return to religion-online

The Gospel of Christian Atheism by Thomas J.J. Altizer

.Thomas J. J. Altizer received his Ph.D at the University of Chicago in 1955. He taught at Wabash College from 1954-1956, then moved to Emory University as professor of Bible and Religion until 1968. The "death of God" theology became a heated debate during his professorship at Emory. In 1968 he accepted a position at the State University of New York in 1968 as professor of English. Some of his primary works are: Radical Theology and the Death of God, ed. Altizer and William Hamilton (1966), The Gospel of Christian Atheism (1966), The Descent into Hell (1970), The Self-Embodiment of God (1977), Total Presence: The Language of Jesus and the Language of Today (1980), Genesis and Apocalypse: A Theological Voyage Toward Authentic Christianity (1990), and The Genesis of God: A Theological Genealogy (1993). Published by The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Copyright © 1966 W.L. Jenkins. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.

We are now entering a period in which Christianity must confront the most radical challenge that it has faced since the time of its beginning. This requires a new and profoundly radical theological movement in America.

The radical Christian is a revolutionary, he is given to a total transformation of Christianity, a rebirth of the Christian Word in a new and final form.

Chapter 1: The Uniqueness of Chrisitanity
Christianity has resisted the Word of its own proclamation by regressing to a primordial, an unfallen, and a nonhistorical Word. The Incarnation is only truly and actually real if it effects the death of the original sacred, the death of God himself.

Chapter 2: Jesus and the Incarnation
In the radical Christian vision, as can most clearly be seen in Blake, Hegel, and Nietzsche, we invariably find the prophetic judgment that the Jesus of the Christian tradition is alien and lifeless, having been born only by means of a negation of the original Jesus, and therewith having evolved to the very opposite of his original identity.

Chapter 3: God and History
If the Christian knows the God who has emptied himself of his original sacrality in actually becoming flesh, then he cannot know a God who remains distinct and self-enclosed in his own primordial Being.

Chapter 4: The Self-Annihilation of God
We must recognize that the proclamation of the death of God is a Christian confession of faith. For to know that God is dead is to know the God who died in Jesus Christ, the God who passed through what Blake symbolically named as "Self-Annihilation" or Hegel dialectically conceived as the negation of negation. Only the Christian can truly speak of the death of God, because the Christian alone knows the God who negates himself in his own revelatory and redemptive acts.

Chapter 5: A Wager
The Christian today who chooses the orthodox image of Christ is making a wager in which he stands to forfeit all the life and energy of a world that is totally alien to the Church’s.

Viewed 116327 times.