Religiocentrism… a must go for the next 500 years

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:

  1. What is human consciousness and/or what is the humanness of humanity?
  2. 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…

2 thoughts on “Religiocentrism… a must go for the next 500 years

  1. Hey Nate, I don’t have the time to listen to the sermon right now. But my heart is in my stomach because I wish I could agree with you but this scares me to death. If I don’t have the promises of Scripture, Scripture as my unbending, unchanging foundation, my literal source of survival for many years and currently, how can I trust anything? It seems like you are saying everything is relative, but I want something to trust, and the Truths I have found in Scripture have never let me down. If I were to say we can only depend on parts of Scripture, I would be nowhere because God has revealed Himself so fully through them. I would be lost and probably dead (to suicide) without His Truth through Scripture. Thoughts…? I love and miss you. I am scared of where you are going with this…I haven’t opened up recently but I am ready to dialogue about it. LOVE YOU


  2. Britt,
    I so hear what you are saying and I want to be very sensitive to where you are coming from. A few questions:

    – Is your faith in God and Jesus christ or in what the Bible says about God and Jesus Christ?
    – Does the Bible reveal everything about God or can we allow that God and Christ are indeed bigger than what the Bible even says?
    – What if the Bible is not right about a few things? (for instance, 7 day creation, a global flood, the earth supported on pillars with the sky-dome above and the underworld below?)
    – Does God or Christ change if the Bible is not 100% fact?

    Let’s just say that I told you of an experience that I had. I put it in writing after telling it to 100 people. The story was about God and my experience of him/her. 3000 years later, someone reads this account… their understanding about the reality of the world is no doubt much better. Do they take what I have written as 100% fact, or do they see it as important and revealing about God in the context in which it was written?

    We have to remember that in the last 100 years of history, we have found out more information, scientifically and metaphysically, than in the course of humanity. This has to change how we see scripture.

    Scripture remains extremely important. We do not have to write it off and say that we cannot rely on it for truths. But we have to remember that it is not the fourth member of the Trinity (as my pastor-friend Sean likes to say). Our faith must be in a God that is vastly greater than scripture. Otherwise, we are on some shaky ground. Rob Bell talks about how much of our theology is like a house of cards… if any one thing gets taken out, everything collapses. This is just too risky for me. I prefer to put my faith in a God that is greater than anything we can know of him. That way if one thing, or many things change and evolve, my faith in God and his revelation through Jesus Christ remains the same.

    And yes, very many things are relative… but very many are not. Our experience and anyone’s experience of God is relative. The reality that we exist and breathe and are able to share with each other about our experience with God is not relative. The fact that I can learn about God from other people, and especially from scripture, is not relative. It is a fact. Trust scripture… but interact with it and don’t make it the foundation of your faith. Trust God above all else. I love you.


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