>Book Review: The Orthodox Heretic by Peter Rollins

Posted: 14/10/2009 in book review, Peter Rollins

>The ironically titled Orthodox Heretic is the first books I have read of its kind. Peter Rollins might be called an innovator for writing a book of parables, but on closer reflection it seems completely obvious. Why not, when talking about God, the Kingdom of Heaven, and other subjects, use the same teaching method that Jesus used? I doubt that Peter Rollins is the first, but he is likely the first for many.

The full affect of Jesus’ parables are often loss to us in the modern age. Many of them used irony, cultural references, and scandal to drive home the message. For instance, in the parable of the Prodigal Son, no self-respecting Israelite would’ve have expected the son to be accepted back after such a terrible offense against his father. Also, the parable of the Good Samaritan was spoken in such a way to shame the honored religious leaders who derided the inferior race. Even little things, such as the importance of dressing properly for a wedding, are misunderstood in our time.

The parables of the Orthodox Heretic affect contemporary Christians in the same way that Jesus’ parables affected his audience. One parable “turning the other cheek” tells Christians who lived in suburbs of affluent countries that we are not Jesus’ intended audience, who were the oppressed and helpless. Rather, we are more like Romans. We expect those in the third world or the more helpless to carry our burdens while we reap the benefits. We are not the ones commanded to forgive, but rather those must learn to accept forgiveness.

Another great parable is “the Payoff.” The parable tells of a humble priest and an indignant, anti-Christian, prince. The prince envied the priest’s influence sought to discredit his rival. To this end, he offered the priest a large sum of money to confess publically that he was a hypocrite and so was his church. To the prince’s surprise, the priest was eager to so and offered the prince money to print the confession instead. This is an interesting lesson in how Christian leaders today seek to expand their influence by hiding, rather than exposing, their own sin.
The number of parables cannot be summed up here; but this much can be said. These are relevant and insightful parables for contemporary Christians. It is a book that is best read slowly and discussed with others despite its relatively short length.

I was really, really impressed with this book. Peter Rollins really understands what parables are. His stories all contain commentaries if there is any confusion as to their meaning. It is probably one of the most creative and insightful books I have read in a long time.


  1. Caladain says:

    >Ordered and on the way 🙂

  2. >Sounds fascinating; I'll try to borrow it. Or hey, do you still want to exchange books? "SexGod" for the "Orthodox Heretic"?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s