A Chat With Peter Rollins, Postmodern Barroom Philosopher

03/17/2008


Editor's note: A Belfast Protestant who talks about God in a bar is the closest we could come to a St. Patrick's Day feature, and we still missed it by a day.

Interview by Becky Garrison

Inhabiting a space on the outer rim of church experience, Ikon, a Belfast-based collective, offers anarchic experiments in "transformance art." Challenging the distinction between faith and "no-faith," Ikon employs a unique and provocative cocktail of music, visual imagery, theater, ritual and reflection, immersing participants in an experience of theodrama. Holy or heretical? Faithful or foolish? Boxers or briefs? The questions abound as we sit down to chat with Ikon founder and postmodern philosopher Peter Rollins.

Peter Rollinis

DOOR: In your first book, How (Not) To Speak of God (Paraclete Press, 2006), you say that we must seek not to speak of God but rather to be that place where God speaks.

PETER ROLLINS: Within my own Christian faith tradition, there has been an attempt to "speak of God," and by this I mean that there has been an attempt to understand the thoughts of God. However, I think that this pursuit is misguided. There is an ancient Jewish parable which illustrates this, in which two rabbis are arguing over a verse in the Torah, an argument that has gone on for over twenty years. In the parable God gets so annoyed by the endless discussion that he comes down and he tells them that he will reveal what it really means. However, right at this moment they respond by saying, "What right do you have to tell us what it means? You gave us the words, now leave us in peace to wrestle with them."

DOOR: Wanna ‘rassle?

ROLLINS: In this parable the rabbis do not want a God’s-eye view because, even if that were possible, that is not the point of faith. Faith seeks to transform reality rather than merely describe it. The parable works from the tradition which states that one must wrestle with the text in every context, rethinking it and learning afresh from it like a piece of art rather than treating it like a textbook to be mastered.

DOOR: Sure you don't wanna ‘rassle?

How (Not) To Speak of God

ROLLINS: The desire to get a God’s-eye view of the world is reflected throughout history in theology, mythology and philosophy. In much of the Western intellectual tradition there’s a strong desire to name and capture God in conceptual form. I am trying to explore the ancient idea that God transcends all names. We can’t reduce God to a theological idea without making an idol out of words. Instead of thinking of God as a noun it is perhaps more useful to think of God as a verb. For God is known through action. To say we need to be the place where God speaks means that we need to be the place where God moves through the world. We have to endeavor to be that place where we embody the life of God instead of merely talking about God.

DOOR: Elaborate on this phrase, please: “Such fissures of God as depicted in the Old and New Testaments help to prevent us from forming an idolatrous God, ensuring that none of us can legitimately understand God as God really is.”

ROLLINS: What I’m trying to get at there is that God, as presented in the Bible, escapes our attempts at capturing him in conceptual form. This happens in two major ways. Firstly, we cannot grasp God, not because there is a lack of names, but because there is such a surplus of them. These different ideas and names of God clash at various times—for instance, when God is named a warrior and then a peacemaker, or one who is unchanging and one who rethinks situations. The fact that there are so many ways of naming and describing God is a way of saying that no name or group of names can grasp God.

DOOR: We can sing all the words to Monty Python’s “The Philosopher’s Drinking Song.” Wanna hear us?

ROLLINS: ——

DOOR: Never mind. Do continue.

ROLLINS: Secondly, there are those moments within the Bible when God appears in a way that refuses any name whatsoever. Both of these strategies seem to fight against the desire that many have to place God into words as witnessed in the Kabbalah tradition where there are lots of names for God such as the Monogrammata (the one-letter names of God), the Diagrammata (the two-letter names of God) the Tetragrammaton (the four-letter name of God), the Octagrammaton (an eight-letter name of God) and the Decagrammaton (a ten-letter name of God) as well as the twelve-, fourteen-, twenty-two-, thirty-three-, forty-two- and two-hundred-and-sixteen-letter names of God. All of which pale into insignificance when compared to the massive three-hundred-and-four-thousand-eight-hundred-and-five-letter name.

DOOR: Some would say this name game sounds un-Orthodox.

