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The Fidelity of Betrayal: Towards a Church Beyond Belief

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  379 ratings  ·  36 reviews
"About 30 years ago, I came across the evocative phrase 'religionless Christianity' in Dietrich Bonhoeffer's later writings, and it has stayed with me ever since. In his new book The Fidelity of Betrayal, Peter Rollins has teased out - as Bonhoeffer never had the chance to do - profound possibilities hidden in the phrase. As a huge fan of Peter's first book, I find his sec ...more
Paperback, 196 pages
Published June 1st 2008 by Paraclete Press (first published January 1st 2008)
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Dec 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What is Christianity? This is the central question that Peter Rollins seeks to answer in The Fidelity of Betrayal: Towards a Church Beyond Belief.

Drawing on such philosophers and theologians as Pascal, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Bonhoeffer, and Žižek, Rollins provides his answer, constantly referring to Christianity as a “religion without religion,” which is, of course, reminiscent of Bonhoeffer’s notion of religionless Christianity. (Rollins’s background in poststructuralist thought and continenta
Raoul G
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Now, just how did you read those letters there above? Did you read them as affirming that God is now here? Or did you see them as a claim that God is nowhere? Most people would contend that it has to be one or the other. But, there is a rising number of people, scholars and laypeople alike, with the desire to get beyond this theism/atheism divide. Instead of seeing the above letters as a Rorschach test showing you what you subconsciously believe about God, whether he is pr
Corey Hampton
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading this book for the second time. It's by far one of my top five favourite books, and deserves pride of place on the shelf next to my desk at all times. When I read it for the first time, it set me on a journey; and now, reading it again with a friend, I am reminded of just why I loved it. I'm currently working to finish my MA dissertation in Biblical Hermeneutics, and it's mainly this book that inspired me to work with poststructuralist hermeneutics.

I hope to go through th
Dec 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, reviewed
After reading this book, I’m now, and probably forevermore, a huge Peter Rollins fan. This book was both comforting and incredibly disruptive. Rollins turns fundamental ideology on its head by asserting that God cannot be understood by gaining mastery of the biblical text, rather the text conceals the nature of God. He believes that we should continually betray our attempt at naming God, because we can only point towards experience. Any attempt to contain and systematize God is simply a reductio ...more
Christian Orton
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An essential read for all spiritual folks.
James Stacey
Sep 15, 2011 rated it liked it
I read this straight after 'How (Not) To Speak of God'. As in that book, Rollins delves deliberately into paradoxes here - not as someone who wants to engage in apologetics and 'explain' the difficulties of faith (in either the slightly embarrased or slightly bombastic manner of some apologists). Unashamedly postmodern, Rollins delights in paradox - he shouts paradox from the rooftops - he sets paradox on fire and waves it from the treetops.

Central to this book is the (yes, paradoxical) assertio
Joel Wentz
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Controversial, deeply unsettling, profoundly comforting, and passionately argued. This is what I'm coming to expect from every Peter Rollins book now, and I'm loving it. He masterfully uses parables to draw you into philosophical reflection, sometimes in surprisingly funny and affecting ways. But he is, above all, fearless in pushing the reader into deep paradox so as to strip away conventions that prevent us from experiencing real faith.

Rollins really is a gift to our culture, but I also know t
dp ⚕️
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It was truly a pleasure to read How (Not) to Speak of God and The Fidelity of Betrayal back to back. They were published 2 years apart, and I can't help but admire how deeply Peter Rollins worked out his faith during this timeframe. This second book seems to be the result of a very natural progression in his thought. In comparison to his debut work, Rollins is in a somewhat new and different place theologically, while simultaneously continuing along the same raw, authentic, mysterious, subversiv ...more
Feb 01, 2018 rated it liked it
There’s certainly some wisdom here, especially in Rollins’ ideas about the fusion of faith and actions, but underneath the re-packaging of language there isn’t much new. This book offers plenty of what I’ve come to expect from Rollins—almost every chapter mixes huge leaps in logic and straw man arguments with moments of profound insight into humanity and our relationship with God. I’m glad I read it but can only think of a small handful of friends I’d recommend it to.
Jeremy Poland
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must-read for anyone for whom Christianity has become too small.

I found this to be a very enjoyable and accessible exploration of the paradox of faith. Mr. Rollins has a gift for balancing a rich intellectualism with humility, humor, and vibrant sorry-telling. I very much appreciated the parables too!
Jason Hathaway
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to love this book, because I really want to love Rollins. Having began with a bang, it just kind of fizzled out into a long and meaningless rant about unknowing and angst. Tries too hard to be clever.
Rob Jacobs
Jun 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Peter Rollins' takes are healthy for the soul. ...more
Anna DeSpain
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Inscrutable. I thoroughly loved it.
Caleb Ausbury
Jun 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christianity
I really enjoyed Rollins' Fidelity of Betrayal. It is very philosophical in nature, and challenges us on how we approach our "Christian" faith. The book rests on the idea that the nature of Christianity is betraying out perception of faith. In layman's terms, sometimes we need to go against the Church in order to keep with the nature of the Church. Our faith is not a solid, objective truth to be defended at all costs, but rather a perceived, subjective truth that ought to be reflected on and cha ...more
Ben Chenoweth
Mar 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an important book. Don't be put off by the somewhat revisionist readings of Judas Iscariot in the first section of the book. Even if you disagree with his exegesis here, the author's subsequent sections on the nature of Christian truth, God, the Word, and church (although he avoids that term) are extremely good. And to illustrate his points the author sprinkles in a few parables, some old and some new, which is a nice touch. I will almost certainly have to re-read this book again, since ...more
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
So many conclusions that I agree with, come at from completely different angles than I have ever thought of (or sometimes just told in a more modern way than I have every heard), and combined beautifully in a way to challenge most anyone who can read it. I'm part way through another of Rollins' books, and in comparison this is less accessible to those without at least an introductory background to theology and philosophy. But worth reading for the critiques it brings to theology (reminded me of ...more
Matthew O'Neil
Aug 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
I bought and read this book under the assumption it would be focused predominantly on betrayal. I specifically assumed it would be focused on Judas and other, similar, circumstances. Sadly, only a select few passages involved what I was hoping for. Instead I was met by a long diatribe arguing for certain tenets of the Christian faith to be accepted as fact. The author, not only assumed Christian theology to be fact, but expected the reader to assume the same.

