Phyllis Tickle and Tony Jones on the changes taking place in the Christian Church

- The Great Emergence

Emergence Christianity

An Annotated Bibliography of Relevant Books

Commentary by Phyllis Tickle

Interpretive Background (Historical)

The Reformation: A History by Diamaid MacCullochThe Reformation: A History, Diamaid MacCulloch (Viking, 2004) is a highly readable and detailed account of the events leading to and occurring within the Great Reformation. History buffs will thoroughly enjoy the style and scholarship. It is a classic on its subject. And for those who wish a fuller, even more informing rendering of the history of the faith, MacCulloch’s magisterial Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years (Viking, 2010) is without equal. *



The Great Transformation: The Beginnings of Our Religious Traditions, Karen Armstrong The Great Transformation: The Beginnings of Our Religious Traditions, Karen Armstrong (Knopf, 2006). This one is a beautifully written, highly accessible overview of the Axial Age— that is, of the great social/cultural/political/economic/religious shifting that transpired in the five plus centuries prior to the coming of Christ and that attended the rise of most of the world’s great religions. A bestseller from its first day of publication, this too is a classic. *


Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 Years, Philip JenkinsJesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 Years, Philip Jenkins (HarperOne, 2010) is as provocative as its title implies. Jenkins is a renowned scholar of ecclesio-political history, but here he outdoes even himself. The questions to which Emergence Christianity is responding and with which it is wrestling have their origins in the first half-millennium of the faith, as Jenkins knows; and there could be no better explicator than he of the long way of their coming to us. *

 Paradise Mislaid: How We Lost Heaven...and How We Can Regain It, Jeffrey Burton Russell Paradise Mislaid: How We Lost Heaven...and How We Can Regain It, Jeffrey Burton Russell (Oxford University Press, 2006). In this brief, but tight and exquisitely researched book, Russell manages to overview credibly and interpret brilliantly the progress of Western…i.e. Christian…thought from the Great Reformation to the current Great Emergence in which we find ourselves. **


The Roads to Modernity: The British, French, and American Enlightenments, Gertrude Himmelfarb The Roads to Modernity: The British, French, and American Enlightenments, Gertrude Himmelfarb ( Knopf, 2004). Not for the faint of heart, but very much for the truly curious, this book is probably the best essay popularly available on its subject. Part of the reason for that is undoubtedly that it is written by one of America’s most respected moral and cultural historians.


Descriptive Background of The Great Emergence as Secular Phenomenon

Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software by Steven Johnson Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software, Steven Johnson (Simon and Schuster, 2001). Although it has been in circulation for several years now, this best-seller is still probably the most accessible and encompassing of popular or lay books available on emergence theory. It would not be a stretch to say that no one should try to grasp the changes of Emergence Christianity without first trying to comprehend the reasons behind its being called “Emergence” in the first place.



The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community by David C. KortenThe Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, David C. Korten (Berrett-Koehler, 2006). Increasingly cited in discussions of the Great Emergence, this bestseller offers one of the most complete overviews of, and explanations for, the current paradigmatic shift. Korten argues that more than a five-hundred year cycling is happening in the 21st century, that indeed we are witness to a complete shift in humanness and all prior forms of human structuring and governance, and that so pivotal a thing must be labeled as what it is: The Great Turning. Korten is persuasive in many of his historical interpretations, though less so in some of his applications and projections. For that reason, readers may find the first four parts of the volume to be of far more pertinence than is the fifth and closing one.

The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us and What We Can Do About It by Joshua Cooper RamoThe Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us and What We Can Do About It, Joshua Cooper Ramo (Little, Brown, 2009). In many ways, the sub-title of this one says it all…or at least lays out the parameters of the discussion. Ramo is not only a careful thinker and gifted writer, but he is also a keen and highly insightful explicator of what is happening to us in the Great Emergence, why it is, and what we can and should do about it. In addition, he is a thinker who is filled with a considerable amount of informed hope and good will.

