Orthodox Heretic
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Orthodox Heretic

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  522 ratings  ·  59 reviews

'This book should be banned! It's DANGEROUS!' *

* So might any Christian say for whom faith functions like a comfortable chair and a lot of good will. If you are comfy and satisfied, then what you have might not be faith after all, explains Peter Rollins.
Christian faith only has meaning if it affects the ways that people live their lives. For many who are not Christians, cr

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Published December 1st 2009 by Paraclete Press (first published April 1st 2009)
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The thing which turned me off of this book is its pretentiousness. It is too conscious of its own greatness and depth and in the process loses most of it. Likewise, the author is often too superficial in the way he critiques 'consumerism' and the capitalist system under the guise of what he calls the 'radical' demands of Christ. He seems to paint through his stories a picture of a black and white world, one in which there are people who follow what he claims to be the true spirit of Christ and t...more
Reading this book was kind of like having 30-some knives thrust in to my stomach. Given the number of parables it was highly likely that some would be incredibly timely, but there were a few instances where I was really taken aback with how dead on and totally applicable some of these were...like...there was one that touched on stuff that I had been talking about an hour prior, and I was then able to examine my thoughts/words and think about them in a totally new context and it really helped tra...more
A retelling of the parable of Jesus feeding the 5000, only this time Jesus and his disciples steal their food and eat it all? A story about a holy priest who shows hospitality to all who come to his church, even a demon from hell? The tale of a woman who goes off to a foreign land hoping to translate the scripture but ends up using the money she raises to help the residents after natural disasters only to find that this act translates scripture just as well as words on a page?

These are just a fe...more
Incredible! I cannot figure out how to give 6 stars on this thing. And I cannot figure out why the overall rating from others is only 3.92! Peter advises to take time to meditate on each parable instead of breezing through, I tried, but it was so hard to put down.
Mj Harding
Lately, I've been taking quite a shine to the work of Peter Rollins. While I have some theological questions to ask him, I really appreciate his ability to step outside of more conservative frames--his work, at least in The Orthodox Heretic, is more concerned with questioning our understanding of what it means to be a Christian in a Christian culture that values winners over losers--being broken, admitting frailties, failing to live up to expectations is what Rollins revels in. I shouldn't say "...more
Rob Skirving
In my estimation, there are some real pearls amongst the stories offered in this book, although I expect each of us would value the various chapters differently. I particularly enjoyed the story titled, "The Agnostic Who Became An Atheist" and will go back to it regularly. By Rollins terms, I am an atheist and have described myself as such when I am in situations where I can trust that those present will listen to me carefully, and not rush to judgement. Quoting from the commentary on his last s...more
A really good and unique book from Peter Rollins. I cannot compare it to his previous 2 books because I chose to read this one first, but I know that the previous two were theological treatises while this one is a book of parables. As Peter explains in the introduction, a parable is something that can speak to a wide range of people and can penetrate much deeper than abstract talk about God. So, this book is a collection of short (actually, very short) parables that Peter has written that explor...more
David Meldrum
Peter Rollins website carries the banner ''to believe is human; to doubt, divine". So you know doubt what territory you're in with his books. He was the founder of Ikon, an Irish emerging/alternative church group with a creative line in blending music art and imagery in worship. I'd experienced some of their work at festivals in the UK - it was nothing if not daring. The music and the imagery and the ideas were all creative and clever, but I sometimes found it hard to work out what they were act...more
Eric Sundquist
I am happy to report that I have rated this book 5 out of 5. And I'm not happy for the book's sake; I'm happy for my sake, because it means that I am reading better books that I am enjoying more. My last three books have all rated 4 or 5. But in the ten before that, only one reached a 4 rating.

Ah, Goodreads.

I came across this book because my small group decided to read it, then abandon it halfway through. I was well-advised to pace myself instead of rushing through. The book is a bunch of short...more
There is an interesting phenomenon emerging at the moment in Christian theological writing. It may even amount to new genre, which could perhaps be called "contemporary wisdom literature". In this form, beliefs and ideas that have derived from earlier texts (in the case of Christians the source material of the Bible and writings that draw from it) are conveyed in the form of stories or parables (as in this book) or that of prophetic vision (as in the case of The Shack) and perhaps other forms wi...more
Oct 05, 2011 Elizabeth rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Rest and re/New "Postmodern Parables" series
I really liked some of these stories (Rollins isn't willing to go so far as to call them "parables" himself).

Some of them are really troubling (though Rollins includes a commentary after each tale, which helps explain what he was trying to get at in each given tale). Though hey, this coming Sunday has a troubling parable in its lectionary, so I suppose Rollins is in keeping with tradition.

Something one reviewer mentioned and which I noticed partway through the book is that they get somewhat redu...more
These stories are best read one at a time in a quite moment when you have some time to think (as the author says in the introduction). If used in the right way and with the right attitude they can force the reader to think differently about faith and belief; to focus more on living out their faith in the here and now rather than dreaming of heavenly rewards or obsessed with correct doctrine.

But the drawback is that the message is almost always the same: love of God and our fellow man is the foun...more
This is a great book to read by yourself or for a group discussion. It is split into short chapters with a parable and a commentary. These aren't your average parables though, some of them are adapted from parables from the Bible, but most are taken from other sources or created by Rollins. The idea behind the parables is to question things we take for granted, our culture, our ideas, our interpretations, etc.

