Pete Rollins – Resurrection as Insurrection
What we believe emanates from who we are. And who we are is not about dogma, or even about moral behavior, but about dying to ourselves. This is part of the conversation between ThinkFwd host, Spencer Burke, and Pete Rollins, author of How Not to Speak of God and The Orthodox Heretic. They explore the ideas of truth and God, of resurrection and insurrection.
Truth, says Rollins, is not one extreme or the other; it’s not the middle of the extremes. Truth is at both extremes. While traditional Christians say, “God is present. God exists, and Christianity is true;” atheists say “God isn’t there and Christianity isn’t true.” These two extremes push Rollins to explore a 3rd position and he likens it to the story of Jesus on the cross, when He felt forsaken by God– God not present–and yet God was completely present. And so the 3rd position dwells in the very place in between. Rollins says Christians are called to dwell not on one side of the other, but in the very split that Christ opens up: between old and new; between Judaism and Christianity.
Rollins and Burke turn to the idea of self. What is our true self? Can we disagree ideologically and philosophically, and at the end of the day still be friends and go out for drinks together? Can we have a public and private profile that are at odds? Rollins believes the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves are a type of fiction. That our conscious self is an idealized representation of who we are.
We can say we believe certain things, but the truth of who we are plays out in the reality of our lives. And our goal is to bring the stories we tell ourselves (I’m a good person, I’m loving, I’m kind) in line with the reality of who we are. For Rollins, the truth is, he aspires to believe in God. To live a life of mercy, faithfulness, self-control. But we are not truly living Christian lives unless we are dying to ourselves—participating in the death and resurrection of Christ.
This Easter, Rollins is doing a pub tour, “I believe in the insurrection.” What is it about? It’s about being invited to transformation. Rollins thinks the apostle Paul had it right. Paul doesn’t talk about who Jesus hung out with. Or about Jesus’ miracles. He says that being a Christian is participating in the death and resurrection of Christ. You die, and you are reborn. You can say, “I believe x, y, and z” but if you don’t think about where you live, and the work you do, and how your consumerism affects others, then that is the truth of your life, not what you SAY you believe. And so the resurrection, the insurrection is about dying, being reborn, transformed, so we are no long the same.
- Is doubt okay? Have you I ever felt closer to God, or found God, while doubting God?
- Do you feel as if your “Facebook” Christianity lives up to your private actions?
Group or Staff Questions:
- How can you live out the resurrection/insurrection in your community through participation and transformation?
- With multiple definitions of participation, in the past massive crowds equaled success. Will our future include those on the edges/fringes, bringing the “not-yet” into the “now.”