A Purpose For Everything

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(ENTIRE BOOK) Birch holds that post-modern scientific materialism is insufficient to explain the world. He proposes an ecological model in which all entities, from protons to humans, are ultimately related. Only this, he says, can deal adequately with the post modern world.

Amateur Atheists

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For many years I taught an introductory theology course for undergraduates titled "The Problem of God." My fellow instructors and I were convinced that our students should be exposed to the most erudite of the unbelievers. Our rationale was that any mature commitment that intelligent young people might make to a religious faith should be …

British Theology After a Trauma: Divisions and Conversations

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If there was one intellectual development in living memory that separates the "grandparent" from the "parent" generation of British theology, it was the rise of logical positivism and analytical philosophy. A fairly homogeneous educated class, largely shaped through a few major universities, received a massive assault from within those universities not just on its philosophy …

Chapter 1: Purpose in Human Life  in  

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Future possibilities are real causes in our lives. If, as a society, we are to make a creative response to the overwhelming challenges of war, injustice and environmental destruction of our time, there need be agreement about purposes that are stronger than the differences that divide us.

Chapter 1: The End of the Millennium  in  

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The foundations of the Christian calendar, the date of Jesus’ birth (and the celebration of Christmas on December 25th), the "second coming" – these have no historical connection with Jesus.

Chapter 1: Thomas Altizer and the Future of Theology, by Theodore Runyon, Jr.  in  

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Theodore Runyon Jr. says: "From Altizer’s standpoint, the God I am advocating, the God who is distinct from man and the world, is a repressive figure who must be killed in order that the God who in Christ is identical with the world might emerge. From my viewpoint, what needs to die, or at least to be relativized, is absolute confidence in the religious intuition of man, which in this form I take to be a deifying of the aesthetic dimension of the creature."

Chapter 1:<I> </I>The New Source of Knowledge  in  

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All forms of knowledge in which Christian faith and experience has expressed itself must also be continually subject to re-examination and reformulation. This is why theology at the present time is in the most fluid state it has been since the period of Christian origins.

Chapter 10: Humanity at War with the Planet  in  

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An appreciation of the damage we are doing to the earth has been slow to surface in modern human consciousness. Most people are so taken up with personal and local affairs of the moment that they are almost completely unaware of the larger picture.

Chapter 11: Scenarios of the Future  in  

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Dr. Geering offers ten scenarios of the possible human future -- wars, starvation, mass pandemics, ecological disasters and unfettered terrorism. He concludes that if a successful global society is to emerge, it will require humanity to develop a new consciousness and a new form of spirituality.

Chapter 11: Thomas J.J. Altizer Response  in  

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While I am fully persuaded that the death of God is a Christian phenomenon, and that it promises the Christification of all, I find that Noel’s portrait of "on-goingness" at no point transcends or goes beyond a pre-death-of-God stage of religious evolution.

Chapter 12: A Faith for the Future  in  

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If the human species is not to self-destruct it must develop into a global society which will find cohesion in what may be called a global human culture. The challenges which lie ahead cannot be overcome by any one person or group working on their own but only by the human species working as a whole.

Chapter 12: The Concern with Man and the End of Religion  in  

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Some people define religion as a body of beliefs and practices which direct man’s attention to one or more divine beings in an unseen supernatural world. If this is religion, then Israel rejects it and so does Christianity. Jesus of Nazareth did not begin a new religion. He proclaimed a new way of faith, by which man, in whatever generation he lives, is summoned by the Word of God to concern himself with the human scene, for this is God’s concern. The Christian way transcends religion and spells the end of religion -- thus the point of "religionless" Christianity.

Chapter 12: Zen and the Death of God by Winston L. King  in  

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The question to be raised here is whether Zen (Buddhism) in its rejection of (Buddhist) "Oriental mysticism," and Altizer in his rejection of Christian and Buddhist transcendentalism, do not finally come to approximately the same position -- though by somewhat different routes. To this end we shall sketch the rejection-affirmation modes of each party to the comparison and in the third section draw our conclusions.

