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"Better authentic mammon than a bogus god." —Louis MacNeice
The "God is Dead" Movement
One of the most significant developments in the last 1900 years 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. Nietszche 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, faith-healers and religious hucksters, the glib banal spiel of positive thinkers, psycho-religio-smoothies wooing and cooing, the red-necked, shouting, bible thumpers with their excess zeal, the failure of the "Lord" to come, along with 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 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:
"But 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 them."
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 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 god is a being who has:
A purpose transcendent to cultural and earthly business-as-usual concerns
* This may be the aspect most difficult to visualize God having.