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The Fidelity of Betrayal: Towards a Church Beyond Belief [Paperback]

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Item Number 98655  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   196
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5" Height: 7.75"
Weight:   0.46 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 2008
Publisher   Paraclete Press (MA)
ISBN  1557255601  
EAN  9781557255600  

Availability  1 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 22, 2016 12:24.
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Item Description...
Explores the subversive and revolutionary nature of a Christianity that acts as the foundation of the church while at the same time undermining it by employing the insights of Soren Kierkegaard, apophatic theology, and deconstructive theory.

Publishers Description

"About 30 years ago, I came across the evocative phrase 'religionless Christianity' in Dietrich Bonhoeffer's later writings, and it has stayed with me ever since. In his new book "The Fidelity of Betrayal," Peter Rollins has teased out - as Bonhoeffer never had the chance to do - profound possibilities hidden in the phrase. As a huge fan of Peter's first book, I find his second no less thoughtful, stimulating, and at times unsettling - always in a most (de)constructive way. His subversive parables, his clever turns of phrase, and his beguiling clarity all conspire to tempt the reader into that most fertile and terrifying of activities - to think to the very rim of one's understanding, and then to faithfully imagine the Truth that lies far beyond." - Brian McLaren, author/activist (

What if one of the core demands of a radical Christianity lay in a call for its betrayal, while the ultimate act of affirming God required the forsaking of God? And what if fidelity to the Judeo-Christian Scriptures demanded their renunciation? In short, what would it mean if the only way of finding real faith involved betraying it with a kiss?

Employing the insights of mysticism and deconstructive theory, "The Fidelity of Betrayal" delves into the subversive and revolutionary nature of a Christianity that dwells within the church while simultaneously undermining it.

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More About Peter Rollins

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Peter Rollins has a B.A. in Scholastic philosophy, an M.A. in political theory and criticism, and a Ph.D. in postmodern theory. He is the founder of the Ikon community in Northern Ireland (a group which describes itself as iconic, apocalyptic, heretical, emerging and failing) and a working philosopher who has come to believe that the emerging church presents a singular, unprecedented opportunity to transform the theological and moral architecture of the Christian community.

Peter Rollins has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Mersion: Emergent Village Resources for Communities of Faith

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General   [8607  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Philosophy   [1924  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
a book from the furthest edges of the expanding spirit  Oct 9, 2008
this book speaks with a voice that is fresh,
invigorating and daring,
scandalous and wise;
in other words, just like jesus.

which is why it will be labeled
sacrilegious and heretical
by those who have allowed their faith
to decay into beliefs.

thus, if you're seeking to be challenged
by that voice that launches the christ-event,
read this book:
it will surely spark a fire
at the very place
where your longing for life-abundant awaits.
Ir/responsible writing  Aug 24, 2008
Sometimes I wonder if Peter Rollins isn't losing the plot a bit. He sometimes seems to be so caught up in his own Derridian word games and the deconstruction of his own ideas that at times I wonder if he really knows what he's doing. I loved Rollins first book, How (Not) to Speak of God, and so it was something of a disappointment to encounter so many examples of poor, perhaps rushed, reasoning in his latest offering. Of course, there were moments of brilliance to be found here too, hence the 3 star instead of 1 star rating.

To begin with, this book presents us with a very poor premise: the idea that one has to betray God in order to stay faithful to Him. The premise would make sense if it were only concerned with the betrayal of the idolatrous, false ideas that we have of God in order to remain faithful to God Himself. It would make sense if it was only concerned with wrestling with God in order to better understand Him. But no, Rollins argues that we may have to betray the true being of God and Christianity in order to stay faithful to God and true Christianity. What about Jesus' words: "A house divided will not stand" or "Whoever denies me before others, I will also deny before my Father in Heaven"? The only way Rollins' argument stands is by his own altered definition of the word betrayal - and that makes me think that he's trying to be controversial for the sake of being controversial, or perhaps he just wants to show off how clever he is.

Rollins also presents some extremely loose (re)interpretations of scripture here. He frequently adds his own words into the words of the Bible or pulls scripture way out of context, thus causing the interpretations to open up even more (Consequently, the reading is more eisegetical than exegetical, and that makes me worry a bit). He often makes rash generalizations that are weak and insubstantial (E.g. "Christianity is the rejection of all systems") , and comes to some very unusual conclusions (E.g. "An authentic Christian is a non-Christian in the Christian sense").