Chapter 13: Thomas J.J. Altizer Response  in  

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God himself negated and reversed his own transcendence in the Incarnation, and the Christian is called to will the death of God as a way of opening himself to the gift or "Body" of God in Christ. Buddhism has never known any form of a truly transcendent realm or deity, hence I concur with the common judgment that from the Christian point of view Buddhism is atheistic.

Chapter 14: Notes for a Dialogue by Mircea Eliade  in  

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Mircea Eliade discusses six areas of Eliade’s own positions that Altizer criticizes: 1. His understanding of homo religiosus. 2. The dialectic of the sacred. 3. All of his work was not included (e.g.: works written in Romanian). 4. His openness to the profane. 5. His work as being "prophetic." 6. The dialectic of the sacred as a hierophany.

Chapter 17: God as the Ground of Faith  in  

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When we speak of God, we are speaking of the deepest reality possible, yet we do not know what that reality is. A known God is an idol. A defined God is no God. We live not by knowledge but by faith and God is the ground of that faith.

Chapter 19: Love as the Life of Faith  in  

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In the day of reckoning only those things will remain which have in them the power to remain because they come of God, and those things are faith, hope and love, and the greatest of the three is love.

Chapter 2: Dialectic or Duality? by William A. Beardslee  in  

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"I would think a more adequate line of theological exploration than Altizer’s would entail the working out of an understanding of Christ and God that views them in a framework of process, but understood in such a way that process involves cumulative enrichment and fulfillment and not simply dialectical reversal. I am sympathetic with, and open toward, the various attempts to restate Christian affirmations in Whiteheadian categories, for Whitehead’s thought seems to me to offer a categorical framework which may express a grasp of process appropriate to Christian faith."

Chapter 2: Purpose in Nature  in  

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The profound question evolution raises is why did atoms evolve to cells and to plants and to animals? Materialism (which itself is a metaphysic) provides no real answer to this question. The ecological model opens up a way to understanding this in terms of lure and response. In the ecological model we recognize in all entities some measure of responsiveness and freedom which we share.

Chapter 20: The Church as the Community of Faith  in  

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According to the Bible, the Judeo-Christian faith has always been a community affair. There is emerging today a new form of the church as the community of faith which is the leaven of that faith and of hope and of love in a unsettled world.

Chapter 21 The Faith which Outlives Death  in  

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In submitting himself to the life of obedience, in seeking to be used as an instrument in the renewal of the world, in shouldering the cross of Christ his Lord, the Christian shares in the life of faith which genuinely outlives death.

Chapter 3: Purpose in the Universe  in  

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Materialism or mechanism does not explain the world. Rather, individual entities from protons to people are influenced, not only by their external relations, but are influenced, even constituted, by their internal relations with their environment. Internal relations have nothing to do with the laws of mechanics. The laws of mechanics have only to do with external relations. The ecological model of nature is a credible alternative to materialism and mechanism.

Chapter 3: The Disintegration of Orthodoxy  in  

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Dr. Geering discusses the demise of Christian orthodoxy in four areas particularly vulnerable to "the corrosive acids of modernity:" 1. The Church; 2. The Bible; 3. The person of Jesus Christ; 4. The reality of God. However, he affirms that Christianity is broader and more flexible than any theological orthodoxy.

Chapter 3: The New View of the World  in  

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The three-decker world view of ancient man, (sky, flat earth, underworld) and the contemporary space universe stemming from Copernicus and Galileo are so different from each other that every aspect of the Christian faith must be radically reinterpreted.

Chapter 4: A Cosmic Purpose  in  

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A faith in a cosmic purpose that is credible in an age of science and that could lead to harmony between human beings and between them and the rest of nature is the challenge. Another way of putting it is to ask -- is there divine love at the heart of the universe?

Chapter 4: The Failure of Christian Modernism  in  

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Many of the events of the twentieth century have eroded human self-confidence and belief in progress. Modernity itself is now held responsible by some for the current ills in society, and for the uncertain and fragile future which we now face.

Chapter 5: Man and God Evolving: Altizer and Teilhard by James W. Heisig  in  

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"Despite one’s first impression that a death-of-God theology is hopelessly incompatible with a deeply God-centered theology, there is much that the writings of Dr. Altizer and Père Teilhard share in common. It is my purpose in this paper to compare their thinking in several salient areas, in the hopes that this will help render our contemporary Christian myths more transparent and spell out their consequences more fully."

