Rollins, Insurrection, book club edition

Summer is over and so is summer book club. All summer long, on the weeks we were in town, I’ve been gathering with a group of guys to read through and discuss the ideas that Peter Rollins brings about in his newest book, Insurrection: To Believe is Human, To Doubt, Divine.

It’s a challenging read to say the least as Rollins will push what you thought you believed and cause you to examine your faith in Jesus in ways you likely haven’t before. In our book club we tended to go back and forth between, “This is amazing” and “What is he smoking?” – which is often the sign of a great read (or you’ve just picked up the third Twilight book). This was my second time reading through Insurrection, which was intentional because I never seem to grasp Rollins the first time I read it.

Rollins is a deep thinker who writes and quasi-pastors something that seems like a church. He’s from Ireland, but is now establishing a ministry on the east coast of USAmerica.

If you are into theology (and think it’s fun to think) this is a killer read, if not, it’s disturbing.

Here’s some boss quotes:

  • p.xi, “Each epoch in the life of the Church arises from the white-hot fires of a fundamental question…They…appear on the scene as a profound threat to the very essence of Christianity.
  • p.xiii,”Such moves [to return to an earlier, ‘better’ version of the church], however, fall short, not because they go back too far, but because they fail to go back far enough. The truly revolutionary move is not to chart a return to the early Church, but to the event that gave birth to the early church.”
  • p.xiv, “So what is the question that presents itself at this time in the history of Christianity? …The theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer succinctly articulated the answer shortly before his execution by the Nazis. In a compilation of his personal correspondence entitle Letters and Papers from Prison, he wrote of how the question for us today is whether or not religion is necessary in order to participate fully in the life testified to by Christ.”
  • p.3-4, “…when we lose the one we love more than life itself, we do not simply lose something we desire; we begin to lose the very ability to desire… In these times, we discover that our beloved is not simply the object of our desire, but the very source of it”
  • p.38, …Jesus as saying, ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple’… However, we must remember that, even more so than today, it was the family in Jesus’ time that dictated the scope and limitations of what one would become. The family unit was the place where one gained one’s identity… As the philosopher Slavoj Zizek points out: ‘On the Cross Christ shows us what this hatred of one’s Father looks like.'”
  • p. 92, “we must avoid the temptation to be fooled by the subjective story of the other. For what we must remember here is that the truth of a person is to be located, not in the story they tell about themselves, but in the drives and desires that manifest themselves in material practices.”
  • p.125, “God is not approached as some being who shows up on the scene occasionally to give gold teeth and a parking space, but rather is approached as that mysterious Otherness discovered in the very affirmation of the other. God is love. And thus God is present where we love.”
  • p.138, “So far we have introduced the Resurrection as a mode of living that embraces the lived experience of doubt, complexity, and unknowing, affirms life, and accepts our responsibility in transforming the world.”
  • p.152, “Donating money to the poor without asking why the poor exist in the first place, for instance, allows us to alleviate our guilt without fundamentally challenging the system that perpetuates poverty.”
  • p.164, “Paul knew that salvation did not rest in adopting some teaching.”
  • p.173, “The truth of faith is not then to be found in some new movement but in the antagonism that generates the birth of new movements.”



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