ROLLINS: Well, that all depends on where you stand and how you define orthodoxy. The word today has taken on a rather unhelpful Enlightenment-influenced definition as “correct belief”—the ability to affirm a certain creedal formation. However, in the more ancient tradition the doxa of orthodoxy does not refer to belief but rather to praise. We see this in the word "doxology" which doesn’t mean belief, but rather worship. So orthodoxy actually means correct praise not correct belief. In that kind of a way, it becomes less about the affirmation of a theological approach—important as theology is—but a way of being like Jesus. We have to rediscover this idea that orthodoxy isn’t belief -oriented but praxis-oriented. In this way the approach I outline isn’t un-orthodox if it helps to bring people back to wonder and praise. Whether it does or not is of course open to question.

DOOR: Our brains hurt.

ROLLINS: ——

DOOR: Okay, what then is the task of orthodoxy?

ROLLINS: The answer to that is simple, and yet infinitely complex, for to be orthodox is to bring praise to God through one’s life. While people these days are asking the question, “Is Christianity true?,” the more fundamental question must be, “What does Christ mean when he uses the word truth?” The reason I am asking that question is that when Jesus talks about the truth, He talk about life. The truth is what brings life. My axiom for today is that Christianity at its core doesn’t explain life but it brings life. We must thus ask whether our beliefs and actions bring life, healing and love to the people in the world.

DOOR: (Sings) All you need is love ...

ROLLINS: To bring love into the world is to know God, for God is love. This is not the knowledge of creeds and theology but the knowledge of a transforming relationship with the source of all love. Truth in Christianity is thus different from the way we understand truth in the world, for the truth of Christianity is life, not description. This is why I talk about heretical orthodoxy, i.e., someone who does not understand God yet who changes the world in love.

DOOR: Some would say this sounds more fishy than faithful. What then does it mean to be a Christian?

ROLLINS: It means entering into a journey of becoming one. It does not mean accepting a world view but rather entering into a healing journey of life. To be a Christian also means that one is committed to exploring this life through the Judeo-Christian tradition, wrestling with it, learning from it and being transformed by it. Being a Christian means learning how to be the opening of life into the world.

DOOR: Why do you call Jesus a subversive prophet who signaled the end to all religious movements?

ROLLINS: One of the interesting things about Christianity is that Christ both founded a religion and yet signaled the end of all religions. Jesus said there will come a time when we worship in spirit and in truth rather than on one mountain or another. The parable of the mustard seed grasps this. It speaks of a seed becoming a tree that will provide a nest of birds. The traditional interpretation is that this tiny movement will become an institution that will house people. But then there is another interpretation which says that the birds of the air are symbols of evil. In this reading, the movement will grow into an institution that will house that which stands opposed to God. What if neither interpretation is true but rather they both are? In Christianity, we need both the priest and the prophet. If religion loses the prophet, it can become prideful and arrogant. If it loses the priest, then you end up with nothing but silence. Christ can thus be seen as founding an irreligious religion, a religion that critiques the idea of religion, a religion without religion. This is one way of understanding deconstruction.

DOOR: So how do you define church in the 21st century?

ROLLINS: That’s a tough one.

DOOR: We stumped the philosopher. You owe us a Guinness.

ROLLINS: ——

DOOR: Sorry bud. Do continue.

ROLLINS: I guess I will say this. In the West I think we will continue to rediscover the wealth of the mystical tradition and negative theology. These are the wells that we should drink from and which may bring new life to the church. I really hope we rediscover the place of parable, of art, of not trying to give people doctrinal answers but rather to evoke questions. In Ikon we are exploring the idea of transformative art, an art form which evokes transformation in the participant.

Ikon

DOOR: Mmmm, some would say this sounds a bit Bishop-Spong-like...

ROLLINS: My analogy for this is you imagine going into an art museum. If we imagine that the piece of art is the Bible, so many of us have been so obsessed with getting the "correct" interpretation, but the mystical interpretation is how you interact with the painting. You can’t interpret the painting any way you want. There are boundaries, but within those boundaries, there’s real freedom to interpret this work of art. The point is not to get the right interpretation but to explore how there are so many ways of interacting with it.

DOOR: Getting a bit personal here. Describe your faith journey growing up in Belfast.

ROLLINS: My life is an open book that anyone can read, though I don’t know how interesting it is.

DOOR: Well, in the interests of not bringing the interview to a dead stop ...

ROLLINS: I started my faith journey at age of 17 when I was converted through street evangelism.

DOOR: Praise the Lord! Preach it, brother.