The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom ( Portfolio, 2006).While hardly the most weighty of studies, this one deserves attention if, for no other reason, than its own fame. On the best seller list for months, it was Starfish that became the general public’s first real introduction to what emergence theory and leaderless, non-hierarchal, self-organizing entities looked like up close and personal. It is, in other words, a rude, but good-natured introduction to the realization that we have long since slipped into an emergence modus operand, whether we wanted to or not.

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century by Thomas FriedmanThe World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Friedman (Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2002). Probably no book on this list needs less introduction than does this one. A bestseller almost before it was off the presses, it is far and away the most talked-about explication of the economic upheaval which is to our current era of transition as the growth of the middle class and capitalism was to the Great Reformation. A good read, it is written for the popular audience.



Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams (Portfolio, 2008). Like several of the other books in this section, Wikinomics is a bestseller in the poplar or general market and employs an accessible and breezy style rather than an academic one. It is, however, a very graphic presentation of the shift from modern or Industrial Age configurations in the secular market place to the non-hierarchal and self-organizing ones of Emergence, of why they have happened, of what they look like, and of why there is no going back. Most of its insights and case studies, in other words, are easily transposed to matters of ecclesiology and institutional religion.

blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown, 2005). Like Friedman’s work above, blink hardly needs introduction.  It is pertinent here only in that it exposes in very popular fashion the whole uneasiness we have about the concept of “thinking” as a proper definition of, and index for, ourselves and our beingness.



The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam HarrisThe End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, Sam Harris (Norton, 2004). Harris, because of his work in Neuroscience, is perhaps the most articulate and accessible of the activists within the Secular Humanist movement or sensibility. While devout believers of any organized faith will find his arguments inflammatory at worst and distressing at least, his line of reasoning needs to be read and dissected by those who wish to understand with any kind of completeness the nature of our current cultural and social discussions as well as our rising secularization. 

The Future of Faith by Harvey CoxThe Future of Faith, Harvey Cox (HarperOne, 2009). This one is Cox at his best. It is also a deliberate play, ploy, and counter to Harris’s title above. Hollis Professor of Religion Emeritus at Harvard, Cox has long stood as a giant among scholars and interpreters of religion. Arguing here that doctrine and dogma, not faith, are in decline, Cox not only takes on much of current secular humanist thought, but far more significantly offers his own incisive interpretation of where religion is in this time of emergence. *****


Interpretive Commentary on Current Christianity—International

The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity by Philip JenkinsThe New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South and/or The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity, Philip Jenkins (Oxford University Press, 2002 and 2006 respectively). Jenkins, Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies at Penn State, is perhaps our most trusted and most quoted authority on the subject of globalizing Christianity. Readers will find his take on globalization’s impact on first-world Christianity’s present situation, as well as on our immediate future, to be immensely helpful and immensely unsettling. Jenkins has another work forthcoming in September. which promises to be even more revelatory of patterns, especially for communions that have international reach and concerns.

Those who do not have time to read the above volumes themselves, will find Jenkins’s work readily accessible in precis on the web from sources like The Atlantic Monthly. Even a passing familiarity with what he is telling us about our world will be of benefit.

Rising from the Ashes: Rethinking Church by Becky GarrisonRising from the Ashes: Rethinking Church, Becky Garrison (Seabury Books, 2007). Garrison is an editor with The Wittenburg Door and by profession a religion satirist. She is also more knowledgeable about emergence Christianity than almost any other reporter covering the scene. In Rising she has managed to present with great clarity most of the major voices that are shaping North American Christianity in the 21st century, just as she has also managed in her blogs and columns, to cover more of the European Emergence scene than has almost any other reporter. Googling Garrison will unearth a veritable wealth of material on this subject.

The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity by Soong-Chan RahThe Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity, Soong-Chan Rah (InterVarsity Press, 2009). Soong-Chan Rah is Milton B. Engebretson Assistant Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park University as well as first-generation American. He speaks with brilliance as well as from a strong base of both academic and personal knowledge about the interplay between Latinized and non-Latinized Christianity as Emergence Christianity is forming. Like Jenkins, who enthusiastically endorses his work, Soong-Chan sees a global Christianity that is stripped of its Latinized heritage and re-shaped into something very different from previous expressions of the faith.

