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1 Stars Out Of 5
Cotton Candy for the "Spiritual But Not Religious"
August 21, 2012
Cotton candy tastes good, and if you eat enough of it, you get a sugar high - briefly. It isn't nourishing, and you sure can't thrive and grow on it. That is what this book is: spiritual cotton candy for those who are spiritually immature. It is one of the many insubstantial books catering to the "spiritual but not religious" types, the sort who would define "spirituality" as "I think about God once in a while."
The author fancies herself as an "emergent": "Emergents, because they are post-modern, believe in paradox." Allow me to translate: "In my contemporary `spirituality,' clear thinking and logic are not needed, since they would show up this insubstantial nonsense for what it is, an attempt to be worldly and doctrine-free and at the same time call myself, loosely, `Christian.'" This "emergent" church (maybe "anti-church" would be more apropos) consists mostly of peevish ex-evangelicals who decided that the religion they grew up with cramps their style, that they prefer thinking and behaving like their cool Politically Correct friends but still want to hang on to some slender threat of "spirituality." The solution: talk a lot about love, tolerance, the environment, and now and then drop the name Jesus, who (so this type says) approves of everything you do. Have your cake and eat it too - be cool, modern, nonjudgmental, and "spiritual" to boot. I don't know what this is, but it isn't Christianity.
Phyllis Trickle has written numerous books, and, like a college professor accustomed to a roomful of extremely gullible students, she knows she can dazzle an uninformed reader by tossing around terms like "meta-narrative" and "conceptualization" and "lietmotiv" (which she misspelledâ€”it's "leitmotiv"). She refers to events in Christian history, knowing that her readers know zero about that history and will eagerly accept her "facts" as solid truth. But, trust her, she uses six-syllable words, and she can tell you exactly which parts of Christianity to discard so that your secular friends won't look down on you for being (heaven forbid) "religious."
I am, frankly, appalled that Baker, which used to be reliably Christian, published this load of poisonous poppycock. To quote Jesus (a good source, in my opinion), "You cannot love God and money." The book is making money for them now, but wait a few years and watch how evangelicals go the way of the mainlines, i.e., losing members by the thousands, since there just isn't much excitement in getting up on Sunday morning to hear the preacher say "Smile, be tolerant, and recycle." That, in a nutshell, is what the "emergent" church is, an attempt by so-called Christians at getting the approval (or at least the attention) of unbelievers by saying, "Hey, we're not hung up on doctrine or moralsâ€”it's all about love and not leaving a big carbon footprint!" Whatever this is, it isn't exactly a life-enriching, soul-stirring faith.
Just a suggestion: if you have issues with church (and most people do, since no church is perfect), instead of turning to such silly, fatuous books as this, spend an hour or two actually reading one of the Gospels in the New Testament. There is a lot of "meat and potatoes" in the Bible, and it has a long history of transforming people's lives, and it is ten thousand times more nourishing than Trickle's cotton candy religion. I think it will still be read long after such books as this end up in the bargain rack at the local Books-a-Million.
Examining the various major changes which have taken place in the Christian church over the last 2000 years, Phyllis Tickle suggests we are currently in one of these "hinge points". I was never certain as to whether that hinge point was the impact of the Holy Spirit/Pentecostalism in modern churches or that the real change is about to become clearer in the next few years through the 'Emerging Church'. The book asks lots of questions and repeatedly says '... before answering that question we must ...' which becomes a little tedious at times. Nevertheless, there are some really powerful points made about the current 'church' which Christians, Pastors and Denominational leaders need to address (if they aren't already). I enjoyed the history - setting today in context.
This is one of those books that I read because I thought I needed to, not so much because I wanted to. The published premise of the book is this: Every five hundred years, the church cleans out its attic and has a giant rummage sale. By this, she means that about every five hundred years, there a a great shift in church history. In 451, the Council of Chalcedon lead to the Oriental Church splitting off from the rest of Christendom, being the first rummage sale. In 1054, when representatives of Rome and Constantinople excommunicated each other was the second. The third was in 1517, when a German monk nailed a 95 Thesis to a Wittenberg church door, bringing the Protestant Reformation. According to Tickle, we are living in the fourth such rummage sale and she is labeling it The Great Emergence.Tickle gives a broad view of the history of each of these major splits in church history. She ties in certain shifts in cultural thinking, as well as advancements in technology as contributing factors in each of these events.But this is not what the book is about. The real point of the book shows up first on page 45, half way down the page. She poses the question, Where now is the authority? From there, Tickle spends the rest of the book deconstructing the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. From pages 151and152 under teh heading Networked Authority(Click the link to read the rest of the review) http://tinyurl.com/yzzfbfp
I agree the church is at a cross road, but I do not think Ms. Tickle presents her argument well. Tickle seems more interested in trying to impressing people with her $5 words then she is communicating a clear and concise message. She often presents an idea, then she has to follow up her thoughts by saying ". . . in other words . . .". I have read a number of Christian books and have learned something from all of them, except this one.