Monday, February 05, 2007

HOW (NOT) TO SPEAK OF GOD

I just finished this book, which was loaned to me by a good friend out east. Wow. What a helpful book. That friend did his own review months ago here.

Peter Rollins, a pastor-prophet-sort in Northern Ireland, sets forth to discuss some pretty involved theological-philosophical points concerning the Emerging Church Movement. He helps construct a worldview that is neither liberal, nor conservative. He holds tension between several seemingly adverse points of view...and it is quite refreshing and challenging.

His topics of discussion contain the following:
• Concealment as an aspect of revelation
• God as hyper-present
• The affirmation of doubt
• The place of silence
• Religious desire as a part of faith
• Christian discourse as a/theological
• God-talk as iconic
• A recognition of journey and becoming
• Truth as a soteriological event
• Orthodoxy as a way of believing in the right way

They are all interesting conversations back and forth, but the one that caught me the most was the idea that a true person of faith must embrace a sort of a/theistic approach to our ideas about God. That is, we must be both theists and athiests. Here's what he says about it...

We ought to affirm our view of God while at the same time realizing that that view is inadequate. Hence we act both as theist and atheist. This a/theism is not some agnostic middle point hovering hesitantly between theism and atheism but, rather, actively embraces both out of a profound faith.

He goes on to explain that we must hold our views of God (and our communities' and traditions' views of God) in constant criticism and subject them to constant re-evaluation.

I think this is the strongest book on Emerging Church philosophy/theology to date. He has razor-sharp precision and has created a 75-page manifesto (Part 1 of the book) that has no spare words. The second part is helpful as well...a description of several of Ikon's (their faith community) services that correlate to the material. I was a bit skeptical at first and thought I'd only read Part 1, but ended up finding Part 2 really helpful as well. I recommend reading the whole book.

For those outside of the whole Emerging conversation, this is a great primer from a theological-philosophical standpoint...a great entry point. And for those who have contributed to and participated in different things Emergent, this is a great book to clarify some of the things "at the center" of this whole conversation.

4 comments:

Craig Bob said...

I gotta get that book in the queue

Kirsty said...

I need to try reading that one again. All I remember was some quote in it that was pretty cool, something along the lines of God being known as unknown. Thought that was a pretty cool concept.

Lora said...

well, based on my inability to comprehend most of the bullet points you listed as topics the author addresses, i'm thinking i'll wait for the movie.

Chris Kirk said...

I'm finishing that book up as well. I found it very interesting. It seems to give a meta-view of emerging theology without muddling too much in the muck of church politics, theological hot buttons, and power struggles that we often find ourselves in while talking about these things. I agree that it can be very helpful for engaging someone new to the conversation and might help them avoid some of the muck entirely.

I hope all is well!

chris kirk
www.progressivespirituality.com