This week’s installment of the Emergent Gathering brings us to Phyllis Tickle and The Great Emergence. The beginning of this book reminds me a lot of her newer work Emergence Christianity. In the first part of this book examines the great rummage sale that is currently happening, along with the rummage sales that occurred during the Reformation, Great Schism, and during Gregory the Great’s time in power.
In each of these “great” rummage sales, the “great” adjective has been added to “insulate itself into popular discussions”. That is to say that the adjective places the event into the historical spotlight. Tickle argues that the addition of the label “great” applies to “The Great Reformation”, the “Great Schism”, and Gregory “the Great”. It is important to remember that even though today as we read about these events through the lens of twenty-first century lives, the events that unfolded shaped the way in which we experience the Gospel and the emergence which is occurring right now will shape future generations of Christians. Even though these rummage sales seem to have upset the status quo of Christianity these events shaped the future of the church along with insulating the faith during upheavals in sociopolitical events (ex. Monasticism emerging during the late-fifth century).
Tickle shared that three things happen during these upheavals within Christianity: a stronger form of Christianity emerges, the more dominant expression of Christianity is simplified, and the Gospel itself is spread to new geographic and demographic audiences. Tickle referred to the five hundred year upheavals as “rummage sales”.
Here are some questions that were raised as a result of this reading:
- What is it? Where is it going? Do we really want to be along for the ride? – Adopted from Phyllis’s opening questions.
- According to Tickle, the Great Emergence is happening within Christianity and else where in our lives, is this an accurate statement? Where is the Great Emergence taking us?
- If it truly is a rummage sale, what aspects of Christianity do we keep and which aspects do toss into the bargain bin?
- Just as Gregory the Great and the Monastics saved Christianity for us today, are we saving Christianity for future generations or are we going to be seen as “messing things up”?