Phylis Tickle and The New Seminary President

Phyllis Tickle is one of the well known leaders in the emergent church movement.  She is particularly known for coining or popularizing the phrase “Emergence Christianity.”  She wrote a book called The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing And Why, in which her main point is that great changes always occur in the church every 500 years, and that we are in the midst of such a time again.  She compares this time to such other movements as the Protestant Reformation, among other movements in history.  According to Tickle. the emerging church is now playing a pivotal role in yet again redefining the future of Christianity.  Her premise is that a new and “more vital” form of Christianity is emerging.  If this is true, we in trouble.

In chapter one of the book, she likens this supposed great new change to a rummage sale, where old things are cleaned out and discarded, and replaced with new fresh ideas and approaches to Christianity.  This is exactly what the emergent church is all about.  It’s really the same concept that false teacher Brian McLaren promotes, that of a “New Kind Of Christianity”, and as he states in the title of one of his books, “everything must change.”  And he really means it, and I’m sure Phyllis Tickle also agrees with him.

In his post Who Is Phyllis Tickle?, Pastor Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries points out that she receives high praise for her emergence concepts from false teacher and emergent church leader Doug Pagitt, who promotes “Christian yoga”, denies the concept of original sin, and seems to support a kind of “Christian universalism.”   Pastor Silva also brings out another association:

…at her website we read the following endorsement from an apostate Episcopal “Bishop and Primate”:

“Phyllis Tickle offers a creative and provocative overview of multiple social and cultural changes in our era, their relation to previous major paradigm shifts, and their particular impact on North American Christianity. This is an immensely important contribution to the current conversation about new and emerging forms of Christianity in a post-modern environment—and a delight to read!”
—The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori,
Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church

Bishop Schori is clearly an apostate.  She has stated in a message to the Episcopal General Conference that individual salvation is the greatest heresy in the church today, and that there is only a collective salvation.

From Tickle’s website, her About section says that she:

is currently a Senior Fellow of Cathedral College of the Washington National Cathedral… A lay eucharistic minister and lector in the Episcopal Church.

 At the WNC website:

Washington National Cathedral is a church for national purposes called to embody God’s love and to welcome people of all faiths and perspectives. A unique blend of the spiritual and the civic, this Episcopal Cathedral is a voice for generous-spirited Christianity and a catalyst for reconciliation and interfaith dialogue to promote respect and understanding. We invite all people to share in our commitment to create a more hopeful and just world.

Ken then points out that she is on the board of advisors of the Mary Baker Eddy Library.  Eddy was the founder of the Christian Science cultic religion.

As you dig deeper, the Cathedral promotes contemplative prayer, including centering prayer and practicing the silence.  I suggest you read the full post by Pastor Silva in order to get an even better look at the very dubious associations that Tickle has with apostate groups and false religions.

You’ll hear her in this conversation with emergent proponent Peter Rollins as he “tickles her ears” while discussing emergence Christianity.  Tickle is also a proponent of mysticism, as is her friend Rob Bell.  From the Museum of Idolatry website, you can hear a clip of her speaking at Rob Bell’s church, where she was invited to speak about the ‘feminine attributes’ of the Holy Spirit.  At the 8:11 mark, she claims that when we take communion we are “FEEDING THE “GOD” WITHIN US”.

Finally, a dialogue at Fuller Theological Seminary with Tony Jones and Lauren Winner (who was a guest speaker at Eastern Nazarene College as well as Point Loma) will astound you.  I was amazed at the contempt for the Bible coming from Tickle and her two colleagues that day, and how they were so enthralled with each other.  Here is the video: Emerging Spiritualities In The American Church.  She is also proud of her affinity for large amounts of hard liquor.

Here is one quote from that dialogue at Fuller:

“Any good emergence Christian worth his or her salt will tell you that there is an incredible arrogance in thinking that we can reduce God Almighty to a set of words that we understand.  Yes the scripture is given to us, yes it is in words, but the scripture is written in a way that we can have it, but we cannot entirely understand it.  It is beyond us in every way.”

She goes on to talk about “where we exist as lovers of Jesus in the fullest and most erotic sense.”  There is quite a bit more nonsense in this three way dialogue, but I’ll let you be the judge, don’t take my word for it.

Her presentation starts at the 27 minute mark, if you wish to skip Lauren Winner.  But it is well worth listening to all three of these speakers truly tickle each other’s ears, to get a real good idea of the warped and twisted self loving humanism that comes from such folks as these in the emergent/emerging/emergence movement.