Chapter 5: Purpose and Progress  in  

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How can a postmodern worldview illumine the momentous problems of our time: peace, justice and ecological sustainability? There is more to enlightenment than the knowledge that science, technology, economics and politics bring. This the Enlightenment failed to recognize.

Chapter 5:The New View of Man  in  

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The dogmatic way in which the church has often declared itself on matters of personal salvation and judgment has rested on an inadequate understanding of the complexities of the human situation. But this is not to conclude that the sciences which are forcing us more and more to abandon our traditional understanding of the nature and destiny of man, have solved the riddle of life and of the mystery of man.

Chapter 6: Response by Thomas J.J. Altizer  in  

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If God has become man or Word has become flesh in consciousness and experience, then it is precisely the truest or fullest expressions of consciousness and experience that the theologian can identify as "faith." Then faith could be understood not only as a witness to or participation in the reality of God but also as an actualization and realization of the life and movement of God.

Chapter 6: The Discovery of Relativity  in  

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No thing in the universe can be fully understood in isolation. Everything we previously took to be absolute and final is now relativised. It is just because nothing lasts for ever and there is continual change that life has been able to evolve and that humanity has developed as it has.

Chapter 7: A Post Christian Future  in  

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The best we can do, in attempting to imagine the twenty-first century, is to assess the current trends in the fast-changing human cultures. The most dominant trend today is globalization.

Chapter 7: New Wine in New Bottles  in  

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Divided disciplines must be brought together again. An affirmation of the presence of the future life is essential. Human life feeds on purpose, on the richness of life, upon the purposes we freely choose.

Chapter 7: The New Theology  in  

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The new world poses many questions for the Christian faith. It has challenged the validity of traditional Christianity at many points, but at the same time it is out of Christendom that the new world has emerged. It depends more on the nourishment from its cultural roots than it realizes.

Chapter 8: Globalization  in  

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The process of globalization has reached a turning point. It could lead to a form of human existence more wonderful and exciting than we can possibly imagine -- a veritable heaven on earth. Or some of the trends that have been encouraging globalization may have disastrous consequences far beyond human control.

Chapter 8: Response by Thomas J.J. Altizer  in  

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If the Christian continues to believe in the gracious and providential love of God after Auschwitz, then not only is he once more denying the humanity of the Jew, but he is also inevitably denying the pain of all humanity, refusing the authentic or ultimate reality of a pain that cannot be relieved or assuaged by a dehistorized or dehumanized God.

Chapter 9: Humanity at War with Itself  in  

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After a long period of dispersion over the whole earth, the human race is now being pushed together, whether we are ready for it or not. We live in a global world and we have a common destiny on this planet, but our decisions are hampered by narrow-mindedness and short-sightedness.

Chapter<B> </B>6: The New Secular Culture  in  

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Secularization on a global scale is bringing in a new situation in which the Christian community and the secular society within which it lives, must both discover their proper mutual relationships. The Christian community in particular must be careful not to waste unnecessary energy fighting an enemy that her own misjudgment has largely created.

Christology in the United States

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              Since 1965 the character of theology in the United States has changed drastically.  For the thirty years preceding that date, the discussion of theology in general and of Christology in particular had centered around the issues between traditional American liberalism and the neo-Orthodoxy that was brought in from Central Europe.  Defenders of philosophical theology …

God in the New World

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(ENTIRE BOOK) Has Christianity anything to say in this secular age? Dr. Geering examines two of the most misunderstood areas -- the nature of the Bible, and the relation of Christian faith to science -- and affirms that Christ is completely relevant to the modern world.

Introduction  in  

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The reformation of modernism into postmodernism involves a radical transformation of science, religion and culture that constitutes a revolution even greater than the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment.

Introduction  in  

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This book had its beginnings in the English summer of 1997, during a three-month spell in Oxford. Since the idea of the year 2000 CE was already creating some excitement, I began to ponder the questions posed by the century’s end. And so, in the Bodleian Library, I read around the theme of the millennium. …

Introduction by John B. Cobb, Jr. and Nicholas Gier  in  

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Of all the death of God theologians, Thomas J.J. Altizer was the most prominent figure of the late ‘60s and has been the most widely and heatedly discussed American theologian. Altizer’s theological convictions show not only passionate faith, but incomparable spiritual strength and courage as well.

