WHO IS PHYLLIS TICKLE?

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4, NASB) 

Phyllis, Will You Please Tickle Our Ears…

In “The Great Emergence: A Reformation Every 500 Years” Roger Oakland of Understanding the Times tells us, “Phyllis Tickle is a best-selling author and the founding editor of the religion department at Publishers Weekly. She is also a friend of the emerging church.” Ah, but these days who isn’t, eh.

From the Lighthouse… also points out:

Emergent church leader, Phyllis Tickle, likens Brian McLaren to Luther who helped to bring about a reformation. Tickle says McLaren might be instrumental in bringing about a “new reformation” through the emerging church. The comments were made at the “joint annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) and the American Academy of Religion (AAR),” in which Tickle and McLaren were speakers. (Online source

You know, as fast as evangelicalism is apostatizing before our eyes Tickle might just be right after all about the awful impact of Emergence Christianity Swami Brian McLaren; though what McLaren’s likely to bring about would be better stated in emergence-ese: De-reformation. But this would all seem to explain why at the Emergent Village website in a post called “Phyllis Tickle To Write Book For Baker/Emersion” we’re informed that:

Phyllis Tickle, founding editor of the religion department at Publishers Weekly, will write a book on emerging Christianity for Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. The book, whose current working title is The Great Emergence, will be the seventh in Baker’s ēmersion series, a partnership between Baker Books and Emergent Village, intended to provide a practical, positive vision of the church as it steps into the future. (Online source)

And in that same post quasi-universalist Emergent Church pastor Doug Pagitt also lavishes his high praise for Tickle and her book The Great Emergence (TGE):

“Phyllis Tickle is the best friend the emergent movement could ever have,” said Doug Pagitt, series editor for ēmersion. “She’s a keen observer of the American church scene. She’s also gracious and wise. Her books, from The Divine Hours to her memoirs, are essential reading. We look forward to the release of The Great Emergence with much anticipation.” (ibid.)

Over at his website Pagitt then encouraged us “to attend The Great Emergence Event December 5-6 in Memphis. It is going to be an excellent event”. As we follow the link to The Great Emergence Event (TGEE) we’re enlightened:

‘The Great Emergence’ refers to a monumental phenomenon in our world, and this book asks three questions about it. Or looked at the other way around, this book is about a monumental phenomenon considered from the perspective of three very basic questions: What is this thing? How did it come to be? Where is it going?”

So begins Phyllis Tickle’s extraordinary new book, The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why. In this much-anticipated book, Tickle brings her encyclopedic knowledge of American religion to bear on the current shifts in the Christian landscape. Paired with her Southern wit and charm, The Great Emergence promises to be the bellwether book in emerging Christianity.

The Great Emergence National Event is a unique and freshly designed event built on innovative adult learning techniques including interaction, participation, and inspiring content on the current state of and future possibilities for Christianity. Around the four main sessions with Phyllis Tickle, participants will also enjoy the daily office—thrice daily times of prayer—based on Phyllis Tickle’s bestselling book, The Divine Hours, in the majestic and historic Cathedral of St. Mary in Memphis, Tennessee, which will be bedecked with Advent greenery. (Online source)

So quite obviously there’s no little excitement around Emerging Church circles about Phyllis Tickle, as well as her aforementioned book, poised as they are to tell these fickle folk what they want to hear. Please keep in mind this piece is not designed to be exhaustive, but rather, is simply pointing you to some information in order to introduce you to Tickle. For more detailed coverage of Phyllis Tickle, who is essentially the Empress of Emergence, Apprising Ministries refers you to “See also” below.

But here you can see for yourselves that not a few of Tickle’s associations are, at best, rather questionable. We’ve already noted that Emerging Church Pastor Doug Pagitt lavishes his high praise for Tickle and her book TGE. In Christianity 21: Emerging Voices Of A Pseudo-Christian Faith you’ll see that Tickle is among the 21 women “voices” that Pagitt, and his “theologian in residence” Tony Jones excitedly inform us are going to be revealing “the way the Christianity will be changing in coming days”.

