This is my continuing "review" of Peter Rollins' book Insurrection, although I'm really writing with a mixture of review, summation, and personal reflection. In short, these writings are more a way for myself to work through what this all means, rather than a "review" per say, or my trying to convince anyone else of these ideas. Additionally, please note that my beliefs expressed here may not necessarily coincide perfectly with Rollins'. View the first installment here.Belief in God is perfectly human--life is hard, full of suffering and bitterness, and we have a natural desire to bring to it order, meaning, and something other than randomness. This is the essence of our psychological need for God to exist. However, religion today is most commonly understood with a deus ex machina mindset: It is the affirmation of a constructed source of explanation, meaningfulness, and solutions to our problems--a.k.a. God.
By rejecting God, one is usually labeled an atheist. But can you really blame a person for being an atheist? Doesn't a God who only exists to satisfy me sound a little feeble? Yes, it does. But that doesn't make me an atheist. In fact, Rollins is going so far as to say that accepting atheism is the only way one is able to participate in Crucifixion. And I agree.
So, the questions now are "What is crucifixion?" and "What is atheism?"
Is crucifixion God sacrificing His son for us? Is it reconciliation for our sins? Does it put us in good standing with God? Is it something that was done for us by which we define ourselves, rather than defining ourselves by what we do?
Is atheism the intellectual denial of the existence of God?
Defining both of them is the only way to define either of them, because experiencing both of them is the only way to experience either of them: Crucifixion is existential atheism--a real, experienced, and felt loss of God. It is undeniable. It is the sacrifice of everything that satisfies our psychological need for God, which is, of course, God.
When religions talk about giving up false gods, they usually mean giving up anything that one worships other than God (e.g., money, cars, Xbox). But what about worshiping dues ex machina? Isn't this "God of the machine" just replacing these (equally) false gods?
In fact, religion usually tells us to give up false gods so that we can find true meaning, purpose, security, and ultimate reality in God-with-a-capital-G. But what about giving up false gods by engaging in existential atheism--In other words, giving up everything that satisfies our desire for God? What about giving up everything including God? What about giving up everything that comes after the phrase "so that"? No one ever talks about giving up that God.
But giving up this God is what Crucifixion truly is.
The church has domesticated the crucifixion into a mythology--a story that brings meaning into meaninglessness. Yes, we affirm that it actually historically happened. But we also look at it with a dirty lens muddied up by the "what does it mean for me?" mindset. Therefore, no sacrifice was actually made. Again, it is simply a deus ex machina.
This is why Christ's words "Why have You forsaken me?" are so wrought with meaning, and yet meaninglessness. Contrary to popular belief, he wasn't crying out to God in the midst of suffering--No, he was suffering in the midst of his utter loss of God.
And the beauty, as well as the horror, of it is that we can participate in it too. We no longer are a slave to our psychological need for God. We can simply enjoy the grace that is the fact that our need exists, much like our taste buds make our need for food enjoyable.
"When we truly participate in the event of the Cross, we are forsaken by ourselves--We are cut off from the system that we construct and which constructs us." (p. 35) There is nothing but our naked self. Nothing but pure purity.
Edited on 2/17/12 at 3:28pm.