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The Age of the Spirit: How the Ghost of an…

The Age of the Spirit: How the Ghost of an Ancient Controversy Is Shaping…

by Phyllis Tickle

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743254,025 (3.63)None
A thousand years ago, the church experienced a time of tremendous upheaval called the Great Schism. The one faith became two churches, East and West, and the course of world history was forever changed. And it all swirled around one Latin word in the Nicene Creed, filioque, that indicated the Holy Spirit proceeded both from God the Father "and from the Son." From the time that phrase was officially instituted onward, the Holy Spirit's place in the Trinity and role in the lives of believers would be fiercely debated, with ramifications being felt through the centuries to this very day. In this fascinating book, readers will encounter not just the interesting historical realities that have shaped our faith today but also the present resurgence of interest in the Holy Spirit seen in many churches across the theological spectrum. Tickle and Sweeney make accessible and relevant the forces behind the current upheaval in the church, taking readers by the hand and leading them confidently into the Age of the Spirit.… (more)
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    The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three: Discovering the Radical Truth at the Heart of Christianity by Cynthia Bourgeault (vpfluke)
    vpfluke: Both books stress the importance of the trinity, Tickle from Christian perspective, and Bourgeult from that of a more universal perspective. Both also have interesting ways of rconciling the filioque problem.

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A postmodern presentation of the doctrine of the Spirit as enumerated in the creeds with special focus on the implications of the filioque and the divergence between western and eastern Christendom on approaches regarding the Spirit.

As in other works Tickle is quite focused on the bimillennial "realignment" which tends to happen, particularly in Christianity, and sees the realignment taking place in our own time. While that is difficult to dispute, the claim that "Emergence Christianity" is going to be the way forward and represents Joachim of Fiore's "Age of the Spirit" is not only extremely premature but a bit overly triumphalist, and that seems to be the general claim of the book as it wanders through church history. Tickle meanders primarily through the events of the first millennium of Christianity, focusing on those teachings and doctrines related to the understanding of the work of the Spirit-- the Cappadocian Fathers vs. the Pneumachians, and especially the filioque added to the Nicene Creed in the west. The filioque is seen as representing entirely different ways of conceiving of the work of the Spirit, and Tickle laments the separation of 1054 and especially what it meant for understanding the Spirit (until, of course, "recovered" in "Emergence Christianity" today). She also puts some emphasis on Joachim of Fiore and his three ages, and is convinced that we are leaving the "Age of the Son" and are entering the "Age of the Spirit" (hence the book's title).

Tickle takes for granted that the Spirit works in the charismatic/pentecostal movement of the 20th century and sees it as a signpost of the "Age of the Spirit." The same is true about the movements away from doctrine and of decentralization in Christianity. It would seem that she would like to see everyone move toward almost a quakerish system whereby the Spirit and His movement is seen as the primary authority under which any other supposed authority, be it Scripture, tradition, leaders, etc., are sublimated.

It's a very interesting if narrow view of history, and a bit uncreative, as if the only way that the Spirit's movement and work can be appreciated is through the lens of what postmodernist Americans, ever suspicious of inherited authority and centralization, would like to see. In that sense the work tells you much about Tickle, who saw great promise in "Emergence Christianity" as the new way forward. Thus the book suffers from the tyranny of the present, making triumphant claims about what is now without any benefit of understanding where things are headed. Her book may prove prophetic; it is more likely to be yet another witness of the folly of forecasting.

In the end, meh. ( )
  deusvitae | Dec 22, 2015 |
This is a fine popular book on the progress of doctrines and controversies in Christian history, particularly stressing the role of the the third person of the trinity. Phyllis Tickle, as an Episcopalian, believes that we need to embody the centuries of history of Christianity in our thinking and in our action. The book is divided into two parts, "Holy Ideas In Unholy Conflict", dealing with the not so savory coping with doctrines of the faith over the ages. The second part concerns "Matters of the Spirit", where she deals with more relationship situations, and the greater apppearance of the Holy Spirit.

For Holy Ideas, she takes us through how spirit is used in the Hebrew scriptures, how scripture and early Christians implied the Holy Spirit, its oblique Jewish antecedents, being a Jew vs a Christian, the controversies leading up to the Nicean settlement, and the arrival of the filioque clause and its everlasting divisiveness. She ends the first part with the prayer offered at the opening sessions of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65): "We stand before you, Holy Spirit, conscious of our sinfulness, but aware that we gather in your name."

In the second part, she takes up the mening of Credo, I believe (doctirines vs dogmas), then the idea of breath as spirit as interpreted in Eastern and Western eyes, the changes in the west brought about by Joachim of Fiore, the relationship with and influence of Islam, the evolving of mysticism and the coming of Protestantism, the startling arrival of the Holy Spirit at Azusa Street in Los Angeles, and what is happening today including Emergence Christianity - a shower of hope as regular Christian churches lose membership. Embedded in here is a good definition of Mysticism as "a mode of conversation or of knowing that exists external to the particularities of a specific theology.

This is a good book to read for modern-day Christians. ( )
  vpfluke | Feb 7, 2015 |
This books offers an interesting perspective on the Holy Sprit, and the ancient controversies surrounding this subject. This book isn't an in-depth study of the topic, but does offer an excellent jumping off point for an extended study of the Holy Spirit. You can also get an idea of what is being discussed in the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phxAubdeeNA . ( )
  aevaughn | Aug 4, 2014 |
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