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Friday, January 30, 2009

Death of God

In the 1960s, following on from the proclamation of Nietzsche's mad man there was a movement that sought to proclaim the death of the traditional Christian God. It trumpeted the death of God but was more in line with a liberal restructuring of Christianity in some ways.

I had picked up an old paperback copy from the 60s and have just finished reading it. I enjoy reading theology from different perspectives but was pleasantly surprised to find some gems within this book.

There is a great deal of complex thinking. The authors engage with Kierkegaard at a deep level which lost me at times and also with Tillich and Bultmann. If nothing else it has spurred me on to try and understand more of the work of these other theologians.

In the next few posts I am going to drop in a few selected quotes and some thoughts which might be helpful in the current climate of trying to "do" church in the 21st century.

There is a fascinating quote from Nietzche where he suggests that Christianity had moved away significantly from Jesus life and example. He calls Christianity "the tremendous question mark" and goes on to say:

"...in the concept of 'church' it has pronounced holy precisely what the 'bringer of the glad tidings' felt to be beneath and behind himself - one would look in vain for a greater example of world-historical irony" (italics in the original).

Is the traditional model of church a "question mark" and has it moved so far from Jesus? What does this mean? Are we destined to be victims of cultural forces or is there an essence of faith and Christ-following that can be recaptured in our day?

3 comments:

Jamie said...

The death of god movement was, in many ways, reflective of the sentiment of 1960's post-liberal, post-World War II theology. However, there are some resounding aspects that have not yet been properly treated. For example, Bonhoeffer's "religionless Christianity" still poses a huge question mark. Furthermore, what I found most redeeming from the movement was Altizer's and Hamilton's insistence upon the actual and literal death of Jesus; in some ways they can be called ultra-orthodox because if Jesus is believed to be divine, then God did "die" in Jesus. The restorative power of the death of God is nearly limitless. Brilliant post - keep up the good work!

david said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
flagstaffrev said...

hey there les. if you haven't already check out emergent podcasts on itunes. there's especially one, with two parts, done by Jack Caputo and Richard Kearney i think you'll like and will help add some helpful context to what you're reading. it is titled "2007 Theological, Philosophical conversation." enjoy.