Community of the Transfiguration: The Journey of a New Monastic Community by Paul R. DekarCommunity of the Transfiguration: The Journey of a New Monastic Community, Paul R. Dekar (Cascade Books, 2008). This highly personal and affectionate history of the Community of the Transfiguration in Breakwater, Victoria, is an engaging, as well as informing, introduction both to what neo-monasticism in Emergence Christianity looks like in general and to what it looks like in Australia in particular. As Dekar demonstrates, Transfiguration is firmly based in the Baptist Church while at the same time being Emergence in nature and disposition; or as we might say in this country, Dekar shows us a fine example of a hyphenated Christian community down under.

The Rise and Fall of the Nine O’Clock Service: A Cult within the Church? by Roland Howard The Rise and Fall of the Nine O’Clock Service: A Cult within the Church?, Roland Howard (Mowbray, 1996). This is everybody’s idea of the perfect cautionary tale. As such, it is also one of the saddest reads in the growing literature about Emergence Christianity; for the Nine O’Clock devolved into scandal instead of evolving into a fresh expression of church. Its story needs to be known, however, by anyone seriously interested in being part of shaping an Emergence community.



Emerging and Fresh Expressions of Church: How Are They Authentically Church and Anglican? by Ian J. MobsbyEmerging and Fresh Expressions of Church: How Are They Authentically Church and Anglican?, Ian J. Mobsby (Moot Community Publishing, 2007). The tendency among North American Christians often is to see emergent and emerging Christianity as an American experience of American origin. In actuality, emergence was far more discernible in the UK in the last decades of the 20th century than it was in the United States. Mobsby’s slim volume, while not always easy reading for Americans, is none the less a classic in its overview of emergence in England and in its singular accommodations with Anglicanism, making this a useful study for all who are interested in the new Christianity both in terms of the established branches of Protestantism and in terms of international patterns.


Interpretive Commentary on Current Christianity: General & Emergence

Who’s Afraid of Post-Modernism: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church by James K. A. SmithWho’s Afraid of Post-Modernism: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church, James K. A. Smith (Baker Academic, 2006). For those who want to get a concise, albeit evangelical and radical, distillation of what post-modernism is and what it means to at least some large part of the American Church, this book is a god-send.  It is short, authoritatively presented, and accessible.



The Next Reformation: Why Evangelicals Must Embrace Postmodernity by Carl Raschke The Next Reformation: Why Evangelicals Must Embrace Postmodernity, Carl Raschke (Baker Academic, 2004). Like Smith’s Who’s Afraid, this book comes from an evangelical perspective, but it is a superb analysis of what is happening to us currently, just as it is a useful engagement of the emerging new body of Christianity.




Witness to DispossessionWitness to Dispossession – The Vocation of A Post-Modern Theologian, Tom Beaudoin (Orbis, 2008) Beaudoin, an associate professor of Practical Theology at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Religion, is regarded as one the most influential and powerful theologians presently working in this country and abroad. While his work is not for the faint of heart, it is central to the fullest understanding of Emergence Christianity- its theology, its context, and its thrust. Those who venture here will be richly rewarded.**



An Emerging Theology for Emerging Churches by Ray S. Anderson An Emerging Theology for Emerging Churches, Ray S. Anderson (InterVarsity Press, 2006). Anderson’s development of the idea that the relationship between Jerusalem [or “inherited” church] and Antioch [or “Fresh Expression” of church] was almost identical to the current unease and distress between established denominations and emergence Christianity is brilliant. It is also quite clear in the obligation it lays on both sides of the aisle to understand the implications and responsibility of being Christian—together but different—within the confines of one time period. Last of all, it is remarkably liberating for many readers to discover that the Church has been here before and quite probably will be here again. **

