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The Idolatry of God: Breaking Our Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  528 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
You can’t be satisfied. Life is difficult. You don’t know the secret.

Whether readers are devout believers or distant seekers, The Idolatry of God shows that we must lay down our certainties and honestly admit our doubts to identify with Jesus. Rollins purposely upsets fundamentalist certainty in order to open readers up to a more loving, active manifestation of Christ’s l
ebook, 240 pages
Published January 1st 2013 by Howard Books
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Lee Harmon
Nov 27, 2012 Lee Harmon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Have we turned God into an idol? In this thought-provoking book, you’ll learn to think about God, life, and love differently.

The idea of God as the fulfillment of our desires is so all-pervasive today that most of us take it for granted. But is this not the very definition of an idol? That which we focus on as the solution to our unfulfillment, in hopes of attaining happiness?

Next time you attend church, listen closely to the worship hymns. Each one promises to provide something which will fil
Feb 03, 2013 Selena rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was hoping to have my beliefs shattered and crushed under the heel of this book, but, alas, it did not happen. I think hanging out with Quakers for the last decade--a group that has already discarded many of their "idols"--has already put me through the process that this book may provide for others. I distinctly remember the discomfort experienced in my first year or so in Meeting.

My two-star review is based, then, mainly on my own personal disappointment. There were some interesting ideas tha
Aug 02, 2016 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
I like Peter Rollins' work because he challenges my assumptions. What most struck me in this book, and dovetailed nicely (or uncomfortably) with what I've been thinking about a lot lately, is how we tend to fit Jesus into our preconceived schemes. Basically, if all humans want to be on the winning team, we Christians say joining Jesus is the winning team. So our selfish desire to win is still there, it is just baptized. Rollins uses different analogies, but gets to the same point - what if Jesus ...more
David Steele
Jul 06, 2015 David Steele rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bad-books
Peter Rollins writes, "My desire is that this work would help to agitate and disturb the reader in a positive way." The author certainly accomplishes his objective with this reader, yet there is nothing positive about the proposals set forth in the book, The Idolatry of God.

Rollins essentially argues that most churches peddle a God which is an impotent idol. Such a God "is treated as nothing more than a product, a product that promises certainty and satisfaction while delivering nothing but dece
Jan 27, 2013 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Peter Rollins, founder of the emergent church collective Ikon, has written a great book, but sure to be misunderstood. It's based on his claim that "God is treated as nothing more than a product, a product that promises certainty and satisfaction while delivering nothing but deception and dissatisfaction".

I'll let Rollins describe "The Idolatry of God" in his own words:


"Basically I argue that the modern church engages in a host of material practices designed to act as a security blanket
Justin Morgan
Apr 13, 2013 Justin Morgan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A week after reading this I decided to pick it up and read it again and take notes along the way. That should probably be a good enough review for anyone - a book that makes you think about it enough (whatever your conclusions, questions, or concerns) to motivate you to revisit more deeply.
Much of what Rollins talks about I found challenging in a good way. It is strikingly similar to (or perhaps is the same as) Radical Theology of the 60s (God is dead...) but reframed in a fresh, accessible and
Ali M.
Jan 23, 2014 Ali M. rated it liked it
Whether you agree with the ultimate conclusions Peter Rollins comes to or not, the guy is brilliant at breaking down how the human being functions psychologically, for better or worse –and he's especially good at exposing the false constructs that religious people build for themselves to stay comfortable. While I didn't find this book as convincing and cutting as Insurrection, it's still well worth the read and contains plenty of ideas that should be confronted by every Christian. One of the poi ...more
Jamie Howison
I read this one over the course of about eight weeks, as part of a bi-weekly book breakfast group in which we took on just two or three chapters at a time. On the positive side, this book generated some great conversation. In fact, it stimulated some of the most impassioned responses in our group's seven year history. One of our group members is a university lecturer in psychology, and her response (rebuttal?) to the way in which Rollins "psychologizes" the fall and original sin should have been ...more
May 23, 2016 Ronald rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a precision instrument. Much like, a scalpel, with which, to cut away those segments of Americana, that have been mistakenly overlaid as Christianity. So, in order to accept Christ, one must accept the American concept of it. This book turns the pages back to the gospel, in order, to move forward in Christ from now. The carved away portion of American nationalist religiosity, allows true faith to grow. Peter Rollins, is much like a doctor who wants to help people suffer less. And wh ...more
Shawn Birss
Jun 21, 2016 Shawn Birss rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't feel able, upon just finishing this book, to offer a critique. Instead, here are just some initial thoughts.

