I recently finished reading the book Insurrection, by Irish author, philosopher, and storyteller Peter Rollins. Like the other book of his I have read, How (Not) to Speak of God, I thought it was outstanding.

Insurrection is about faith and doubt and struggle. As Rollins says: “To Believe is Human, To Doubt is Divine”. I appreciated the invitation to wrestle with and come to terms with our struggle rather than to try and give our struggles a silver lining and just explain them away. Sometimes we don’t find (experience) God in our struggles (ie. Jesus on the cross and David in Psalm 13). These experiences don’t define God and His existence, but they are nonetheless real.

Without question Rollins will push the boundaries of how traditional Christianity has talked about and understood certain things, but he does so in a thought provoking and non offensive manner. I highly recommend downloading talks of his on ITunes as they are both brilliant and entertaining.

One of the most interesting parts of Insurrection for me was his description and exposition of the idea that Jesus Himself dealt with atheism, not an intellectual atheism, but rather an experiential atheism on the cross. Secondly, I was challenged by his description of how we as humans convince ourselves of who we are and the things we believe in, when an objective look at our lives would prove often times we are not who we think we are nor do we believe in many of the things we have convinced ourselves we believe in.

Some highlights from the book for me were:

“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.” (xiii)

“On the cross we are confronted with God losing the security of God.” (p. 20)

“Christian belief in the crucifixion is not about accepting some historical event; we are not invited to merely affirm or contemplate the death of Jesus on the cross, but to undergo that death in our own lives. And just as Christ was cut off from everything that grounded him, so our participation in Crucifixion will involve the same troubling, terrifying process.” (p. 29)

“…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. 92)

“People’s actions can tell us more about their basic drives and desires than the story they tell themselves about themselves.” (p. 98)

Rollins’ writing definitely challenges me, and there are some things he writes that I can’t completely jump on board with, but overall I find him to be very refreshing and a great intellectual and spiritual encouragement.


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