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How (Not) to Speak of God Paperback – August 1, 2006
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More About the Author
Challenging the idea that faith concerns questions relating to belief Peter shows that an incendiary and irreligious reading of Christianity is possible: one that destroys the distinction between sacred and secular, blurs the lines between theism and atheism and sets aside questions regarding life after death to explore the possibility of a life before death.
This approach has been christened "pyrotheology," and aims at burning up the basic assumptions that both critics and advocates of religion hold concerning the life of faith.
Peter gained his higher education from Queens University, Belfast and has earned degrees (with distinction) in Scholastic Philosophy (BA Hons), Political Theory (MA) and Post-Structural thought (PhD). He is the author of numerous books, including Insurrection, The Idolatry of God and The Divine Magician. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, currently lives in LA and will die.
Top Customer Reviews
To do this he brings the work of deconstructionist theory, and the history of Christian mysticism, to theology and faith. In doing so he tries to avoid the dichotomy of fundamentalist faith on the one had and relativistic nihilism on the other. He wants to challenge and re-imagine the Christian faith without abandoning its core meaning.
This is not an easy task. I have a feeling that a great many more traditional Christians will be turned off by 1) what they will perceive as a threat to orthodoxy; and 2) by its language rooted in post-modern criticism and theory.
But I would recommend that this book be read in the spirit in which is written. Instead of viewing it as a threat to orthodox Christianity, view it as a challenge and a source of potential insight. Rollins certainly challenges traditional ways of thinking about theology and faith.
His deconstructionist approach to knowledge and truth will feel awkward and potentially heretical to most Christians, and it isn't always easy to sift through the language, but there are a number of keen insights for those who put in the effort.
Peter Rollins, a young theologian and member of the Ikon Community from Northern Ireland, seeks here to view God through the lens of postmodernism and its skepticism about being able to reach neutral, logical judgments untainted by cultural or subconscious influences. Initially, Rollins has much to say about how the very existence of differing voices and perspectives in Scripture itself support a postmodern approach, about how "ideology" (the construction of logical descriptions of God) can become another form of "idolatry" (the construction of falsifying physical images of God), and about how one may unable to perceive God due, paradoxically, to God's overwhelming presence, much as one is blinded by staring straight into the sun. But, as the book goes on, Rollins seems so insistent on dwelling on God's unknowability, otherness, and "hypernomous" absence, one begins to get the sense that God is slipping out of focus and out of reach, as a dark, unsearchable void that we are expected to believe merely seems a void because of God's hyper-presence. So much time is spent on rejecting our notions of God, we are left with little but the gaping hole where those notions used to be.Read more ›
In short, this book spurred my imagination to picture a Christianity for tomorrow's world. And the picture Rollins presents is one that brings me great hope.
There are, however, some serious faults to be found in the theoretical chapters. The biggest, for me, is Rollins' reluctance to make exclusionary, normative statements. For instance, he argues that Scripture is properly approached through the interpretative lens of love. In the same vein, the details of what one believes are less important than the fact that one is able to hold those beliefs in a loving manner, which encourages one's love for God and the world. Rollins believes that by nominating love as the criterion of discernment of proper faith he has both headed off the charge of relativism and left his system open to a competition of beliefs and ideas that can guard against the idolatry of neat and inflexible dogma.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have enjoyed listening to Peter Rollins on YouTube or on various podcast so I thought I would try out some of his books. I was not disappointed. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Ben Baumann
This book breaks down common views of typical human reaction to what they believe to be Christian and offers alternative ways approach an understanding of life.Published 6 months ago by Kevin Janssen
Such a good read. Worth every penny and more. Everyone should read this book so they can be challenged. Grab it and read as Friends or a group.Published 10 months ago by alex howell
Rollins is not always a easy read, for me. I'm glad i'm with a group to discuss his thoughts. Rollins makes god much larger than we are accustom to seeing---this i like. Read morePublished 10 months ago by ron koutz
This book is a very nice overview of the Emerging Church movement as well as radical theology in both theory and practice. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Micah Wimmer
Good book. My son is an Episcopal priest and I plan on sending it to him. (If he ever answers my text on whether he already has it!)Published 22 months ago by Bethany
Love Peter Rollins. I mean, he's got a schtick, and doesn't really deviate much from it, but it's a great schtick nonetheless. Read morePublished on December 30, 2013 by computerguy
Brilliant work on the importance of us having a theology that does and means something in our lives and the world.Published on October 4, 2013 by Lang Charters
I found myself nodding my head and having aha moments through this whole book. Some ideas made me slightly uncomfortable at first, but it didn't take long before I understood and... Read morePublished on July 30, 2013 by Kelsey Westerhof