Phyllis Tickle, the author of The Great Emergence, writes that every 500 years or so the Christian Church has gone through a great revolution — where the old order is turned upside down and replaced with something new.

It happened 500 years ago. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his “Ninety-Five Theses” to the chapel door of Wittenberg Castle, which was one of the key factors provoking the Reformation. His hope was not to start a new Church but to reform the Roman Catholic Church. But the schism was too great and the Protestant Church was born.

500 years before that, the Great Schism occurred between the Eastern (Greek Orthodox) and Western (Roman Catholic) Church. 500 years before that, Pope Gregory the Great, helped bring the Church out of the dark ages. 500 years before that the Great Transformation (when God walked among us) happened where Jesus called his first disciples and they formed the early church

According to the author, it’s about time that the Christian church, especially the Protestant Church, is due another great emergence. Many church historians disagree with Phyllis Tickle’s research because she only takes into account the Roman Church and leaves out other major shifts that happened in the life of the Church. Even more controversial is her prediction that the Emerging Church will survive if scripture is not the only authority on moral issues, and we rethink basic Christian theology. While I disagree with her assessment of how the next Christian era will survive, she still makes us think about where the Christian Church is headed. The question becomes more personal as we wonder where our United Methodist denomination will be in the coming years.

While the cultural norms may change around us, I believe the best thing we can do is to stay the course and reaffirm the Word of God as our primary authority in the Church. Jesus lived in the same changing world. He reminds us to anchor our faith on the one truth that stands the test of time: “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” (Luke 21:33).

Isn’t it about time that the Church is no longer transformed by the culture around us? Isn’t it about time that Christians mature in our knowledge of the scriptures so that we are no longer tossed to and fro “by every wind of teaching?” (Ephesians 4:14). Isn’t it about time that we fortify our faith by lifting up scriptural holiness and aiming to walk in righteousness? (Romans 12:2).

How can we do this at Mt. Carmel? I want to encourage you to attend this year’s Charge Conference on Sunday, November 12 at 6:00 pm at Midway United Methodist Church. Our new district superintendent Dr. Mike Bailey will be leading us through these kinds of questions. I also want to encourage you to be active in Worship, Bible Study, Sunday School, Accountability and Prayer Groups so you can discern more clearly God’s Word in your life and for our church.

These may be challenging times for the Christian Church, but the Good News is we have a God who does not change! We need to remember to “to keep the main thing the main thing.” The main thing for us is to “make disciples, baptize them, and teach them to obey His commandments.” (Matthew 28:19). May this be a time of great emergence for us as the Word of God is glorified in His Church!

In Christ Alone,

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