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How (Not) to Speak of God Paperback – August 1, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
In the first half of this powerful but frustratingly opaque book, debut author Rollins summarizes some of the theological ideas that the so-called emerging church is currently exploring: the importance of doubt and silence, the limits of apologetics, and the idea that God is concealed even as God is revealed. He skillfully scrutinizes Christian teaching though the lens of postmodern (especially deconstructionist) theory, and argues that Christians should both affirm their views of God and recognize that those views are inadequate. The second half comprises a set of liturgies that Rollins's religious community, an Irish group called Ikon, has employed. One service explores "divine absence" through a parable and a reading from Pascal. A ceremony for Advent uses sackcloth and ashes to highlight the penitential nature of the season. If most of these liturgies are affecting, some are a little hokey—in a concluding service called "Queer," for example, participants wrap stones, representing their prejudices, in Bubble Wrap. While this may prove an important book for some younger Christian leaders, dense prose will limit its audience: "God's interaction with the world is irreducible to understanding, precisely because God's presence is a type of hyper-presence." Nonetheless, a very enthusiastic foreword from Emergent elder statesman Brian McLaren will help create buzz. (Aug.)
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Top customer reviews
This is, of course, not a new idea, but it is unusual for evangelical Christians to push the point as hard as Rollins does. Essentially, Christians are atheists, because our God is beyond human category. At best, we can glimpse God in icons which often appear to point away from the reality of God, but which express metaphors that are self-consciously metaphors and not definitions.
Christians are defined not so much by what they believe as by how they believe; and this dynamic faith will manifest in works of mercy and restorative justice in the real world.
The second part of this encouraging book is a series of liturgies designed by the house church in the Menagerie Bar, the pub that Rollins calls his spiritual home. The themes range from Judas to Corpus Christi to Eloi Eloi Lama Sabachthani. The description of each liturgy is preceded by a reflection introducing the theme. The liturgies emphasise imagination and emotion and are described in practical detail, so that readers could use them as they are, or adapt them for their own setting.
If this is the coming, emerging church, then I would not mind belonging.