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Insurrection – Peter Rollins (Hodder & Stoughton)

Belfast-born writer, theologian and storyteller, Peter Rollins’ stated aim is to write a work of  ‘pyro-theology’ burning up the chaff of false religion, chiefly its thinking the Cross and Resurrection,  so that a new radical Faith emerges. But many will conclude that he removes rather more wheat than chaff as he strays significantly from mainstream understanding of these key themes.

In the first half entitled ‘Crucifixion’ Rollins steadily builds the argument that Christians fail to enter into the abandonment of the cross that Jesus experiences because we are shielded by the positive words of the church and its leaders who give insufficient room for expressing the doubt and forsakenness that the cross signifies.  Hence the subtitle: ‘to believe is human; to doubt divine’. The second half ‘Resurrection’ builds on how he would love to see the church give full expression to doubt, while still embracing the Resurrection, to create  a radical community making a difference in the world in the here and now.

It’s a thoughtful, well-written, academic but accessible book combining philosophy, theology, and psychology with some great stories illustrating his points. There’s some five star insights into how we see ourselves: e.g. we easily fool ourselves, forgetting that we actually do tells more about us than what we say we believe. But its skewed view of the Crucifixion and Resurrection fails to embrace all that the New Testament says on these topics. This is book for those who have their theology sorted and are prepared to enjoy the good and spit out the many bones – but there’s too much wonky thinking and theology to be of value for most Christians.