how (not) to speak of god, by peter rollins.
lots of raving reviews have been posted on pete’s book in the past few months. i’ve had it for a while, sitting on my “to read” stack, and finally raised it to the “to read now” stack for my recent silent retreat in hawaii.
i don’t say this lightly: this is probably the best book i’ve read on the emerging church (and i’ve read my share). i was blown away by pete’s ability to explain things in both ways both articulate and not sounding like a ticked-off child of evangelicalism, yearning for a break from his past. i admit, a good chunk of what has been written in the emerging church world has that ring to it — and this doesn’t. some of that, i’m guessing, is pete’s non-american-ness. and some of it, i’m guessing, is his credible academic chops. when spencer burke writes that we’re heretics, it comes across like a emerging church version of a “god hates fags” poster — confrontational and positioning. but when pete articulates it, the words are hopeful and honest.
since others have described the book in detail, i’ll not do so here. just shortly: the first half is a philosophical/theological treatise proposing nothing short of a new christian worldview. it’s not new liberalism (as some call the emerging church). how can a deep love of the divine jesus and the power of god’s word in scripture be called new liberalism — those (and other things) were the very things classical liberalism was working to debunk. then, the second half of the book walks through ten or so liturgies from the community pete helps lead in belfast (ikon). i’d known this was the layout prior to reading the book, and thought the second half might be a cop-out, filler, or just too weird. it’s anything but. it’s the practical outplay of the first half of the book, as rendered by one particular gathering of believers (albiet, a group that meets in a bar in belfast). the second half of the book puts flesh on the first half.
pete’s writing is right at the threshold of my understanding at times — his brain is clearly more trained and his bookshelves weightier than mine. but i could hold on, and i’m glad i did. i’ll be recommending this book over and over and over again, i’m sure.