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Insurrection: To Believe Is Human To Doubt, Divine

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  531 ratings  ·  87 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.
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
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...more
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
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 God...more
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
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
Jr Forasteros
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...more
John Lucy
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
Marty Solomon
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...more
Alastair Mccollum
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 stru...more
Steve Hirby
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 aut...more
Billie Pritchett
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
Susan Yang
"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
You'll either get ripped apart, or it will be a breath of fresh, insightful air. "I am God," said Love.
Peter Swenson
This really resonated strongly with me, in light of all the questioning I've been doing lately. Rollins highlights the despair & doubt of Jesus on the cross as a key moment, and one not to be overlooked or ignored by the lives of Christians.
"It is only as we submit our spiritual practices, religious rituals, and dogmatic affirmations to the flames of fearless interrogation that we come into contact with the reality that Christianity is in the business of transforming our world rather than o...more
Tim Beck
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...more
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...more
In this book Rollins wants to look at how a radical expression of faith beyond religion would look like. By exploring how the crucifixion and resurrection can open up into a different reality Rollins is seeing whether or not this different look at reality can give birth to a renewal of the Church.

I think that this definitely is a different reality than what most Christians (especially in the West) experience. So much of what he writes about concerns with the undergirding structures of our own b...more
The 3-star rating isn't fair- I totally admit that. But alas, 4 Rollins books in 3 weeks has been a bit much. It was totally and completely enjoyable until I was about a quarter of the way through Insurrection, and then I just felt bogged down. There's a fair bit of an echo throughout his books, which really wouldn't be so bad had I not just read the same thing a day or two before.

Honestly, I can't give this book a fair rating. I checked 4 of his books out of my local library and they're due to...more
Joalby Phoenix
I've been constantly told by former pastors and leaders it's ok to question faith - but this idea of doubting in order to step into true faith was very new to me.
The idea of tearing down the foundation and getting back to what really matters, thus experiencing and being part of our own spiritual walk and dedication is something that intrigued me.
Being born and raised in Southern California where everyone can say they are Christian but noone really is a Christ follower, makes me realize how rel...more
Adam Heffelfinger
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...more
Leroy Seat
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...more
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....more
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 Chri...more
Jon Stephens
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...more
Keith Dow
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...more
At times, Rollins shows signs of sheer brilliance. But on the other hand he also flirts with trying to be a bit too cerebral and the 'tough questions' posed are not tough, in fact, are not even new questions. I would rate this higher but couldn't bring myself to do it. It was a slight chore getting through this one.
For me this has been a challenging, difficult book. It presents some new and somewhat strange ideas. However, the exercise has been an useful one. I need to reflect more about this. Another read after awhile will I'm sure be valuable. I appreciated the included inter ivied between Rob Bell and his friend Peter Rollins.
This book kicked my butt. Not only did I have to stop at various places to let it all sink in, it was challenging and convicting, and spoke about faith and belief and Christianity in ways I had never heard before. There are no easy answers, and I appreciate that.
Patrik Olterman
If you have been following Peter Rollins four a while you will find nothing new in this latest release, it is simply all those messages, thoughts, parables and stories woven together in a beautiful but very disruptive package. It is an incendiary bomb into established religion, it is a call to let go of belief and structure so that we can truly encounter the divine and live the resurrection life. It is a call to form prophetic Pirate islands within our world and within our established churches w...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
More about Peter Rollins...
How (Not) to Speak of God: Marks of the Emerging Church The Orthodox Heretic And Other Impossible Tales The Idolatry of God: Breaking Our Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction The Fidelity of Betrayal: Towards a Church Beyond Belief The Divine Magician: The Disappearance of Religion and the Discovery of Faith

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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.” 6 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.” 0 likes
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