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The Fidelity of Betrayal: Towards a Church Beyond Belief Paperback – Bargain Price, May 6, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rollins possesses the freshest theological voice of the emerging church movement. The leader of an ecclesial community called Ikon that meets in pubs in his native Northern Ireland came out of nowhere with his How (Not) to Speak of God in 2006, where he made the tools of postmodern philosophy accessible to nonspecialists. That book's virtues are again on display: clarity (rare enough for an academically trained philosopher), wit and playful, counterintuitive readings of Christian scripture. He argues that the most faithful response to Christianity may be Judas's betrayal of Jesus over against fundamentalists who would violently defend Jesus and academics who would imprison Jesus. Rollins paints with an overly broad brush—not every theologian since Descartes has been boxed in by his categories. At times an academic degree would be helpful to understand his use of Zizek or Nietzsche. All the same, Rollins puts postmodern philosophy to work for those trying to rethink their faith for a new day without stifling modern categories. Even those who disagree will find the pages turning themselves. (June)
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About the Author

Peter Rollins is the author of the much-talked-about, How (Not) to Speak of God. He is a working philosopher, has a B.A. in Scholastic philosophy, an M.A. in political theory and criticism, a Ph.D. in postmodern theory, and is the founder of the Ikon community in Northern Ireland. He frequently lectures throughout the United States.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Paraclete Press (MA) (May 6, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557255601
  • ASIN: B0035G05BA
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,414,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Rollins is a provocative writer, lecturer, storyteller and public speaker who has gained an international reputation for overturning traditional notions of religion and forming "churches" that preach the Good News that we can't be satisfied, that life is difficult, and that we don't know the secret.

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.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Adam Moore on May 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
Ever since reading Peter Rollins' first book, "How (Not) to Speak of God," I have been looking forward to his next book. In fact, I can't remember a book I have anticipated more highly. So when "The Fidelity of Betrayal" arrived on Tuesday I quickly devoured it. I couldn't read it fast enough. It was wonderful. Sometimes I find it helpful to start engaging a book by reading through it quickly, in order to gain the overall big picture, and then to go through it slowly, savoring every word. I am really looking forward to reading it again, slowly.

Here are a few initial comments related to the new book (not a review, just a few comments).

First, I think this book successfully builds upon the concepts in Rollins' first book and takes them to the next level. So if you're interested in Rollins' work, I recommend buying both books but starting with "How (Not) to Speak of God." Basically, "The Fidelity of Betrayal" builds on an idea Rollins started working with in the first book. In fact, he builds on the idea that most intrigued me in his first book - the notion of giving up Christianity in order to truly fulfill it. In his first book Rollins relates a powerful story from the movie "Amen" in which a priest in Nazi Germany gives up his Christian faith and becomes a Jew in order to identify with the persecuted, a move the priest believes is necessary in order to truly live his Christian faith. "The Fidelity of Betrayal" takes this concept and examines it through three lenses, the Word of God, the Being of God, and the Event of God, which forms the structure for the book.

Second, I'm convinced that Phyllis Tickle is right in her assessment of Rollins' work.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Thom Turner on November 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
Going on my trip to Montana I thought I picked up Peter Rollins' first book, How (Not) to Speak of God so I could read his books through in order. This is a review of The Fidelity of Betrayal. I grabbed the wrong one.

The summation of Rollins' argument in this book is the profound and provocative statement: "In Christianity as a religion without religion one cannot make this distinction between one's actions and one's beliefs." (165) The Fidelity of Betrayal is a book that uses the catalysts of postmodern philosophy, narrative, and wonder to form a mystical framework for a Christianity beyond belief.

Though Christianity beyond belief may sound nebulous, Rollins does a fantastic job laying out his philosophically nuanced arguments in a captivating and easy to understand way.

The heart of Rollins argument is that the idea of Christian religious belief has been co-opted by academics, a way of fixing the problem of Christian theology not by adding additional research and discovery. Far from being an anti-intellectual stance, Rollins paves a third way by requiring that the truth of Christianity rests not in orthodoxy but in orthopraxy, the right living of Christian belief. One's actions cannot be separated from one's beliefs.

This reasoning brings up the dilemma of doubt, and how that figures into a system that rests beyond the regular definition of belief as right doctrine. Rollins argues that doubt is an after-effect of an event, and that belief and doubt are formed after an initial event (142). Far more important than belief or doubt, Rollins argues, is "a happening, an event, that we affirm and respond to, regardless of the ebbs and flows of our abstract theological reflections concerning the source and nature of this happening.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jason Kichline on September 23, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book turns religion on it's head. It makes you think about the gospel in ways you always thought were heretical, but in which makes complete sense. Very challenging. Peter Rollins writes at a pretty high level, almost like reading philosophy which is one reason I love it!
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Norman Jeune on June 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is definitely a provacative and much anticiapted release from Dr. Rollins. The Fidelity of Betrayal is a fascinating book, regardless of whether or not you tend to agree with writers like Rollins, who are part of the emergent movement. Rollins offer a lively, insightful, and controversial interaction with a variety of historical primary sources, ultimately providing a vantage point from which he is able to question the very theological and metaphysical foundations of western christendom.

I will say that I think he went a bit too far in his assertion that its impossible to make any ontological inferences about God, but his critiques of western metaphysics are important, and are definitely worth considering. His practical conclusions are also quite insightful, and I think Rollins has his hand on the pulse of church life as we forward.

The biggest strength of this book, in my opinion, is that Rollins seeks to develop a position reagrding the status of the biblical text. No other emergent writer I have seen up to this point has been willing to address the question of what the biblical text actually is in their view, and I think this is a key question for the continued development of the postmodern church. I only wish he would have taken the implications of his textual presuppositions to their conclusion. Unfortunately, I think his skeptical presuppositions about the text itself are not sufficiently grounded in adequate interaction with historical-criticism, even though negative assertions in this arena are what drive his metaphysical and ontological assertions about our ability to know anything about God.

Overall, this is one of the most important books for one to read in regard to the Emergent Movement at this point. Pick it up!
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