Then at her website we read the following endorsement from an apostate Episcopal “Bishop and Primate”:

“Phyllis Tickle offers a creative and provocative overview of multiple social and cultural changes in our era, their relation to previous major paradigm shifts, and their particular impact on North American Christianity. This is an immensely important contribution to the current conversation about new and emerging forms of Christianity in a post-modern environment—and a delight to read!”
—The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori,
Presiding Bishop and Primate,
The Episcopal Church (Online source)

Scratching The Surface Of Tickle’s Quite Questionable Spiritual Associations

Next, in Tickle’s “About” section we’re informed that Phyllis Tickle is:

founding editor of the Religion Department of PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, the international journal of the book industry, is frequently quoted in sources like USA TODAY, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, NY TIMES, as well as in electronic media like PBS, NPR, THE HALLMARK CHANNEL, etc., Tickle is an authority on religion in America and a much sought after lecturer on the subject… Tickle is currently a Senior Fellow of Cathedral College of the Washington National Cathedral. A founding member of The Canterbury Roundtable, she serves now, as she has in the past, on a number of advisory and corporate boards. A lay eucharistic minister and lector in the Episcopal Church,… (Online source)

We note first that Tickle’s “currently a Senior Fellow of Cathedral College of the Washington National Cathedral” (WNC). The WNC website gives us some background concerning its “interfaith” message:

Washington National Cathedral is a church for national purposes called to embody God’s love and to welcome people of all faiths and perspectives. A unique blend of the spiritual and the civic, this Episcopal Cathedral is a voice for generous-spirited Christianity and a catalyst for reconciliation and interfaith dialogue to promote respect and understanding. We invite all people to share in our commitment to create a more hopeful and just world. (Online source)

Following the link to the Cathedral College (CC) we see that CC is indeed an extention of that spiritual blackhole of postliberal theology aka “Progressive Christianity” known as WNC:

For almost 80 years, the Cathedral College has served as the pre-eminent center of continuing education dedicated to strengthening and sustaining those called to ministries of proclamation. (Online source)

The what of this “proclamation” is our concern. The WNC website also gives us the lowdown on their sacred circles, labyrinth, and Center for Prayer and Pilgrimage; where, but of course, we can learn more about “Prayer and Contemplation,” which is referring to Contemplative/Centering Prayer:

The Center for Prayer and Pilgrimage invites you to explore its diverse offerings of spiritual growth through communities gathered in prayer, devotional practices, and reflection. Except as noted, gatherings meet in the center, located on the crypt level of the Cathedral and accessible through the Visitor’s Center or Resurrection Chapel.

Benedictine Life and Prayer
Mondays, 6 pm in the CCPP

Explore the principles of living a balanced life, and learn more about the ecumenical cathedral-based Community of Reconciliation. Each gathering concludes with Centering Prayer.

Centering Prayer
Tuesdays, 6–7 pm; Wednesdays, 8–8:30 am

Open your entire being to God’s presence during this time of silent prayer as you move beyond thoughts, words and emotions into a quiet communion with the Divine. The Tuesday sessions include a time for teaching and discussion.

Christian Meditation: Silence, Stillness, Simplicity
Fourth Saturdays, 10–11 am

Experience a rhythm of contemplative prayer that includes a reading from one of the great contemplatives, a period of silent meditation, and time for sharing and reflection.
(Online source)

Frankly, there’s just too much spiritual chicanery going on in the Cathedral of Compromise for me to even share here. Returning more specifically to Phyllis Tickle we find even more questionable associations under the “RELATED ACTIVITIES/CURRENT” of her resume. Not the least of which was her being part of “Board of Advisors, The Mary Baker Eddy Library, emerita”. For those who may not know Mary Baker Eddy was the founder of the non-Christian cult of Christian Science, which was neither Christian nor science striking out on both accounts.

