"Better authentic mammon than a bogus god." - Louis
The "God is Dead" Movement
One of the most significant developments in the recent days
of Christianity is the "God is dead" movement, which is being given impetus
by some of the very most sensible, honest, critically thinking and
courageous (this does not mean that they have been consistently right or
have not been severely hampered by the prevailing religious paradigm)
theologians of our time.
A sweatshirt reads:
God is dead! - Nietzsche
Nietzsche is dead! - God
What a travesty! The man who had the courage to write most eloquently about
why the old concepts of "god" should be dead has been pronounced dead by
that "god" resurrected on a tee shirt. That "god", whose major concepts were
patterned after an inanimate small star-planet now in our solar system; that "god" who
was the "transcendental (read alien)", mean, petty, ignoble, schizoid,
vengeful, inconsistent, violent, demanding dictator; that "god" who has
driven the most intelligent and sensitive people to believe in no god at
all. It is THAT god that should be dead!
Now we can add a new reason why he should be dead. He is also smug!
Nietzsche should be alive, that "god" should be dead!
Nietzsche is generally given credit for the
initial aspects and thinking and coin of the phrase. What is meant by
the "God is dead" terminology is not that HE really expired somewhere
sometime but that any relevancy or real meaning is dead in respect to
the old traditional concepts of God in Judeo-Christianity.
This development has been fostered by a plethora of
causes, not the least of which are:
the vapid, egregiously
insipid, inconsistent televangelists,
the faith-healers and religious hucksters,
the glib banal spiel of positive thinkers,
the psycho-religio-smoothies wooing and cooing,
the red-necked, shouting, bible thumpers with their radical zeal,
the failure of the "Lord" to come,
a list of other sensational prophecies that were erroneous and/or unfulfilled,
the long list of superstitions and wives' tales that were incorporated into the
religions that modern science has disconfirmed,
the failure of the world's religions to deliver an improved world,
and finally the growing irrelevance and decay of the old institutions.
It often appears to those outside the Churches that
this is precisely the attitude of Christian people. If they are not
strenuously defending an outgrown conception of God, then they are
cherishing a hothouse God who could only exist between the pages
of the Bible or inside the four walls of a Church. Therefore to join
in with the worship of a Church would be to become a party to a
piece of mass-hypocrisy and to buy a sense of security at the price
of the sense of truth, and many men of goodwill will not consent to
such a transaction. - Phillips, J. B., Your God is too Small,
MacMillan Publishing Co., New York, NY 10022 p. 8.
Of pertinent interest is Brand Blanshard's book Four Reasonable Men,
which is about Marcus Aurelius, John Stuart Mill, Ernest Renan,
and Henry Sidgwick. In a way, this book is about Christianity, or
rather how his four reasonable men related to it. The first, Marcus
Aurelius was not born into Christianity, but rather was not impressed by
it as he ruled over the Roman empire during a time of trouble with it.
This is what Blanshard has to say about Aurelius:
probably the criticism most commonly brought against Marcus is not such
incoherence of thought, but strangely enough, a charge of gross
cruelty. His attitude in matters religious was tolerant and in some
ways so close to that of the Christians that one would expect some sign
of sympathy with them, The fact is that there is not only no sign of
such sympathy, but on the contrary clear evidence of his persecuting
The other three men, Mill, Renan, and Sidgwick are
chronicled as having triumphed over Christianity, or at least
intellectually grown out of it through learning, logic and reason.
So, this God is dead.? Well, shouldn't he be dead, deservedly dead?
What we are talking about here of course is the primary or major concept of God of the
three great Monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
What if God is significantly different than anyone has ever conceived him to be? This
is implied by the disciple John in John 1:18 when he says, "No one has
ever understood God; the only son...has made him plain." What if the
true conception of God is literally, for us—still—too good to be true? What
if Jesus came to completely show what God is REALLY like in ALL the ways that really matter and nobody was open
enough or critically listening or really paying much attention? What if they were still
locked up in their old theologies, mundane agendas and their petty concerns?
What if most of the disciples were impacted, but did not even conceive or understand the
message of Jesus, much less believe it? What if all of Christendom and
Gnosticism have covered up, obliterated, and dismissed the heart of the message of Jesus?
What if it's more simple, more profound, and more immediately pragmatic and meaningful?
If we are going to use the term "God", let us make it something really
good out of it. Therefore, a God is a being who is:
A creator with open-ended possibilities
A person who does not live out of fear
A person with emotions and feelings
A person capable of growing in richness
A lover with romantic and erotic dimensions
A player* who can be playful and have fun
A person who is free
A person without guile
A healer, forgiver and savior
A person who knows himself
A person who accepts
A person who responds
rather than reacts
An unselfish sharer
A server first and foremost
A person who cannot be
A person who cannot be
A person who is humane or
A person who desires relationships with peers
A person immortal but capable of purposefully dying
Supreme, but not intrinsically superior to his children
In control from internals,
not controlled by externals
A pure life enhancer for his children.
A god is a being who has:
A purpose transcendent to
cultural and earthly business-as-usual concerns
A visionary, workable and efficacious plan
An eternal, immutable, universally appropriate
set of human values
A fascinating and wonderful individual personality
A sense of humor, pathos and healthy drama
A set of immutable
humane needs and desires
* This may be the aspect most difficult to visualize God having.