Churches for A/theists
Peter Rollins is a writer and thinker who is more and more in demand these days. I think his brand of “a/theism” has important things to say to the status quo Christianity in our time. In his new book Insurrection, Rollins gives us this insightful explanation of “a/theism” and what he’s up to with it:
“A/theism aims to rupture, not the actual beliefs of a person, but the way those beliefs function as a crutch to prevent the individual from actively participating in the difficult challenge of embracing the world. In short, this critique is not concerned with the content of our mind but is aimed directly at our involvement with a game that many of us do not believe in yet continue to support by our participation.” (p.72)
Rollins goes on to discuss how “the radical Christian” can “participate in the power of the Crucifixion” through structures, practices, and communities that “ritualize the full range of human emotions, bringing radical doubt, ambiguity, doubt, mystery, and complexity into the very heart of the liturgical structure itself.” (p.73)
It’s a pretty, well, radical vision for a new kind of faith community. However, Rollins cautions against being too optimistic that this kind of community would even “work,” because even if the new structure succeeds in “bringing radical doubt” to the center, there will still be individuals in the community who aren’t willing or able to fully participate: “There will always be those who act more like the critic, those who seek to protect themselves by avoiding full emotional involvement in any liturgical practice that seeks to bring us into contact with our pain and suffering.”
As Rollins’ ideas continue to make inroads into existing and new faith communities, I wonder what the implications will be — and whether anyone will actually take him up on the challenge in the first place.
What’s your take on Rollins and his merry brand of “a/theism”?