Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Age of the Spirit by Phyllis Tickle with Jon Sweeney

Tickle writes that there are two major reasons for us to understand the Holy Spirit – well, at least understand as much as we can. First, early Islam had roots, in part, in the furor over the Trinity and what it is. Second, the fastest growing segment of Christianity is Pentecostalism with its emphasis on the Holy Spirit.

It is important, she argues, for us to know how we Christians have envisioned, engaged, and too often tried to engineer the Holy Spirit over the millennia. She reviews history, what people have written, decisions councils have made, etc. She explores particular topics, such as modalism.

Hers is a very readable overview of the subject. She understands that the reality of the Holy Spirit makes us uneasy. He is a mystery that unnerves us – that has been the case for centuries.

She writes, “...the most profound change theologically and conceptually in Christianity in our era has been and is the shift toward emphasis on God, the Holy Spirit.” (147) Considering Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians, about one quarter of all Christians today emphasize the Holy Spirit. This is the Age of the Spirit, Tickle says. She helps us struggle with the questions of Who the Holy Spirit is and how we live and worship in this era.

This is not an academic work. This is a very readable exploration of the Holy Spirit and how He has been understood and experienced. If you feel you have ignored the person of the Holy Spirit in your Christian life, this would be a good book to introduce you to writings about Him. If you want, there are plenty of footnotes and Appendixes for further study.

Phyllis Tickle is the founding editor of the religion department at Publishers Weekly. She has written over twenty four books and is a lector and lay eucharistic minister in the Episcopal Church. She is a senior fellow of the Cathedral College of Washington National Cathedral. You can find out more at

Baker Books, 192 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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