The Problem with Unbelief is that it Enables Us To Believe Too Much

posted 23/10/12

It is all too common for people to think that the problem with unbelief is that it stands in opposition to belief, that it is that which prevents us from believing. However the problem with unbelief lies precisely in the dialectically opposing position: namely, it supports and sustains belief. In short it enables us to continue in our belief. To abolish unbelief then is to short circuit belief and draw us into a different mode of being that exists beyond religious belief. Let us explore this notion briefly.

To take an obvious example, in fundamentalist communities the explicit beliefs of the people continue to exist precisely because they are supported by a disavowed unbelief. For instance congregations might say they believe that if you show no doubt God will always come through, or that we are much better off in the next life, or that people are going to an eternity of punishment. Yet the very reason that these views can be sustained is because of the disavowed unbelief that supports them. In such communities people still call the ambulance if their loved one is having a severe seizure, they don’t shoot their children to hasten their journey to heaven (or show pleasure if held at gunpoint), or act as one would who knew that most of the people around them are on the verge of unending torture. Of course some people do this and, as we will mention below, it is their naïve belief that is more of a threat to the community than unbelief (which is actually required).

This cannot of course be directly acknowledged, indeed the fantasy in operation in a fundamentalist community is that what is needed is precisely more belief; that the community needs to take their beliefs more seriously. But in order to protect themselves from what would happen should they actually believe more they create barriers: the devil is at work, we need to pray more, we need to attend a conference to make us better warriors for Christ etc. etc.

This structure is the same as that which we witness is Hollywood films when two people deeply in love are about to kiss or consummate their relationship only to be disturbed at the last moment in some way. Take the example of Brief Encounter . The couple having the affair never consummate their relationship. The point at which they are about to (at a friend’s apartment), the owner of the dwelling unexpectedly returns and prevents it. The point of course is that the objective barrier is nothing but a cinematic reflection of the true subjective barrier. The relationship never can be consummated. They cannot ever have the sexual satisfaction that they feel lies just over the horizon (what can be called “jouissance obtained”). The external barrier is nothing then but a protection against a traumatic encounter with the truth, the truth that the sex will not live up to the promise (in Lacanese: that there is no sexual relationship). By never having the opportunity of becoming one the pair are thus protected from the structural reality that becoming one is an impossible dream.

This structure is more apparent in the case of me saying to a friend, “grab me when I go to defend my girlfriend’s honour by attacking that jerk at the bar.” What happens here is that I have to construct my own external barrier (my friends intervention) to protect myself from an encounter with the true barrier: that I am not able to defend her honour. That I will end up getting beaten to a pulp.

This is why fundamentalist communities are not threatened by the anaemic liberal claim that they believe too much. This is what they want. This is the fantasy that sustains them. Rather the truly radical claim is not that they believe too much but rather that they don’t believe enough. That their belief is sustained by a disavowed unbelief. What one does is challenge them to believe more.

The point here is that the unbelief allows the communities to get the psychological pleasure from the beliefs that they hold (treating them as a security blanket) without having to confront the horror of them.

This is why the people who leave fundamentalist communities are often not the ones who don’t take it seriously enough, but those who do (and who are thus confronted with the true horror of the communities beliefs). In my own experience I, along with a few friends, began to break free of religious belief precisely because we were naïve believers who took the teaching of the church more seriously than those in the church. The people who continued in a mode of disbelief were the ones that stayed because they were able to protect themselves from the trauma of actually believing their beliefs.

One poignant example I remember is that after a talk on healing in the church I briefly attended a person on my pew fell and broke his arm. I took him into a separate room and started to pray. Someone else called the leader into the room (who was also a doctor) to pray with us. He took one look at the arm and shouted that we had to call an ambulance. The point was that we had no need to do that as we fully believed the teaching he had given, the person who didn’t believe (or rather whose belief was sustained by unbelief) was the leader himself.

To confront the horror of ones beliefs one must be confronted with them without the support of unbelief. While unbelief seems to be the obstacle that prevents me from believing it actually acts in the same way as law to transgression. The law appears to be the opposite of transgression; as that which keeps it in check. But it is really that which gives it its libidinal support.

