How (Not) to Speak of God: Some Concluding Thoughts

Rollins’ book concludes with several examples of contemporary worship services that have been conducted in his faith community. While they look intriguing, I have only skimmed through one or two of those at this point, so I’m not going to say anything about them.

I do, however, want to make a few semi-random observations to wind down this series of posts:

1. A Plea for Patience. Right now, I can picture a few of you who have been reading all of this thinking to yourselves that it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. To you, I apologize, and I only ask that you be patient with people like me. There seems to be a very clear split in the way people react to this book. Some find it thoroughly nonsensical and confusing, and some find it extremely helpful. I hope you can be gracious with those such as myself who have responded favorably to the book, and just take it on our word that – for some of us – it has been spiritually nourishing, and faith-enriching.

2. A New (Old) Language for Christianity. I am convinced that, if the Emergent conversation is going anywhere, it is toward a place where it will ask the Church to do some hard re-thinking about what “truth” is all about. Rollins has given us a language by which we can have that conversation, and he has also shown us how this way of thinking is nothing new – there is an ancient, tested Christian tradition (Christian mysticism) that can inform our conversations about truth.

3. Re-Envisioning Our Purpose. What should Christianity ultimately be about? Words (orthodoxy) or love (orthopraxy)? Modern evangelicals will tell you that it is both, but in impletmentation its mostly about getting the orthodoxy right. One of the helpful things that Rollins is telling us is that, rather than an end unto itself, we need to see orthodoxy only as a way of enhancing/enriching our expression of God’s love.

4. Evangelism. If, as Rollins argues, an encounter with Truth means someone comes face-to-face with God, then we need to approach evangelism in a radically different way. Rather than trying to beat someone over the head with a bible, trying to convince them of the “correct” propositions about God, Jesus, etc., we need to be finding ways to foster in them their own desire/love for God. We need to be expressions of that love. We are nurturers of God’s love, first. Possibly, later, teachers – but only to those who are ready to hear.

5. Teaching/Worship. Rollins’ ideas also draw us away from the idea that teaching is the central event of worship. Rather than “telling us about” God, worship should be an event that draws us into an encounter with God. Good teaching can do that, to be sure. But art, music, poetry, silence, reflection are also important tools in that process.

Previous Posts:
1. Introduction
2. The meaning of heretical orthodoxy
3. Chapter 1: God Rid me of God
4. Chapter 2: The Aftermath of Theology
5. Chapter 3: A/theology as Icon
6. Chapter 4: Inhabiting the God-Shaped Hole
7. Chapter 5: The Third Mile


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