Peter Rollins has once again twisted around one of those sayings that we’ve all heard, or that we’ve all used, or that we’ve all experienced in the way we choose to follow Christ practically in the world. And yet somehow, his capacity to actually confront the theological and ontological flaw in such reasoning comes with great grace and wisdom.
Below is Peter Rollins critique of the statement that says we should “Pray as if it all depends on God and act as if it all depends on us.”
I also googled the phrase, “pray as if it depends on you” and found the following link on Yahoo! Answers kind of interesting…
On with Pete’s thoughts:
It is often said that the Christian should pray as if everything rested upon God and act as if everything rested upon us. Another way of putting this is that one should be a theoretical theist, believing absolutely in God via the mind, and a methodological agnostic or atheist, acting as if God does not exist and that we must make change happen for ourselves.
But perhaps there is a deeper truth in the turning around of this axiom so that it reads: pray as if everything rests upon us and act as if everything rests upon God. What this means is that we doubt or deny God theoretically, wondering whether there is a being who cares for or loves the world and accepting that we must be the instruments of change in the world. Prayer thus becomes the means of wrestling with the idea of God and the means of challenging oneself to make a difference. However, when the Christian steps into the world, they act in a way that presupposes God’s presence in the world. Instead of acting reasonably, thinking that one must give only what one can afford and bearing in mind mortgages, pension plans and insurance policies etc. when thinking about what to sacrifice, the Christian lives in an impossible way, giving up more than is reasonable in an act which seems to presuppose the existence of God. In short the believer can say, ‘who knows if God exists as an entity out there, but I feel compelled to bear witness to the existence of God as present in the word via my unreasonable life choices’.
This denial of God as a theoretical entity is not the denial of God as found within the Judeo-Christian tradition. Indeed it is precisely the type of denial which can help to bring us closer to God as testified to within Christianity. God as transcendent being who guarantees a meaningful world (a world in which all suffering and evil is ultimately explicable) represents the influence of paganism and is found permeating Western culture (in films, literature and theology – see the Zizek lecture below). God in Christ is not a being who explains the world in a pagan manner (here we must bear in mind the encounter between God and Moses at the burning bush, the book of Job and a theology of the cross as critiques of this idea) but rather is one who transforms the world via the crazy, unreasonable acts of people.