An actual example of this is of a woman who was sleeping around and who felt guilty about it. However, as she worked through the guilt, her desire to sleep around disappeared. While she thought the guilt held her sexual encounters in check and that, if removed, would lead to more one-night stands, the truth was the dialectic opposite. The guilt sustained the action. The removal of the obstacle (the guilt) removed the thing that the obstacle appeared to hold at bay (the sleeping around).

While the supportive nature of unbelief might be obvious in fundamentalist communities the challenge is in seeing it also in operation in liberal and progressive communities. Someone might, for instance, believe that the universe is in ultimate harmony and that all things work to the good. This seems like a beautiful belief, but it is only beautiful because it is sustained by unbelief. If we removed the unbelief and fully affirmed it we would realise that it isn’t too far from the views of people like Pat Robertson. We too would celebrate genocides, hurricanes etc. It is only while the belief is disbelieved that we can gain psychological pleasure from it without having to confront its horror. In short, we avoid the true nature of the belief as that which prevents us from fully embracing our human, all too human, situation.

The point of radical liturgy (the subject of a book I am writing at the moment) is that we are confronted by the horror of our religious belief through the removal of unbelief so that we move beyond it into what Bonhoeffer called “Religionless Christianity.”

This is however deeply traumatic for it means letting go of our intellectual security blankets and fully embracing the world with the courage to be, a courage devoid of ideological fantasies. The claim of the radical tradition however is that this full embrace of the world without guarantees is the way to truly taste life and life in all its fullness.

I should say that this post came from a great conversation with Kester Brewin who helped me see the dialectic connection. You can get his new book here

39 Responses to The Problem with Unbelief is that it Enables Us To Believe Too Much

  1. Michael J. says:

    Peter, its interesting after a couple decades of ministry in the “church” I have stepped aside, I am thinking, for the very reasons this short essay exposes. For years I was cautioned not to sabotage people’s “beliefs” because if I did expose their “beliefs” as foolishness they would have nothing to fall back on, which is exactly what your are suggesting, I suspect, with the statement, “This is however deeply traumatic for it means letting go of our intellectual security blankets and fully embracing the world with the courage to be devoid of ideological fantasies. The claim of the radical tradition however is that this full embrace of the world without guarantees is the way to truly taste life and life in all its fullness.” It is to spare people the trauma of their foolishness that insists we allow them to walk and espouse nonsense.

  2. Anna says:

    I totally appreciate and relate to your comments about the people who leave churches and why. I was one of those people. I didn’t understand how everyone around me could look so happy and unworried if they really believed the stuff we were all hearing. It kept me in a state of severe psychological stress the whole time I was in those churches.

    • Sarah says:

      I am with Anna- I too left church because I was one of the “naive believers” that believed too much…the belief in a penal substitutionary model of atonement wrecked me, it pervaded every waking moment of my consciousness and it wrecked me with deep depression. I couldn’t enjoy life and take part in things that seemed fruitless to “winning people for the kingdom” because everywhere I turned where people that were headed to hell. Including every member of my family. And I was wrecked with the realized impotence to draw them into the evangelical fold. I couldn’t justify any reason for my life on earth other than that of evangelism, and when I felt I couldn’t live up to my “purpose” I craved death…for there seemed to be no meaning to my existence if I wasn’t a good evangelist. People were going to hell because of my failures. I really, really, really believed that.

      I do not understand people who can live joyful lives, fully believing in the Evangelical atonement paradigm. But the simple answer is, that the majority to not really believe it. I had to leave because I believed it too much.

      • Dan G says:

        Wow, that is my story exactly. I feel for you. I hope you’ve found some healing and peace. It’s a rough road, or at least it has been for me.

  3. Drew Sumrall says:

    ‘Kneel down, and you will believe’–’Kneel down, and you will believe that you knelt down because you believe’–’Kneel down, and you will make someone else believe’…

    The only problem–there is no Other.

    Great post Pete.

  4. I have also had a similar experience at a fundamentalist church. I left for the reasons that you stated above, but sometimes I miss that Certainty. I know that it is the antithesis to faith, but man was it comfortable, like “good” jeans. The ones you look great in, and make you feel better than everyone else. That is why I don’t blame anyone for staying in that system/community/church. And there is not much I have to draw them out. What can I say? “Come out here, we have truth or at least some of it, well to be honest, we are not really sure but it is authentic. Trade in your certainty for listless wondering that you are not in control of.” Tough sell. I wouldn’t be where I am without the intervention of God and glad he has taken me out of that (although I am starting to think that being there was an essential mile marker for my maturity), but there are some tools that I could lean on, now all I have is a murdered Savior, an empty cross and the Specter he left behind, neither of which I can contain or control.

