Phyllis Tickle proposes that every 500 years or so the Christian faith has a form of spiritual spring clean and car boot sale where we ‘declutter’. Whether it was the Reformation, the Great Schism, the Fall of the Roman Empire, or the birth of the Church, considering these events as half-millennia overhauls is a useful handle on Church history. Tickle then goes on to show how these great clearouts have often coincided with seismic changes in the culture.

Communication technology, family redefined, globalisation – it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see there are big changes going on in our culture generation. Having spent two thirds of the book looking backwards, Tickle then argues that the fracture lines within evangelical Christianity today are changing again. She makes some sweeping generalisations, but does so with a sense of style, which ‘large canvas’ thinkers will appreciate.  

HIGH: Intriguing ideas and a helpful introduction to some largescale cultural movements.

LOW: The connections made between changes in culture and changes in the Church are not all convincing. The current day analysis is not the book’s strength.