ROLLINS: That’s when it all began. I started working for the church and became a church planter and evangelist with the Christian Fellowship Church. Then I started getting interested in philosophy to prove what I already knew but started to be very profoundly challenged by it. When it came to doing a Masters degree, I gave up the youth work and continued to work with the church. I started Ikon when I began my PhD, so I could work out my theories in practice.

DOOR: Moving on to that whole putting-theory-into-practice thingie, how do Ikon’s services put into practice your belief that the truth in Christianity is not described but experiential?

ROLLINS: In a sense I would not even want to say that the truth of Christianity is experiential in so much as the truth of Christianity is life and life is not experienced. Rather life is what allows us to experience. Just as one does not see sight but it is sight that enables one to see. In other words I don’t think we experience the truth of Christianity but the truth of Christianity is hinted at in the renewed way we experience everything else. In this way the truth of faith is not one thing among other things but rather is that which brings us into new relationship with all things. The way we explore this within Ikon is by attempting to create a gathering in which Christianity is not fundamentally about an understanding or experience but rather a way of being and interacting in the world.

DOOR: Why do you have your services in a bar?

ROLLINS: Whenever Ikon started meeting in bar, it was the least important place. I liked this bar and I asked the bartender if I could do it. As time went on, I almost reversed completely. You hear talk about different types of space, intimate space between a couple, personal space, social space, and public space. Church often feels like intimate space between you and God. So we’re exploring doing this in social space where secular and social begin to get blurred. We're tying to inhabit that social space and live out our fractured lives in public. I don’t know many groups who are experimenting with this.

DOOR: Most of the US religious leaders who act out in public tend to get arrested.

DOOR: When we’re having services in a bar, you get people smoking blow, heckling, things like that. It’s really scary. But it also created this wonderful dynamic. Some people who could never go near a church find they can go into this bar and explore their faith. After a year or two of going to Ikon, they could go to a church again. Our most committed regulars are workers at the bar. If we ever have elders at Ikon they’ll be bar staff. Our bartender is in prison at the moment, but he could put the fear of God in anybody that heckled us. At first he never engaged with us, he was suspicious of who we were. One day we brought some Catholic workers in and at that moment his attitude changed. There was a moment when we had a member of Ikon go to light a cigarette. He stopped and offered to light her cigarette. That was a real breakthrough moment when he crossed over and he joined us.

DOOR: Wanna drink? We’re buying.

(Note: portions of this interview appear in,

Rising from the Ashes: Rethinking Church, Seabury Books, 2007)

Words From Peter Rollins

"God spoke to me, repeating four simple words: 'I do not exist.'"
      — Introduction to Ikon’s service titled “The God Delusion” (Greenbelt 2007)

"What if one of the core elements of a radical Christianity lay in a demand that we betray it, while the ultimate act of affirming God required the forsaking of God? And what if fidelity to the Judeo-Christian scriptures demanded their renunciation?
In short, what if the only way of finding faith involved betraying it with a kiss?
By employing the insights of apophatic theology and deconstructive theory this book seeks to explore the subversive and clandestine nature of a Christianity that dwells within religious institutions while simultaneously undermining them.
'The Fidelity of Betrayal' explores the Promethean nature of a faith which attempts to live up to the name bestowed upon it by the divine: Israel, one who wrestles with God."
      — from "The Fidelity of Betrayal: Towards a Church Beyond Belief"

"We must avoid confusion between remaining silent and saying nothing. For while the former is passive the latter is active. By saying nothing we endeavour to speak of that which manifests in our world as a no-thing, as an absolute mystery which infuses our world with light and life. To undergo and then speak of that which is not a thing but which transforms our relationship with all things ... this is a sacred and subversive vocation. Here you will find my own fragile, failing attempts to be a mouthpiece for that transformative silence."
      — www.peterrollins.net


Comments(51)

BJ | 07:11 am on 3/18/2008

Religion, rasslin, and racin. Yee Haw.