From Nomads to Pilgrims: Stories from Practicing Congregations by Diana Butler Bass The Practicing Congregation: Imagining a New Old Church and/or From Nomads to Pilgrims: Stories from Practicing Congregations, Diana Butler Bass (The Alban Institute, 2004 and 2006 respectively with Joseph Stewart-Sicking as co-author on the second). Bass is the recognized Anglican authority on the current evolution of re-traditioning main-line churches. Her work is being used all over the country as a diagnostic tool for parishes and dioceses. To approach the response to emergent Church by main-line Protestantism without her insights would be not only foolhardy, but almost impossible. **

Paradoxy Paradoxy – Creating Christian Community Beyond Us and Them, Ken Howard (Paraclete Press, 2010) With a Foreword by Brian McLaren and an Afterword by Paul Zahl, this one has all the bona fides any book could want, and both of them are richly deserved. Howard offers both a sharp-eyed analysis of how the Church has arrived at its present permutation followed by a very accessible and kindly-inclined diagnosis of what Her condition presently is. More importantly, perhaps, Howard gives us one of the clearest and most concise commentaries presently available about where the Church may reasonably be seen as going in this time of paradigmatic shift. Additionally, each chapter concludes with some penetrating questions about the implications of what has just been presented, a boon not only to individual readers, but also to leaders of small-groups.**

The Phoenix Affirmations byEric ElnesThe Phoenix Affirmations, Eric Elnes (Jossey-Bass, 2006). This volume is a kind of “Here I Stand” declaration for that part of main-line Christianity that is hesitating between re-traditioning or re-configuring into the new Protestantism and/or becoming fully emergent. Elnes, a UCC pastor in Arizona, is a brilliant observer of the intersection between culture and faith [See to understand the full implications of what he is daring] and a clear-eyed student of the theological shifts involved in our current and heated ecclesial discussions. **


Core Texts from and about Emergence Christianity

Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures by Eddie Gibbs and Ryan K. Bolger Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures, Eddie Gibbs and Ryan K. Bolger (Baker Academic, 2005). I keep this one on my desk top for ready reference. Those who want a field guide to the emergent movement will find it invaluable. Its lists of the churches now within this movement, its precise presentation of how main-line churches are church-planting within the emergent movement, and its brief bios of the major players make this one worth a long look. ***



A Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLarenA Generous Orthodoxy, Brian McLaren (Zondervan, 2004). While this title has a sub-title, even a casual glance at its cover will tell you why I have not included it here. McLaren is the acknowledged leader of Emergence Christianity, the Martin Luther of our current reformation. Any reader over twenty (and some who are younger) will find much to deplore here and much to applaud. Either way, one should think of this volume as being a kind of contemporary edition of the Ninety-Five Theses tacked to the door of the church in Wittenberg five centuries ago. *****

A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith ,Bryan McLaren (HarperOne, 2010) is an expansion, richer and fully matured six years later, of the concepts underlying A Generous Orthodoxy. It is also, theologically speaking, "the shot heard around the world," for no other contemporary book in Christian theology has so stirred up the interest, and enlivened the conversation, of Emergence Christians as has this one. It would be essentially impossible, in fact, to understand how and why the battle lines are being drawn both within Emergence Christianity and among the other major communions of the faith without at some point reading what McLaren is saying here. *****

verything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and A Revolution of Hope by Brian McLarenEverything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and A Revolution of Hope, Brian McLaren (Nelson, 2007). While hardly light reading, this fairly  recent statement from McLaren is nonetheless the clearest and most energized exposition to date of the radical world vision of the emergent movement in this country.




