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Insurrection: To Believe Is Human To Doubt, Divine

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  775 Ratings  ·  101 Reviews
In this incendiary new work, the controversial author and speaker Peter Rollins proclaims that the Christian faith is not primarily concerned with questions regarding life after death but with the possibility of life before death.

In order to unearth this truth, Rollins prescribes a radical and wholesale critique of contemporary Christianity that he calls pyro-theology. It
Paperback, 185 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by Howard Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Ali M.
Jul 14, 2016 Ali M. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: soul-food
UPDATE: One of my favorite theology bloggers, Richard Beck, wrote up a great critique of Insurrection here. Well worth the read. I agree that Bonhoeffer presents a more consummate vision of etsi deus non daretur (living as if there was no God) than Rollins, one that does not exclude the importance of worship and prayer in private, and loving God-as-object as much as God-as-action. However, I know Rollins is writing another book that he claims "deepens and develops" some of the themes brought up ...more
Jan 08, 2012 Vegantrav rated it it was amazing
Insurrection asks the reader to accept the challenge given by Bonhoeffer: to embrace a religionless Christianity, a Christianity without dogma, a Christianity wherein the philosophical question of God's existence is really not, existentially speaking, important at all, a Christianity which requires us to give up God in order to find God, a Christianity which offers no easy answers but forces us to ask hard questions and requires us to embrace the pain and the anxiety of our uncertain, strange ex ...more
Nov 20, 2011 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2011
Here's the thing: if you've read a bunch of Zizek already, and thought about how it applies to the American church, a lot of this will feel very familiar. A lot of this feels like "Zizek for Churchies" or something.

Here's the other thing: I'm glad such a thing exists. It draws the lines connecting Zizek's thought to important conclusions about how the church can leave behind some of its most embarrassing and damaging current tendencies, and it does so in a way that has at least a fighting chance
Chet Duke
Feb 02, 2016 Chet Duke rated it it was ok
Shelves: theology
I couldn't tear my eyes away from the book, but not necessarily in a good way. Honestly, this felt like an attempt to write something profound, but in the end much of it was "meaningless," a term Rollins would probably enjoy very much. It felt more or less like the blabbering of an undergraduate student in a Continental Philosophy class. Everything was very vague, undefined, and mystical. The whole point of the book is that doubt is preferable to a concrete set of beliefs, yet somehow that ...more
John Lucy
Nov 06, 2011 John Lucy rated it it was ok
Really, this should have been two separate books. It was recommended to me by a friend who thought that I'd like much of what Rollins has to say. I did agree with much of Part I and found it very intriguing, although I've never been a fan of putting the Crucifixion at the heart of our faith. I'm much more of a Creation and Resurrection type guy, though of course I see that neither of those things would have relevance without the cross. Rollins, though, sets up Part I with the crucifixion as the ...more
Luke Boyce
Oct 25, 2015 Luke Boyce rated it really liked it
This is a book I've been meaning to read for a very long time and finally made my way to it after listening to Rollins discuss his ideas elsewhere. There were parts of the book that I really loved and there were parts that I was a little frustrated with. In general, I love Rollins philosophy. His general thesis on the nature of true belief only through the process of doubt and disbelief is fascinating and I come from a personal perspective on that. But I was hoping there would be more in the way ...more
Steven Fouse
Mar 27, 2015 Steven Fouse rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion, favorites
Insurrection: To Believe is Human, to Doubt Divine by Peter Rollins explores the philosophical importance of and the means by which we live out Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection. This book is short and easy to read, but filled with references to deep-thinking philosophers and theologians.

The Good: This is a book that explains, in a satisfactory way, why actions are more important than beliefs, why doubt is so important and vital to faith, and how embracing our worst fears about the futi
Billie Pritchett
Oct 23, 2015 Billie Pritchett rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy, religion
Liked it. Don't know quite what to make of it still, though. Peter Rollins' Insurrection is an engaging but weird book. Rollins' main point seems to be that large swaths of our existence is preoccupied with feelings of anxiety, a sense of meaninglessness regarding the purpose of our existence, and perhaps a deep tendency toward feeling guilty that we are not the kind of people that we think we are. Rollins believes that Christianity can provide us with a means to wrestle with this anxiety, meani ...more
JR. Forasteros
Nov 28, 2011 JR. Forasteros rated it it was amazing
Insurrection by Peter Rollins reads as a manifesto calling for a radical change to the Evangelical Church. It’s a call to have a “religionless Christianity” that will look very different from what has come before. Rollins states as much in his introduction:

Each epoch in the life of the Church arises from the white-hot fires of a fundamental question, a question that burns away the husk that was once thought to be essential in order to reveal once more the revolutionary event heralded… They offer
David Gregg
I haven't finished this book. I may. But every time I pick it up I feel like the author is talking to an established audience, not to me. I'm new to Rollins and he seems to me to be using his own vocabulary in much the same way that American Evangelicalism uses it's own particular vocabulary. There are in-words and in-phrases to which in-group members never give a second thought. It's easy to forget that the uninitiated may not necessarily know what precisely is meant by "following the Spirit", ...more
Keith Dow
Oct 23, 2013 Keith Dow rated it liked it
In Insurrection, Peter Rollins wages pyro-theology by continuously flicking matches at the church, hoping that it will catch on fire and illuminate. Some of them catch, while others are extinguished mid-air.