Greg | 11:18 am on 3/18/2008

Brilliant...

ron | 12:34 pm on 3/18/2008

I really like how this guy thinks

Anonymous | 04:52 am on 3/21/2008

I really like the way this guy looks...sort of "Jesus-like" in a hunky sort-of-way!

that calvinist doug | 12:57 pm on 3/18/2008

One moment I'm reading this and thinking "this guy's right"; the next moment I'm thinking "this guy's a nutball"; the next moment I'm thinking "what the hell did he just say?" I'm sure Rollins would be pleased. Befuddlement, perplexity, stirring the pot--where's Tom Wright when you need him?

buda | 01:14 pm on 3/18/2008

This sounds much like the emergent church to me, only with really, really big words. Along with phrasing ideas, that aren't that uncommon, in the most complex, convoluted way possible. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Dude is working on a philosophy PHD after all.

that calvinist doug | 02:18 pm on 3/18/2008

Buda, you're right. If you can't convince'em with your facts, opinions, or personal charisma, then dazzle'em with bullshit.

Anonymous | 02:35 pm on 3/18/2008

Exactly.
I remember when I was a young flat-belly with long hair reading my bible, talking with other believers, discovering thoughts and ideas that blew my mind. I couldn't wait to tell people all about this new revelation God had for us. The joke was that most of it was either just new to me, just flat out wrong or people had pretty much "wrestled" with their faith already arriving at enough conclusions to live with and had moved on to more pressing problems like babies and mortgages. Took me a few years to work it out myself but I still miss that uncynical idealism sometimes.

buda | 02:44 pm on 3/18/2008

That last one was me, not anonymous. Door, a real forum please?

Mark | 03:48 pm on 3/18/2008

'Question authority' seems to be the Battel cry of this post-modern thinking...when so many questions are being asked, is anyone really looking for an answer or just wanting to argue (or continue in 'conversation' or 'dialogue')? Pilate asked Jesus, "What is Truth?",NIV John 18:38. No response other than what Jesus said previously when Pilate says,"You are a king, then!" and Jesus answers,"You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on this side of truth listens to me.",NIV John 18:37.
Jesus also says,"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.",NIV John 14:6
So if you keep on reading through the rest of this Gospel you will discover that simplisity of the christian life and the power we recieve through the Holy Spirit is our strength. Live each day in dependence on Gods' strength and there will be fewer questions as you do the work of Jesus as He has called us to do in this present time.
It seems to me we need less talk and more action!

buda | 04:38 pm on 3/18/2008

Sure, the gospel can be simplified to an extent. Following Jesus, acting out everything he said, in your own life, in every situation is very complex. Theology is easy and fun. It is in applying His words to our every day life that requires work. When you say "live each day in dependance on God's strength... as you do the work of Jesus..." That sounds like "just trust God and everything will be ok". Well, It's not gonna be ok if YOU don't make it ok. God lets us reap what we sow. We suffer the consequence of our decisions. That is what I am asking questions about. How then shall we live... The deeper I go the more questions I have sir.

Mark | 11:26 am on 3/19/2008

Thank you for your resectful responce; language is limited but the Holy Spirit will give us understanding and discernment. Dependence on God's strength is just that, God's strength not my own; when we truly seek to do God's will in the spirit of following Jesus' call for our lives we will be able to know if it is God's will or just our own selfish desires. And in our imperfect earthly state of being we will make mistakes but God in His love and mercy will bring the Truth to our hearts and mind so we can see clearly if what we are doing is of God or of ourselves.
Jesus prayed,"...My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be sanctified.
"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me." NIV John 17:15-21
This is just part of the prayer Jesus prayed before he gave his life for our sins by his death on the cross; there is a wealth of knowledge and insight in his prayer for himself, his disciples and those of us who believe in Jesus through their message. There will always be questions about how we should live so we should continue to ask the Holy Spirit for direction and discernment, for the more we seek God in Truth and love the more God will reveal Himself and His will to each one of us. Not 'trust God and everything will be OK', but get to know God by reading His word, by opening your heart and mind to the power of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus has sent to be his power working in us.
In the prayer Jesus was praying he says,'...Now this is Eternal Life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.' Please read on you will be blessed.

buda | 04:13 pm on 3/19/2008

I understand were you are coming from, mark, but honestly, your post illustrates my point. Lots and lots of scripture and thats great but I have spent a near lifetime trying to work those scriptures out. That is where volumes have and will continue to be written. What do those scriptures even mean? (Rhetorical question please)
E.g. - Sounds like it says one thing but it isn't my experience so it must mean something else.

