Leadership with heart, mind, and soul

65-Word Book Review: The Fidelity of Betrayal by Peter Rollins

Added on by Sam Davidson.

Coming February 15-19: It's Book Week at my blog. I read a lot of books and try to review one each week. During that week, I'll be featuring a new book each day with a giveaway! Interested in participating? Send me an email and see if you can be featured! Only one spot left!

Short version (65 words)

I've read Peter Rollins' How Not to Speak of God a few times, and that short discourse always leaves me wanting more. The Fidelity of Betrayal is that something more. Using popular Bible passages, the book examines the seemingly contradictory notion that perhaps the most religious thing we can do is to not be religious. This is Rollins at his best: academic, challenging, and unconventional.

Long version (296 words)

This is no Max Lucado book. While Rollins does use a central Biblical theme as a point of departure (Judas' "betrayal" of Jesus), he soon convinces the reader that Judas didn't betray Jesus as all, but rather was the most faithful of disciples.

I like Rollins, because one logical conclusion that can be made from his theology and ecclesiology is that Christians shouldn't go to church – at least not church as it's known today in the Western world. There are lots of reasons I like this conclusion, but here's the main one.

This book won't have you questioning God. Any book that does, in my opinion, only means your belief in God probably needed questioning to begin with, and it just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Rather, this book will question your notion of God, perhaps revealing that what you think of as God is not God at all.  Rollins says we need religions that are irreligious. Therefore, we need a God who is godless.

The book is more than argumentative, academic tinkering. It's also applicable to our systems and structures today. Rollins challenges that most churches today require their members to act in the following order:

  1. Believe
  2. Behave
  3. Belong

First, you must believe something about Jesus, then you must live a certain way, and then finally, you can be socially accepted into the group. Rollins takes umbrage with this line of thought, and instead the order should be reversed, much like a family accepts an infant into its care. The logical conclusion, then, is that our churches should be full of atheists.

That's a notion I like.

I'll be reading this again. When I do, I'll pick up an entirely new set of conclusions. Rollins is talented like that.

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