Atheism -- God is Dead

From: John W Burgeson (
Date: Wed May 01 2002 - 13:14:59 EDT

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    Two people having requested it, here are the ten (11 actually) meanings
    of the phrase "God is Dead" as applied to "Christian Atheism."

    Personally, I probably hold to positions 7, 10 and 11 and have some
    affinity for positions 3, 4 and 6, although I would not say I hold to
    Notes from the book THE CHOICE CALLED ATHEISM, by Orlo Strunk.
    The word "atheism," also sometimes called the "Death of God," has at
    least ten different meanings when used in the context of "Christian
    Atheism." All of the positions below can be held by a person who calls
    himself a "Christian Atheist." Some are, of course, more problematical
    than others.
    1. There is no god and never has been. This is "traditional" atheism. But
    some who hold this position see in Christianity certain propositions they
    admire, love, compassion, etc.
    2. There once was a god, but now there is none such.
    3. The idea of "God" and the very word "God" are in need of radical
    reformation. Possibly totally new words are needed.
    4. Traditional liturgical and theological language needs a thorough
    overhaul; the reality abides, but classical modes of thought and language
    are obsolete.
    5. The Christian story is no longer a "saving" story. It may abide as
    instruction or guidance, but it no longer performs the functions of
    salvation or redemption.
    6. Certain god concepts, such as "absolute power," or "necessary being,"
    etc. are obsolete.
    7. The gods human beings make in their thoughts (idols) must die so that
    the true God might emerge.
    8. We do not experience God today except as hidden, absent, silent. This
    time will pass, but we live in it now.
    9. God must die in the world so that he can be born in us. (Mystical
    meaning). This is an idea that influenced Martin Luther and his chorale
    "God Himself is Dead."
    10. Our language about God is always inadequate and imperfect.
    None of these meanings is new to the 20th century, Strunk writes. He also
    talks later of an eleventh meaning -- "The god of the philosophers is
    John Burgeson (Burgy)
            (science/theology, quantum mechanics, baseball, ethics,
             humor, cars, philosophy and much more)

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