Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Peter Rollins - Do you believe in God?

“Do you believe in God?”

William Crawley kick-started a half hour conversation with what sounded like a straight-forward question from one side of the sofa in the Black Box café last October.

Peter Rollins was perched up on the arm over on the other side of the sofa. Physically as far away from his interviewer as possible while staying on the same piece of furniture. Before the interview, he’d delivered a twenty minute address, which had outlined his vision of Ikon, his discomfort with conformance, and his personal journey to encounter God faith … his personal journey. Much like his recent book of parables, Rollins’ talk had been remarkably accessible and well justified – and I regret not recording it. The interview was incomparable.

“To me that question is partly philosophical ...”

Rollins replied, before racing through posters on the sides of buses, problems with new atheists and various other side streets. After a few minutes he arrived at what seemed like a conclusion, but instead opened up a whole new set of questions.

“Doubt, forsakenness and the sense of the absence of God are part of the Christian experience. So long story short, I do think maybe there is a God sometimes but for me it’s not a Christian question. The Christian question is conversion, is God amidst and among us and we need to transform society for good.”

Rollins agrees with Crawley’s suggestion that God isn’t a proposition: God’s existence isn’t a yes or no answer. Instead God is something more relational.

At this point, some of us are already quite lost, bewildered, probably uncomfortable and maybe even staring at the ground shaking our heads! There’s something massively complicated – perhaps contorted – about Rollins’ theological position. Yet there is something quite powerful and challenging about turning a lot of the normal religious scaffolding upside down in order to get new views of God.

I’ll leave you to listen to the interview and make your own minds up.

Update - Perhaps a more user-friendly conversation can be found over on the Something Beautiful Podcast. (download)


Graeme said...

Sounds like one of those times when a person speaks for half an hour and doesn't succeed in actually SAYING anything :P

whynotsmile said...

Am I alone in finding this kind of stuff just incredibly irritating? It always sounds like the kind of drunken conversations you overhear in university halls of residence.

Not that I'm saying much of any more sense!

Paul said...

I see Pete as a creative artist, good for provoking ideas, but not for following them up. I'm with Tim Williamson, Prof. of Logic at Oxford:

"Some people find rigour oppressive, but its absence is what oppresses me. Rigour came and comes as a longed-for liberation from bluster and bombast, others' and my own."

Bit surprised at Will though. Who thinks that God *is* a proposition?! (Of course, there is debate about whether or not "God exists" *expresses* a bivalent proposition). That loose talk obscured the issue.

FX 初心者 said...

Sometimes I believe in God, but sometimes not.

When I need God, I believe.

I think many persons are just like me, we are not the real presons who believe in God.

Anonymous said...

Who thinks "God" is a proposition? Paul, have you ever read any fundamentalist Christian literature? You'll find many examples there of theologies that propositionalise God.

The more I listened to this conversation, the more I agreed with Crawley that Rollins is either an atheist or a "post-theist", and the more I became convinced that Rollins is deliberately trying to obscure what he really thinks.