  5. Lisa says:

    Cannot one believe without the expectation of any particular outcome to ones belief? In that case, the belief is not sustained by unbelief, is it? One can experience Christ in the moment without expecting any particular outcome. What is, is and Christ is in the midst if it.

  6. Jane says:

    This is very helpful. I have been trying to express this myself in my own experience but struggled to articulate it. I too identify with being a naive believer. I put my beliefs into action and refused medical intervention in an area that effectively robbed me of a decade of my life. I have now rectified this! No one else around me was taking what they preached literally as I was (I had support from a friend who 100% backed me up but the truth is that her comraderie cost her nothing and I think she was looking forward to vicariously using my kick ass testimony). I am experiencing something of what you described in your parable ‘Finding Faith’ where I think ‘my leaving’ albeit costing me status and security will be the making of me in the end. I don’t claim to follow all you say – :-) – but have found some of your thoughts (and especially the autobiographical/biographic stuff like this) of great comfort, e.g. I’m not the only one then!

  7. Bill C says:

    Peter outlined my journey. I extrapolated my beliefs out until nothing was left, so I left. It is odd to ‘feel’ secure without ‘security’. It turns out, though, that most of my friends prefer to keep something as their ‘security blanket’ even if they have joined the ‘nones’. They are ‘nones, but’. I suspect I am too, in ways I still don’t realize. Maybe even in reading religious stuff like Pete’s books. Hmmm.

  8. Margo says:

    jouissance obtained, I think this will be my new sn;

  9. Stephen says:

    Quite Zizekian in showing how one thing is in fact it’s opposite.

  10. Calvin says:

    Pete,
    Great Post and like above I agree with how you seem to articulate these things we feel. I’m wondering if you could expand on “embracing the world with the courage to be devoid of ideological fantasies.” Is this possible? How so?
    Cheers.

  11. Wayne says:

    So does this negate prayer and if so how do we deal with so much scripture that directs us to prayer?

  12. Pingback: Faith and Doubt in the News | At the Threshold

  13. Pingback: Where Does Your Belief Lie? - Ideas & Adventures

  14. Peter says:

    Peter

    Great post.

    There are lots of areas where unbelief appears essential to retain belief e.g. I would have a better relationship with God, more people would be healed, I would walk better in my purpose… if not for my unbelief.

    But then again – IT COULD BE TRUE!

    Who can say that those beliefs are naive, just because they are difficult?

    Could not the problem be with those who do not fully believe rather than with the beliefs themselves?

    If the Evangelical atonement paradigm is true it is true. And if it is true then yes Christians ought to behave very differently in respect to evangelism.

    If Jesus Christ is God then you’ve got to accept the full package – the evangelical atonement paradigm, the position that healing can be declared, a Christian’s full spiritual inheritance.

    If he is not God then….

  15. Nicholas says:

    I wish I knew what Pete was talking about. I suppose I could nod my head with an accompanying and reassuring “mmmmmm”, and this would allow me to participate in the community of philosophical elite- the gnostic-enlightened ones, who have transcended lowly echelons of visceral faith.. However, I have no idea what he is getting it. It might be a load of bollocks. But believing that would threaten my membership of those who nod and day “mmmmmm”.
    Could it be that the desire and belief to let go of our “intellectual security blankets and fully embracing the world with the courage to be, a courage devoid of ideological fantasies”, is in itself a form of inverted fundamentalism? You believe that phrase of Pete’s to be true? Is it? Or does it surreptitiously act as a thin veneer over the pride-induced proclivity to be seen as free-thinking and open-minded?
    For to be fair, to assail the fundamentalist (and they are a fun target, let’s be frank) for the reality that they don’t really live in the light of the things they profess to believe, is an accusation that would pin like cat hair to velvet trousers to al of us. That someone does not live as though what they believe is true is no accurate arbiter of truth. Belief does not establish truth, nor does unbelief establish truth. You and I are living in a world in which nations possess nuclear and military arsenals that could literally wipe out humanity in a day. We live with the real possibility of being bitten by a venomous spider or snake that would prove fatal (except if you live in the UK-though you could still get a nasty prick from a hedgehog). And we live in a world in which we could be consumed by hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes and any other violent combination of natural disasters. How many of us, however, live each day as though we really believed those things? Very few that I bump into. (Though I did once meet a man who was wearing a chrome helmet to protect from the ultra violet, gamma and radio waves he was sure caused cancer- actually, I made that up, but I reckon chrome-helmet man is out there). That we cognitively disassociate our daily living from these very real and true realities, does not establish if they are true or not.

