Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Re-Formation and Resulting Questions

Re-Formation and Resulting Questions

            In the first part of the fifth chapter of Phyllis Tickle’s “The Great Emergence”
the author cites many influences which have brought about change in the 20th century and which resulted in the church experiencing transformation as well. Tickle describes Einstein’s theories of relativity, Heisenberg and his uncertainty principle along with the historical quest of Biblical scholars to look for the real Jesus. Tickle recounts the story of Pentecostalism as a Christian movement entering into the mid stream and its influences within the black and Latino communities. With the advent of the automobile enabling people to travel, the mindset of staying in one place for your entire life was now gone and pursuing interests for oneself grew.
            Tickle continues her discourse and includes other influences which changed the way Christians shared the story of Jesus and especially the ways in which people chose to receive it or not. She cites Marxism as a stabilizing factor like the church for it gave stability and became community centres where the hope of the uniformity of belief was to be shared.
            However ideas of a generic God became a part of the normal ideology and the idea of questioning one’s faith in a God was openly received. And the people questioned who and what they were- and this was in the early 1930’s and 1940’s!
            The world of Christianity was changing and the world itself was soon facing even more difficulties as war loomed. What would this mean for the family? The church? The faith of the people who believed in the authority and wonder of God would be challenged and changed again.
            Tickle’s overview continues—next time! 

Tickles overview sites world history and local church; scientific discoveries and ideological innovation as influences in the ever changing Christian church. As she takes us through this overview, she also reminds us of the emerging thoughts and ideas of Christian churches which did not exist before. Pentecostalism, black-Latino Christian music and the need for authority all influenced Christian churches like never before.
History tells us that the world does change through the innovative thoughts and discoveries of this world. The question one might ask is do these discoveries continue today and where do they lead? Are we being led to something better/ or just different?
What role does God play in all of this for you if God does? How and to what extent?

Our discussion of the overview of the emerging/ changing church offers further background so that we might find out if we are spiritual but not religious- or whether we are the church of today with spiritual depth as received from God.

God of grace and love we praise you for your word to us throughout history. Our world is constantly in motion as people move and grow and are innovative. Help us to realize these ideas and changes so that we may learn. Enable us also to see that the Church is not dying but reinventing itself for your purpose and glory. Call us to be one with each other in your Spirit as we reflect on your love and blessings each day. Amen.

Phyllis Tickle The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books,2008. Chapter 5

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Re-Formation and Resulting Questions

Re-Formation and Resulting Questions

            Phyllis Tickle’s “The Great Emergence” offers us a historical
overview of what has led to a resurgence or refocus of our Christian faith at this time in the 21st century. From Darwin, Freud and the Power of Myth Tickle suggests that science and scientific discoveries of the 19th century have gradually led us to the day when we as people can choose to believe in what is being presented or not, by simply turning off media. She states that years ago there was little choice in what people could and did believe. Today, with a flick of a button or switch we can turn to or away from information that goes against or challenges our thinking, our ideals, our faith.
            From Faraday to Freud the term scientist was developed to include those who studied chemistry, biology and medicine, and the unconscious. In just over 100 years science has led people to a new conscious and yet the question most raised is that of ‘self”.
            Tickle states that the questions are endless as are the media sources willing and able to broadcast them, unanswered into every North American life. But the question that is central is the same as it was years before, “Where now is the authority? Where now is our authority? She states, “Religion empowers the answers by sanctifying them; but it is itself not so much defined by those answers as it is characterized by them. It is the authority answer which defines.” (p. 73)
            The two questions of the Great Emergence Tickle offers are: 1)What is human consciousness and/ or the humanness of the human? And 2) What is the relation of all religions to one another… how can we live responsibly as devout and faithful adherents of one religion in a world of many religions?

Tickle takes us through history based upon discovery by learned people who were not afraid to question and seek answers. Their nature in itself could not be slowed down and it was subsequent leaders that offered to us a different world because of their passion to understand what was going on around them.
Do we have this passion today? Do you have this passion to find out more? Emerging Christians are the immediate products of the twentieth century. What they see what they do and the materials with which they work were all shaped by a particular place in time and space. Do you agree/ disagree with this? Why? What causes us to be who we are today?

