, but must say that this book did make me think...MUCH more than most do. I worry that her view of scripture is a bit too low, even from the point of view of someone such as myself that sees sola Scriptura et scriptura sola as false teaching, thus I may have held the author somewhat at arms length. That said, the core structure of her argument is very solid, but her inferences around that structure (or thesis) can be at times specu ...more
Ruth Ann
Feb 25, 2016 Ruth Ann rated it really liked it
This rather brief book, (about 160 pages), summarizes the Judeo-Christian tradition by focusing on times of transition every 500 years. The Great Emergence is our current state, another time of transition which is resulting in wide-spread changes in the Christian church.
I liked revisiting history, from an integrated view of politics, culture, sociology, and religion because it seems to me impossible to separate the influence that one had on another.

The one idea that stuck with me was the questio
Joshua Casey
Phyllis Tickle here undertakes a herculean task: to identify and explain the large seismic shifts within the Church since its inception in order to forecast what might be on the horizon in the oncoming decades.

The good parts of this book are very good. Tickle is a gifted writer and manages to weave many beautiful or witty thoughts in the midst of a largely informative book. If you are developing an interest in Church history (and, more specifically, why it matters for today's Christian to have a
Mar 06, 2014 Adman rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book represents the first time I have paid any attention to the phenomenon of the emergent church. Actually, it's the first time I paid attention to anything regarding "the church" for about five years. I found it easier to read about this institution in terms of an academic, historical survey of what the thing has been and what it might be. the long view seems to have succeeded in clearing the air and draining the stagnation from this topic for me.

Some of the concepts intrigued me.
Apr 05, 2009 Katie added it
Too pomo for me. Gave up, lost interest, frustrated with the meandering. Plus what she considers to be "central questions" I...don't. And find rather boring by comparison to some other questions.
Tim Timberly
Jul 03, 2014 Tim Timberly rated it did not like it
I picked this up at the local library and was intrigued by its subtitle. I was disappointed by the book, however. The trends she noted within Christianity seem best suited for the "west", neglecting the slow march of progressive trends in Africa and South America. Throughout the book Christianity is almost always synonymous with Protestantism, as Orthodoxy and Catholicism received scant mention. (Discrediting sola scriptura would seem to have less importance in non-Protestant Christianity.) The ...more
Feb 27, 2015 Amelia rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Recommended to Amelia by: Ernesto Medina
This is the book we're reading for my church's annual Lenten book study, and it was a fantastic choice. I could hardly put it down once I got going on it! Without giving away too much for my church friends who are still reading it, Phyllis Tickle paints a beautiful, hopeful, encouraging picture of the future of Christianity in North America. For the first time in my life, all the conflicts I've seen around me and struggled with myself make sense, because I can see them as part of a bigger pictur ...more
Dec 30, 2015 Daniel rated it liked it
I heard about this book for so long. If you already know a good bit about church history, psychology, or even basic psychics; you can skip the first half of the book. The real meet starts at Page 119 to the end of the book, when she begins to write about the actual emerging church, as opposed to the history preceding/causing it. Book is worth a read; yet if you have read John Piper, Richard J. Foster, Shane Claiborne, Brian McLaren, Jim Henderson, Donald Miller, Fancis Chan, or Rob Bell - you pr ...more
Feb 15, 2012 Charlotte rated it really liked it
Shelves: spiritual-ethics
This book was used during the fall in our Tuesday morning discussion group. In it, the author examined how the Christian Church has developed in the last 2000 years, and noted that about every 500 years, there has been a major shake-up in the Christian Faith (1) Birth of Christianity in the first century (2) At the time of Gregory the Great (Dark Ages) were preservation and development of faith occurred in monasteries, (3) The Great Schism in 1054 where there was a divistion of Western Christian ...more
Nov 12, 2009 Chris rated it liked it
I'm rating this book 3 stars because I thought it had a lot of very useful information, but I'm not sure my paradigm changed as a result of reading it, nor did I find the reading experience overwhelmingly satisfying. That being said, it was a nice book, very informative, probably groundbreaking for those who may not be as familiar with cycles in religious history, or the trajectory of philosophical/theological ideology and practice.

The basic purpose of the book is to trace movements in socio-rel
Aug 03, 2009 Linda rated it liked it
when i started this book i hated it but by the time i finished it i was loving it. if possible i'd give it 3 1/2 stars. in the first third i found her writing dry and vague. the second section was like a church history and sociological overview but the last third is where it really took off where she examines the emerging/ent church. i especially liked her discussion of where the authority for truth is situated for the various segments of the church. i'd also recommend stanley grenz' a primer on ...more
M Christopher
My reaction to the first two parts of this book was, "Oh, great, another book I'm reading 5 years too late!" Phyllis Tickle travels what has become well-worn ground in the first three-quarters of this review of sociology and theology related to the "Great Emergence," both in the Church and in broader society. She gives what is now the standard understanding of the five-hundred and two-thousand year cycles operative in both fields as well as the "Rummage Sale" image of the five-hundred-year cycle ...more
Jan Rice
Jul 24, 2011 Jan Rice rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, religion
My main gripe during the bulk of this book was that Phyllis Tickle collapsed the distinction between Americans and Christians, with comments such as, "The average American, whether Protestant or Roman Catholic...." She also collapse the distinction between history and Christian history. She was distressed at the history (or future possibility) of Christians harming other Christians, but passed lightly over Christians harming other people while simultaneously starry-eyed at the spread of Christia ...more
Mar 02, 2009 Jim rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Other folks have said it in their own reviews - there sure is a lot of history to chew on in this book. I find that what is said regarding that historical perspective could probably have been said more simply and easily. Simplicity and succinctness might have made this book a little more accessible to the average joe.

While I think something is happening within Christianity I must confess a bit of skeptism to the whole notion that we can "know" or identify that we are in the midst of another refo
May 19, 2009 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Phyllis Tickle is able to summarize two thousand years of history with broad brush strokes so that even history-challenged folks like me can track the sweeps of change. In the context of social, economic, scientific, cultural change…, God’s people (the church) has proven itself a living organism, adapting to the needs of man. Tickle touches upon Luther, Copernicus, Darwin, Faraday, Freud, Mar (to name a few); innovations such as radio, car, internet, birthcontrol (to name a few); groups & re ...more
Guy Bellerby
Dec 08, 2010 Guy Bellerby rated it did not like it
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PHYLLIS TICKLE, founding editor of the Religion Department of PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, the international journal of the book industry, is frequently quoted in sources like USA TODAY, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, NY TIMES, as well as in electronic media like PBS, NPR, THE HALLMARK CHANNEL, etc., Tickle is an authority on religion in America and a much sought after lecturer on the subj
More about Phyllis A. Tickle...

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“about every five hundred years the Church feels compelled to hold a giant rummage sale. And, he goes on to say, we are living in and through one of those five-hundred-year sales.” 0 likes
“51, 152 indulgences, 58 inerrancy, 82 information, 15, 52, 106 inherited church, 136, 140, 141 Inquisition, 59 interdenominational churches, 144n3 Internet, 53, 70, 106, 135, 152 iPod, 105 Islam, 30, 47, 48, 49 James, William, 92 Jaspers, Karl, 30 Jesuits, 58 Jesus Christ, life, death, and resurrection, 26 Jesus scholarship, 81 Joachim of Fiore, 164n8 John Cassian, 27 John of the Cross, 58 John XXIII, 44 Jones, Tony, 163n1 Judaism, 29, 75n2, 120, 161 Jung, Carl, 67, 70 Keats, John, 150 Kepler, Johannes, 54 Kevorkian,” 0 likes
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