Peter Rollins – a prophet?

I get asked a lot of fun questions. Most come in from my podcast and – I love it. Here is one that I got this week and I thought it would be fun to post part of my answer and see what we see.  Peter Rollins is author of How (Not) to Speak of God, the Orthodox Heretic  and the Fidelity of Betrayal [link]. he is also really cool, has a tough Irish accent,  and makes great videos.

Here is the question from my friend: I wanted to get your thoughts on Peter Rollins. I’ve been reading his stuff, and I listened in on his webinar a few nights ago and not sure where I stand yet with it. I know that you are much further along with the post-modern thought. What’s your take with him…Just thought I’d get your thoughts on it…

Here is my answer: Peter Rollins is a poet.  Not a prophet.  Not a priest. Not a professor… and not a theologian.

We should NOT ask him to be any of those things.  He is not.  Just because he writes christian books or talks at Rob Bell’s church (which I like) does not mean he is anything other than a poet.

Having said that – he is a great poet.

He is telling us something.  If you have ever read Bonhoeffer (Letters from Prison) or John Caputo (Philosophy and Theology  or  What Would Jesus Deconstruct?) then you know the theological thing that Rollins is a poet of.   But he is just a poet.

The problem comes when people want him to be something more : a prophet (no) a priest (no) a professor (no) – he is none of these things.   Just a poet.

but he is hinting at something deep and remarkable that we desperately need to hear.  He is telling us that there is something more – something yet uncovered – something that is not what we have in front of us.   He speaks in riddles like Jesus did to the Pharisees. It has the same effect too!  The Pharisees do not like what he says and those who the Pharisees think (and say) are “outside” the fold are brought in because they like what he is saying.

That is my 2 cents anyway!   Rollins might be outside the gate or ‘off the property’ as far as some are concerned.   But he is on the road – and if we listen to his voice we can find the road… even if we don’t go as far on it as he has !!

here is the thing:  he is WAY into a branch of post-modern philosophy that most people can not even access. That is not my concern. He speaks back into the church a potent message and that is why I listen.  Not because he stands in the right place but because he has the right angle from where he stands.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mark Klatt
    Jan 10, 2011 @ 02:41:04

    I had never heard of Peter Rollins. Thanks for the links and the introduction. I enjoyed my poking around. Very life-enriching. I would agree that he is a Poet – a much needed poetic voice.


  2. LeadFromTheFringe
    Jan 10, 2011 @ 15:23:21

    I enjoy him very much. I am glad that you found him helpful.
    I got an email from a guy who has recently found him as well and told me that he has begun reading him before he goes to sleep! That sounds like a recipe for having a ‘prophetic dream’ to me !

    We need poets. I like that you said ‘much needed’.
    My only hesitation is not with Rollins himself but with the medium that he comes to us. I really have bought into this whole thing that ‘the medium becomes the message’ and it is tempting to see someone who writes books, talks at churches, etc. as credible in other (or all) areas – when they are actually a supplemental voice.
    But that is not Rollins fault, that is ours as media consumers.


  3. knightopia
    Feb 12, 2011 @ 19:30:52

    Great take on Rollins, Bo. Love it.


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