God does not have a specific "destiny" for us. He lets us choose. Who we marry, what kind of dog to get, etc... Sure, plans for our good and not our harm, but not a life story set up for us and if we just press in hard enough we can achieve it. Don't flame me with Morphius references, but, every decision you (and others with influence) made before today determined your situation today. Not much of a calvinist am I? Many, many times for most people, when we ask God what to do he is silent. I think a lot of christians believe God says do this or that but mostly it just aint so. It comforts us to think that God is specifically directing our path, however, I think He wants you to make a decision, using wisdom, counsel and all the resources available to make a good choice and just choose something. Living with the consequence good or bad. Living out consequences with grace and humility to learn from our mistakes and do better next time.

Process Deist | 06:17 pm on 3/19/2008

I would like to follow up a bit if I might.
Mark...It is impossible for us to take writings from two thousand years ago and apply them to us today. You and I have both tried to explain an old joke to a new acquaintance. They did not get the joke. We finished by saying,"I guess you just had to be there."
This is much the same problem we face with trying to understand writings from another culture.
I think we have mangled the message and thoughts of all new testament writers. And they in turn had managed to mangle the message and thoughts of oral history, which had managed to mangle the message and thoughts of the eye wittness.
Stop trying to relive the past. The Kingdom of God is here and now. We live and work and have our being, right now, in the Kingdom of God.
Trying to apply writings from a past culture to our culture today is like trying to put flesh on a pile of dinosaur bones.

buda | 09:27 pm on 3/19/2008

I agree to an extent, Deist, however, I would say that Jesus' teachings taken in their basic form ( I mean without adding a bunch of "new" revelation) are worth pursuing. Jesus taught some revolutionary stuff and I love what a freakin rebel he was. I think he would have been at home here @ the Door. Even if you take the principles Jesus taught and compared it to what the Buddha taught and just tried to follow the things they agreed on, it would take a lifetime. They actually agree on quite a lot.

Some of our human dilemma is the same throughout history. Some of the principles that applied then apply now. That is a great point that that the Kingdom of God is here and now. Man, that is so true.

that calvinist doug | 08:33 am on 3/20/2008

Buda, okay, you knew I kinda had to reply to this! Many people have a misunderstanding of the Calvinistic idea of God's sovereignty. We don't believe that we're robots, only unconsciously fulfilling God's script for our lives. We do believe in free will. The difference between us and Arminians is that we believe we are only free to do what we want to do; and outside the regenerating life given us by Christ, we don't WANT to do God's will. Sure, there's still common grace and even apart from Christ people can make "good" decisions. But in the final "saving" knowledge of God, we don't want what the bible presents: servanthood, sacrifice, dying to self, admitting we're sinners and begging for mercy. That's where the "U" in TULIP comes in-unconditional election. Forgive the lecture.

buda | 11:39 am on 3/20/2008

No apologies needed, I'm always up for a good lecture.

I still trip over the word "scripted". Unconscious or conscious, if we are fulfilling a preordained script, are we not still robots? I could never get over the idea that only those God selects for salvation (the elect) are granted the faith to "choose" Jesus. The idea that we have no riotousness in ourselves and since choosing Jesus is an act of riotousness we can't do it. God does it for us, or rather He does it for the elect and only the elect. I had a pastor tell me that it was really both at the same time during the moment when turning to Jesus. That seemed to work for him. I don;t really sweat it like I did when I was younger. I think it might be like the trinity. We say we understand it but we really don't.

that calvinist doug | 01:27 pm on 3/20/2008

One clarification: I said I DON'T believe we just live out a pre-ordained script. I do believe that we make free choices. It's just that we, in our fallen sin nature, don't desire to choose God as he presents himself in the bible. If I maintained (which Arminians do) that it's up to us to "make the first move" toward God, I just can't see how that isn't saying that I saved myself due to something I did, as opposed to God saving me. That's why I've never liked the term someone "found" Jesus. I don't think you "find" someone you're not looking for. I believe he reached down and plucked us out. That doesn't make him unfair, it makes him merciful. If a governor pardons a murderer, but lets another one go to the chair, the governor is still giving the latter what he deserves. The one pardoned can only be grateful and worship. But I like the way NT Wright says that we are saved "for" something, and I DO believe we are to be his witnesses and workers on this earth, rather than thinking that once we're "in" with God, the goal of our salvation is achieved.

buda | 03:13 pm on 3/20/2008

Yes, I see the clarification now. sorry.

As I understand the Arminians, We don't make the first move toward God, He made the first move to us through sending Jesus.

