(Cross-posted on my blog.)

In Bryant's blog post on a-theism he mentions that by his definition there can be such a chimera as a-theistic religion. As example he gives Episcopal minister Jack Spong. Bryant says:

"Episcopal minister Jack Spong’s theology, for example, would fit very well with a-theism in this sense. It is not Bishop Spong’s siding with science that makes his theology consistent with a-theism (though kudos for him!), but rather his thesis that transcendent God (the myth) literally dies with Jesus. The Jesus-event, under this reading, becomes the assertion of a theology of immanence, a rejection of transcendence, and the resurrection and ascension refer not to something literal, but rather to the emergence of a new kind of community no longer based on an essence stemming from kinship relations and without identity: a queer community not unlike the show Heroes. Jesus’s 'resurrection' would lie in the work of this purely immanent community with no criteria for membership and no signifier or membership that could define it. It would be a community of fragments without law, kinship, or national guarantee. Paradoxically, the least Christian thing one could do under this reading would be to call oneself a Christian or join a Christian community as that would immediately set up a logic of membership defining an in-group and an out-group."

From the wikipedia entry on Spong:

"A prominent theme in Spong's writing is that the popular and literal interpretations of Christian scripture are not sustainable and do not speak honestly to the situation of modern Christian communities. He believes in a more nuanced approach to scripture, informed by scholarship and compassion, which can be consistent with both Christian tradition and contemporary understandings of the universe. He believes that theism has lost credibility as a valid conception of God's nature. He states that he is a Christian because he believes that Jesus Christ fully expressed the presence of a God of compassion and selfless love and that this is the meaning of the early Christian proclamation, 'Jesus is Lord' (Spong, 1994 and Spong, 1991).

"Twelve points for reform:

1. Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.

2. Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.

3. The Biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.

4. The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ's divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible.

5. The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.

6. The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.

7. Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.

8. The story of the Ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not capable of being translated into the concepts of a post-Copernican space age.

9. There is no external, objective, revealed standard written in scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.

10. Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.

11. The hope for life after death must be separated forever from the behavior control mentality of reward and punishment. The Church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.

12. All human beings bear God's image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one's being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination."


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In the polydoxy thread Balder and Mary also referenced a couple more candidates, Marcus Borg and David Rico.

Recall also Fr. Raimon Panikkar's positions on atheism and secularism, which I've discussed in several places (here also).


Panikkar regards atheism, at least as it has found expression among some thinkers, as an evolutionary step beyond monotheism, and has said he'd like to put a moratorium on the word, 'God.' For Panikkar, the divine is not some entity or being 'out there,' or even a reified entity 'within,' but rather the depth dimension or openness of things, the inexhaustibility and infinity of being that can be intuited in and through and 'as' all particular things.”

Panikkar: God is sublimated, as I have said, but the sublimation must now be condensed somewhere, and it is the human interior that will supply the walls on which God will crystalize in humanity – not, however, as a distinct being, come to take refuge in our interior, but as something that is ours by right, and that had only been momentarily removed. But all metaphor is dangerous here, especially if it be interpreted in a substantialistic key. Perhaps God did die; but in that case what is happening now is that God is risen, albeit not as “God” but as humankind. But something similar should be said about humankind. Human beings are not God, not the center either. There is no center.



Zizek is notorious for his Christian atheism. His usual argument runs like this:

Our faith is that Jesus really was God and that he really suffered and died. Thus the Death of God is the principle item which distinguishes Christianity from other theistic religions -- and this explains why Christendom passes so readily into post-Christendom. Whereas, on the other hand, most self-proclaimed atheists secretly believe in a grammatical organizing unity of that make reality sensible. Thus they are believers while a true Christian is a real atheist.

It is an amusing position. It also draws heavily on Nietzsche who proposed two important points (a) the message "God is Dead" goes mocked and unheard by those who identify with atheism (b) that the Christian notion of Divine Truth necessarily drives culture forward toward the moment when Truth challenges metaphysical belief.

I'm reminded of Caputo's review of a book on a debate between Zizek and Millbank in this post, where God is dead, or undead. Some comments on atheism, belief, Hegel's dialectic and more are therein. All of which reminds me of this fungoo, a poetic and bastard hybrid of haiku and fangul.

I see a ghost on the horizon

calling me to follow.

When I get there

loose rags on a tattered fence.

I look up and he's still there on the horizon, beckoning.

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

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