- member since June 11, 2008
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“I read this book because Michael Gungor, in his book on creativity entitled "The Crowd, the Critic and the Muse", cited "The Idolatry of God" several times. Gungor's theological commentary struck me as a departure from orthodox Christian belief, but the book was about creativity and so I didn't...”
“I read this book because Michael Gungor, in his book on creativity entitled "The Crowd, the Critic and the Muse", cited "The Idolatry of God" several times. Gungor's theological commentary struck me as a departure from orthodox Christian belief, but the book was about creativity and so I didn't want to make any rash assumptions about his beliefs. So I read Peter Rollin’s book so I could better understand the source of at least some of Gungor’s thinking.
From Gungor’s tone, I expected Rollin’s book to be a bit of liberal theology. You can imagine my surprise when I finally understood “The Idolatry of God” was a neo-atheistic treatise aimed at the abolition of all religion.
In all fairness, Rollins throws the atheists under the bus as well, since they are merely a reactionary elements defined primarily by the religions they seek to undermine. Here is my understanding of Rollins’ bent: Nothing can be known with any certainty. It is our addiction to certainty that leads to dissatisfaction with life. The way forward is to admit we know nothing, abandon any desire for certainty and embrace the diversity of all other people (unless, of course, they are certain about their beliefs and you disagree).
I have two serious issues with this book, both of which led me to give it low marks.
Rollins wants us to believe his book is a serious critique of Christianity, but his biblical research and transparent manipulation of the texts to suit his needs are appalling.
Rollins approaches his topic by redefining all of the primary terms: original sin is a false sense that we are lacking something, and an idol is anything we think will bridge that gap, including, as we come to find, God himself. He redefines Jesus’ sinlessness as “not needing the idol” and his death as “being set free from the pursuit of the idol”.
With all the terms redefined, he is able to tell whatever story he wants to without changing any of the language. This is a trick, and it’s dishonest.
Furthermore, his treatment of key biblical texts depart from any known method of textual criticism. Here’s an example of his work: Referring to the curtain in the Temple being torn in two at the death of Jesus on the cross, Rollins remarks, “When the curtain is torn in two, we finally see that there is nothing behind the veil.” A) The text doesn’t say that “nothing” was behind the curtain; Rollins adds this without apology. B) No serious student of the Bible would interpret that text as a proof text for the non-existence of a literal God. Even the rabbis of Judaism who fully understood the intended import of this Christian text - even while disagreeing with it - would never have understood it to be an argument for the absence of God.
Some may see Rollins’ approach as a bold new way to understand the Scriptures, but it is just pretend theology - he is making up whatever he wants to say about the texts with disregard for all the deep study that has come before him.
Rollins’ argument is nonsense.
As with all who argue that nothing can be known with any certainty, the obvious question is, “Are you certain about that?” This argument always turns in on itself.
The most ironic aspect of Rollins’ belief is that it is founded in uncertainty. He states that we all seek “the idol” - the thing we believe will make us whole, and that this is what limits us and brings dissatisfaction with life. And yet, he has made an idol out of uncertainty.
His belief is dishonest in that he is unaware, or unwilling to acknowledge, his own duplicity. He is willing to be open-minded about any belief, as long as it isn’t absolute belief and as long as it isn’t orthodox (or even liberal) Christianity.
In the end, his book cannot be achieved anymore than man can achieve the ends of the Christian faith in his own power. The book is polemic undergirded by high-sounding arguments that under closer scrutiny contradict the overall thrust of the book.
As such, it gets 1 star.”
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“Great book! Incredibly practical advice on how to stay healthy in ministry and in life. If you're a pastor, you should read this. ”(read full review)
“Love this series - some of the best sci-fi I've read. This feels like an "in-between" book, so I'm hoping there will be another in the series.”
“Love this series - some of the best sci-fi I've read. This feels like an "in-between" book, so I'm hoping there will be another in the series. ”(read full review)