The Great Emergence by Phyllis Tickle

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Reviewed by: Ed Janzen

In this book, Phyllis Tickle has tried to pull together observations from her work as founding editor of the Religion Department at Publisher’s Weekly into a long view of the Christian church and where it is going.  Her schematizing of church history into 500 year eras is a bit too neat and likely overplays the importance of our present place in history.  However, her discussion of the quadrilateral model of North American Christianity and its evolution through Cruciform and Rose structures make for interesting reflection. 

This book helps us think reflectively about our place in history as a church and a movement, and about how to move non-anxiously into a post-Christian era of post-modern society.  This book will make for good reading in interested study groups.


“Arguably, one of the most potentially destructive things that can happen to a faith is for it to become the accepted and established religion of the political, cultural and social unit in which its adherents live.”

“Emergents, because they are postmodern, believe in paradox; or more correctly, they recognize the ubiquity of paradox and are not afraid of it.  Instead, they see in its operative presence the tension where vitality lives.”


Ed Janzen

Meet the Reviewer:

Ed is currently the chaplain at Conrad Grebel University College.He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at York. Janzen also has training in pastoral counselling. A passion for the Mennonite community of faith has prompted Janzen's involvement in pastoral ministry in Alberta and Ontario, in a variety of denominational committees, including the Board of Directors of Silver Lake Mennonite Camp, and in academic research in the sociology of biblical authority.