Holy One we praise you for those blessings you bestowed on researchers and those who questioned what they read and saw around them,. Through them we have learned so much about your creation that we cannot fully understand. Yet we know that we are still searching for answers and looking to you or a better place in this world for us and for future generations. Held us in your hand and guide us to where you want us to go. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Phyllis Tickle The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books,2008. Chapter 4

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Only the scripture and the scriptures only

Sola Scriptura, Scriptura Sola—“priesthood of all believers}
Only the scripture and the scriptures only

            Phyllis Tickle’s “The Great Emergence” teaches us the history of
Christianity through the need of change in order to bring about the change itself. She retells the story of the Reformation when what was being challenged was a clear and general understanding of who or what is to be used as the arbitrator of correct belief, action and control.  The question almost immediately answered by avid followers as only the scripture; the scripture only and the priesthood of all believers. This led however for the need of universal literacy and with it the interpretations of what is read. But what we might also note is that during this time the printing press was invented which caused many to have books and articles in their hands for the first time. These told the latest news  but also stories of people’s lives which influenced people’s thoughts, reactions and responses to what was being shared including their faith. And of course, was the church capable of being wrong to teach otherwise? Yes!
During this Reformation period these changes separated churches because the people wanted and needed to understand their new world. It was not flat, they could sail west or south and found new civilizations. But what caused most concern is that the church was already transmuted into something very different. Protestantism  itself broke into other factions with their own hierarchy, leadership and teachings. Due to the emergence of a new world and all its potential, the church changed.
Tickle argues that we are now 500 years later and a new is again emerging. A new world which in seconds news about earthquakes, baby births and even individual situations close to home are shared for all to know. Yet the church somehow is not fully grasping this- yes the scriptures are shared to all who believe, but what is needed now is that this task be done in innovative ways. What withstood time is no longer viable but do we still wish it the same as before?

Only Scripture- priesthood of all believers. These are the basis for Protestant Reform. This means that the Bible is foundational for our understanding of God. It also means that everyone has equal access to God, if they have faith. The teachings of the church are not to be ritually based, but actions are to be reflective of the One whom we worship.
What is your idea of the Protestant Reform and the role of Scripture and that all believe and are able
God we praise you for our historical churches and how at one time this was common understanding of who we were and how we worshiped you. We understand that your love is unconditional- never changing in this- yet we have changed because of your grace and love shown to us in Jesus. Enable us to expres our need for your church family and how worshiping you with heart and mind is key to our faith development. Be with us we pray in our churches- across denominations and around the world. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Phyllis Tickle The Great Emergence:How Christianity is Changing and Why. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books,2008. Chapter 3

Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God

We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called… Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
 I Cor.1: 23-24

            The church must change or die. There is a Great Emergence
in the church and there is a hopeful future if we are to understand what is to come. But we must have a healthy faith.
            These are statements written about ‘the church’ in the last fifteen years. And also we do not wish to face it as a religious body the reality is these changes are already occurring not based on what we like or do not like, but because people are choosing what the church of the future will be.
            Phyllis Tickle’s “The Great Emergence” states that about every 500 years or so the change has what is called a ‘rummage sale’ a cleaning out of the old and a welcoming of the new—ideas, ways of worship, governance and membership structures but what is foundational for the church is that Christ Jesus is shared in faith. However this ‘rummage sale’ occurs, it does not only affect one or two congregations, but several churches and then even more in a ripple effect because it also effects literacy which leads more or less directly to the technology and world exploration and trade.
            This is key to our understanding of church today and what may emerge in the years ahead and we must not be afraid for what will emerge will not be right or wrong but different.
            This is especially true of the United Church in 2015. General Council 41 authorized the Comprehensive Review Task Group to put everything on the table within the structures of the church. Their report has been released and discussions are flowing what the possibilities might be because of their recommendations brought forward. As congregations/ boards/ presbyteries and conferences discuss the recommendations, there is much hope and fear of what is unknown.
            But, as Tickle states—the rummage sale has to happen in order that there are new possibilities of the Spirit which will lead us into the next 90 years.

Does holding a rummage sale image help you or hinder your idea of the church’s history? What do you see as positive when the church looks at itself and sees its emerging need to change?
What do you see as important for changing the church in structure and governance?

Loving God we pray for our churches- across denominations and around the world as there is much transition and change and hope placed in what was done before and what your Spirit will begin in us.
Show us what you would have us do just as you guide us and lead us on our personal paths of faith. Amen.

Phyllis Tickle The Great Emergence:How Christianity is Changing and Why. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books,2008. Chapter 1    Comprehensive Review Task Group report “United in God’s Work”