That said, there was much in this book that was good food for thought. In the end, despite my frustrations with several of Rollins's arguments, I enjoyed this book because one thing it doesn't allow the reader to be is complacent about his/her faith. If you want to read a book that will challenge what you believe, cause you to rethink your assumptions and consider your faith from a different angle, this is a good one to get. But be warned, the author may be a little too clever for his own or your own good.
Not for the faint of heart  Jul 30, 2008
Rollins presents a hearty look at how faith can, and likely should, go well beyond our traditional ideas, beliefs and practices. Bravo Peter!

A word of caution: if you are pleased with the current state of church or are content with remaining where you currently find yourself in the area of faith...this book is not for you.
Peter Rollins Responds  Jun 8, 2008
This is definitely a provacative and much anticiapted release from Dr. Rollins. The Fidelity of Betrayal is a fascinating book, regardless of whether or not you tend to agree with writers like Rollins, who are part of the emergent movement. Rollins offer a lively, insightful, and controversial interaction with a variety of historical primary sources, ultimately providing a vantage point from which he is able to question the very theological and metaphysical foundations of western christendom.

I will say that I think he went a bit too far in his assertion that its impossible to make any ontological inferences about God, but his critiques of western metaphysics are important, and are definitely worth considering. His practical conclusions are also quite insightful, and I think Rollins has his hand on the pulse of church life as we forward.

The biggest strength of this book, in my opinion, is that Rollins seeks to develop a position reagrding the status of the biblical text. No other emergent writer I have seen up to this point has been willing to address the question of what the biblical text actually is in their view, and I think this is a key question for the continued development of the postmodern church. I only wish he would have taken the implications of his textual presuppositions to their conclusion. Unfortunately, I think his skeptical presuppositions about the text itself are not sufficiently grounded in adequate interaction with historical-criticism, even though negative assertions in this arena are what drive his metaphysical and ontological assertions about our ability to know anything about God.

Overall, this is one of the most important books for one to read in regard to the Emergent Movement at this point. Pick it up!

For those of you who want to look at some deeper interactions between myself and Dr. Peter Rollins personally, check out

Dr. Rollins was kind enough to respond to my chapter-by-chapter pre-release review of his book.
Giving up Christianity in order to truly fulfill it  May 15, 2008
Ever since reading Peter Rollins' first book, "How (Not) to Speak of God," I have been looking forward to his next book. In fact, I can't remember a book I have anticipated more highly. So when "The Fidelity of Betrayal" arrived on Tuesday I quickly devoured it. I couldn't read it fast enough. It was wonderful. Sometimes I find it helpful to start engaging a book by reading through it quickly, in order to gain the overall big picture, and then to go through it slowly, savoring every word. I am really looking forward to reading it again, slowly.

Here are a few initial comments related to the new book (not a review, just a few comments).

First, I think this book successfully builds upon the concepts in Rollins' first book and takes them to the next level. So if you're interested in Rollins' work, I recommend buying both books but starting with "How (Not) to Speak of God." Basically, "The Fidelity of Betrayal" builds on an idea Rollins started working with in the first book. In fact, he builds on the idea that most intrigued me in his first book - the notion of giving up Christianity in order to truly fulfill it. In his first book Rollins relates a powerful story from the movie "Amen" in which a priest in Nazi Germany gives up his Christian faith and becomes a Jew in order to identify with the persecuted, a move the priest believes is necessary in order to truly live his Christian faith. "The Fidelity of Betrayal" takes this concept and examines it through three lenses, the Word of God, the Being of God, and the Event of God, which forms the structure for the book.

Second, I'm convinced that Phyllis Tickle is right in her assessment of Rollins' work. She writes, "Here in pregnant bud is the rose, the emerging new configuration, of a Christianity that is neither Roman nor Protestant, neither Eastern nor monastic; but rather is the re-formation of all of them. Here, in pregnant bud, is third-millennium Christianity." I really believe it. What Rollins (and others) is writing about and doing may not be THE future of Christianity but it is certainly A future of Christianity. And the possibility of this future gives me much hope. I believe the core concepts of this book are going to, and already are starting to re-form Christianity in our world. I'm not talking about a simple shift in the core beliefs of Christianity, but rather a revolution of how Christianity is experienced and expressed in the world.

Third, Rollins ends his new book with some discussion about starting communities that are forged in the midst of these ideas. He quite literally proposes "a church beyond belief" (the subtitle of the book). In short, Rollins is looking at the implications of moving from the church as a bastion of beliefs, towards communities of transformation. Just as Rollins argues for a "religion without religion" I think he is imagining a sort of church that is not a church, which is exactly what I am most interested in.

So buy this book. Read it. Think about it. Argue with it. Soak in it. And in the process, allow God to transform you.

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