Many of his most illuminating points are those which find their origins in Bonhoeffer, including the call to live in the world taking full responsibility for one's actions, "etsi deus non daretur" [as if God did not exist] and that to be in Christ is to live as one fully (hu)man.

Some other po
Marty Solomon
Dec 23, 2011 Marty Solomon rated it it was amazing
In chapter five, Rollins shares a story about a man who is rumored to be smuggling items across the border. The authorities monitor the man's activity, searching through the items of the wheelbarrow each time, unable to identify what the man is smuggling. When the man is asked later what it was we was smuggling across the border, he informs the questioner that he was quite naturally smuggling wheelbarrows.

This story accuarately depicts my experience of reading this book by Rollins. I feel as tho
Jul 22, 2013 Doug rated it it was amazing
Peter Rollins might just be the most interesting and creative-yet-ancient Christian theologian writing at the moment. His two books *Insurrection: To Believe is Human, To Doubt Divine* and *The Idolatry of God: Breaking Our Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction* are both powerful discussions of the spirituality of Christ’s crucifixion for everyday life. Both books discuss different and important angles of the same core topics, with perhaps *Insurrection* taking it from the angle of the gospels ...more
Mar 30, 2014 Kath rated it really liked it
I found this very interesting although I confess the philosophy occasionally lost me. It was original and radical, the sort of book I would enjoy discussing with others of like mind. I felt reassured that the feeling of complete doubt and sense of meaningless could be a) experienced by far better Christians than me and b) regarded as a way of understanding the crucifixion in a deeper way. I also identified with his thoughts that engaging with others around us in love is a way of experiencing ...more
Alastair Mccollum
Aug 21, 2012 Alastair Mccollum rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed, if enjoying is the right word, it's a disturbing and challenging effort to get Christians to enter into the pain, desolation and absolute separation from God that is at the heart of the crucifixion. Rollins strips away the props that sustain an ultimately shallow spiritual life in order to confront us with the wonder, the disturbing, frighting, beyond-comprehension wonder of God's engagement with humanity, and humanity's engagement with God... A book that for many will involve some ...more
B.J. Richardson
Sep 25, 2015 B.J. Richardson rated it really liked it
Paul Tillich asks questions and addresses issues that need to be discussed. Although I might not agree with all of his answers, he boldly addresses whether the church today is really about its mission. Using the overarching motif of garden (surrender), cross (despair), and resurrection (new life) he walks through what it means to be a Christian who will embraces our world without identifying ourselves by it. It is a good read for those who want to seriously look at some tough questions. ...more
Steve Hirby
Apr 30, 2012 Steve Hirby rated it really liked it
Read this with the theology book group sponsored by First Congregational UCC, Appleton, WI. Provocative and infuriating. Redeemed by the author's sincerity and the ingeniousness he exhibits seeking to dislodge comfortable Christians from an unexamined relationship to their faith and communities of faith. Seems primarily to be directed at evangelical and fundamentalist believers. Inverts important ideas from those traditions in challenging adherents to live a more authentically human and more ...more
Susan Yang
Dec 05, 2012 Susan Yang rated it really liked it
"Radical doubt, suffering, and the sense of divine forsakenness are central aspects of Christ's experience and thus a central part of what it means to participate in Christ's death. The moment we feel the loss of all that once gave us meaning is not a time in which we are set free from Christ, nor is it a moment where we fall short of Christ: It is a time when we stand side by side with Christ."
Brad Mullet
Jul 26, 2012 Brad Mullet rated it it was amazing
You'll either get ripped apart, or it will be a breath of fresh, insightful air. "I am God," said Love.
P.G. Hungerland
Apr 01, 2016 P.G. Hungerland rated it did not like it
Last winter, my wife and I spent the day visiting our friends—I’ll call them “L” and “M”— at a beautiful cottage in Ontario. The massive living room windows faced a small frozen lake, which was rimmed with forest and gleaming under a brilliant blue sky. That afternoon, as we literally walked on water with our children gamboling about on the ice, we were talking about work, travel, church, and life, when the subject of Peter Rollins’ Insurrection came up. Our friend “L” had read the book, and ...more
Aug 19, 2016 Mike rated it it was ok
Shelves: philosophy
I like books which deal with Christians and doubt. I have come to distrust books that give pat answers and easy formulas for solving insoluble problems. One of my favorite books is Greg Boyd's book "Benefit of the Doubt" which challenges the reader to embrace doubt as a helpful part of life and then deal with it carefully and over time.

