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The Orthodox Heretic And Other Impossible Tales

4.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  781 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
Rollins has already established himself as a major voice and an astute, generative force within the emergence Christianity. The Orthodox Heretic is his most accessible and engaging work to date." - Phyllis Tickle

In this bold new book Peter Rollins presents a vision of faith that has little regard for the institutions of Christendom. His uncompromising critique of religion,

Kindle Edition, 212 pages
Published May 27th 2009 (first published January 1st 2009)
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Mar 12, 2010 Rachael rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Nathan Duffy
Jun 13, 2014 Nathan Duffy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a sad little volume with an appropriate title, though not for the reason intended.

Structured as a collection of short parables followed by a short reflection on each parable intended to elicit contemplation by the reader, Rollins seeks to utilize this beloved pedagogical tool of Jesus' for its capacity for subversion and depth, in contrast to more discursive devices.

Unfortunately, once one understands the position the author is coming from (or especially if you're already aware of it g
Maria Longley
Nov 05, 2015 Maria Longley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ma, 2015
I heard one of these parables used at Easter on Iona this year and although the name was mentioned I didn't quite catch it, so I was delighted when I came across the parable in this book without expecting it. The format is a short little story and then a short commentary and I found it best reading these a little at a time. Rollins explores familiar stories from different angles. Some of these could well be used as standalone parables but for others I was glad of the commentary to try and unders ...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 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
Oct 05, 2011 Elizabeth rated it liked it  ·  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
Nov 01, 2010 Lauren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 10, 2014 Mj Harding rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Bj Richardson
This book is a series of 3-4 page parables followed by 3-4 page explanations. As an exercise in creatively reworking familiar concepts in unfamiliar ways or from unfamiliar angles Peter Rollins scores big. Some of his shorts are simply brilliant. The problem is, some of them are just... not. After a while I felt as though Rollins is trying too hard to be counter-intuitive with the stories he is working and more than once he skirts a bit too close to blasphemy to my liking. The author would have ...more
Aaron Carlberg
Oct 05, 2010 Aaron Carlberg rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A couple good parables, but mostly emergent babble.
Rob Skirving
Oct 09, 2013 Rob Skirving rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 08, 2012 Corey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 27, 2011 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 22, 2012 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 07, 2011 Kevin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 30, 2014 Norb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 21, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
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
Feb 25, 2014 Austinsill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 24, 2015 Graham rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Provided you only read the parables; add the commentary and it shrinks to two stars.
Crae Achacoso
Aug 15, 2014 Crae Achacoso rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some stories better than the others, but overall thought-provoking. Only for whose world views are willing to be bent and shaken, yet can remain founded.
Je lis donc je suis
Jan 08, 2015 Je lis donc je suis rated it really liked it
This is not a review as such...more of a stray thought. For those interested in reading Rollins, I would recommend this as a good place to start. It explores most of the same topics that are covered in his other books. The advantage here is that this book can be much more accessible than his others. (I'm probably not smart enough to be reading Rollins) Thus, if you like what you read here you can later splash into the deep end of the pool and swimm through the details of his other books. (Which ...more
Jul 26, 2010 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-lit, 2010
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
Jan 29, 2016 Jacob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of the tales were great, others were not. Not Rollins at his best, but still pretty good.
Caleb Kirsch
Aug 29, 2013 Caleb Kirsch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 05, 2011 Adam Shields rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lendable
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
Apr 18, 2011 Mindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
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
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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
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“What if Jesus was not offering his followers an ethical system to follow, but rather was inviting them to enter into a life of love that transcends ethics, a life of liberty that dwells beyond religious laws? The difference between following an ethical system and being consumed by love can be seen in the way that ethical systems seek to provide a way to work out what needs to be done so that it can be carried out. In contrast, love is never constrained, it never sits back, it always seeks to do more than what is demanded of it.” 4 likes
“The problem with so much religious communication is that it aims at changing our minds. The result is that we can hear the message of the preacher without necessarily heeding the message; we can listen to the “truth” and agree with it, yet not change in response to it.” 2 likes
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