Monday, November 14, 2011

peter rollins the postmodern pharisee

In short, such an approach reveals that Christianity exhibits the structure of a religion without religion. Belief thus has an important place; however, it is ultimately subordinate to the event that it points toward. The result is the idea that living within the event that is testified to in Christianity is more important than the affirmation that one is a Christian, or in other words, the event contained in the affirmation of God is more important than the belief in God.
Rollins, Peter (2009-01-29). Fidelity of Betrayal (Kindle Locations 1555-1558)

Look at what he's saying here--"living within the event that is testified to in Christianity is more important than the affirmation that one is a Christian...the event contained in the affirmation is more important than the belief in God". What is he saying?

Unlike the former reading, which sees Christianity as a worldview that can somehow be compared and contrasted with other worldviews, this latter approach questions the idea that Christianity can be approached as a religious worldview at all; rather, in this approach Christianity operates within all worldviews, at least in those places where people’s lives reflect love, hope, and passionate commitment to one’s neighbor. While the first interpretation sees Jesus as the founder of the one true religion, the latter interpretation sees in Jesus one who would set an axe to all religion.
Fidelity of Betrayal (Kindle Locations 1487-1491).

Because a miracle takes place at a radically subjective level that cannot be objectified or analyzed, it is not, strictly speaking, something that is believed in. Rather it is lived. Indeed it can easily be lived and not believed in.
Fidelity of Betrayal (Kindle Locations 1746-1748).

Instead of rendering God present to the understanding, this way of reading the text interprets the phrase ’ehyeh ’asher ’ehyeh as a means of describing the nature of God’s presence among us. Here God is presented neither as reducible to the status of other objects, nor as outside the world and eternally distant from it, but rather as one who is received by us without ever being directly conceived by us. Here the mystery of God is revealed as an incarnated mystery, that is, the mystery of God is revealed in the midst of God’s presence. God is here being presented as saying something akin to, “Do not try to name me. my name is above all names; I am present to you beyond all names.” Here we find a different way of approaching God: here we come across the idea that God is made manifest as a happening, an event, a blessing. God is here revealed as one who is made present through the acts of love and liberation rather than through the categories of human understanding. This does not mean that we will come to an understanding of God through closely observing the actions of God. Here the text goes further: God is made known only in action, only as blessing.
Fidelity of Betrayal (Kindle Locations 1276-1275).

When Jesus spoke of being “born again” he was not referring to some proposition that could be considered through logic, religious sermons, Bible reading, or through some kind reflection on religious experience; rather he was speaking of an event that opens up a whole new world of experience. Religious experience, in its fundamental form, is not then an experience at all but rather a counter-experience, one that transforms our mode of being in the world rather than being reduced to some strange feeling. With the incoming of this truth nothing necessarily changes in the physical world, no new object enters our horizon. But in its aftermath the person is never the same again, for everything has changed. This luminous life can never be captured, contained, or pulled apart; it is lived. This event in which nothing changes is an event so radical that nothing remains the same.
Fidelity of Betrayal (Kindle Locations 1346-1352).

Look at how he denigrates belief. This is a common theme throughout the book. He is constantly playing games with belief, claiming that belief in the truth claims of the Bible or even in God are not important, and even the questions of whether or not the Bible is true or if there is a God are not important. Something else is, something he calls the "miracle", and is something that, as he says in one of the quotes above, can "easily be lived and not believed in".

Looking at Rollins' words about this "miracle" and conversion, one is struck by a complete lack of the things the Bible places as central to this conversion--repentence from sins, belief and faith in Christ who was crucified as a sacrifice for our sins. Instead, he goes on about change and experience, using nonsense phrases about nothing being changed but everything being changed.

In his own convoluted way, he's simply repeating what the Pharisees in Jesus' day believed. His definition of righteousness is some combination of works and experience, that for example in regards to worldviews those worldviews are acceptable "...where people’s lives reflect love, hope, and passionate commitment to one’s neighbor".

But what does that mean? God cannot be understood, so he says. Thus, beliefs are essentially meaningless. What the Bible says about God is essentially meaningless; indeed, God cannot even interpret His own Word, because that would somehow be an untrue interpretation. There are no answer, only questions. Believe in Christ, or not; believe in God, or not; put your faith in the gods of Greek mythology, for all that it matters.

All we have are works that somehow God is pleased in, though we don't know how we know that or why. Why, after all, should a god about whom we cannot know anything by reason or logic be a god who wants us to be kind to people. Mankind has had many gods who wanted their priests to take other people and sacrifice them in bloody rituals. Why should not that be how this unknowable god is? Or why should people not worship this god in that way, as other do so through kindness? How can we know that this god prefers one or the other, because if the priest who sacrifices captives from another tribe thinks he being kind to his neighbor in doing so, then what argument can be made against it?

As soon as we start looking at Rollins' claims, that we can learn little or nothing about God through His Word, that God did not really speak to the prophets, that it's really not important whether or not Christ really died and rose again, then we are simply brought up against Rollins' own opinions and beliefs about what this god approves of. And let us be clear, they are simply the biases and presuppositions of Rollins and those like him. Why the bloody Aztec gods should be shunted aside is simply a matter of preference, not of any standard that says human sacrifices are wrong.

Rollins is playing as a Pharisee, but at least the Pharisees had the Law of Moses, even if they abused it and misused it. At least they would have claimed that belief in Jehovah was important, even if it was more a belief in their own supposed righteousness. All Rollins has is his own law, his own beliefs that no beliefs are important, yet somehow love and hope and caring for others is important, simply because the Christ he doesn't believe in said so, even if He may not really have said those words at all. And why this god spoke through Christ more than through the bloody Aztec prophets is not a question that can be answered.

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