I am finishing up the new book by Phyllis Tickle, Emergence Christianity: What It Is, Where It Is Going, and Why It Matters. I will do some blog reviews of the book later, but I wanted to mention a concept she lays out that I think is very important for understanding the Millennial Generation and the new patterns of church we are seeing. That is the concept of Triple Citizenship.Here is my analysis of what Tickle is observing here:
In the medieval, European church, we might say there was single citizenship. This was “Christendom,” the kingdom of the church, where church and state were indistinguishable. The popes were kingmakers and yet they came from the royal families of Italy. The king of France had the power to move the papal court to his own country for many years, the Avingnon papacy. Government systems collected tithes for the church.
With the rise of modern Western society, and especially with the advent of the great democracies of Europe and North America, we began to have dual citizenship. Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. We might be American citizens as well as citizens of the kingdom of God through our membership in a church. Sometimes this created conflict, but mostly it was a smooth relationship. The biggest problems came from those who did not understand a difference between nationalistic patriotism and Christian faith.
In the 21st century we have seen the rise of a global community, especially as connected through the internet and social media. So we are citizens of our religious community, citizens of our country, and citizens of the world. And this third allegiance may be the more important one. This is the Triple Citizenship that Tickle writes about.
She summarizes this attitude in a composite quotation (p. 136):
When I help build a house for somebody, I want it to be a home where I and my family would be welcome and where the new owners will be welcome in my house. When I help to provide food, I want it to be food shared among us easily and frequently. I’m not out to save the world, just to be part of it.
I resonate deeply with that last part, “I’m not out to save the world, just to be part of it.” This triple citizenship concept breaks down the us/them dichotomy, the idea of dividing the world into savers and those who need saving. We care about disasters in Haiti or in Joplin because we stand united with our fellow citizens of the world. I like that. Maybe not Giant Theology, but close. I’ll keep working on it.
Nebraska Christian College