As one trained in counter-cult evangelism I would have to say that this is certainly a rather odd association for a Christian and one which is certainly not in line with 2 Corinthians 6:14-15. So being charitable my guess is Tickle also, at least, adheres to the postliberal/progressive theology spewed at WNC. This would also seem to be further confirmed from one other thing found in the RELATED ACTIVITIES/CURRENT section of Tickle’s resume. Without a doubt her involvement on the “Editorial Board” at Explore Faith (EF) is a smoking gun of spurious spirituality.

From the “About Us” section website of EF we meet the rest of this Editorial Board and among them we see a champion of the postliberal “Progessive Christianity” scholar Marcus Borg, whom some tout as a Living Spiritual Teacher. In the AM post Marcus Borg Vs. Jesus you’ll clearly see by his own words that he has about as much affinity with the genuine Christian faith as I do with Buddhism. And as we check out who’s listed among their “Saints, Prophets and Spiritual Guides” we have very serious reason to question just what kind of “faith” it is that we’re exploring here: 

On the following pages, explorefaith.org offers a subjective look at some of the spiritual teachers who have shaped our lives. These essays are by no means comprehensive. Numerous Web Sites catalogue different saints and spiritual guides in great detail (and we will provide links to a few of the best).

Our coverage is intended to show what these people can mean to us now, how they can help us envision new realties in which a relationship with God is the core from which all thoughts and actions spread. Here our explorefaith writers have mused about the spiritual teachers in their lives who continue to give them guidance and help them discover new avenues of devotion deep within. It is our hope that their essays may kindle thoughts of those spiritual teachers who have molded your life, and perhaps spur you to explore a few you might not have known. (Online source)

Men and women, the “spiritual teachers” listed there who supposedly “can help us envision new realities” literally reads like a who’s who of unregenerate pagans such as Guru Ram Dass, Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hahn, the Sufi Muslim Rumi, and heretical so-called “Christian” mystics like Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila and Thomas Merton. This is in line with the following stupid statement from another darling of Emergence—Rob Bell—which we covered in Through Rob Bell “The Great Enlightened Ones” Tell Us Man Has Divine Greatness:

It’s interesting how many traditions (pause) When you read the great enlightened ones; meditation, centering prayer, reflection—in every tradition you can find the mystics—and what’s always at the heart of the spiritual lives, the everyday lives of the great ones was always a period of time.

Whether it’s prayers, chanting, meditation, reflection, study—whatever you call it—what is it essentially; it’s taking time to breathe. Because when you’ve been breathing, (slight pause) in a proper sort of way, you’re far better equipped to handle what life throws your way. (I will say it again, and again, and again, 5:41-6:23)

So as we now think back to where we began with this article, we remember Doug Pagitt telling us that “Phyllis Tickle is the best friend the emergent movement could ever have”; and also, Tony Jones and his pastor Pagitt telling us Tickle is among those “most important voices for the future” that will supposedly “shape the future of our faith.” Well, I find myself wondering: Just what kind of faith is it that Phyllis Tickle has these folks and their Emergent/ing/ence Church (same spiritual sewer) so excited about; because it most certainly isn’t the historic orthodox Christian faith.

See also:

PHYLLIS TICKLE PREACHES FOR MARS HILL BIBLE CHURCH AND ROB BELL  

ROB BELL, PETER ROLLINS AND PHYLLIS TICKLE TOGETHER ADVANCING EMERGENCE CHRISTIANITY

NADIA BOLZ-WEBER ON PHILLIP AND THE ETHIOPIAN EUNUCH AT QUEERMERGENT

THE NEW CHRISTIANS WITH CHRISTIANITY WORTH BELIEVING—NO SOLA SCRIPTURA: YES, WOMEN PASTORS AND QUEER CHRISTIANS

PHYLLIS TICKLE AND THE EMERGING CHURCH: IT’S NOT IF SOLA SCRIPTURA ENDS BUT WHEN

PHYLLIS TICKLE: WHERE NOW IS THE AUTHORITY?

PHYLLIS TICKLE: TICKLING ITCHING EMERGENT EARS