    Anyway, for the time being, just to be safe, I will nod my head and proffer a low-toned and assuring “mmmmm”. For if I believe what Pete is saying is true, it certainly feels safer than disbelieving it. But then again, if I believe Pete’s words to be true, what disavowed unbelief might I be supporting? Am I getting psychological pleasure from believing Pete? What is believing Pete protecting me from?

    I want to be part of the community of people who nod and say “mmmm”. It would be frightening to be left out.

    • Marge Hammond says:

      I don’t think people are looking to be labelled “open-minded”, I think that to have a relationship with God that moves in the direction of deeper knowledge of God and his purposes, you need to be open-minded, open-hearted, and open-souled. Stepping outside of the practice of being told what to believe each Sunday morning and opening your heart to God’s direct teaching goes against everything I’ve been taught, but staying would have placed a barrier (the church) between me and God. My view would have been obstructed. I loved being part of a church. The sense of community was warm and fuzzy, but I found myself being pressured to relinquish my uniqueness as a person in order to stay. And while warmth and fuzziness can be quite comforting, when you challenge the groupthink, that can turn on you very quickly with a violence that took my breath away.
      PS – Chrome man does exist. I met him in a psychiatric hospital while doing clinical rotations for nursing school, only he prefers to use aluminum foil.

  16. Nicholas says:

    Sorry fixed some typos from the last post:

    I wish I knew what Pete was talking about. I suppose I could nod my head with an accompanying and reassuring “mmmmmm”, and this would allow me to participate in the community of philosophical elite- the gnostic-enlightened ones, who have transcended lowly echelons of visceral faith. However, I have no idea what he is getting at. It might be a load of bollocks. But believing that would threaten my membership of those who nod and say “mmmmmm”.
    Could it be that the desire and belief to let go of our “intellectual security blankets and fully embracing the world with the courage to be, a courage devoid of ideological fantasies”, is in itself a form of inverted fundamentalism? You believe that phrase of Pete’s to be true? Is it? Or does it surreptitiously act as a thin veneer over the pride-induced proclivity to be seen as free-thinking and open-minded?
    For to be fair, to assail the fundamentalist (and they are a fun target, let’s be frank) for the reality that they don’t really live in the light of the things they profess to believe, is an accusation that would pin like cat hair to velvet trousers to all of us. That someone does not live as though what they believe is true is no accurate arbiter of truth. Belief does not establish truth, nor does unbelief establish truth. You and I are living in a world in which nations possess nuclear and military arsenals that could literally wipe out humanity in a day. We live with the real possibility of being bitten by a venomous spider or snake that would prove fatal (except if you live in the UK-though you could still get a nasty prick from a hedgehog). And we live in a world in which we could be consumed by hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes and any other violent combination of natural disasters. How many of us, however, live each day as though we really believed those things? Very few that I bump into. (Though I did once meet a man who was wearing a chrome helmet to protect from the ultra violet, gamma and radio waves he was sure caused cancer- actually, I made that up, but I reckon chrome-helmet man is out there). That we cognitively disassociate our daily living from these very real and true realities, does not establish if they are true or not.
    Anyway, for the time being, just to be safe, I will nod my head and proffer a low-toned and assuring “mmmmm”. For if I believe what Pete is saying is true, it certainly feels safer than disbelieving it. But then again, if I believe Pete’s words to be true, what disavowed unbelief might I be supporting? Am I getting psychological pleasure from believing Pete? What is believing Pete protecting me from? I want to be part of the community of people who nod and say “mmmm”. It would be frightening to be left out.

