Good writing, with a strong point and with life oozing out.

How (Not) To Speak of God

September 9, 2006


Wow. This thing is good. Really good. Pete Rollins is that rare blend of scholar (undergrad/grad work in philosophy, PhD. In postmodern theory) and artitstic practitioner (even his philosophy is poetic) who, in the quick turn of a phrase, can stand a convention on its head and do the same thing to his reader. To read him is to reconsider many ideas which seem staid and familiar. It is like walking down a familiar path, but with new glasses to see the wonders all around you. He is always innovative without being trite, progressive without being clever.

For many of us who have been pursuing a theology that is neither evangelical nor liberal (but contains the best of both), an experience of Kingdom which is neither completely realized nor only future (but is very happy to live in the middle), a kind of faith that is neither dogmatic nor weak (but is a little of both), and an ecclesiology that warmly welcomes the unchurched and dechurched but strongly implicates the habitually religious, Rollins puts forth the very best vision I’ve seen. At the same time, his treatment seems a little too self-consciously ‘emergent’ to be truly so, but I’m sure his publisher is intent on getting these philosophical and methodological underpinnings out to the hungry masses. Fair enough.

As the title suggests, this is an effort to both deconstruct and reconstruct the ruling paradigms. Of course, Rollins’ reconstruction is built on a foundation of epistemological uncertainty. He articulates this shaky middle ground in which we all abide—we know a fair bit (since God works hard to reveal himself), but we also know that we don’t know much. Rollins knows that what we know is not, in the end, all that much. But it is enough, by God, to pursue a life of real faith. And that is what it is. It might seem that such doubt would lead to confusion and agnosticism, but in the end, Rollins is calling us to a life of deep love and real trust, both of God and one another.

The first half of the book provides some philosophizing about these issues, which leads to some wonderful application in the second half. The outworking of these big ideas comes in a dozen examples of homegrown liturgy from Ikon, a community that meets in a basement pub in Belfast. With my newly curtailed time for reading, I intended to pore over the first part of the book and skim through the second, but the stuff was so compelling that I had to linger longer. Even better than I remembered.

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3 Responses to “How (Not) To Speak of God”

  1. Wanna do some book-swapping? I could send you some of mine and you could send me this one?

  2. Stavlund says:

    Hi Mike and Stacy,
    Sending you love from MN.
    The shirts are a hit!
    You are in our prayers, and so much love!
    Pete, Neva and the boys

  3. Rudy Carrera says:

    This is a wonderful suggestion. I pray for your family’s loss, but you’ve given me a bit of joy with this post. Know that you have lots of folks praying for you these days (and from now on).

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