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”?

 

 

Tags: , , ,

Posted on 03-08-2012

Comments

  1. Chris says:

    March 8th, 2012 at 10:38 am

    I think Rollin’s a/theism has a major contribution to offer the Church, no less the rest of humanity in regards to exposing them to their very selves in the deepest parts of who they are. Perhaps this will not become a road well-traveled for all, but it could become something extraordinary for those who are ready for such a radical and fuller-orbed understanding and participation in life’s journey. And as far as “being ready” is concerned, that could mean something different for people at varying stages of spiritual development. To confront or face doubt, ambiguity and mystery head-on (with the obvious attending inward struggles which will most likely manifest) can lead people toward a more honest sense of self, and help to provide to the self a new and more authentic way of perceiving and interacting with both the worlds within and external to themselves. Anyways, this is how I have been affected by Rollin’s writings. And I now have a much deeper sense of who I really am (at least at present)and no longer fear forging ahead into the unknown.

  2. Adam Gonnerman says:

    March 8th, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    This bit seems like a fair description of the unfiltered Scripture of Christianity:

    “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.”

  3. Brandy says:

    March 15th, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    I love Peter Rollins and his merry message of doubt! I am so up for taking this challenge and gathering as a community to embrace and sit with the darkness. But I don’t know if I agree with him that it wouldn’t work. I would argue that people would want to experience this full spectrum of emotion – essentially, what it means to be alive, a whole human being – if they could grasp the supreme goodness of it. But hey, I am just a foolish optimist hell-bent on restoring Shalom. ;)

  4. Debbie says:

    March 17th, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Brandy…I’m coming to church with you :)

    I am so into what Peter means about embracing the darkness and talking about it. Sharing our own experiences in that place and witnessing to The God Goodness we found…we must not forget to share those moments of Divine Intervention….for that is why we gather…to tell..to sing…to cry…to laugh…to listen…to bow low and love….humble and worship full of Spirit and Truth.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment via Facebook