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Insurrection: To Believe Is Human To Doubt, Divine

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  1,216 ratings  ·  137 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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 ·  1,216 ratings  ·  137 reviews

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Ali M.
Nov 18, 2011 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 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
dp ⚕️
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really hate this book. Insurrection cut me to the core - it caused me to experience nearly the full range of human emotions, physical manifestations and all. The doubt mentioned in the title is an understatement. Rollins managed to get me to a place of sheer existential dread, more than a few times. Think of it as the book equivalent of heavyweight champion-era Mike Tyson (I got knocked the F**K OUT). There are very few other works that I've thought through so deeply and processed to such a si ...more
Aug 19, 2016 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
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
Nov 17, 2011 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
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In a manner reminiscent of Pete Enns, Rollins tackles the problematic topic of doubt and belief as it relates to the core tenants of the Christian faith.

Is real faith when you believe what you are told to believe, or when you believe in spite of your doubts, with no institutional safety net?
Chet Duke
Dec 11, 2015 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 amoun ...more
John Lucy
Oct 29, 2011 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
Mar 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was two hundred pages of whiplash.

The things I liked, I loved. The things I didn't like, I hated. The experience was infuriating, but thrilling. I can't say I was bored.

Some critiques land with a devastating blow. Others sound like a stoned frat boy quoting a Zizek video he saw on Youtube. Yes, the central thesis for this book revolves around one particular interpretation of only one phrase Christ utters on the Cross. Yes, Rollins simply forgets to mention the litany of scriptures tha
Luke Boyce
Oct 25, 2015 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
Billie Pritchett
Jul 03, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Steven Fouse
Oct 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Peter Rollins has been on my list of authors to read for a long time, as he is one of those authors that a lot of authors I read and people I respect have mentioned and recommended. Although it took me years to finally get to reading one of his works, I would not be surprised if I read through all of the rest of his books in the next few months, judging by how much I appreciated his writing and his thought process in Insurrection.

I started reading my way through Rollins with Insurrection, his fo
JR. Forasteros
Sep 27, 2011 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
Erin McIntosh
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most frustratingly honest and refreshing books on the modern church/Christianity. It will totally mess with you - in the very best way.
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Kinda wanted to throw the book across the room a few times, but like, in a good way.
Jul 30, 2020 rated it liked it
'My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?' These are the words spoken by Jesus as he agonised over God's divine absence on the cross. These words form the central thesis of Peter Rollins' controversial work Insurrection, which claims that religion is a psychological crutch, and that only by embracing the level of existential doubt and torment experienced by Jesus will we find meaning.

Rollins rails against the certainty expressed in worship songs and sermons in church services, and condemns it a
Keith Dow
Oct 23, 2013 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 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 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 16, 2014 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 God ...more
Alastair Mccollum
Dec 11, 2011 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 stru ...more
B.J. Richardson
Jan 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Peter Rollins 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 a garden (surrender), cross (despair), and resurrection (new life) he walks through what it means to be a Christian who will embrace our world without identifying ourselves by it. It is a good read for those who want to seriously look at some tough questions.

Steve Hirby
Apr 30, 2012 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 aut ...more
Susan Yang
Dec 05, 2012 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." ...more
Brad Mullet
Jul 22, 2012 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. ...more
Logan  Barnette
Sep 22, 2019 rated it did not like it
Admittedly, I'm marking this as complete when I've only gotten 2/3rds of the way through it. I just can't read it any further. It's putting me to sleep. When I bought this book it was because Goodreads recommended it to me as similar to other books on my shelves, I'm not sure how accurate that is but the title reeled me in.

Beyond the title, Insurrection is boring, dreadfully dull, and goes on for much longer than it should. It feels like a lecture that's scheduled to be an hour long but the lec
Sep 30, 2019 rated it liked it

"The only illuminating church is a burning one"

The biggest issue I have with this book is that "Pyro theology" sounds like a 14-year-old boy hopped up on mountain dew, playing call of duty, came up with the title. That may sound petty, and would have been if the book had the requisite depth to offset this faux pas. However, it mostly seems like Rollins is just annoyed, and easily finds things to be annoyed about. He also has the habit of including stories that he apparently believes validate
Avolyn Fisher
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christianity, 2020
This book is complex and often a little hard to follow due to how much of what I was raised to perceive as Christian doctrine runs a bit counter to Rollins interpretation. There are points of this book that had me screaming "YES!" in agreement, and many points that probably went a little over my head. Given the short length of the book I may have to revisit this later as I imagine it's one of those books that is so dense you will learn something you didn't quite catch earlier in each revisit. I ...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

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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.” 12 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.” 4 likes
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