    • Peter Rollins says:

      All I can say is that I agree that any theoretical system can act as a protective mechanism. Of course I include my own. Indeed this is a subject close to my heart. If you do just nod in agreement to me because it makes you feel better then of course it is a problem! While if you have differing beliefs that don’t act in this way I am likely to be glad for them.

      Sorry for not being clear on this.

      PS I like your comment, no need to be rude!

  17. You may be interested in a radio documentary I made for Irish national radio on this theme of belief and unbelief. Here’s the link: http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/radio-documentary-from-belief-to-unbelief-joe-armstrong-catholic-priesthood.html

  18. Nicholas says:

    Thanks Pete for the thoughts and reply.

    No rudeness intended, but on refelction the comment had a few barbs. Sincere apology offered.

    Peace and blessings,

    Nicholas

  19. Jennifer Dawn Watts says:

    If there is one thing I am thankful of in regards to your work, its the fact that you get us thinking. Whether true or not, finally, finally, we’re allowed, and provoked to think. This can only serve us well in comparison to the power and control model which continues to function based upon emotional, and even spiritual, threats.

    As I’ve thought about the role of unbelief, I have thought this to be true to some extent, but I think there is more to the story than that. True denial is only one of many denfense mechanisms we use to defend against anxiety and pain.

    I think other defenses must be considered. For example, its not necessarily unbelief that allows many people to continue to go to church happily, and not evangelize, while believing that a large majority of others are going to burn for eternity. I think at their core, they really do believe it. But instead, what is functioning is a form of denial, similar to what is experienced during periods of grief. In this grief-induced denial we distance ourselves from the pain of these realities. Its not that we don’t believe it (we do believe we were abused, that the person we loved died and so forth), it’s that we construct ways not to feel the pain associated with the belief. I think this form of grief-induced denial, which is not really denial at all but emotional distancing from the truth, is operating in most of what we discuss regarding why people seem to have certain beliefs but then act as if these beliefs aren’t really true. Death is a great example of this. Is it that most people don’t really believe they are going to die? No, I don’t think so. Because when they are dying, they don’t say “What?? I’m going to die?? I know I said I knew I’d die, but I actually thought I’d live forever (such as the example you gave on healing) but instead they are surprised they are going to die NOW. They then feel the full rush of pain of their belief that yes, they are actually going to die. This pain causes them to engage defenses, such as continuing to use grief-induced denial -they admit they are going to die but don’t show emotions that seem like they believe it, intellectualizing on the latest methods of treatment, rationalizing and so forth, but I don’t think true unbelief was ever operating.

    As another example, let’s say I do believe that oppressed children that are harvesting coco beans for my recently purchased chocolate bar. I don’t think its my unbelief that allows me to buy the chocolate bar, nor do I think its that I actually believe in child slavery. I think that the pain associated with the thought of children being abused picking coco beans for my petty sugar rush, while I have so little control over this atrocity, is so intense, that I find ways to distance myself from it. Its not quite suppression or repression, because the memory of that truth I learned is still there, its just grief-induced denial.

    And other defenses are used as well, such as intellectualization (lets talk about the facts of child slavery, the plans for what we can do about it, etc. still without feeling the pain associated with it) or rationalization (well if I didn’t buy the chocolate bar then they would have no work, and that wouldn’t solve the problem either. And I am here, and they are there, and these are huge problems, and I’m only one person, so, I will buy the chocolate bar, hope the money gets to them, and let other people work on those problems, maybe even God).

    Why is this conversation important? To me, its not simply to argue, or to prove a point. But its critically important because if we think unbelief is the problem, then, as you mentioned, the goal is to get them to either believe more or to let go of false beliefs. However, if defenses, and ultimately pain, are the real problem, then we had better find a good plan to help people cope better with pain, including helping them to become healthy enough to help each other. Only then can we confront them with, and encourage them to accept/or let go of, their own beliefs, to hold certain truths and realities that you speak of. Otherwise we can challenge people all day long, and even if they do believe or let go of defenses, it definitely wont last.

    Thanks again for your work. I know we’re all getting somewhere with this. And it may be my defenses, or comforting false beliefs operating, but I still hold out hope for a better type of ‘church’, and better future as we figure this out.

    • James says:

      Jennifer, very helpful. There are more ways to look at/ through this. Like how about examining *wrong beliefs*? If we just believe more (with greater fervor) of false things, will they become more real or meaningful? No.
      It is tough to challenge one’s/ others’ beliefs, but then maybe growth can occur. Then again, why do we have to always err into “throwing the baby out with the bath water”? Why is everything so “dialectic” here?

