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"Better authentic mammon than a bogus god." - Louis MacNeice

The "God is Dead" Movement
Updated: 05/27/2021

One of the most significant developments in the recent times 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 theologians of our time (this does not mean that they have been consistently right or have not been severely hampered by the prevailing religious paradigm).

Here is Bryan Appleyard describing what Nietzsche had to say that kicked off the "God is dead" movement:

... attitude of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900). He contemplated the refinements of the great Enlightenment philosophers' attempts to forge a new definition of truth and value and a new defense of religion. He lost his temper. He called Kant "a catastrophic spider." The Konigsberg ascetic had woven his metaphysic out of the Enlightenment's epistemological crisis and trapped us all like flies. Nietzsche regarded the entire effort with grandiose disgust, calling both Leibniz–the prophet of "pre-established harmony"–and Kant–the supreme defender of the moral nature of man–the "two greatest impediments to the intellectual integrity of Europe."
    All their metaphysics, he thought, were no more than a craven attempt to save mankind's cowardly humility and its God. But, in the face of the colossal structure of our own knowledge, we did not need some crabbed shuffling of the theological pack. God was dead. But our new knowledge revealed not that we were impotent, but that we could become gods in his place. It would, Nietzsche thought, take us two centuries to face this transformation in all its aspects. But, once we had faced it, we would be free. The long birth of this new age, however, would result in unprecedented strife. Nietzsche's own work signaled the onset of labor.
  Bryan Appleyard, Understanding The Present, Anchor Books, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY. 10036, 1992, (P. 7

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" and ridiculed 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, unreasonable, 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 instead of Nietzsche!

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 and other religions.

This development has been fostered by a plethora of causes, not the least of which are:

  1. the vapid, egregiously insipid, inconsistent televangelists

  2. the fraudulent faith-healers and religious hucksters

  3. the glib banal spiel of positive thinkers

  4. the psycho-religio-smoothies wooing and cooing

  5. the red-necked, shouting, bible thumpers with their radical zeal

  6. the failure of the "Lord" to come after over 1300 years

  7. a list of other sensational "prophecies" that were erroneous and/or unfulfilled

  8. the long list of superstitions and fables that were incorporated into the religions that modern science has disconfirmed

  9. the failure of the world's religions to deliver an improved world

  10. the growing irrelevance and decay of the old institutions, primarily those of Christendom in the Western world.

"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 deservedly dead? What we are talking about here of course is the primary or major conceptions of God in the three great Monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Strange a God who mouths Golden Rules and forgiveness, then invented hell; who mouths morals to other people and has none Himself; who frowns upon crimes yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man's acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon Himself; and finally with altogether divine obtuseness, invites this poor, abused slave to worship Him! - Mark Twain

In the light of the quote above, here are some pertinent questions that deserve a hearing:

  1. 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." 
  2. What if the true conception of God is seemingly too good to be true literally?
  3. What if Yeshua 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?
  4. What if they were still locked up in their old theologies, mundane agendas and their petty concerns?
  5. What if most of the disciples were impacted, but did not even conceive or understand the message of Yeshua, much less believe it?
  6. What if all of Christendom and Gnosticism–through application of the old paradigm–have covered up, obliterated, and dismissed the heart of the message of Yeshua?
  7. What if it's more simple, more profound, and more immediately pragmatic and meaningful than men have been willing to consider?

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:

  1. A creator with open-ended possibilities

  2. A person who does not live out of fear

  3. A person with emotions and feelings

  4. A person capable of growing in richness

  5. A lover with romantic and erotic dimensions

  6. A playful person[*] who can be play and have fun

  7. A person who is free

  8. A person without guile

  9. A healer, forgiver and savior

  10. A person who knows himself

  11. A person who accepts himself

  12. A person who responds rather than reacts

  13. An unselfish sharer

  14. A server first and foremost

  15. A person who cannot be ruled

  16. A person who cannot be owned

  17. A person who is humane or truly human

  18. A person who desires relationships with peers, not underlings

  19. A person immortal but capable of purposefully dying

  20. A person who is supreme, but not intrinsically superior to his children

  21. A person who is in control from internals, not controlled by externals

  22. A person whose behavior is controlled by principles, not by law

  23. A pure life enhancer for his children.

A "God" worthy of being alive and worshipped would be a being who has:

  1. A purpose transcendent to cultural and earthly business-as-usual concerns

  2. A vision, a workable and efficacious plan

  3. An eternal, immutable, universally appropriate set of human values

  4. A fascinating and wonderful individual personality

  5. A sense of humor, pathos and healthy drama

  6. A set of immutable humane needs and desires

[*] This may be the human aspect most difficult to visualize God having.

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