The book ends with a commentary on a parable that essentially says that none of us hav...more
Ruben Ag
This is one of the most, at least in my eyes, important books on living a truthful life of love. Of a Christianity that is not just some way of hiding our fears and giving us something to stand on when we are afraid. I was surprised how, considering the trouble I had to read "How (Not) to Speak of God," easy it was to read this book, the parables were indeed thought provoking and the reflections were fantastic. I struggle to say this is a "light" book because it's not, it's one of the heaviest t...more
Tom Emanuel
Peter Rollins' stories work best when they function as parables: "metaphor[s] or simile[s] drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought," according to C.H. Dodd. And when they work, they are quite powerful. But sometimes they become a little too didactic and obvious, thereby losing their power as teaching stories.

But whether effective as parables or n...more
This is one one the most intellectually stimulating, faith inspiring books I have read in quite some time. It is not a difficult read, per se. The short parables, seek to take an oft common Christian claim/belief/thought and turn it on its head via the medium of the parable. A straightforward story which shares a truthful idea has its value. However, a parable that catches one off guard and and doesn't let him or her in on the "truth" or "punch line" until it is discovered can leave one mulling...more
Leslie Klingensmith
I love Peter Rollins, but when I read this I found that I prefer his straight theology/philosophy to these parables. The parables reflect the best of his theology, but sometimes they feel a little forced.
Sarah Rosenberger
The four stars don't include the introduction, which I did not like at all. The author came off as incredibly arrogant - I don't take kindly to being told "this is a great book, and you must read it in this particular way or else you will be unable to properly appreciate its greatness." It's especially ironic given that several of the parables deal with the inherent uncertainty of Christianity, notably summed up by the last line of the book: "we humbly admit that we are in the dark, but still en...more
Rollins tales, though highly approachable, are also vastly paradoxical. In this way Rollins causes his readers to think upon the paradoxes of their faith, to surrender to their doubts, and to admit their heresy... And in doing this, Rollins helps us on the road to true orthodoxy.
I don't usually give 5 stars to books, but I do when a book really influences me. What I found so refreshing about Peter Rollins is that it took me back to a time when I felt the same way. I really connected with this book because these are all things I have thought about before in another time and place in my life. I just didn't realize how jaded I had become over the years. As the Beatles say, All You Need is Love, and that is all Jesus has ever been about. I just wish people would stop trying...more
Caleb Kirsch
This is about as comprehensible as Pete gets, turning overused Christian inspirational concepts on their heads in a way that made me wrestle with my comfortable, one-sided understanding of Christ's teachings. Rollins can be a bit pretentious at times - he's brilliant and he knows it - but I'll forgive him this once because his stories are tightly written and captivating. This book is significantly more concrete than "Insurrection" (which to me felt like deconstructionist ramblings) and is much b...more
Adam Shields
Short review: Rollins is intentionally telling the reader parables. Some are based on Jesus' parables, some just use the parable form. He is intentionally trying to get us to focus on things that are different from Jesus' parables. Once I got past that and just listened to what he was saying I enjoyed it much more. Each chapter (there are 33) has a parable and then his explanation of the parable. As you would expect, some are better than others.

My full review is at http://bookwi.se/orthodox-here...more
Rollins' book is filled with short parables, some based directly off stories from the Bible, others his own creations, to discuss new ways of looking at faith and how to live out life as a follower of Jesus. Following each parable, he writes a short commentary with his thoughts on it, where it came from, how it can be applied to life.

The ideas were nothing groundbreaking, but the format was a fresh way to present them, rather than the standard couple hundred page narrative. It was worth the rea...more
This is an interesting book and certainly worth the read. Rollins presents thirty-three parables, most pretty brief, along with commentary which informs the reader of the issue he was attempting to get at. In my view, the greatest number of the parables are a success. Some develop out of parables taught by Jesus, others are solely the author's. Effective in helping the reader look at their faith from a different perspective. Makes me want to read more of Rollins work.
A thought provoking book full of parables designed to understand the Christian life anew. Some of the parables missed for me, but when they hit, they were great. I'll refrain from detailing what the book does well and less than well since that is largely subjective. Rather, I'll simply note that the opportunity to rethink some ideas and get to answers that are so far from the typical traditional drivel offered in church was refreshing.
Rollins presents 33 brief parables with commentary. Stories are capable of saying an awful lot and many of these are great at getting us to see things in a new way as Rollins challenges safe orthodoxy and some of our practices. However in a passing reference to the Matrix trilogy, he said it was directed by the Cohen brothers. Whatever the merits of the Matrix or the Wachowski brothers may be, they are no Cohens.
Louis Lapides
Don't waste your time with another edition of emergent church theological dribble. In one chapter on Judas Iscariot the author suggests Jesus conspired with Judas and the Pharisees to bring about the arrest of Jesus. Pure uninspired imaginative nonsense. Read the book of 1Chronicles than exposing yourself to the theology of the biblically irrelevant emergent church post-modern Christian scam.
Joy Matteson
An interesting concept--modern day parables to speak of current issues in American Christianity's controversial climate. Some reviewers feel that this work seems a bit pretentious, and I can definitely understand where they're coming from, but it's true that Peter Rollins has some unique ideas to share as well. All in all-some may hate it, some may love it. A good read, and a short one too.
A great collection of modern parables, complete with ample twists and turns. They're designed to be read and re-read in hopes of finding multiple layers of meaning. You know - like any good parable or morality tale.
Very interesting and thought-provoking stories that will stick with me and that I will come back to repeatedly.

I found the prose explanations of most of the stories to be a bit distracting — I'd prefer that they be included as endnotes or something so that the stories could stand on their own before insisting on an interpretation.
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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 Insurrection: To Believe Is Human To Doubt, Divine The Idolatry of God: Breaking Our Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction The Fidelity of Betrayal: Towards a Church Beyond Belief The Idolatry of God: Breaking the Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction

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“For just as one person’s idol is another’s icon, so one person’s fable is another’s parable.” 0 likes
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