What’s The Connection With NTS?

What does this have to do with the new Seminary president?  Dr. David Busic recently gave his inaugural message as the newest president of Nazarene Theological Seminary.  Here is the transcript of the message: Inaugural Address President David Busic October 28 2011-1

Here is the video link:

In attendance was at least one General Superintendent.  I believe there are questions of discernment or perhaps at best a lack of understanding as to what Phyllis Tickle represents.

At the start of his references to Tickle, Dr. Busic says the following:  “While some have questioned the veracity of her reading of history, and certainly not all would agree with her assessment, few would argue that we are living in a time of rapid and disruptive change. And so for the sake of argument let’s hear what she has to say.”

He then continues to go into detail about her idea of every 500 years of a great change occurring in Christendom.   He later also wonders whether Tickle’s reading of history is correct, but I can’t help but believe that Dr. Busic likes what she has to say.  He clearly has nothing unfavorable to say about her, nor any warning whatsoever of her emergent ideology.   It is also interesting that he quotes the president of Fuller Theological Seminary, one of the top seminaries in the country, but which has gone down the road of apostasy with its promotion of contemplative spirituality, ecumenism, and downright rejection of God’s infallible word.

I am now even more worried about the future of  Nazarene Theological Seminary.  Why would Dr. Busic use material attributed to a promoter of contemplative spirituality, and someone who promotes the emergent church movement and all its heresies?  That is a question others besides me will have to ask Dr. Busic over the coming months.  I have other concerns that have been addressed to Dr. Busic in an email I sent a few weeks ago, and I hope to get an answer to those questions.  Yet at this point I am troubled, because under the previous president, Dr. Ron Benefiel, there was a whole lot of error being promoted and allowed to be taught at what is the flagship seminary of a denomination that proclaims and preaches holiness.  Will there be significant and promising changes under Dr. Busic, or will it be the same old thing continuing on?

For me, these are just some of the  lingering questions:
– Will Doug Hardy stop teaching an occultic Celtic Spirituality course?  Will he renounce his involvement with the highly ecumenical and interfaith group at Spiritual Directors International?
– Will NTS stop promoting contemplative spirituality, to both its students and even to middle school age children?
– Will NTS stop promoting Roman Catholic practices?
– Will NTS cancel any plans for another Spiritual Formation Retreat at the next General Assembly?
– Will Mike King stop promoting contemplative spirituality to youth, and stop being involved with heretical youth festivals such as Wildgoose?
– What will Dr. David Busic do as leader of NTS to stop some of the ungodly trends at the major seminary of the Nazarene denomnation.

I believe we will have a good idea of the future direction of this seminary very soon, one way or the other.



Here are a few previous posts about Nazarene Theological Seminary and its errors


Promotion of a retreat at Roman Catholic center and teaching of contemplative spirituality:


Promotion of a spiritual formation retreat with Alden Sproul and Doug Hardy:

Promotion of contemplative spirituality and ecumenism:


Teaching of occultic Celtic spirituality by Dr. Doug Hardy:


Mike King, a professor at NTS, and  national Nazarene youth leader speaks at heretical festival:


 Doug Hardy’s book recommendations for Windsor Hills Camp in New Hampshire.  Most of the books were written by or about Roman Catholic mystics or promoters of contemplative mysticism:

12 responses to “Phylis Tickle and The New Seminary President

  1. I managed to listen to the podcast of Phyllis Tickle,. Lauren Winner, and Tony Jones at Fuller. How anyone could listen to even five minutes of any one of them and think they have anything positive to contribute to Christendom is beyond me.

    A sample of Tickle’s theology from a talk at Mars Hill:
    “And of a God who is not a patriarchal God, who is not some kind of war God or storm God, or some kind of loud noise God, but a God who from the very beginning said, “My image male and female…our image male and female” And who, from Pentecost on (as the Bat Kol was no longer needed) who from Pentecost on came and entered us…came into us…lives in us…and we are the container thereof. And it is an erotic relationship…and that, too is part of the feminine nature of it…it is an erotic relationship and the most intimate one that a Christian or a human being can ever have.”

    My relationship with God is NOT erotic and God is the Father!. (Bat Kol refers to small voice or whisper in the citation above.)

  2. Tough to listen to. It’s amazing that our seminary president used her material as part of his opening message at NTS. Not a promising start.

  3. Who was responsible for hiring Doug Hardy into this position? He has the job now and comes with his own set of beliefs (I wouldn’t expect him to change them for the position.) but someone (or a group of someones) was responsible for deciding who to hire for this position. Doug Hardy isn’t the problem.

