Emergent Church, Religious Movements

The Great Emergence or A Great Deception? Be careful of Phyllis Tickle’s Teachings and Beliefs

In the last couple of years I have become very familiar with the Emergent Church movement because those within it are influencing increasingly more people from the body of Christ and leading people away from sound doctrine.  On October 31, 2009, Phyllis Tickle came to Winnipeg to do a Great Emergence conference, which I and another brother in Christ went to check out.  One of her main beliefs that she teaches is that every 500 or so years the church goes through a rummage sale, meaning they adjust what they believe and how they live it out.   What she means is that we are in a new shift in Christianity in which a new Christianity is emerging and that it is being orchestrated by God.

Phyllis Tickle is an Episcopalian minister 1 who teaches at churches and Bible colleges that the Protestant Reformation is coming to an end and that there is a new Christianity emerging:  “Every five hundred years, the church cleans out its attic and has a giant rummage sale.” 2   Is this true? What does Phyllis Tickle teach on Sola Scriptora, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the identity of God?

Phyllis Tickle and the Question of Authority

Before going to the conference I bought the book Great Emergence so that I would be more familiar with her beliefs and that I would have a better understanding of what she would communicating to those who were attending.  Phyllis Tickle says:  “even many of the diehard Protestants among us have grown suspicious of “Scripture and Scripture only.” We question what words mean – literally? Metaphorically? Actually? We even question which words do and do not belong in Scripture…And even as we speak, the authority that has been in place for five hundred years withers away in our hands. Where now is our authority?” 3   I don’t believe that this represents the Protestant movement, but I do believe it represents the Liberalism movement.  Phyllis Tickle said at the conference that “Sola Scriptora was dead”, “that it is no longer our authority”, and that “experiences are now our authority” 4.

The apostle Peter warned about people like Phyllis Tickle who twist the Scriptures and stated that in doing so they will bring destruction upon themselves. 5  When you twist the Scriptures to fit your own beliefs you in turn have no standards for truth or life other than your own human reasoning.   Phyllis Tickle said:  “The new Christianity of the Great Emergence must discover some authority base or delivery system and/or governing agency of its own. It must formulate – and soon – something other than Luther’s sola scriptura which, although used so well by the Great Reformation originally, is now seen as hopelessly outmoded or insufficient, even after it is, as here, spruced up and re-couched in more current sensibilities. 6  It is no surprise that Phyllis Tickle supports homosexual lifestyle, homosexuals in ministry, women in pastoral and elder positions, evolution as a sound theory for our existence, abortion, and she even stated these things at the conference and she endorses them in her book. 7

Which Jesus does Phyllis Tickle believe in?

At the conference Phyllis Tickle said that the “Jesus of history is not the same Jesus of Christianity.”  Shockingly as this statement was she went on to say that “Jesus is not the only way for someone to be saved from their sins” and that “it is arrogant to say Jesus is the only way.” 8 Phyllis Tickle made another off the wall statement in regards to the supernatural birth of Jesus: “The Virgin Birth of Jesus used to be a big deal, but we learned to get over that.” 9  She is not alone in this, Rob Bell teaches that it would not be that big of a deal if Jesus was not supernaturally born of a virgin and had biological parents. 10  This is false, heretical, and leading people away from the truth of what the Scriptures teach.  These beliefs alone demonstrate that the Jesus she believes in and teaches about is not the Jesus of Scripture!

Towards the end of the conference there was a time of questions and answers, and I got in line to ask a couple things for clarification concerning what she had said.  When it came to my turn I shared with her and the audience that I appreciated her coming and sharing her views, though I was almost in total disagreement with her beliefs.  Nonetheless I asked her if a person was a Muslim or Buddhist, and that they did not believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior, would they be saved?  She said, “yes they will be saved” and that the “believe doctrine from the great reformation is a Protestant demon.” Then I asked, what do you do with Jesus when He said, “unless you believe that I am He you will die in your sins?” 11 Or when Paul was asked by the jailor what he must do to be saved? Paul said, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” 12  She said that “people have been mislead by traditions of the churches”.  Unfortunately the Q & A session is not online for people to listen to.  I asked repeatedly for the “Q & A” from the conference to be posted online for people to listen to, but they gave me many excuses why they could not provide that part of the conference.

Be on Guard

“It’s the beginning of our understanding that God is both male and female…God is both Father and Mother…God is both man and woman, if you will, in a sort of divine way… We not only celebrate that death and that promise of return, but we are feeding by eating God (which is what we’re doing here)…by eating the body and blood of our God, we are feeding the God within us; for as we take those elements, the Spirit also feeds within us and is reinvigorated as he, or she, or it is by our faith.” 13  This was spoken at Rob Bell’s assembly last year which is interesting.   Rob Bell endorses her and allows her to speak at his assembly, what does this say about Rob Bell?  Phyllis Tickle not only has false views about the Bible and the gospel, but she has a false view on the nature of God and the Trinity Doctrine, and even has us feeding the God within us!  This information was provided to inform you, to warn you, and for you to examine for yourselves.  Be on guard against those who cause divisions and lead people astray from sound Bible doctrines. 14


    1. www.phyllistickle.com
    2. Great Emergence by Phyllis Tickle, p. 16, p. 19-31, back of the cover
    3. Great Emergence by Phyllis Tickle, p. 46-47
    4. www.faithforum.ca/GE/greatemergencevideo.html
    5. 2 Peter 3:16-17 NASB
    6. Great Emergence by Phyllis Tickle., p. 150-151
    7. www.faithforum.ca/GE/greatemergencevideo.html, Great Emergence by Phyllis Tickle, p. 98-102
    8. www.faithforum.ca/GE/greatemergencevideo.html
    9. Ibid.
    10. Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell, p. 26-27
    11. John 8:24 NASB
    12. Acts 16:30-31 NASB
    13. Phyllis Tickle teaching at Rob Bell’s church May, 2009 (www.apprising.org/2009/06/29/a-treasure-we-don’t-understand—phyllis-tickle-at-mars-hill-bible-church)
    14. Romans 16:17, Galatians 1:6-9, 2 Timothy 4:2-4


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