It's also clear he's never taken a h
Austin Sill
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Rollins continues to turn the western elevation of intellection on its head. The dignity of man is not found in our artistic or intellectual potential, but in out ability to be transformed. For in the midst of that transfiguration we encounter God, in a way that transcends knowledge or belief. Here we are able, through faith, to supersede the wisdom of the world-- to become ignorant and unreasonable in the eyes of the world by living lives which have been infused with love, hope, and forgiveness ...more
Jan 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Any practitioner-theologian who openly describes their community as ‘heretical’ and ‘failing’ will have my attention. This is the sophomore effort from a guy who is completely changing the game of theology. In line with the mystics from whom he draws, he is messing with categories, and people aren’t quite sure what to do with him. I know what to do with Pete—invite him to Birmingham for some conversation. He’ll be coming ’round the mountain in February, and after connecting at TGE event (see bel ...more
Jul 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
another great book from rollins. the first two chapters seemed a little disjointed, but I guess that was just because he was trying to be subversive.? the word-play and cleverness-for-the-sake-of-cleverness did get a bit annoying at times. He was all over the map, but he succeeded in pushing the envelope for me on lots of things like scripture, belief, the nature of God, you name it... can't wait for the next one... ...more
Sep 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-lit, 2010
His books really do turn modern Christianity on its head, yet at the same time interpret Jesus' message in a beautiful way. The idea of belong, behave, believe makes so much sense to me. I also love when he says that "The Christian 'system' can thus never take power for, by definition, it is always that which stands against power, seeking to identify with the powerless and the voiceless." It is a system against systems, a religion without a religion. Pretty powerful stuff, at least to me. ...more
Nov 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
I think people that like philosophy or kierkegaard should just read this. There are some really interesting things going on in "postmodern" theology right now and you don't necessarily have to be very interested in religion to appreciate them. My only complaint is this is really hand-holding if you have a philosophy background. But the good news is it is easily understandable if you don't! Some great parables and thought experiments in here. Peter Rollins is so cool and entertaining, the end. ...more
Apr 03, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people stuck in a narrow form of Christianity
ILL The paperback I got has the subtitle "Towards a Church Beyond Belief"

I read a little.... sort of like Heschel on the life of Jesus....
a reasonable summary of Descartes, stories of the origins of GOD from the Midrash, from other mythology's and stories of the garden of Eden and Lillith...

not particularly Gnostic
Wayne Siggelkow
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Once again, Peter introduces new ways of looking at things that provide a fresh way to embrace a form of faith that at first seems contrary to what seems reasonable and right, but will provoke thoughts to embrace a much deeper and richer encounter with God as we are able to understand Him in our limited capacities.
Stephen Gire
Sep 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
So far so good. Rollins plays with the idea, that innate in our relationship with God is a sense of betrayal. And that to truly be faithful to our relationship with God, sometimes it means betraying our religion. Interesting concept... Definitely a thinker...
Aug 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2010
What a joy to read this book. Carefully written, and filled with challenging thoughts. It helped me feel less alone, though this has much to do with my background. (Results may vary.)

I've already purchased another book by Rollins.
Aug 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
I want to recommend this book to serious and thoughtful Christians everywhere. It is a uniquely fantastic book of fresh theology, Bible study technique and practical Christianity. I loved it! I will be using it in dialogue with my preaching for a long time to come!
Craig Bergland
Oct 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christianity
I can't say enough about this book as a return to mystical Christianity at its finest, the encounter with a God who is so much more than the product of our own projections and desire for power and control over others. This is authentic and powerful Christianity at its finest. ...more
Sep 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Rollins rambles along about how you sometimes have to deny your faith in order to stay true to it. A highly philosophical, and I am sure many would say heretical, book that is challenging and bemusing by turn.

Dec 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interested to read this angle on Christianity, so different from what I was brought up to believe, and have heard preached from many pulpits, but makes so much more sense to me!
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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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79 likes · 22 comments
“For, if we shift our focus, it is possible to see that these ripples and ruptures within the text, far from counting against the work as something divinely inspired, are exactly what we would expect to find from that which is marked by and born out of the very depths of God.” 1 likes
“The sheer amount of ideological conflicts playing out within the text hints at the fact that the writers were writing about a reality that could not be reduced to one description, a reality that was testified to better in the clash of perspectives than in the development of a single, finely honed one. The text was written not to be approached as an academic document detailing facts about the life of faith but rather as an invitation into the life of faith.” 1 likes
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