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How (Not) to Speak of God

af Peter Rollins

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With sensitivity to the Christian tradition and a rich understanding of postmodern thought, Peter Rollins argues that the movement known as the "emerging church" offers a singular, unprecedented message of transformation that has the potential to revolutionize the theological and moral architecture of Western Christianity. How (not) to Speak of God sets out to explore the theory and praxis of this contemporary expression of faith. Rollins offers a clear exploration of this embryonic movement and provides key resources for those involved in communities that are conversant with, and seeking to minister effectively to, the needs of a postmodern world.   "Here in pregnant bud is the rose, the emerging new configuration, of a Christianity that is neither Roman nor Protestant, neither Eastern nor monastic; but rather is the re-formation of all of them. Here, in pregnant bud, is third-millennium Christendom." --Phyllis Tickle   "I am a raving fan of the book you are holding. I loved reading it. I have already begun widely recommending it. Reading it did good for my mind and for my soul. It helped me understand my own spiritual journey more clearly, and it gave me a sense of context for the work I'm involved in. In fact, I would say this is one of the two or three most rewarding books of theology I have read in ten years." --Brian McLaren, from the Foreword… (mere)

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The key idea of How (Not) to Speak of God is that many Christians in the “Emergent Church” movement embrace paradox. The first few chapters unpack the implicit idea in the title: that the moment we speak of God, we deny who God is. All attempts to define or describe the Christian God are doomed.

This is, of course, not a new idea, but it is unusual for evangelical Christians to push the point as hard as Rollins does. Essentially, Christians are atheists, because our God is beyond human category. At best, we can glimpse God in icons which often appear to point away from the reality of God, but which express metaphors that are self-consciously metaphors and not definitions.

Christians are defined not so much by what they believe as by how they believe; and this dynamic faith will manifest in works of mercy and restorative justice in the real world.

The second part of this encouraging book is a series of liturgies designed by the house church in the Menagerie Bar, the pub that Rollins calls his spiritual home. The themes range from Judas to Corpus Christi to Eloi Eloi Lama Sabachthani. The description of each liturgy is preceded by a reflection introducing the theme. The liturgies emphasise imagination and emotion and are described in practical detail, so that readers could use them as they are, or adapt them for their own setting.

If this is the coming, emerging church, then I would not mind belonging. ( )
  TedWitham | Aug 6, 2012 |
A philosophical contemplation of what it means to speak of God, thereby speaking for God. Rollins asks us if this is a good thing (it isn't), why we we have continually done it as Christians and some thoughts on how to speak of God in a more honest way.
  elena.shek | Apr 19, 2010 |
Peter Rollins will be a much discussed author. His first book is timely for the emerging church stream. ( )
1 stem drdanebert | Nov 12, 2006 |
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With sensitivity to the Christian tradition and a rich understanding of postmodern thought, Peter Rollins argues that the movement known as the "emerging church" offers a singular, unprecedented message of transformation that has the potential to revolutionize the theological and moral architecture of Western Christianity. How (not) to Speak of God sets out to explore the theory and praxis of this contemporary expression of faith. Rollins offers a clear exploration of this embryonic movement and provides key resources for those involved in communities that are conversant with, and seeking to minister effectively to, the needs of a postmodern world.   "Here in pregnant bud is the rose, the emerging new configuration, of a Christianity that is neither Roman nor Protestant, neither Eastern nor monastic; but rather is the re-formation of all of them. Here, in pregnant bud, is third-millennium Christendom." --Phyllis Tickle   "I am a raving fan of the book you are holding. I loved reading it. I have already begun widely recommending it. Reading it did good for my mind and for my soul. It helped me understand my own spiritual journey more clearly, and it gave me a sense of context for the work I'm involved in. In fact, I would say this is one of the two or three most rewarding books of theology I have read in ten years." --Brian McLaren, from the Foreword

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