According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Friday, May 10, 2013

Peter Rollins, "The Idolatry of God"

We have followed Peter since his introduction at Mars Hill Church many years ago. I have found in him the seeds of a restorative faith through honest recognition of our failings, hurts and harms. He approaches Scripture from primarily a philosophical perspective in order to integrate redemptive theology towards healing and wholeness in Jesus. As such, it is meant as relevant philosophical theology for the postmodern 21st century as versus other restorative disciplines such as psychology, social theory, or normative church instruction.

I have used Peter to help determine what is meant by the idea of "deconstructing the Christian life" primarily through his observations as to how Christian symbols and imposed church structure are used in our worship of God and faith. Knowing Peter to have a heart centered on Jesus-and-His-resurrection, I can also say that Pete is fundamentally orientated towards spiritual "reconstruction" within the Christian life albeit through "torching" those ideas about God that pre-postmodernistic religion has imposed upon the human spirit. He calls this "pyrotheology," a subset of which is his idea of "idolizing" God in our own image rather than in God's own  divine image that he finds to be, in a deeply religious sense, mystical and mysterious, moving and paradoxical.

Generally, I find Pete's ideas helpful, if not sometimes outlandish or weird. But within that weirdness there are always glimmers for me into my life with Christ and the heart of faith we are called to commit and be founded upon. As I am not a philosopher but primarily a theologian, I find it helpful to listen to those whom God has led before me into areas that may be fruitful for discussion and discernment - even as He has with past Christian philosophers such as Soren Kierkegaard of the 19th century. There is always room in the family of God for differing perspectives. Peter Rollins is one such voice to whom we might listen.

R.E. Slater
May 10, 2013

Idolatry of God Trailer

Peter Rollins

Peter Rollins is a widely sought after writer, lecturer, storyteller, and public speaker. He is the founder of Ikon, a Belfast, Northern Ireland, faith group that has gained an international reputation for blending live music, visual imagery, soundscapes, theater, ritual, and reflection to create what they call 'transformance art'. He currently resides in Greenwich, Connecticut.

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 currently a research associate with the Irish School of Ecumenics in Trinity College, Dublin and is the author of the much talked about How (Not) to Speak of God. His most recent work is entitled The Orthodox Heretic and Other Impossible Tales. He was born in Belfast but currently resides in Greenwich, CT.

Commentary by Peter -

Peter's website -

Peter's blog -

Peter's youtube channel site -

The Idolatry of God

You can’t be satisfied. Life is difficult. You don’t know the secret.

Whether readers are devout believers or distant seekers, The Idolatry of God shows that we must lay down our certainties and honestly admit our doubts to identify with Jesus. Rollins purposely upsets fundamentalist certainty in order to open readers up to a more loving, active manifestation of Christ’s love.

In contrast to the usual understanding of the “Good News” as a message offering satisfaction and certainty, Rollins argues for a radical and shattering alternative. He explores how the Good News actually involves embracing the idea that we can’t be whole, that life is difficult, and that we are in the dark. Showing how God has traditionally been approached as a product that will render us complete, remove our suffering, and reveal the answers, he introduces an incendiary approach to faith that invites us to joyfully embrace our brokenness, resolutely face our unknowing, and courageously accept the difficulties of existence. Only then, he argues, can we truly rob death of its sting and enter into the fullness of life.

Book Review
By Greg Tenni
February 11, 2013

 In this book, Pete continues his program of incendiary theology - burning all the things that get in the way of having a bare bones, gut-level relationship with God. He talks about our quest for answers and victory over our circumstances as being idolatrous, as being the real object of our worship rather than God Himself.

He is not writing anything new, because people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Soren Kierkegaard have written in a similar vein many years before , but Pete brings his unique version of this message in a different style, using more contemporary images and stories.

As an example, have a look at this passage from Bonhoeffer (Ethics):

"Only by God's executing judgment upon Himself can there be peace between Him and the world and between man and man. But the secret of this judgment, of this passion and death, is the love of God for the world and for man.

What befell Christ befalls every man in Him. It is only as one who is sentenced by God that man can live before God. Only the crucified man is at peace with God. It is in the figure of the Crucified that man recognizes and discovers himself. To be taken up by God, to be executed on the cross and reconciled, that is the reality of manhood." [in chapter titled Ecco Homo - The Successful Man]

Peter Rollins puts it like this:

"This means that the crucifixion bears witness to a form of life that is free from our obsessive drive for the idol, a form of life in which our zombie nature is cured. For to lose the idol means to lose that drive which prevents us from fully embracing our life and taking pleasure in it. It means giving up our desire for ultimate satisfaction and then, in that act, discovering a deeper, more beautiful satisfaction, one that is not constantly deferred but that can be grasped here and now. Not one that promises to make us whole and remove our suffering, but one that promises joy in the midst of our brokenness and depth in the very embrace of our pain." [End of Chapter 4]

Obviously they are writing in very different styles and using very different perspectives, but essentially they are bringing the same message.

This is one of those books that should be read slowly, and every image savoured. Like Bonhoeffer's Ethics and his Christology, it should be re-read every year because new meaning and application can be found again and again.

Anyone looking for answers or new methods of creating "meaningful worship experiences" will be disappointed by this book. It doesn't give answers, but raises questions that we need to explore in our own lives and communities. And ultimately it's questions that keep us close to God, whilst answers drive us away from Him.

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