The Idolatry of God: Breaking Our Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction
This book was a little too deep for me
Peter Rollins is a writer and speaker from Ireland. Rollins went to school at QueenÃ¢ÂÂs University, Belfast, and he graduated with a BA in Scholastic Philosophy, and an MA in Political Theory and Social Criticism, PLUS he has a PhD dealing with Post-Structural theory.
So yeaÃ¢ÂÂ¦ heÃ¢ÂÂs kinda smart.
Peter RollinsÃ¢ÂÂ fans would say he is a key figure in Postmodern Christianity. He is best known for developing an existential interpretation of Christianity called pyrotheology.
Rollins says Ã¢ÂÂpyrotheologyÃ¢ÂÂ is an approach Ã¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÂ¦.that represents a fundamental questioning these ideals and signals an approach to faith that claim the central event of Christianity is nothing less than a type of white-hot fire that burns up all we believe about ourselves, our gods and our universe.Ã¢ÂÂ
In this book, Ã¢ÂÂThe Idolatry of God,Ã¢ÂÂ Peter RollinsÃ¢ÂÂ premise is to ask if you have made God an Ã¢ÂÂidolÃ¢ÂÂ in your life. And in typical philosopher response, he doesnÃ¢ÂÂt have an answer for you, he merely poses the question. But then, if youÃ¢ÂÂre reading Peter Rollins for answers, he might not be the author for you.
The parts I did like were where Rollins focused on how we should all admit our brokenness when we come before God in the relationship. As a quasi-Calvinist this resonates for me a lot as this is kin to Ã¢ÂÂtotal depravity.Ã¢ÂÂ While it is true that God can complete us and make us whole, that doesnÃ¢ÂÂt translate to being Ã¢ÂÂfixedÃ¢ÂÂ and Ã¢ÂÂperfectÃ¢ÂÂ and having Ã¢ÂÂall the answersÃ¢ÂÂ as Christians.
Christianity isnÃ¢ÂÂt about being perfect, itÃ¢ÂÂs about being broken and receiving grace.
Personally I am torn. I have loved Rollins every time I have seen him live, but when I go to pick up his books, not only do I end up reading (and re-reading) a lot of material I have heard before, but he also looses me in his lengthened vocabulary. Sadly by the time I finish a sentence, I have forgotten where I started. This isnÃ¢ÂÂt a slam against Rollins by any means, itÃ¢ÂÂs more of me admitting my own limitations.
Peter Rollins is just Ã¢ÂÂtoo deepÃ¢ÂÂ for me.
I honestly wanted to like this book, but I just could not get through it.
Thank you to Howard books for the review copy for a fair and honest review.
March 29, 2013
emerging critique of contemporary Christianity
Rollins thinks that Christianity today is making God an Idol. Ã¢ÂÂIn a basic sense, an Idol can be understood as that object which we believe is the answer to all our problems, that thing we believe can fill the fundamental gap we experience festering in the very depths of our human experience.Ã¢ÂÂ (26) Christianity is being sold to us as that which can fulfill our desire rather than that which transforms the very way we desire. (2)
Rather than the freedom to pursue what we think will satisfy us, the Gospels hint at a different freedom, Ã¢ÂÂthe freedom from the pursuit of what we believe will satisfy us.Ã¢ÂÂ (80) The Good News is the reality that total fulfillment and certainty are not possible. Joyfully embracing this insight takes away the oppressive sting. We are free from the drive that prevents us from embracing life and taking joy in it.
Rollins has written this book because he wanted to Ã¢ÂÂshow how the idea of God today preached within much of the church is nothing more than an impotent Idol. Simply stated, this boils down to the claim that God is treated as nothing more than a product, a product that promises certainty and satisfaction while delivering nothing but deception and dissatisfaction.Ã¢ÂÂ He argues Ã¢ÂÂthat the modern church engages in a host of material practices designed to act as a security blanket for life. It does this by offering preaching, prayers and songs that solidify our tribal identities and promise fulfillment.Ã¢ÂÂ He argues for Ã¢ÂÂcollectives.Ã¢ÂÂ Ã¢ÂÂIn other words, a church where the liturgical structure does not treat God as a product that would make us whole but as the mystery that enables us to live abundantly in the midst of life's difficulties.Ã¢ÂÂ He is Ã¢ÂÂinviting people to engage in a type of archaeological dig aimed at discovering if their beliefs are protecting them from the embrace of unknowing and suffering, and if so, what ought to be done about it.Ã¢ÂÂ (From A Conversation with Peter Rollins at the end of the book.)
Perhaps this reflects the message of Rollins' book: Ã¢ÂÂThere are countless churches that sell us a false promise of certainty and satisfaction... In contrast, there are a few insurrectionary groups that are seriously attempting to explore what it might mean to give up the idea of God as a product, dissident voices calling us to live fully in this world with an embrace of our unknowing.Ã¢ÂÂ (201)
Rollins is such a voice.
Rollins is a philosopher and writes like one. At times his writing, his use of words and concepts, were beyond my lay, non-philosophically trained brain.
Rollins is also associated with the emerging church movement and postmodern Christianity. Much of the anxiety and dissatisfaction he wrote about has not been a part of my Christian experience. I am of the boomer generation and I think Rollins is speaking to a much younger and certainly more agitated community of Christians.
I just could not identify with most of Rollins' work. I do believe God is the answer to all of my problems, in one way or another. I do believe that God fills whatever that is festering in the very depths of my being. And I do find certainty and satisfaction in God.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
January 1, 2013