I'm quite shaken from reading the final part of the book, the description of the practice of Ikon, Peter Rollin's faith community. The practical examples given sound like a black metal or punk rock Jesus People. It was all very intriguing. However, it was also all so dark that I could hardly imagine how the performances and rituals could be carried out safely, when it comes to peo
Adam Ross
Sep 01, 2013 Adam Ross rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
This is the first Rollins book I've read, and I can see why he's so interesting. In this book he claims that the typical evangelical presentation of the gospel is a false gospel because it maked false promises. He says that the story which the world promises about consumer goods the church has turned into a promise about Jesus. Where the world will promise that this or that object will ultimately satisfy our deepest longings, the church claims God will do for christians. He objects to this idea ...more
Nathan Wheeler
Mar 07, 2013 Nathan Wheeler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The latest book, from Peter Rollins, is the crescendo of his work so far. Reading this book helped me put all his works, so far, into focus. I highly recommend his prior books, especially The Orthodox Heretic.

The Idolatry of God exposes the “if only” Gospel presented by most churches today. God is just another product offered to the masses as a solution for life. Promoted, advertised and consumed by Christians as the fulfillment to all our desires.

“Whether people accept the idea of God or reject
Robert D. Cornwall
I understand that Peter Rollins is a popular writer and speaker. He speaks out of a post-modern/non-foundationalist perspective that taps into the frustration so many have with modern/enlightenment views.

In this book he speaks of the ways in which Christians fall into the trap of objectifying God, that is, turning God into an idol. He speaks of the desire to find certainty in our faith -- therefore our willingness to turn God into an idol. His answer is to blow up our desire for certainty and s
Joy Matteson
This is a very difficult book to review. The whole point of the book is to leave you wondering if you've made God an idol in your life, and the answer is yes, yes, you have. But this book is about questions, not answers, in true postmodern theological undertaking. As the back of the book puts it so clearly--you don't know the secret. You can't get satisfaction. Deconstruct the God you think up in your mind--the image you have of Jesus, perhaps that you received straight from the pages of the Bib ...more
Steven Fouse
Jun 11, 2015 Steven Fouse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, favorites
There are only a couple of people who write and teach about matters of faith who make me more excited about our faith instead of more bored or more horrified. Peter now joins Rob and Brian to change it from a couple to a few.

The Good: Thought-changing, and so life-changing.

The Bad: Not for those who want to stay the same.

The Ugly: The idolatry that consumes even our faiths.

Good stuff. Not for everyone, though.
Aug 02, 2013 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is certainly the most provocative and solid work to date in the canon of the ever-developing radical theology of Peter Rollins. No one--not even himself--could have ever imagined Pete going into a radical recovery of the symbolic order of Christianity in such a systematic way. Perhaps another systematic theology on the horizon within the radical fold? Maybe the most significant since Tillich? This book is both relevant and incomplete, begging for a follow-up. And I look forward to that sequ ...more
Jun 28, 2014 Colin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Think Critical Theory (in the vein of Žižek) concerning Christianity and the church. Rollins gives tons of film examples to illustrate his arguments and concepts. Rollins points out the two typical ways the church is in the world (broad brush strokes of liberal and conservative) and offers a third way. If anything this book asks the church-goer or curious reader to re-examine her tightly held beliefs. You guys remember that illustration with you on one cliff and God on the other and then Jesus c ...more
Omar Domenech
Jun 07, 2015 Omar Domenech rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I like to finish what I start, but this was one of those rare books that was so bad that I recognized it wasn't worth my time. The main issue I had with it is that the book doesn't seem to have any epistemology; it makes a lot of assertions without giving you any sort of backing for them. It doesn't make any appeals to scripture or to tradition or reason or any overarching philosophies, it simply expects you to agree with whatever is said because the author said so.

In addition to this, there's j
Marty Solomon
Apr 21, 2014 Marty Solomon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In typical Rollins fashion, my head is still spinning as I try to grapple with the ideas put forth in this book.

The work revolves around the idea of idolatry and the human condition, asking whether or not we use our own understandings and pursuit of God as an idol to fill the same hole. Is there a more transcendent invitation that beckons us to stop trying to fill this void and cross a chasm to achieve something we're convinced we so badly need?

