Catholic Mysticism and the Emerging Church

Emerging Church Movement

 Since the late twentieth century the Emerging Church Movement has become quite influential in the USA and across the world.  Much of what the movement teaches is quite similar to Catholic mystical practices; sometimes it actually uses traditional Catholic techniques and methods.  Until recently, while the alignment of Roman Catholicism with the “Emerging Church Movement” was evident, there was no formal recognition of the matter.  However, it was announced in early 2008 that leading Catholic and Emerging Church personages are to speak at what is called “The Emerging Church Conference,” which took place on March 20-22, 2009 in Albuquerque, NM.  The website proclaiming this event stated the following, “Come to the first large gathering of Roman Catholic, Mainline Protestant, Evangelical, and other Christians seeking to explore this emergence and convergence together.  You’ll be inspired by provocative speakers and spiritual leaders and engage in in-depth conversation about our shared quests for: A fresh understanding of Jesus, Spirituality that links contemplation and action, Social justice and holistic mission, Authentic community.  Join Fr. Richard Rohr, Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle, Shane Claiborne, Alexie Torres-Fleming.”[5]  (Richard Rohr is a Franciscan monk and Catholic priest, the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation.)

  The Roman Catholic Church was very wise in its choice of Emergent Church leaders.[6]  Besides Brian McLaren, who has always been the main leader and so-called guide of the movement, they chose Phyllis Tickle.  In point of fact, the movement to some extent centers on Phyllis Tickle and her book, “The Great Emergence.”[7]  Phyllis Tickle has likened the Emergent Church leader, Brian McLaren, to Martin Luther.[8]  In the book, she emphatically denies the Bible alone (Sola Scriptura) as being the sole standard of truth.  In “The Great Emergence” she writes,

“The Reformation… was to answer the question… Sola scriptura, scriptura sola… While we may laugh and say the divisiveness was Protestantism’s greatest gift to Christianity, ours is a somber joke.  Denominationalism is a disunity in the Body of Christ and, ironically, one that has a bloody history… Now, some five hundred years later, even many of the most die-hard Protestants among us have grown suspicious of ‘Scripture and Scripture only.’  We question what the words mean – literally?  Metaphorically?  Actually?  We even question which words do and do not belong in Scripture and the purity of the editorial line of descent of those that do.  We begin to refer to Luther’s principle of ‘sola scriptura, scriptura sola’ as having been little more than the creation of a paper pope in place of a flesh and blood one.  And even as we speak, the authority that has been in place for five hundred years withers away in our hands.”[9]

  In her book Tickle also writes,

“The next assault in this progression of assaults [upon Sola Scriptura] was the ordination of women to the Protestant clergy… The ordination of women was followed, of course, by their elevation to the episcopacy in the Episcopal Church in the United States.  Clearly the battle of ‘Scripture only’ was being lost…. Enter ‘the gay issue.’  To approach any of the arguments and questions surrounding homosexuality in the closing years of the twentieth century and the opening ones of the twenty-first is to approach a battle to the death.  When it is resolved – and it most surely will be – the Reformation’s understanding of Scripture as it had been taught by Protestantism for almost five centuries will be dead.”[10]

  Tickle not only repudiates Sola Scriptura (Bible alone) as being the sole standard of truth, in her acceptance of the Roman Catholic Church, as a viable expression of Christianity, she has denied the essential of biblical faith.  This is seen in her writings and in the address she gave at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Memphis, Tennessee in 2002.[11]  She definitely identifies herself as being “Post-Christendom” and “Post-Protestant.”

“I’m Phyllis Tickle and I’m here talking with Pete Rollins and what we’re talking about is Emerging or Emergent Christianity… we may not have the word we’re happy with, but we know we’re Post-Christendom, we’re Post-Denominational, we’re Post-Protestant…”[12]

  Phyllis Tickle now joins Brian McLaren as a formidable leader of Emergent Christianity.  Together, with thousands of devoted followers across the world, they amount to one of the most serious menaces to true Christian faith.  True believers are those who adhere to God only and His Written Word (‘Sola Scriptura”), as did the Lord and the Apostles after Him.  They believe we are saved before the all-Holy God by grace alone, through faith alone, and in Christ alone; and, all glory and praise is to God alone.  It is these very principles that are now being ruthlessly attacked by Phyllis Tickle and other Emerging Church leaders.  Because of this, it is of vital importance that genuine believers defend true biblical faith.

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