Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Belief does nothing....We can believe the resurrection happened literally, we can believe it didn't. For me that's neither here nor there....Faith [for some people] is asserting propositions that you don't know are true. But that's actually not the category Paul is meaning when he talks about faith....It's not about having belief in something that we're not 100% sure about. It's about participating in a reality; participating in a truth....Belief, non-belief, all of that is at best a crutch, helps you sleep at night...

Attach a Northern Irish twang to those words and you have Peter Rollins in dialogue with Tony Jones about the resurrection.

I understand and even agree with what Rollins is railing against - an intellectualised discipleship (with "intellectual" meaning what the Enlightenment says it means) whereby the Christian journey is nothing more than a quest for knowledge, a pilgrimage for an indubitable belief structure. But, out of rejection for such cerebral Christianity, can you just throw belief out the window? Doesn't what we believe about a "reality" or a "truth" affect the shape of our participation?

Rollins seems to want to bypass beliefs, but I'm not sure that's possible for a species whose minds are deeply corrupted. When it comes to breathing we can participate without having to mentally assent to certain propositions about oxygen and our respiratory system, but participation in the kingdom of God here and now is not like breathing. Or if it is, it is more like breathing under water. There are constraints, there are hazards, there are modes of being that are unnatural and incorrect belief will seriously damage the effectiveness of our participation.

Does Rollins really believe that belief does nothing? The divide between theory and praxis may be a modern construct that has no place in biblical faith (despite the popular notion that some of Paul's letters can be neatly divided up into half theory, half practice), but is the correction of this errant construct simply the removal of belief from the equation, or the relegation of belief to nothingness?

At the beginning of The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard states that "The killing fields of Cambodia come from philosophical discussions in Paris". If there is any truth to this statement then we ought to take the crutch of belief with considerable seriousness, for it may be a crutch that is used to beat someone over the head with.

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