Been thinking a lot about Phyllis Tickle’s work with The Great Emergence, as we talked a lot in church yesterday about the 500 year transitions that Christianity has gone through and the shift in authority that has taken place in each time. To refresh:
- 45-50AD – Rise of the Early Church (Shift in Authority to the Apostles and local communities of Christ followers)
- 500 AD – Fall of Rome (Shift in authority in the rise of Monasticism)
- 1000 AD – Great Schism (Shift in authority towards the Western Roman Catholic Church)
- 1500 AD – The Protestant Reformation (Thanks to Luther, we have a shift towards authority in scripture alone) We ended up watching Luther (with Joseph Fiennes) to refresh
- 2000 AD – the Great Emergence (What is the shift of authority now?)
Let’s keep in mind that during all these transitions, the old system still held in place. There was just a majority shift that took place and it has brought us to where we are now. Each shift in history was appropriate for the cultural changes at the time. There were many, many people who did not understand this shift and those who helped make the change very often got labeled as heretics.
As Tickle talks about (check out the video below… so GOOD!), the time we live in is much, much different than ever before. It is the information age and we can access things with the click of a button that we never could have before. We understand the challenges of different languages and cultures. Because of this, it is going to be very hard to fully trust a limited number of scriptural interpretations any more. The authority of scripture is changing as we learn more about science and reality and the things that we cannot know. There is a very small minority of people who believe that everything in scripture happened the way it says it happened.
So where does the authority rest? Tickle says that we have to answer two very important questions:
- What is human consciousness and/or what is the humanness of humanity?
- What is the relation between all the religions to one another? How do we faithfully practice our own religion in the midst of a much smaller world in the awareness and respect of the other religions?
These are HUGE questions. And I agree. I would also add that we need to ask ourselves a few other questions:
- In a world of consumption and globalization, very addicted to non-renewable resources, what choices do we make in regards to community and how we treat the earth?
My guess, and it may sound pretty heretical to many of my conservative Evangelical friends and family, is that the transition of authority is going to shift towards more local unified communities, emphasizing generational sustainability and a dissemination of religiocentrism and priority on traditional religious forms.
Here’s a great video of Phyllis Tickle, talking about the changes…