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The Idolatry of God: Breaking the Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction [Paperback]

Peter Rollins
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
Price: 13.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

11 Oct 2012
In contrast to the usual answers concerning what the Good News might be, incendiary philosopher-theologian Peter Rollins suggests an alternative, radical definition: you can't be satisfied, life is difficult, and you don't know the secret. Arguing that God has traditionally been thought of as a type of product that will make you whole, remove your suffering and give you the truth, Rollins contrasts this with an approach to faith that invites us to embrace suffering, face up to our unknowing and fully accept the difficulties of existence.

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The Idolatry of God: Breaking the Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction + How (Not) to Speak of God + Insurrection: To Believe is Human; to Doubt, Divine
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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (11 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444703730
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444703733
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 15.7 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 127,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Rollins is a widely sought after writer, lecturer, storyteller and public speaker. He is also the founder of ikon, a faith group that has gained an international reputation for blending live music, visual imagery, soundscapes, theatre, ritual and reflection to create what they call 'transformance art'.

Peter gained his higher education from Queens University, Belfast and has earned degrees (with distinction) in Scholastic Philosophy (BA Hons), Political Theory (MA) and Post-Structural thought (PhD). He is currently a research associate with the Irish School of Ecumenics in Trinity College, Dublin and is the author of the much talked about How (Not) to Speak of God. His most recent work is entitled The Orthodox Heretic and Other Impossible Tales. He was born in Belfast but currently resides in Greenwich, CT.

Product Description


'Great. Really, really great ... it's going to help a massive number of people find new life and new hope.' (for INSURRECTION) (Rob Bell)

'What does it mean when the Son of God cries out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" Brilliantly, candidly, and faithfully, Rollins wrestles here with that question. You may not agree with his answers and conclusions, but you owe it to yourself and to the church at large to read what he says.' (for INSURRECTION) (Phyllis Tickle, author of The Great Emergence)

'Excellent thinking and excellent writing! I hope this fine book receives the broad reading it deserves. It will change lives, and our understanding of what religion is all about!' (for INSURRECTION) (Richard Rohr, O. F. M.)

Book Description

An authentic Christianity is one that proclaims an end to the world as we know it and preaches about an utterly new creation.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stimulating and refreshing view 31 Jan 2013
By johnnyb
This is the first Peter Rollins book that I have read. I ordered it as soon as it came out on the basis of an interview I read about Rollins work last year in "Reform" magazine.

The book is subtitled "Breaking the addiction to certainty and satisfaction". It is this addiction or longing that is a serious problem for humans, religious and otherwise. He argues for this diagnosis of the human condition using some theories of psychology which I have not previously encountered. He says that the basic human condition is an aspiration or longing for an unattainable perfection that will bring complete sense of well being and peace. This aspiration is objectified into various idols that are longed for and yet when attained prove illusory in terms of the satisfaction they give. This feeling of longing for an unattainable idol can be called original sin. The model works with many different idols, both religious and secular. In traditional evangelical Christianity Jesus is the "idol" that you have to accept into your life to make all things well and find the certainty and satisfaction that you are seeking. (He has several astute critical comments on the practices of churches.) However the crux of the argument in the book is that the Christian hope is not about conforming to this model but is about destroying it. Thus Christ's message is to show the emptiness and futility of our desire for satisfaction and certainty. He says that central to Christianity is the experience of the absence of God as experienced by Christ in his cry of dereliction from the cross. Doubt and uncertainty become the central tenets of faith. God isn't an object to fill our needs. Salvation comes from accepting our brokenness and using it to help heal a broken world.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
While there was a little borrowed from Insurrection (which is probably the only downside to the prolific nature of Rollins' most recent work), I feel like it was an excellent continuation of the thoughts presented in Insurrection. Especially important is the amount of attention paid to the concepts of Original Sin, Idolatry, and The Incarnation. Original Sin is conceptually robbed of its sting by stripping it of its misguided definitions and reducing it to separation from the source of life. Idolatry is our subconscious and conscious attempts to close this gap in impossible and ridiculous ways (most or all of our beliefs included). We know that they are impossible and ridiculous, but we don't know that we know (Rollins does a much better job of explaining this). The Incarnation of Christ is Jesus' refusal of the identity he has as God (see Philippians 2) and the acceptance of his humanity. The Incarnation and life of Jesus makes a cut across all of our identities (there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female) and allows us to truly encounter others.

Being radical theology, there is a ton to grasp here and I found almost every section a challenge. The best illustration of the difficulty radical theology poses can be found toward the end of the book as Rollins describes some of the ways in which he and his communities have attempted to practice their desire to truly encounter "the other." Of the four practices described, the one I would have the hardest time with is The Last Supper. Where I live, this would involve scouring the very, very conservative landscape of Eastern Washington state for some speaker or presenter that differs enough from the rest of the guests to make it worthwhile.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great thought, but raises some questions 30 Sep 2013
By Ray V
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I warmed to the theme of this book. I agree wholeheartedly that most of our religion is addicted to certainty and satisfaction, and that real 'salvation' is not finding what we think we need but being shaken out of that whole way of thinking.
At the same time, I have some questions about the logic of Rollins' argument. His definition of 'original sin' as the universal sense of a lack or a vacuum that comes from our first experience of the self is very helpful, but what does he mean when he says that Jesus was 'sinless' in the sense of not having that lack? What made him the only human being without it? This seems to suggest a supernatural doctrine of incarnation that doesn't fit with what I perceive to be Rollins' kind of theology.
I would also question whether the first Christians saw the crucifixion in the way Rollins sees it. It seems to me that they believed firmly in God, and that their message was that Jesus who had been crucified had been vindicated by God through the resurrection. Paul certainly dwells on the paradox of Christ's condemnation being our justification, his 'self-emptying', God's power shown in weakness etc., but I'm not sure about the other New Testament writers, or whether even Paul would go as far as Rollins does.
Is Rollins, in talking of the 'sinlessness' of Jesus and the cosmic change brought about by the crucifixion, speaking of the actual historical Jesus and the event of the crucifixion, or is he weaving a myth around them? I would not object to that, but would like to see him spell it out.
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