Having said all that and appreciating your well reasoned discussion, I'm afraid I can't see it any other way right now. I like to revisit the issue occasionally to see if I have changed my mind.

I do agree with NT Wrght's words. Very good last sentence.

that calvinist doug | 03:27 pm on 3/20/2008

I see you're not ready to drink the kool-aid...I'll keep praying for your obviously damned soul (kidding).

buda | 04:37 pm on 3/20/2008

Thanks, I'll need it.

pk | 09:36 pm on 4/06/2008

Wow, guys, nice thread. This is when I love the Door.

Faithkid | 05:26 am on 11/24/2010

Bright boy Mark.You have understood what Peter is saying.Less Talk.More action.

Process Deist | 08:08 pm on 3/18/2008

“ROLLINS: One of the interesting things about Christianity is that Christ both founded a religion and yet signaled the end of all religions. ........
Christ can thus be seen as founding an irreligious religion, a religion that critiques the idea of religion, a religion without religion.”
I think that Jesus and his Apostle Paul would both be surprised to find that they are often given credit for founding the religion to end all religions.
I believe that they were both devout Jews and probably Pharisees. After their deaths and the total collapse of Temple Judaism a vacuum existed.
A proliferation of independent Jesus Movements were spawned over the next few hundred years and were somewhat consolidated under Constantine. Jesus would probably find it difficult to recognize his own words after all these revisions.
I think that it would be impossible to end religion and it would be folly to think that humans can be forced to adhere to only one religion.
Just my random thoughts. They are worth what I carged you for them.

Ex Pharisee | 08:58 pm on 3/18/2008

I might have to re-read that a few hundred times. Didn't A.W. Tozer say something about stuff like this making good seminary students but lousy witnesses? Actually, I think he was talking about predestination - sorry, Doug, no offense, I just think it might apply here.

that calvinist doug | 08:22 am on 3/19/2008

God made you say that.

mountainguy | 09:36 pm on 3/18/2008

really nice...

Anonymous | 08:01 am on 3/19/2008

First, I attempted to analyze and understand this gentleman's confused and confusing postmodern claptrap. (Which is the more nonsensical: The Door's Pythonesque ejaculations in the interview or his free-for-all approach to theological meaning?) Then I had one of those forehead-slapping moments and realized how very Enlightenment that was of me. I was assuming that there is an objective meaning to his words, and that it was my task to decipher them. Now I realize that the point is simply whatever meaning I come away with.

As I see it, he is encouraging me to continue to seek to conceptualize God accurately and to apply the acquired tools of analytic philosophy to that task. The church should be very much concerned about orthodoxy in the sense that assumes the correspondence theory of truth: one's theological assertions are true just in case they accurately describe God as he is.

Right?

that calvinist doug | 08:31 am on 3/19/2008

what the hell did you just say? ya'll are makin' my head hurt what with all your fancified book learnin' talk.

Seriously, can't a simple man believe in Jesus, love God with all his heart, mind, soul and strength, study the word he has given us, do all this with his power (as ours is weakness) and get along in this world with the power of the Spirit?

I think it's well and good to think deeply about your faith, but as an earlier post said, if the point of our thinking is to do more thinking (as opposed to coming up with the answer God intends for us) I think we may have lost the path. I've said before on this site (and this comes from a reformed tradition; not known for it's lack of ruminating!) I don't believe God intends for us to wallow around in ignorance; what kind of God is that?!

Beloved Spear | 09:03 am on 3/19/2008

I am outraged! Again, with the constructive, thought-provoking, and spiritually charged articles. What's going on here? I thought the Door was all about cynical deconstruction of everything.

I also can't stand y'all's insistence on printing interviews with smarty-pants people. I want stuff I can understand real easy, not complex stories and thoughts that force me to think. Jesus never did anything like that.

I demand a refund.

SRebbe | 09:49 am on 3/19/2008

I'm taking some of these points with me to Nicaragua. Good stuff. Reminds me of physics.

G-d watching physicists disassemble atoms:
"You wanna take these bits apart and see what holds it all together? Ok... I can make it smaller. Nope, you're not there yet. Nope. Nnnnope. Not quite yet. Try again. Nope. Nope.
smiling
Nope. Not even close. Do that one again. Nope. Uh uh. No. Awwwww, you almost had that one. Psyche! Not even close...

buda | 03:47 pm on 3/19/2008

SRebbe, At the risk of being to personal in this most impersonal of "forums", whatcha doing in Nicaragua? I was there a while back. Don't hold it against me , but I was in YWAM for a few years before I got "saved".(no offense if your going with YWAM) Check out Blue Fields if you can and take your baseball glove if you plan on mingling with the street kids. They love baseball more than soccer. Omatepe is cool to, not much in the way of lodgings and amenities but the smoking volcano is something to see.