An Emergent Manifesto of Hope edited by  Doug Pagitt and Tony JonesAn Emergent Manifesto of Hope, Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones, eds (Baker, 2007). This is a candid, thorough, and dynamic collection of essays by some two dozen leaders of the Great Emergence. Anyone even mildly curious about what emergent and the next Christianity are, will be well served by three or four hours with these men and women…not to mention being deeply assured and affirmed by the passion of their faith and vocation even as they give to the Church a new face and a new way of doing its business. **


A Christianity Worth Believing by Doug Pagitt A Christianity Worth Believing, Doug Pagitt (Jossey-Bass, pbk 2009). This very lively, candid, and accessible book gives voice and body to the basic theology of the Great Emergence in a way that most previous essays have failed to do. It also enjoys a sub-title that’s worth looking up just for the joy of reading it…and the book is even better. ****




The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier by Tony JonesThe New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier, Tony Jones (Jossey-Bass, 2008). Jones, who has been intimately involved in emergent Christianity and in emergent village from its inception, is a brilliant apologist for emergent theology and sensibilities. He is also an accessible and brilliant explicator of all these things. Every student of emergent thought should read this one carefully.  ****


Signs of Emergence: A Vision for Church That Is Organic / Networked /  Decentralized / Bottom-up /Communal / Flexible {Always Evolving} by Kester Brewin Signs of Emergence: A Vision for Church That Is Organic / Networked /  Decentralized / Bottom-up /Communal / Flexible {Always Evolving},Kester Brewin (Baker Books, 2007). Unfortunately, the complete impact of Brewin’s sub-title cannot be conveyed without more visual design than is feasible here, though the above is an attempt at suggesting some of the possibilities explored there. Brewin, a Londoner, is one of the founding leaders of Vaux, an alternative worship group in the city. He is also a fine story teller and recorder of what Emergence is in real life among real people. This book has been very influential in both this country and the UK.

Free for All: Rediscovering the Bible in Community by Tim Conder and Daniel RhodesFree for All: Rediscovering the Bible in Community, Tim Conder and Daniel Rhodes (Baker Books, 2009). Conder is founding pastor and Rhodes is co-pastor of Emmaus Way in Durham, North Carolina, one of the US’s better-known missional or emergence bodies. Among the questions pressing upon emergence theologians and Christians currently is that of the authority of Scripture and of how best to understand and define it. In this very clear and careful volume, Conder and Brooks offer an approach that is consonant with emergence thought while also being respectful of the fact that a theology of scripture is still a work in process for most post-Reformation Christians.

Mission-shaped Church: Church Planting and Fresh Expressions of Church in a Changing Context by the Archbishop's Council on Mission and Foreign Affairs Mission-shaped Church: Church Planting and Fresh Expressions of Church in a Changing Context, Archbishop's Council on Mission and Foreign Affairs (Church House Publishing, 2004). Despite its having been in print for some half-dozen years or so, and despite the fact that it speaks in terms of the Church of England’s engagement with emergence Christianity, this is still the most useful, informing, and practical text presently available both for understanding what fresh expressions of Church are and of how to go about the business of enabling them. Available in hardcopy from the usual sources, it is also available for download and itself includes a considerable number of web sites of great pertinence to the matter at hand. [Starting Mission-Shaped Churches with discussion questions by Bishop Stuart P Robinson of Australia (St. Paul’s Chatwood, 2007, ISBN 978-0-9579832-1-2) is a very practical workbook that, while not specifically designed as a companion to the Church of England volume, nonetheless serves that purpose quite handily.]*****

Over the years since its initial release in 2004, Mission-Shaped has become so influential and significant as to spawn, in 2010, a mini-series of related titles, each of them a strong contributor to the over-arching discussion of mission-shaped church: Mission-Shaped Questions. +Steven Croft, ed.; Mission-Shaped Parish—Traditional Church in a Changing World. Paul Bayes et al; and Mission-Shaped Spirituality, Susan Hope. All published in the US by Seabury Books, an imprint of the Church Publishing Group.

