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Phyllis Tickle: The Great Emergence

There are many ideas that fill the pages of this brief book. It is an idea starter; and that is perhaps also the main limitation of the book. The book will sit well with anyone who is also an idea-oriented person. For those who seek well-grounded arguments, historical and theological support, and well-informed discussions, The Great Emergence will likely remain only a supplementary text. Pentecostals, who fit well in Tickle’s category of the renewalists, will be happy to find Pentecostalism represented in the argument, even noted as the “first, solid, applied answer to the question of where now is our authority” (85). But many Pentecostal readers will be disappointed at the lack of depth in perceiving Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity as a global movement. Pentecostalism resists the generic identification of Christianity as either a center-oriented or boundary oriented movement. After all, early Pentecostal literature in North America understood the impact of the movement as consisting precisely of the three-fold pattern attributed to the great emergence: a more vital form of Christian faith, a return to the purity of Christianity, and a dramatic growth worldwide as a result of the transformation. As an idea starter, this book may as well get Pentecostals thinking about themselves and their own role in the emergence of a new Christianity. The basic premise of the book offers much fuel for that discussion.

Reviewed by Wolfgang Vondey


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Category: Ministry, Spring 2010

About the Author: Wolfgang Vondey, Ph.D. (Marquette University) and M.Div. (Church of God Theological Seminary), is Professor of Christian Theology and Pentecostal Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK. He is an ordained minister with the Church of God (Cleveland, TN). His research focuses on ecclesiology, pneumatology, theological method, and the intersection of theology and science.

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