SRebbe | 03:04 pm on 3/21/2008

Buda:
Very few questions I take as personal. I'm not IN Nicaragua. Living in Virginia at the present, actually. My sister is asking/bribing to do a missions trip with her this summer for AIM. She's been doing these trips for years and has only had one trip from hell so far with a spoiled/'white'/suburban group where the natives told her that they 'get saved' each time a group comes down so the kids don't feel bad. Surprise! I always feel a bit jaded regarding missions trips because G-d don't just work in "Mexico" or the poorest nations. 'Poor' is in regard to poor in spirit, not just poor financially. And why do we keep having to leave the country when we have thriving spiritual poverty here, but just not the eyes to see it ourselves?

She also said that she wasn't getting a "worship leader." Boo hoo. No hunky 20-something [guy] with a guitar strapped on his back. Worship is not just singing songs to ourselves. But I stray... Worship is a life. And that is what I hope to impart to the kiddies, should I go, which I am praying fervently about. More often, I say what I need to, not what 'they' want to hear. And it can get me into trouble.

buda | 05:20 pm on 3/21/2008

Worship is a life... that is a beautiful thought. So true, may i use that?

I have really mixed emotions about my YWAM days. I wouldn't trade some parts for the world. I got to see and taste and touch so many interesting experiences. I got to eat nile perch on the freakin nile river. I got to hang out with Phil Keaggy, freakin played guitar with him. (when I was a hunky 20-something with a guitar strapped to my back)

Did I do anything productive for the kingdom? ummm no, not really, and I took it real serious most of the five years I was there too. I can recall a couple times that maybe I did some "good" for the community I was trying to help, but most of those were accidents. There were some great things and some not so great things. Mostly it's good for those who go. Changes their world view into something less selfish and more generous. Makes us less Ameri-centric hopefully and those are really good things. AIM is a great organization, I hope you go and have a good time. Keep getting into trouble.

SRebbe | 11:09 am on 3/24/2008

Permission granted. And I believe the more people come back changed, the better. Occasional little culture shock is good for the soul.

Anonymous | 01:24 pm on 3/19/2008

"A Belfast Protestant who talks about God in a bar is the closest we could come to a St. Patrick's Day feature, and we still missed it by a day."

You missed it by a lot more than a day.

Kealapono | 08:52 pm on 3/19/2008

and the rabbis continue to argue....

Peter - from a town near that bar in Belfast | 02:47 pm on 3/24/2008

".....What if neither interpretation is true but rather they both are? In Christianity, we need both the priest and the prophet. If religion loses the prophet, it can become prideful and arrogant. If it loses the priest, then you end up with nothing but silence. Christ can thus be seen as founding an irreligious religion, a religion that critiques the idea of religion, a religion without religion. This is one way of understanding deconstruction."

Who the h*** cares?

RedeemedAmadeus | 10:21 am on 3/26/2008

Hello, my fellow journeymen. I'am new to this form of responding to different theological insights but I find these comments interesting not necessarily life changing. But after reading the interview with Rollins, I was intrigued with his axiom that Christ is about bringing life. Unfortunately, I don't agree with his definition of orothdoxy because without a right belief one could believe that since God is love, I could fornicate with any woman other than my wife, and justify that behavior as long as I felt that I needed to express my love in giving of my self to another. As a matter of fact, when I was in high school and not a Christian, I seduced my Christian girlfriend by stating that since God is love and we love each other, how could it be wrong, since God is all about love. Thus it is extremely important to know what Truth is and to practice it and then demonstrate God's life to those who are dead in their sins and thus glorify God in our lives. Does this seem old fashion.

buda | 03:50 pm on 3/26/2008

Welcome, Amadeus, I generally haven't found any comments here "life changing" either. For that I would recommend the Shins' "Oh, Inverted World", the Beatles' "Revolver", or Wilco's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot". I am sure you'll have much better luck with one or all of those. All available at your local independent music store no less.