Lesslie Newbigin: Missionary Theologian; A Reader, Compiled and Introduced by Paul Weston Lesslie Newbigin: Missionary Theologian; A Reader, Compiled and Introduced by Paul Weston,(Eerdmans, 2006). While a good dozen or so of the 20th century’s theologians and thinkers have had lasting and powerful impacts on Emergence Christianity, none has left quite so signatory a heritage as has Newbigin. A large part of Emergence Christianity—indeed, many would argue the larger part world-wide—defines and names itself as “missional” Christianity or “missional Church.” Those who do so, find their roots and basic tenets in Newbigin. For that reason, any serious student of Emergence Christianity needs to be at least passingly familiar with Newbigin’s work; and Weston has done a superb job of distilling his work into an accessible and surprisingly thorough précis for us.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy,Eric Metaxas (Thomas Nelson, 2010) is a delightfully rendered and richly informative study of the life and thought of one of the 20th century’s great thinkers and Christian theologians. Bonhoeffer’s continuing effect on Emergence thought can not be over-stated; and this accessible, but thorough précis of his work offers invaluable insights into the nature and content of the Bonhoeffer legacy. ***



The End of Religion by Bruxy CaveyThe End of Religion, Bruxy Cavey (NavPress, 2008) is a lucid, forceful, and highly informative statement both of what Bonhoeffer has been seminal in evoking and validating and also of what Emergence theology and ecclesiology are moving toward. Cavey, the Teaching Pastor of The Meeting Place in Toronto, is both a practitioner working in the field and a very shrewd and careful exegete. ***



Fresh Expressions in the Sacramental Tradition; Steven Croft and Ian Mobsby, EdsFresh Expressions in the Sacramental Tradition, Steven Croft and Ian Mobsby, Eds. (Canterbury Press, 2009). The first volume in the “Ancient Faith, Future Mission” Series, this collection of essays by sixteen leaders and students of Emergence Christianity on both sides of the pond is a hearty and muscular introduction to how it’s done, why it’s done, and by whom it’s done, “it” being Emergence worship in many, if not most, of its presenting forms and configurations. This one is a delightful read, as well as an informing one.



The Teaching of the 12 by Tony Jones The Teaching of the 12, Tony Jones (Paraclete, 2009). Jones, one of the most influential and seminal of emergent Christian thinkers, has broken new ground again by returning here to the most ancient of Christian documents as a tool for understanding and shaping Christian formation in the 21st century. This one is both dear and poignant as well as historically accurate and exceedingly insightful.



Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense by N.T. WrightSimply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense,  (HarperSanFrancisco. 2006), Surprised By Hope,**** (HarperOne, 2008), and Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision (InterVarsity Press, 2009) are all the work and thought of N. T. Wright, until his retirement in 2010, the Bishop of Durham. These three will, I suspect, stand for decades as classics in Christian apology. Together, they certainly constitute some of the best in the theology of Emergence Christianity.



Surprised by Hope by N.T. WrightSome parts of Wright’s theology will offend American Christians; hopefully, most of it will not.  Rather, they will find here a reasoned and pastoral voice offering a blessed place of thoughtful and faithful quiet in the midst of an otherwise disturbing storm system.  Well worth the read by folk on all sides of our current debates, the first is the kind of “lest we forget” book that’s good for all of us now and again; and the second is a clarion call to a re-considered Christian theology. 


Sin: A History by Gary A. Anderson Sin: A History, Gary A. Anderson (Yale, 2009). While this bibliography is not designed to present any in-depth review of the theologians who are presently wrestling with the major issues arising out of our shifting times, it is impossible not to mention at least one or two who are so pertinent as almost to defy exclusion. Atonement and a defensible doctrine about it, or understanding of it, are central to Emergence work. In full knowledge of that fact and of the impenetrable forest of words and theories that have encrusted the atonement since the days of Second Temple Judaism, Anderson here offers up a startling interpretation of the evolution of Judeo-Christian conceptualizations of sin and, by extension, of atonement. ***

After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity by Miroslav Volf After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity, Miroslav Volf (Eeernman’s, 1998). Few theologians working today have had a more pervasive and sustained influence on Emergence theology and ecclesiology than has Volf. Likewise, probably none of his very influential and insightful books has had any greater impact than has this one, particularly in the area of ecclesiology. Many Emergence leaders openly claim it as a “must read” for any Emergence theologian or theorist. *



Repenting of Religion: Turning from Judgment to the Love of God by Gregory A. BoydRepenting of Religion: Turning from Judgment to the Love of God, Gregory A. Boyd (Baker, 2004). Boyd is a master of both applied and pastoral theology. In this tightly argued volume, he takes on the Scylla and Charybdis of religious judgment and judgmentalism, of sustained interpretation and relativism. The result is as finely honed and cogent a presentation of Emergence Christian concepts at work in religious formation as any one could ever desire to see.  


