Thursday, June 22, 2006

Heretical Orthodoxy

“…I picture the emerging community as a significant part of a wider religious movement which rejects both absolutism and relativism as idolatrous positions which hide their human origins in the modern myth of pure reason. Instead of following the Greek-influenced idea of orthodoxy as right belief, these chapters show that the emerging community is helping us to rediscover the more Hebraic and mystical notion of the orthodox Christian as one who believes in the right way – that is, believing in a loving, sacrificial and Christ-like manner. The reversal from ‘right belief’ to ‘believing in the right way’ is in no way a move to some binary opposite of the first (for the opposite of right belief is simply wrong belief); rather, it is a way of transcending the binary altogether. Thus orthodoxy is no longer (mis)understood as the opposite of heresy but rather is understood as a term that signals a way of being in the world rather than a means of believing things about the world.

…this approach opens up a Christian thinking that profoundly challenges some of the most basic ideas found in the contemporary Church. It is an approach which emphasises the priority of love: not as something which stands opposed to knowledge of God, or even as simply more important than knowledge of God, but, more radically still, as knowledge of God.

To love is to know God precisely because God is love…”

Peter Rollins, Heretical Orthodoxy, pp. 2, 3 in How (Not) To Speak Of God



  1. I'm afraid I don't really follow this. I agree that we should believe in the right way, but *what* we believe does matter. He says that believing in the right way isn't shifting to the opposite of right belief because the opposite of right belief is wrong belief. But he seems to have then excluded any possibility of wrong belief. His definition of believing in the right way is subsequently very problematic because to believe in a Christ-like manner either depends on some *true* belief about Christ or else is just to believe whatever you want to however you want to.

  2. Hi Si,

    I posted the quote because I found it thought-provoking, and worth reflecting on, and engaging with - as you have done. I have posts and links on my blog that I do not necesarily fully agree with or endorse. As to what Peter Rollins believes, or rules out or in, I'd want to reserve judgement until having read the book.

  3. That said, I'd suggest that someone who calls relativism idolatrous would agree that what one believes does matter, and that just believing whatever you want to is not viable...

  4. Is it right belief or right heart? The elite of the church in Jesus' day had all the right ideas but not the right heart. They were making money, using the church for thier own power trip and they did not foster true spiritual fruit in thier followers. Like tax accountants they were looking for loopholes so they would not have to pay. The moral status of our country is driven by the churches which are driven by our pastors and I think we have fallen short. I do not think that what you believe is as big of a deal as why you believe or whether or not you love others. It is like an eletrical circuit. If you dont not have it open....nothing is going to cross it.......if you dont love like Jesus from the heart.......then not matter what is in your head it is not going to get across. But if we really had a heart to be servant and it was not a matter of being right or wrong but of laying down our life for others even if they were wrong........we could change the world.

  5. Brian3:33 am

    I feel I have to respond to the comment about tax accountants (I'm a tax adviser!). Looking for loopholes is not much, if any, of what most tax advisers do - in fact in the UK most loopholes are risky and only for those with very large amounts at stake. (Those that do spend their time on such things claim that because they are within the law, if society had not wanted those loopholes then the legislation should have been differently worded.)

    I see my role as assisting those with more complicated tax affairs (and these days that includes any company or individual who is in business) to pay to Caesar what is Caesar's (and hopefully no more and no less).

  6. askewben9:06 am

    can I borrow the book when you're done?

  7. not mine to give away; but I'll ask for you.