Phyllis Tickle, as always, offers an accessible historical perspective on the Christian church. As if watching a slide show of time, the reader glimpses the journey of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. This doctrine, Tickle believes, is influencing the current religious landscape.
Tickle does what she is known for, she constructs a playground for people trying to understand the changing religious landscape, particularly in the United States of America. Her main audience is liberal evangelicals, those who grew up in evangelical churches but have begun to question some of the social justice issues often left out of the conversation in those circles. This world is more and more “spiritual but not religious,” Tickle offers a historical reason why that might be true. She argues that the doctrine of the Holy Spirit was bound to make a reappearance.
The Age of the Spirit describes the historical journey of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Her historical journey begins in Nicea and ends at Azusa street, an event 100 years ago. It is not a theological exposition, if history and theology can be separate. Tickle is not comparing various expressions of the Holy Spirit within Christianity.
I, too, believe the Holy Spirit is influencing the current religious landscape. Tickle offers an explanation of "how this might be true." She does not argue "in what way.” This is an faithful work. We need historians like Tickle. But I was left wanting a book about the Holy Spirit. Having grown up Pentecostal, now turned Presbyterian (USA), I am longing for an academic comparison of the various expressions of the Holy Spirit in Christianity today. And if I'm even more honest, I'm longing for someone to connect the belief in the Holy Spirit in the Christian tradition to the expression of what seems to be belief in the Holy Spirit in other religious traditions in the world today. But that is outside the scope of this book.