Although, if you are inescapably drawn to God despite not being particularly fond of things like"The Church" or "Religion", or rules, and you love to laugh with and at like minded people, this might be the place for you.

sir j slats | 07:27 pm on 5/13/2008

I'm a lumber jack and I'm OK.....

JBeauford | 11:27 pm on 10/21/2009

This guy has nothing to offer. I can ask my own questions. I don't need anyone to give me permission to do that! I don't think he even believes the gospel, the reality of the resurrection or the power of the Holy Spirit. Don't get stuck in nowhereland. Run the other direction, as fast as possible. And pray for Peter. It's funny his name is Peter. He's not very "rock"-ish.

Thomas | 01:54 am on 3/30/2010

This is an interesting discussion. I don't agree with JBeauford but I do think that this philosophical discussion, the idea of studying theology and spending so much time theorizing and experimenting with ideas is foolishness and a waste of time. It doesn't advance the Kingdom of Heaven. We need to believe the truth of the gospel as well as the word of God. Despite what people think, it's the only truth. Jesus said "I am the way the truth and the life." And because no one comes to the father except through Him, we need to focus everything on knowing him and loving him. He's so worthy! The truth of the word of God is totally relevant and applicable in every day life. Jesus did say though, that these things would be hidden from some...if it's hidden from you, you probably need to just ask the Lord to reveal it to you, and he will do it!

P.S. for all of you who dislike the idea of the church or aren't fond of the church...I hope you realize that you're saying you dislike the bride of Christ. The very joy for which Jesus died. The hope of the world. God's chosen method and conduit of change in the world. We must return to the local church being the church and serving the communities we live in! I encourage all of you to get involved in a bible believing local church that practices the gifts of the holy spirit and sees real power and change everyday. This is what will change the world - not philosophy.

coupon | 06:28 am on 8/18/2010

I really think that Peter Rollins is a wise person and also with a great spiritual health and in-depth wisdom. We must take note that these days all we can see is just blabbering and chattering of people who claim them to be the prophets of the postmodern era where they are actually a bunch of cheats trying to obtain money from the fools (us) of this era. At least Peter Rollins has some wisdom of what God is!

used auto parts | 04:06 pm on 12/08/2010

It is quite interesting to go through this Peter Rollins interview. I've enjoyed reading his way of philosophic argument though not without any doubt. However, it is a resourceful discussion. Thanks.

meet single | 09:19 am on 2/18/2011

I think it is an eye opener to those blind followers who follow leaders but not god. And these so called charismatic geeks are hell bent to rob those gullible believers of their hard earned money. It is a nice post.

web designer houston | 02:57 am on 2/19/2011

I am extremely glad to listen to his philosophy. I appreciate Peter Rollins way of distinguishing between passive and active believers. How interesting it is that by saying nothing, you are active. It is a nice read.

William | 07:13 am on 3/15/2011

It might help to put some ancient Biblical perspective to this one - 'wisdom is seen in her children'.

The church that Pete left (not my church, but know it very well) is busy seeing many people come to a genuine and lasting faith in Jesus. While Pete meets with a tiny group of 'searchers'. The kind of 'dogmatic' preachers that postmoderns like Pete dismiss are (quite like Jesus and Paul) busy preaching the gospel and seeing lives changed, rather than seeking to discuss, posture and debate. Ultimately, postmodernism - like modernism - will crumble and be exposed for offering little to society. It's just sad that Christians are being caught up in the circus. Paul decided to put away this kind of dialogue, preferring to preach of a crucified Saviour. He was a smart man, but I'm guessing would laugh in the face of postmodernism as simply another fad and go right on preaching. Ok - rant over. I'm going out to talk to someone about Jesus. Much more beneficial.

junkyard | 02:05 pm on 3/28/2011

It is interesting to listen to pete for his side. However, every one seems right in his own sight. Every thing needs to be testified with fire of truth.

mortgages for contractors | 12:59 am on 4/23/2011

"We must avoid confusion between remaining silent and saying nothing. For while the former is passive the latter is active. By saying nothing we endeavour to speak of that which manifests in our world as a no-thing, as an absolute mystery which infuses our world with light and life. To undergo and then speak of that which is not a thing but which transforms our relationship with all things ... this is a sacred and subversive vocation. Here you will find my own fragile, failing attempts to be a mouthpiece for that transformative silence."

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