I know I said that I would be off for a week for the ETS conference, but my morning newspaper had this article on Peter Rollins. You can read it at http://www.mlive.com/grpress/lifestyles/index.ssf/2008/11/community_offers_christianity.html. I am contemplating a guest editorial response in the paper, which I may post next week for your feedback. For now, what do you think about someone with Rollins’ views presenting at the Calvin Symposium on Worship?
Just in case the link to the Grand Rapids Press goes out of date, I will post the article here:
GRAND RAPIDS — For Peter Rollins, God’s truth is out there. His is a Christianity beyond the grasp of the church.
That’s why the spiritual community he founded in his native Belfast, Northern Ireland, conducts a kind of discipleship training that interrogates the religion’s long-held tenets. The group also studies atheist writings. And, in another twist, participants open themselves to evangelization by other traditions.
“It’s not about what you believe,” Rollins said this week by phone from Texas during a six-week speaking tour promoting his book “The Fidelity of Betrayal: Towards a Church Beyond Belief.”
“The idea is not to get the right interpretation of Scripture, but that we argue with it and wrestle with it and be transformed by it.”
He is the coordinator of Ikon, a group that meets in a bar and exhibits characteristics of the emerging church movement. Far from the “flashy blue lights” of contemporary evangelical worship, the emergent movement is rediscovering ancient theological traditions eclipsed during the past few centuries, Rollins said.
“In the wonder of the Enlightenment, we lost mystery,” he said. “We lost the idea of Christianity as something deeper than belief.”
Rollins describes Ikon as a collective of diverse people who share “experiments in transformance art,” including live music, poetry, theater and ritual. The point is to create a provocative space to challenge how people believe and live, he said.
Ikon’s “The Omega Course,” drawing on the work of mainstream dissidents like John Shelby Spong, deconstructs the basic principles of Christianity taught in the popular Alpha Course used by churches worldwide. The group also partakes in “Atheism for Lent,” studying Freud, Marx and Nietzsche.
“We’re not afraid to ask questions; we attempt to offend everybody,” Rollins said. “The Bible’s truth is not reduced to a worldview. There are metaphors of God as warrior and as peacemaker, metaphors that clash and smash together. The truth of Scripture is not in one metaphor or another. The truth is in the revelation that creates the different metaphors.”
Also the author of “How (Not) to Speak of God,” Rollins has a forthcoming book of parables called “The Orthodox Heretic.” The book he’s currently touting explores Christianity as “an irreligious religion” broader than any institution.
Rollins plans a return to Grand Rapids Jan. 29 through 31 to present at the Calvin Symposium on Worship.