I feel like Rollins continues to get better and bet
Lowell AfdahlRice
Mar 08, 2013 Lowell AfdahlRice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is Zizek applied to practical theology, so of course I loved it. Especially Zizek's theoretical understandings (ideology, belief as action, subject as the gap, the societal cut) applied to the New Testament and Paul in particular. The last chapter is a little out there: it reads like performance art for the unbelieving church.
Chris Thompson
Mar 09, 2013 Chris Thompson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read! Much of this book deals with laying down the fact that no disciplinary approach to Christianity will ever fully satisfy us. We begin to burn out and feel discouraged when we chase after the disciplines of the faith. We often turn these things into idols and tin God of his true divine power!
A friend of mine posted Peter Rollins's "I Deny the Resurrection" vimeo to my FB. I'd encountered Rollin's work before but couldn't tell you much about it, and in browsing his website, this book seemed relevant to the "What IS the Good News?" question that recurs in my life -- so I got it from the library, despite the fact that I've developed a knee-jerk reaction against consuming texts by white [cis, het, ...] dude authors.

Rollins' opening premise is that we all feel unfulfilled -- and that chu
The Idolatry of God is probably the most straightforward introduction to Peter Rollins's brand of religionless Christianity. He argues that God itself has been made into an idol. The Christian message is presented as one method among many for sating our fundamental desire for an illusory sense of fulfillment, when in reality, as Rollins argues, the radical innovation of Christianity is to offer us a way out of a mode of life in which we constantly pursue the things we idolize. Christ shows us a ...more
Erin Beall
Rollins is, to me, one of those guys like Rob Bell who come off so, so well in person, but in writing they just fall flat. He has a good point, but he just doesn't make it well.
Petra Grayson
Idolatry of God
by Peter Rollins
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

My Review:
I appreciate what Peter Rollins is trying to say here. It was an interesting read. He tries to walk that line between “not conservative” and “not liberal” Christianity. Most of us are told Christianity will fill in that void (“everyone is born with a God-shaped hole”) and when we still feel empty, we're told we're just doing something wrong. I like the honesty behind the questions in this book and the “third way” (instead of conserva
Apr 28, 2013 Nora rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book resonated with me and blew my mind at the same time.
Mark Caudill
Jan 17, 2016 Mark Caudill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rollins starts by deconstructing how we currently treat God as an idol to serve our own need for meaning and purpose and fulfillment. Rollins restates what is heard from many pulpits—that people are constantly searching for fulfillment in worldly things—but takes it one step further by claiming that the real problem isn't that we need to simply desire the right thing (God), but that desire itself is the problem; that ultimately what we need to be saved from is desire itself.

Central to his argume
Alex Houseknecht
In this book, Rollins tackles popular Christianity as an ideology, amongst many others, that attempts to create certainty and relieve the great existential anxieties. As the title implies, Rollins posits that in the act of creating certainty, God is turned into an idol that is worshiped as an object, and not as a rupturing event that is revealed not through certainty, but through doubt and disbelief. Rollins compares this kind of worship to an addiction, in which an individual must keep going ba ...more
This grabbed me right off the bat, kind of lulled a tiny bit in the middle and then picked back up again in the final third.

It probably didn't help that I read half of it while being somewhat sleep deprived.
It definitely didn't help that this is a library book and therefor I can't mark it up as I would like to (although that was the case with HNtSoG as well)

I have Insurrection sitting on my desk and plan to dive in to that pretty soon, making it my 4th Rollins book in the last 3 weeks, but I've
Bryce Maxwell
Feb 21, 2013 Bryce Maxwell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Peter Rollins’ Idolatry of God

Peter Rollins’ Idolatry of God marks the second book of a three book series (Insurrection being the first) focused on be ridding humanity of its certainty and satisfaction complexes. The book is organized into three sections (The Old Creation, The New Creation, The New Collective), with more loosely defined chapters serving as smaller building blocks to these sections. For those who are unfamiliar with Rollins’ philosophy, or for those who are interested in a 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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“There is a deep sense in which we are all ghost towns. We are all haunted by the memory of those we love, those with whom we feel we have unfinished business. While they may no longer be with us, a faint aroma of their presence remains, a presence that haunts us until we make our peace with them and let them go. The problem, however, is that we tend to spend a great deal of energy in attempting to avoid the truth. We construct an image of ourselves that seeks to shield us from a confrontation with our ghosts. Hence we often encounter them only late at night, in the corridors of our dreams.” 19 likes
“Love is the crazy, mad, and perhaps ridiculous gesture of saying yes to life, of seeing it as worthy of our embrace and even worthy of our total sacrifice.” 12 likes
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