A Purpose For Everything

Book by L. Charles Birch

(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

Article by John F. Haught

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

Article by David F. Ford

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 …

British Theology: Movements and Churches

Article by David F. Ford

Having surveyed in previous articles the variety of theological conversations in Britain — ranging across patristics, history, philosophy, biblical interpretation, literature and the arts, the natural and social sciences, ethics and politics, and other religions — it probably occurred to some readers to ask: But what about the classic topics of Christian theology? What about …

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

Book Chapter by John B. Cobb, Jr. (editor)

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 12: The Concern with Man and the End of Religion  in  God in the New World

Book Chapter by Lloyd Geering

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  The Theology of Altizer: Critique and Response

Book Chapter by John B. Cobb, Jr. (editor)

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  The Theology of Altizer: Critique and Response

Book Chapter by John B. Cobb, Jr. (editor)

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  The Theology of Altizer: Critique and Response

Book Chapter by John B. Cobb, Jr. (editor)

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 2: Dialectic or Duality? by William A. Beardslee  in  The Theology of Altizer: Critique and Response

Book Chapter by John B. Cobb, Jr. (editor)

“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  A Purpose For Everything

Book Chapter by L. Charles Birch

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 3: Purpose in the Universe  in  A Purpose For Everything

Book Chapter by L. Charles Birch

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 5: Man and God Evolving: Altizer and Teilhard by James W. Heisig  in  The Theology of Altizer: Critique and Response

Book Chapter by John B. Cobb, Jr. (editor)

“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:The New View of Man  in  God in the New World

Book Chapter by Lloyd Geering

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  The Theology of Altizer: Critique and Response

Book Chapter by John B. Cobb, Jr. (editor)

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 7: The New Theology  in  God in the New World

Book Chapter by Lloyd Geering

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: Response by Thomas J.J. Altizer  in  The Theology of Altizer: Critique and Response

Book Chapter by John B. Cobb, Jr. (editor)

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<B> </B>6: The New Secular Culture  in  God in the New World

Book Chapter by Lloyd Geering

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

Article by John B. Cobb, Jr.

              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

Book by Lloyd Geering

(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 to Lloyd Geering by Robert W. Funk  in  The World to Come: From Christian Past to Global Future

Book Chapter by Lloyd Geering

It gives me great pleasure to introduce Lloyd Geering to American readers for the first time. It is unfortunate that his pioneering spirit and theological genius have been confined largely to New Zealand, his home, to Australia, where he taught theology for a time, and to Great Britain, where he is known as a friend …

Jean-Luc Marion Tests the Limits of Logic

Article by Bruce Ellis Benson

When Jean-Luc Marion’s God without Being first appeared in translation in 1991, it was immediately clear to many that here was a new and prophetic voice in theology and philosophy of religion. Since then Marion’s influence has continued to increase. David Tracy helped introduce him to the English-speaking (particularly American) theological world, and he soon …

Liberal Questions: A Response to William Placher

Article by James M. Gustafson

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

Article by Nicholas Lash

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  The Theology of Altizer: Critique and Response

Book Chapter by John B. Cobb, Jr. (editor)

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  God in the New World

Book Chapter by Lloyd Geering

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

Article by Lois Malcolm

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  The World to Come: From Christian Past to Global Future

Book Chapter by Lloyd Geering

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  God in the New World

Book Chapter by Lloyd Geering

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 Origins of Postliberalism

Article by Gary Dorrien

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

Article by Ronald Goetz

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 …

Where Was God? An Interview with David Bentley Hart

Article by David Bentley Hart

David Hart’s 2003 book The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth (Eerdmans) was widely touted as a theological tour de force. He offers in that book a powerful and deeply learned statement of Christian truth that draws on the Eastern Orthodox tradition while engaging modern and postmodern critics of Christianity. After the …