The Becoming of G-d: What the Trinitarian Nature of God Has To Do with Church and A Deep Spirituality for the Twenty-First Century by Ian MobsbyThe Becoming of G-d – What the Trinitarian Nature of God Has To Do with Church and A Deep Spirituality for the Twenty-First Century, Ian Mobsby (YTC Press, 2008) Mobsby, who is pastor at Moot and a priest in the Church of England, is one of the most widely-recognized leaders in Emergence both in the UK and internationally. In this small volume, however, he shines as a practical theologian. Emergence Christianity is profoundly Trinitarian, and Mobsby does a superb job of explicating exactly what that means and what it translates to on the ground.

The Wisdom of StabilityThe Wisdom of Stability – Rooting Faith in A Mobile Culture, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (Paraclete Press, 2010) Neo-monasticism is one of the principal attributes and characteristics of Emergence Christianity, and Wilson-Hartgrove is a principal leader and explicator of it in both the USA and abroad. In this delightful and low-key book, he makes his case with simplicity, but paradoxically, he also makes it powerfully. Wisdom is a beautiful book that not only presents the specifics of Hartgrove-Wilson’s own community, but also presents as well much of the Emergence theology underlying neo-monasticism itself.


The New Conspirators: Creating the Future One Mustard Seed at a Time by Tom SineThe New Conspirators: Creating the Future One Mustard Seed at a Time, Tom Sine (InterVarsity Press, 2008)  Sine, a founder along with his wife Christine, of the Mustard Seed Community, is an expert on neo-monasticism and its placement within Emergence Christianity. His overview here will be invaluable to those trying to understand what this renewed and radical ancient sensibility is about in today’s world.



The Fidelity of Betrayal: Towards a Church Beyond Belief by Peter Rollins The Fidelity of Betrayal: Towards a Church Beyond Belief,  Peter Rollins (Paraclete, 2008) and How [Not] To Speak of God (also Paraclete, 2008)  Rollins, the founder of Ikon in Ireland, is a leader internationally in the emergence movement. He also holds a Ph.D. in philosophy. The two together make him singularly well-equipped to be one of the outstanding thinkers and theologians of the 21st century. He is especially brilliant and accessible in these two volumes. ****


Informing Texts about Virtual Church and Emergence Christianity

The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture: How Media Shapes Faith, the Gospel, and  Church by Shane HippsThe Hidden Power of Electronic Culture: How Media Shapes Faith, the Gospel, and  Church, Shane Hipps (Zondervan, 2005). This deceptively easy-going book deftly weaves Marshall McLuhan and Co. into an at-times brilliantly insightful critique of current “church.” It’s well worth the time it takes to read it and more than worth the time it takes to ponder it. *




SimChurch: Being the Church in the Virtual World by Douglas Estes SimChurch: Being the Church in the Virtual World, Douglas Estes (Zondervan, 2009). Estes, who is Adjunct Professor of New Testament at Western Seminary in San Jose as well as Lead Pastor at Berryessa Valley Church in San Jose, offers the most even-handed, informed, and insightful overview to date of what virtual world ecclesia means not only within its own confines, but also to ecclesia in the physical world. At the risk of over-stating the case, it is increasingly incumbent upon clergy and lay leaders alike to familiarize themselves now…right now…with the information Estes renders so clearly. ***


*Asterisks indicate volumes of particular note within their respective categories. The greater the number of asterisks assigned to a volume, the greater the perceived pertinence of that title.

This list has been compiled and annotated by Phyllis Tickle. Comments, questions, and suggestions should be directed to her at her website. Last updated October 2010.