  20. Francis ("Frank") Farvis says:

    Peter, this occurred to me recently; it seemed to begin to answer what you are saying. Like all such things, please check it, only hold onto any good thing(s).
    Storm breaks. Yellow. Howling wind.
    Alone, a time with many people gone;
    where are they? A question comes,
    “What are you doing here, Peter?”
    So far you’d spoken; so far you’d come.
    Places to remember, safe places …
    With or without you, God has plans to fix everything up, complete.
    Don’t worry, your human side’s no obstacle
    to all the power of God.
    Come, join in the security
    God gives you with his people.

  21. The law appears to be the opposite of transgression; as that which keeps it in check. But it is really that which gives it its libidinal support.

    An actual example of this is of a woman who was sleeping around and who felt guilty about it. However, as she worked through the guilt, her desire to sleep around disappeared. While she thought the guilt held her sexual encounters in check and that, if removed, would lead to more one-night stands, the truth was the dialectic opposite. The guilt sustained the action. The removal of the obstacle (the guilt) removed the thing that the obstacle appeared to hold at bay (the sleeping around).

    I’m not sure I understood the entirety of what Pete is saying, but the above quoted section “preached”.

    As Paul wrote; ” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.”

    libidinal indeed.

    I was engaged in a conversation this past Friday night with a pastor friend who expressed puzzlement about certain individuals who appear virtually addicted to certain sinful behaviors which they dispised, yet returned to over and over again. My personal experience and observation is what I call the “tar baby” syndrome; the more we fight against and focus on a particular sin the deeper we are drawn and stuck to it. I suspect the power of the “tar baby” is guilt….

    t

    • David says:

      Indeed, this is also the part that I got to stroke my beard and say “hmmmm” at.

      It’s been either a struggle or an epiphany for me over the last two years, this ‘sin’ problem. Either way, I’m not sure we truly understand fully what Paul was trying to tell us about sin. The phrase ‘seek out your own salvation’ hit me hard awhile back, and considering it, I came to feel that what was being said here was, basically, what is ‘sin’ to you may not be so to another, if sin is essentially what separates us from God.

      Alchoholic beverages are a good example. Some good folk believe booze is bad no matter what for them. I believe it’s like anything else; perfectly fine in moderation. Nothing else makes any sense to me, and yet nothing else makes any sense to them. One sip of wine would separate them from God. Who is wrong? Neither of us. What constitutes our salvation is different, but comes down to the same man on the cross. To me, He dies to abolish the type of absolutes that say “THIS random thing is WRONG, and you’re done for if you do it”. Do all in love, and you can’t go too wrong.

      Sex is another kettle of worms that always seems to be lurking beneath the surface of intelligent theological discussion. Why? I’m not sure. I think the song “Hallelujah” hits upon it best, with it’s combination of the sacred and the profane. Is sex a sacred act to ANYONE in the U.S.? I suspect not. It’s dirty, whether being simply for procreation or not. It’s embarrassing and filthy cause that’s what we’re taught. Yet I find the idea that it can be BOTH, as shown in the above mentioned song, liberating. Again, I don’t know who is right and who is wrong in all this. I just know it’s given me freedom and spiritual peace I never had before. I have been seeking out my own salvation, and hoping others do the same.

  22. James Brown says:

    Before I start this post I just want to say you are all beautiful writers and alas I am not. I seem to write how I talk, I can’t help it, so it’s quite basic stuff! Apologies in advance.

    I like your blogs Peter because they do make me think and question my faith, beliefs and how I view God. I think that is a good place to be in order to make my walk more authentic because no matter what struggle I go through he’s always there at the end (yes you’ve guessed I’m a charismatic believer etc etc!).

    The problem I see is that there are aspects of faith and our knowledge and wisdom of God that I believe and that essentially the bible expresses that are purely drawn from praying, spending time and worshipping him. What appears to have happened in this type of pyro-theology that you have come up with is trying to figure things out without God, to be down-cast. Speaking about him and reflecting without him, speaking to each other and actually not including him in the conversation. David questions and questions and struggles in the Psalms and as he prays you can almost tell when the spirit starts to speak to him as he begins to be filled with hope and he usually ends by praising and proclaiming how good God is.

