Book Review: The Idolatry of God by Peter Rollins

I was very happy to win a book from Hodder Faith via their Facebook page, and sure enough, through the post came The Idolatry of God: Breaking Our Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction by Peter Rollins. It sounded like the sort of title I would enjoy, but I might as well tell you straight away, that I struggled with this book. More than that, I just didn’t like it very much.

It does however, do what I suspect the author wants it to do. Reading this book is a bit like being torpedoed  while sitting in a small, wooden rowing boat.

All through the book I struggled to understand what Rollins was talking about. His, as the blurb says “incendiary”way of communicating meant I had to keep reminding myself that it was important to read the whole book before passing any kind of judgement. And I did learn some things:

  • There is a difference between our hearts and our ego. That is, there is who we really are (the heart) and who we think we are (the ego). Basically actions speak louder than words… we may think we are against children being used as slaves to make chocolate, but it’s the chocolate we buy which points out what we really believe.
  • We are prone to worship anything we think gives us satisfaction and security.
  • Church can become a security blanket rather than the place we worship God.
  • We aren’t very good at being with people who are different from us and either reject them, tolerate them or assimilate them.

The thing is, I think Rollins made it all more complicated than it need be. Now I admit, I probably think this because I just didn’t understand what he was talking about. I never thought i would say this, but the book is just too deep. I struggled to get to the bottom of it. And because of this, the whole tone of the book seemed very angry and combative. I was left feeling that in order to be a proper Christian I had to reject everything I have ever known and start again.

I began to wonder if I have ever loved Jesus or whether  my whole life has just been idolatry.

I actually finished this book a week ago, but i have spent the last few days thinking over what I read and praying. so this is my conclusion. Rollins is right, life is never certain and does not deliver complete satisfaction. but I disagree with is method of letting go of all that in order to love God. Instead of all that anger and rejection (which is how the book came across to me), I think I will stick with what I have read about mindfulness and about finding joy in the small things.

So today I thank God for… today. For all the beautiful thinks he has placed in my life, and I will not think about what I don’t have, but instead ask God to help me love as he does.

Finally, Rollins says you cannot know God. I disagree. I mean no, you can’t know ALL of God, and you have to be careful with what you think you know (like that story of the blind men and the elephant) but the bible says that Jesus is the exact representation of the Father, so in looking at Jesus… I can know God.

I am grateful to Hodder Faith for giving me this book, but I don’t think it is  one I would pass on.