Sunday, March 18, 2007

How (Not) to Speak of God – Chapter 5: The Third Mile

Chapter five concludes the first half of Rollins’ book, the theologically focused portion of the book. The second part of the book will address how the ideas discussed in the first half are made visible in Rollins’ own faith community.

Chapter five is probably the most important chapter of the first half of the book. In this chapter Rollins begins by discussing Truth and Reality. Rollins states: “Truth is God and having knowledge of the Truth is evidenced, not in a doctrinal system, but in allowing that Truth to be incarnated in one’s life.” A “theoretical system will [not] bring life” but rather “to know the truth is thus to be known and transformed by the Truth.”

For Rollins, the transformative power of Truth is found in Love. Much of the rest of the chapter is dedicated to examining God’s “prejudice towards love.” In summary, Rollins sees love as the central message of God/Jesus. Jesus did not come to provide us with a better/new ethical system. He also did not come to simply abolish the Law. Rather, he brings us a new way of viewing the law/ethics – we are to view it with a prejudice of love. Rather than focusing on the letter of the law we are to interpret the law through the lens of love. Rollins relates this to how we read scripture. Rollins believes “Jesus taught us not merely to read the scriptures, but to enter into a dialogue with them: a dialogue that is saturated and directed by love.” And later, “our reading of the Bible must be re-examined and wrestled with repeatedly as we encounter the situations that present themselves to us.”

In concluding the chapter, Rollins reminds us that “we cannot force this radical, Christ-like love, we cannot work it up or commit to living in this way.” Rather, this love “is gained only as we give up. To be born of God is to be born of love. Here we come into contact with Meister Eckhart, who claims that we must let go of ourselves in such a manner that we can become a dwelling-place in which God can reside and from which God can flow. Our own works and beliefs are dethroned by the enthronement of God. What is important for Eckhart is not to think correctly, or to work hard, but rather to engage in a type of concrete ego-death by which the divine is invited to enter the place which we have laid down. The hope is that in so doing, love will flow from us.”

And lastly, “in so doing, we will not merely sit around describing the world, but rather, we will become the iconic spaces in which God is made manifest in the world.”

There’s a little more I want to discuss about this chapter but this is probably enough for now. As for the second half of the book, I am not planning to blog through it. I will probably read through the rest and put together a concluding entry about what we can take away from this book. Anyways, more on this will come later.

Others in this series:
- Introduction
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 3
- Chapter 4

1 comment:

april. said...

just thought id let you know, my theology group at church has been going through this book - we discuss chapter five tonight!! my favorite chapter, by far.