    There are questions about healing, prayer, holy spirit ministry and the like that I constantly struggle with. But perhaps we should speak to God about them more and not just with ourselves and our peers. When we get down-cast we stop praying and I think that’s what’s happened here. I just sense such a loss of hope. We start trying to figure out things ourselves but I don’t believe we were created to do that. I believe we were created to be in union with God, that we were not made to live this life alone. His holy spirit is in us. Does it not just make sense to follow a wisdom higher than ourselves?!

  23. James Brown says:

    I guess I need to say why i wrote that post.

    It’s basically to say we can’t give up on the church we have got. Jesus loves it, he basically says love me love my church.

    I think alot of people have been offended here by someone or a group of people in the church they attended and I want to say that is the biggest reason for Christian’s leaving the church i have seen. If you want to reflect on God in this way then do so but ask yourself ‘Am i doing this in the spirit of someone that is holding some un-forgiveness towards someone in my church-past’. Because if you are, your reflections are going to come up anti-church everytime.

  24. Pingback: Saving the World | Morning Meditations

  25. James says:

    Thank you James B [namesake!] for the above posts. I echo your thoughts.

    I said in the Negativity post something about God being outside and we are all in the Fishbowl. Our thinking and probing/ seeking / questioning is all good, but isn’t it rude to (assume) that God is here, but we don’t include him, and allow him to speak into our discussion?

    TO me the various “religions” and philospohies can bring value, b/c it illuminates our human POV — but it all amounts to messing around on the Chessboard.

    Buddhist pawn to K3… Cath. Bishop takes QK… nihilist, Marxist, new-ager etc. just playing the game on a single-dimension plane [ie. the chessboard] while we really need to have God’s POV from outside/ above “the game”!

    I too have had and known people with bad experience within churches — but I’ve had these kinds of things within my *Family* too.

    I never understood how things could be so unresolved/ hateful *within* a blood-born family, that you hear of folks not speaking ever again to their bro/ sis/ parent/ etc. . . same I guess in our other tentative human relationships. It’s sad :(

    • Peter Rollins says:

      The main concern I have with the idea that God is outside the bowl is that we need to be outside the bowl in order to make that claim. It is a claim that can gain enough perspective to know that there is an outside and what lies there. Hence my preference for Hegel over Kant

  26. Tim says:

    I totally understand the bit about the law and transgression and the woman sleeping around. I have struggled with an addiction for the past 12 years until I finally came to trust that God really does love me and that I do not have to feel guilty. Then, all of a sudden, freedom!! It’s not that I don’t still face temptation, but the mental and physical habit is broken.

  27. ST Mannew says:

    So if one doesn’t embrace belief, then they embraces unbelief. But what is there in unbelief to embrace?

    What is the difference between unbelief (atheism)and any other unbelief you may have; say the tooth fairy; there is no difference.

  28. Pingback: | Peter Rollins’ “Security Blanket” and Why I Study Judaism

  29. LMC says:

    How did I miss this post? Anyhow I tend to like Pete’s writings and love stirring up my own curiosity with them. While I tend to agree with him on much of his critiques I don’t go as far as discrediting it all or having to sink into total despair, although it does seem that some within society do have to carry more of the load. But back to this post, imagine though the sense of changing some of the way we view it, for instance the preacher teaching a separate healing apart from a doctor as though opposing – and then a teaching that healing is going to the doctor or being within what the doctor teaches us in reference to our body. It is the sense that to speak of God is not as though it was intended to be that which does not increase the presence of perpetual ability to learn to best meet needs and increase in that (God/science type thing).

  30. Jon says:

    Thank you Pete. You have no idea how much this speaks to me. One main reason I left the church is that I felt that us young crazy naive folks who actually believed the works, were actually providing the emotional fuel for the older more “mature” believers. It’s almost like an Ann Rice vampire novel, and not surprisingly she came from a religious community. Our “blood” sustained the movement. It got to a point where I couldn’t be anyone’s body and blood any more

  31. Pingback: Krista Dalton | Peter Rollins’ “Security Blanket” and Why I Study Judaism

  32. Pingback: 10 Reasons Why Porn is the Best Sin of All | David M Schell

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>