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

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  973 ratings  ·  123 reviews
Theological firebrand Peter Rollins asserts that mainstream Christianity reduces God to an idol, made in our own image, for the purpose of providing certainty and satisfaction.

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 hone
Paperback, 208 pages
Published January 1st 2013 by Howard Books
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David Steele
Jul 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
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 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Lee Harmon
Nov 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing

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
Kelsey Gould
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
9/10. Over the past couple of years, the framework through which I approached my faith became increasingly... troublesome. It’s been so helpful to read stories of people who have experienced similar things, but there was still so much confusion and anxiety around the subject. This book has helped so so much. As the title suggests, the point of it was not to contribute to any certainty, but to freedom. And it did! It has given words to many of my wonderings and suspicions and unease, and it has g ...more
Jul 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I thought the book could have been more organized, but I really love Rollins perspective on faith. I learned about him on a podcast where he talked about being comfortable with "the lack" in our lives. I thought it was a super insightful conversation and I wanted more so I read the book. It gave me a lot to think about.
Ali M.
Jun 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 po ...more
Raoul G
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theory
For someone familiar with Peter Rollins work many of the ideas in this book will not be exactly new. Still, here he manages to put them together in a understandable and coherent way. As always, his use of examples (e.g. movie scenes, parables etc.) is helpful to make the various points he is making understandable. As always the content is a mix of theology, philosophy and psychoanalysis. In my opinion this book serves well as an introduction to Peter Rollins' 'pyrotheology'.

Now a few more words
Robert Johnson
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book that came into my life at the right time giving me to the freedom and love to think freely on what I had been struggle with for years. So grateful for the words and thoughts of Peter Rollins. Highly recommend. I imagine if you aren't in the right space for this, it will be a rough or nonsensical read, but if you are where I was, it will breath life into your soul.
Jan 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Joy Matteson
Oct 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jamie Howison
Apr 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Leigh Anne
Apr 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Christianity: you're doing it wrong.

Americans often forget, with their megachurches and prosperity gospel evangelists, that the early Christians practiced a dangerous, radical faith that was diametrically opposed to the culture they lived in. No worries, though: Peter Rollins is here to remind you. His central thesis is that Christianity, as currently practiced, is actually idol worship, and that most people have lost their connection to the mystery that drives faith.

If that sentence didn't make
Oct 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a joy to read Peter Rollins. His ideas are pleasantly against the grain and his theology is surprisingly good and seems to transcend the level of 'hey-I'm-just-saying-something-interesting-and-provocative'. I believe that at the heart of his book there is even quite some orthodoxy to be found. It made sense. It resonated.

There's also a but. As much as I love his theoretical work on idolatry and Pauline divisions, I am somewhat skeptical about his contemplative suggestions. They're interesti
Shawn Birss
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Nathan Wheeler
Mar 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Mack Hayden
Feb 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
Peter Rollins has been on my radar for a while. I'd seen him debate Lawrence Krause and had a decent number of friends recommend him to me. I'm an ex-Christian who still likes to keep tabs on what's new in the church. Rollins makes some compelling and important points about how the contemporary Christian world seems to make an idol out of God himself. If I ever get drawn back to Christianity, it'll be to the sort of Ecclesiastes-informed Christianity Rollins advocates here. His parables sprinkle ...more
Adam Ross
Aug 25, 2013 rated it liked it
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
John Hanscom
Jan 31, 2013 rated it did not like it
I had read his book, Insurrection, and fund it sort of average, but this one came with such glowing reviews, I decided to try again. I wish I had not. His basic thesis is our concept of God, church, liturgy, creeds, etc., can become as idolatrous as anything else, especially if we feel, as in the Prosperity Gospel, if we do this or that or believe this or that, we will reap great reward. What we should do, he believes, is know we cannot know, and embrace doubt. Well-and-good, but this has been s ...more
Robert D. Cornwall
Feb 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
May 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Omar Domenech
Jun 07, 2015 rated it did not like it
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 bother attempting to justify any of his ideas; 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 says because the author says so.

In addition to
Aug 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This book will be Heresy to some and Life to others, but it will be thought provoking to all! I first heard Peter Rollins on Rob Bell’s podcast and loved listening to his thoughts and accent! So I was thrilled to discover he wrote some books and even provided the narration for this one so I listened to this book over the course of three days and already want to listen again. I found his perspective to be refreshing and encouraging. This book bubbled over into all of my conversations these past f ...more
Steven Fouse
May 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jonathon Hagger
Jan 30, 2017 rated it liked it
I must admit that I struggled with this book. Not because I disagreed with it or that i felt there were errors. Rather I tried to comprehend the meaning of this book intellectually whereas it is best read at a soul level. The theology is sound, the arguments robust. However my evangelical upbringing was certainly challenged meaning my reading of the book was somewhat akin to a wrestling match. This is a good read and not to be taken lightly.
Lowell AfdahlRice
Nov 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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!
Apr 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book resonated with me and blew my mind at the same time.
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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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