"Insurrection" is also about doubt; but it swings the pendulum too far the other way from being overly certain about everything. This book makes doubt and unbelie
Tim Beck
Dec 08, 2011 Tim Beck rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
it may take me a few days or weeks to wrap my head around Insurrection by Peter Rollins. There's a lot to digest in it or perhaps I'm just being stretched (which i will admit is a good thing).

I've read The Orthodox Heretic by Rollins and heard him speak a time or two and have always been fascinated with his art of storytelling and his fresh perspective so i found it no surprise that Insurrection drew me in from page one.

what i appreciated about this book was Rollins' ability to paint a picture
Shawn Birss
Jun 25, 2016 Shawn Birss rated it really liked it
This is the second of Rollins' books that I've read. He first Rollins' book that I read was The Idolatry of God, which I finished just last week. That book I found meditative and personal. It struck me exactly where I needed it, in the trauma and loss I've felt since losing my belief about five months ago. In that book I found that perhaps there is still room for me in the Jesus story, and it was good, even if at the end of it I had trouble articulating what exactly Rollins had concretely said. ...more
Sep 16, 2013 Alexnsteward rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
After having the opportunity to listen to and meetPeter Rollins a couple of years ago, I finally read this very thought provoking book. At times he leaves you scratching your head and may have to re-read the same paragraph a few times to fully understand what he is attempting to say. He definitely is a theologian that likes to think outside the box and push beyond the boundaries that some previous scholars have established.

There are many points throughout the book that I would like to highlight.
Sep 08, 2016 Dionysus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christianity
A little book with the seeds of some big ideas; ones that require time and reflection to take root and grow. Rollins demolishes conventional religiosity by identifying various ways in which we use our religious views and practices as psychological crutches which allow us to avoid turning in on ourselves and allowing ourselves to come to terms with our doubts, fears, and the existential sense of divine absence which Rollins posits as the true meaning of the crucifixion story; as expressed by ...more
Jon Stephens
Aug 16, 2012 Jon Stephens rated it it was amazing
I recently finished reading the book Insurrection, by Irish author, philosopher, and storyteller Peter Rollins. Like the other book of his I have read, How (Not) to Speak of God, I thought it was outstanding.

Insurrection is about faith and doubt and struggle. As Rollins says: "To Believe is Human, To Doubt is Divine". I appreciated the invitation to wrestle with and come to terms with our struggle rather than to try and give our struggles a silver lining and just explain them away. Sometimes we
Jan 31, 2012 Ben rated it it was ok
First off the top, why this book is described as "Christian" is total mystery given the actual content of the book. It uses Christian terms but in reality it's just Nietzsche with a Jesus mask on. It's probably better reclassified as an atheist attempt at explaining why we should still love people when life is in actuality devoid of meaning. That being said, I did actually find some really good nuggets in the book to help me become a better follower of Jesus.

1. His call for the Jesus follower to
Adam Heffelfinger
Oct 29, 2013 Adam Heffelfinger rated it it was amazing
Insurrection: To Believe Is Human; To Doubt, Divine, the spectacular 2011 release by pyro-theologian Peter Rollins is a book that’s difficult to summarize or explain in brief. All the more difficult because I’d like to explain to EVERYONE, not just those that self-identify as Christian, why it’s so great.

In short, Rollins’ work hinges on the idea of dismantling what he sees as a wrongheaded understanding of God. He calls it the deus ex machina God, but we all know it as the bearded guy in the cl
Leroy Seat
Jul 24, 2012 Leroy Seat rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-devotional
This is a challenging book, and one reading is probably not enough. As in his previous books, Rollins presents ideas that need to be thought about, and then thought about some more.

Here are some of the key statements I gleaned from the book:

“The truly revolutionary move is not to chart a return to the early Church but to the event that gave birth to the early Church" (p. xiii).

“Getting people to believe is easy precisely because it is so natural for us. Any persuasive human can do it—and even ma
Jim Vaden
Apr 19, 2015 Jim Vaden rated it it was amazing
I'm still processing this book. I try not to give 5 stars to many books, even though I think many are excellent reads. 5 stars seems to say "No room for improvement," and this book has plenty of room - for improvement yes, but mostly exploration. I have a feeling Rollins is giving the reader the "bare bones" of his thinking, hopefully with more and more flesh to be added later. This volume explores doubt, sensing God's absence more than his presence, and feeling abandoned by God, not as ...more
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Peter Rollins is a Northern Irish writer, public speaker, philosopher and theologian who is a prominent figure in Postmodern Christianity.

Drawing largely from various strands of Continental Philosophy, Rollins' early work operated broadly from within the tradition of Apophatic Theology, while his more recent books have signaled a move toward the theory and practice of Radical Theology. In these bo
More about Peter Rollins...

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“What if the church should be less concerned with creating saints than creating a world where we do not need saints? A world where people like Mother Teresa and MLK would have nothing to do.” 9 likes
“In other words, the claim I believe in God is nothing but a lie if it is not manifest in our lives, because one only believes in God insofar as one loves.” 3 likes
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