  4. After reading Dr. Busic’s Inaugural address I did not sense that anything was going to change at the Seminary regarding past practices. I hope that I am wrong.

  5. That’s right, the ultimate responsibility is the president and all who are responsible for hiring decisions. Unless the president is a puppet of the board, he should be able to set the tone and direction of the school. The new president must have some time I suppose for evaluating what is going on, but the signs right off the bat are not good. I sent him an email with another concern, and have not had a response yet. I will probably write about that soon.

  6. I don’t think they usually let themselves be confronted with scripture, and when they do, I don’t think they do well.

    One particular time that comes to mind is when Bob Dewaay a few years ago had a seminar where he spent some time debating Doug Pagitt. I don’t think Pagitt did very well. Tim Wirth has a post on that where he has a link to a review of that debate:

  7. After reading your diatribe on David Busic I have come to the conclusion that you consider anyone in the position of leadership in the Church of the Nazarene a heretic and promoting anti-Nazarene doctrines and practices.

    I have known David Busic for over 30 years and have sat under his preaching on a number of occasions. All of my children (two in Olathe and one in Bethany) have been under his leadership. You will not meet an individual more dedicated to holiness, both in practice and in preaching than Dr. Busic. His election to the Seminary should be considered a high water mark for its future.

    I am a first generation Nazarene and have been in full-time ministry for over 20 years. I have read a number of articles from some of the key leaders of the emergent church (McLaren, Sweet, in particular) and though there are areas I certainly disagree with in their theology, I would have to say that as a denomination we have lost our way in learning how to reach our communities. Could it be that that the reason why so many are berating and beating down not only these individuals but also those within our own denomination is the fact that they are reaching people for the sake of the gospel and not in opposition to it?

  8. Here we go again, the use of words like “diatribe”, “berating”, “beating down”, instead of addressing the issue at hand.
    No sir, it’s called godly criticism of what was used in his message, and that would be material attributed to a false teacher.
    And despite what you said- I did not call Dr. Busic a heretic, I think he’s just a bit mislead. There are false teachers such as Tom Oord and Karl Giberson however.

    What does all you have said have to do with the heresies that Phyllis Tickle promotes? I’m sure Dr. Busic is a nice guy, but does that exempt him or anyone else from criticism based on the word of God? I think not. Your defense of him is fine, except that you forgot to defend the use of material by such a false teacher as Tickle. I’ll be glad to post your biblical defense of her, perhaps after you listen to her speak at Fuller, and read some of what she espouses. Otherwise, I assume you have been totally fooled as well by her nonsense.

    Dr Busic and all other Nazarene presidents need to be held accountable and reproved for doing things like this. It is my prayer he will clean house at NTS including getting rid of the ungodly course that teaches pagan Celtic spirituality.

    Your apparent lack of knowledge of heretics like Brian McLaren shows, because if you really learned about him and Leonard Sweet and others, you would have a much stronger reaction than simply saying you have some disagreements. Either that, or you are clearly being disingenuous. We have lost our way in many ways because of our attempts to reach the community and bring them in by any means, instead of preaching the pure word of God. That’s where we have lost our way.

    (By the way, I am also a first generation Nazarene- all my life, and my dad was a real holiness Nazarene pastor for over 55 years, and now I have been called into a ministry that is helping expose the false teachers in our denomination.)

  9. I finally found your article above after a frustrated internet search for info on Tickle so I could prepare myself to defend against her “theology”. I attend a Methodist church and our new pastor will soon begin a study series on “Embracing Emergence Christianity” by Tickle. This appears to be just another departure in my church from adhearing to the true Gospel as clearly presented in His inerrant Word. Thanks for being a “Berean” and for publishing this post. If you can offer further assistance with info/links/etc., I’d really appreciate it. BTW, Carnell (above) is responding out of emotion, not facts…dangerous!

  10. Thanks, A.G. I’ll take note of this and send you anything I have on Ms. Tickle. This is certainly invading practically every denomination, not just Nazarenes. I’ll be in touch.

  11. Thanks so much for linking to the video on the discussion on “emerging spirituality.” Ms Tickle says the emergence camp questions things like the atonement and penal substitution.

    Without The Cross there is no Christianity!

    My heart grieves, achedly so. We expect people outside the Church to be unbelievers, but not those “supposedly” within. Thanks again for being a faithful watchman. God Bless and protect you in this spiritual battle! ~Brenda

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