Liberal Questions: A Response to William Placher

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William Placher’s reply to my inquiries about "postliberal" theology (April 7) is necessarily brief, and this response to him must be briefer than desirable. I think, however, that it is important for this discussion to take place. The "Troeltschian" questions that I have raised—about historical and cultural relativity, about the relation of Christianity to other …

Performing Scripture

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Nicholas Lash, professor at Cambridge University, has been one of the most influential theologians in the English-speaking world for the past generation. His work has helped spur the renewal of confidence among orthodox theologians working in mainline academic settings in the United Kingdom and the U.S. He has engaged philosophers as diverse as Marx and …

Preface  in  

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One purpose of this book is to encourage increased attention to Altizer’s systematic theology with critical essays of high quality, some previously published, some new. The second purpose is to stimulate and embody the living debate with critical essays followed by Altizer’s responses. The tone of both the critiques and the responses is respectful, friendly, and open.

Preface  in  

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Some of the material in this book has, in earlier drafts, been delivered as lectures to a variety of public audiences. Chapter 6 has drawn extensively from some lectures published as Relativity: the Key to Human Understanding. Some lectures recently published as Does Society Need Religion? are reflected in chapter 12 and elsewhere. Throughout most …

Preface  in  

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In a few circles of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, there was strong concern expressed about the orthodoxy of an article on "The Resurrection," and as soon as this came to the notice of the press, the debate left the confines of Presbyterian Church circles and became a public issue. This author writes of these controversies.

Radical, Orthodox

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Every once in a while a person comes along who reconfigures a field of study. John Milbank of the University of Virginia, formerly of Cambridge University in England, has done just that in theology, spearheading a movement that has become known as “radical orthodoxy.” At the heart of Milbank’s work is the premise that modernity …

Select Bibliography  in  

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Anderson, Walter Truett (ed.), The Fontana Post-modernism Reader, Fontana, 1996 Baillie, John, What is Christian Civilization?, Oxford University Press, 1945 Bartsch, Hans Werner (ed.), Kerygma and Myth, Harper & Row, 1961 Bellah, Robert, Beyond Belief, Harper & Row, 1970 Berger, Peter, The Heretical Imperative, Anchor Press, 1979 Berry, Thomas, The Dream of the Earth, Sierra …

Suggestions for Further Reading  in  

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Suggestions for Further Reading PART I John Dillenberger, Protestant Thought and Natural Science, Collins J. D. Smart, The Interpretation of Scripture, S.C.M. Press Alan Richardson, The Bible in the Age of Science, S.C.M. Press I.S. Habgood, Religion and Science, Mills & Boon C.F. von Weizsäker, The Relevance of Science, Collins Gustav Schenk, The History of …

The Debate on ‘Open Theism’

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Theologian John Sanders lost his college teaching job recently because of his endorsement of “open theism” — the view that the future is not determined by God. His ouster from Huntington College in Indiana followed three years of nasty debate within the Evangelical Theological Society a significant faction of which wanted to expel Sanders (along …

The Origins of Postliberalism

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No theological perspective has a commanding place or an especially impressive following these days. Various theologies compete for attention in a highly pluralized field, and no theology has made much of a public impact. One significant and inescapable development, however, has been the emergence of "postliberal" theology, a major attempt to revive the neo-orthodox ideal …

The Suffering God: The Rise of a New Orthodoxy

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Twentieth-Century theology has been extremely diverse. Schools and fads have abounded, from neo-orthodoxy to neo-liberalism, from demythologization to the "God is dead" movement, from Christian realism to secular Christianity, from process thought to the various liberation movements. Twentieth-century theology might appear to be so completely at sixes and sevens that it has no distinguishing characteristics …

The World to Come: From Christian Past to Global Future

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(ENTIRE BOOK) The certainties of Christianity’s past have gone, and we are caught up in a process of cultural change more rapid and widespread than ever before in human history. We have entered a post-Christian era. The transition from the Christian era of the past to that of the future is the subject of this book.