God is Dead 4
Table of Contents
Thesis Statement 3
Key Players: The Problem 4
Bible is Myth: The Dilemma 7
Bible is Historically Reliable: The Facts 9
The study of theology is one o the oldest professions due to thebelief that man is a religious being. Most people believe in theexistence of a deity by the name God, and they conduct variouspractices in honor to the duty. The existence of God, however, hasbeen under heavy criticism especially with the increased use oftechnology that allows people to understand natural phenomena. Thenew inventions and massive discoveries made by scientist have madesome people to question some of the things attributed to God. Forexample, the stories are given in the Bible that explains thepowerful nature of God has become myths to some people. Therefore,famous scientists and researchers have gone against the conventionaluniversal idea that God exists. There has been a strong movement, forexample, God is dead movement that totally against the idea of peopleclaiming that God exists.
On the other hand, theologians have been on their toes to questionthe authenticity of the claims made by the Anti-God movement. Most oftheir claims have a basis in the Bible. They have presented the Bibleas historically correct and therefore, not a myth as some wouldclaim. This paper will lay insight o the key players who have beenthe masterminds of the campaign that claims that God is dead as wellthe premises they use to prop their arguments. It will also look atthe dilemma of the Bible as a myth and an also as a historicallycorrect text that details actual happenings in history.
With the age if science and technological advancements, the Bible isturning to be unbelievable for many. Although this is not a newnotion, the concept of the myth presents a skeptical way to reconcilethe heart with the head. Therefore, this paper will seek to addressthe topic that God is Dead and to show that the Bible is not amyth.
BodyKey Players: TheProblem
Nietzsche authored the book God is Dead. Many theorists usethe book as a reference point to show the inexistence of God. The19th-century book claims that God no longer exist and that the humankind has killed him.1According to Nietzsche, the human has killed God with its immorality.As he puts it, men would lead more comfortable and less guilt-riddenlives if they accepted that God is dead. The world would appear lessinherently sinful and eliminate the limits of their character. Hisrecognition that God is dead seems to be a suggestion that theacceptance by humankind that He is no longer present would end thelong-established standards of morality and purpose.2The phrase God is dead as portrayed by Nietzsche does not mean thathe believes in the existence of God who later died in a literal way.It merely means that the Christian God is no longer a credible sourceof morality.3
Gabriel Vahanian is another theologian who was a member of the Godis dead Movement. He became famous in the radical theology arenawhen he authored the book, The Death of God: The Culture of ourPost-Christian Era. The idea developed by Vahanian was thatscience has elevated us to the age where Christianity is no longerneeded. According to him, the Christian generation may not acceptthat God is not dead but their belief does not come without a lesson.Vahanian claims that God is not necessary. However, he goes on toprovide that his existence cannot be taken as a mere hypothesis in ascientific or epistemological context. He cannot be studied in thesecontexts and therefore, he shares similar interests with Nietzsche,who claims that the human immorality.4Therefore, it is only those who profess the faith in those who cankill him or hold him in existence. However, with the behavioral trendin human beings proves that Go is not necessary. Their immoralitycontinues to scale up yet they claim that does exists. Therefore, iftheir behavior still holds, and if God demands immorality, thenVahanian and his school of thought claim that God is not necessary. Therefore, although he is not necessary, he is also inevitable.
Another radical theologian who spearheaded the Death of God movementin America is William Hamilton. Hamilton observes that theology isbecoming more unpopular that it was several decade ago. According tohim, radical theology is the only concept that takes care of theneeds of the modern society by addressing its diverse and free needs.He divides his concept of theology into four categories namely neworthodoxy, the Bultman School that emphasizes on the biblicaltheology, demythologization, New Testament studies and philosophicaltheology.5The fourth category includes the radical theology and Hamiltonbelongs to this group. Those in the group belonged to the Death ofGod movement. Hamilton believed in the reality of the death of Godand embraced it. Unlike Nietzsche, who presented the death of God asthe death of the entire theism, Hamilton and hi school of thoughthold on to the idea that the God of the Christian tradition is dead.6
Thomas Altizer is also a major contributor to the topic of God isdead. He was raised in the Episcopal church, and he was thereforewell acquainted with the Christian faith since his childhood.However, his idea about the death of Go was highly influenced by histendency of studying the Buddhist believe. Some of his premise bout adead God can be traced from his Buddhist perception. Altizer tried tobe different from other proponents by claiming that the death of Godtook place during our time in history. He describes the death of Goas a historical event. The claim by Altizer that God is dead assertsthat the deity who used to be the center of the Christian faith andtradition now seems to be non-existent. Therefore, Christians mustlearn and convince itself that he is no longer present and learn tolive without him. His position and also that of the radicaltheologians is that there use to be a God to whom all the praise andworship were due.7However, today, there exists no such a God. The contributions ofthese authors and their schools of thought props the topic. Theirarguments are major references by scholars and those who argue infavor of the idea that God is dead.
Paul Van Buren is also in the league of the scholars who believedthat the Bible is a myth. He served as a member of the faculty at theEpiscopal Theological Seminary at Temple University in Philadelphia.In his piece of work, The Secular Meaning of the Gospel, Buren claimsthat is a myth and does not, therefore, reach the threshold to talkabout God. Human beings should therefore not be trapped in believe inJesus, and his resurrection but they should seek the freedom toexercise their values. His claim inclines to the claims made by othermembers of the radical theology who spearheaded the God is Deadmovement.
Bible is Myth: TheDilemma
Over the past several decades, evangelicals have borrowed fromliberal theologians, and they have occasionally pointed out severalscientific errors reflected in the Bible. However, dilemma comes inwhen the some evangelicals become quick to reassure the lay peoplethe biblical doctrines of salvation are devoid of errors. There isquestion about the authenticity of the Bible on its authentic natureon stereological matter when it is full of errors both historicallyand scientifically.8
Kittle also points out that a Bible has to acknowledge theinfallibility of the Bible and its inerrancy. It, therefore, losesits stand as a final authority. It is the premise used by radicaltheologians who claim that God is dead. They are quick to point outthe scientific left by creation and the flood that occur during theerror of Noah.9
The accounts of creation were popular among the populations inMesopotamia. The reciting of the creation stories as part of theMesopotamian civilization laws believe to influence the community andnature magically as well. The stories were intended to reassure thepeople that maintained by the gods during creations would beinstrumental in combating the effects of illness and other naturaloccurrences. Since most of the stories are similar to the biblicalaccount of creation raises the question of which came first. There isa question raised about whether the biblical account of creation wasthe first one or it is just another version of the Mesopotamianstories makes.
The worldwide flood as mentioned in the Bible during the times ofNoah is also sources of speculation about the historical andscientific accuracy of the Bible. It prompts the belief that it wasanother Hebrew myth. The flood story in the Babylonian corresponds tothe idea of how Gilgamesh south immortality. In the Bible, thenarrative of the flood is a major theme that contributes to thedevelopment of the following occurrences. A skeptic would find italarming.10
Those who are not fast to make literal conclusions of the Bible holdon to the fact that it would be uncalled for to undermine suchstories. People in the early errors had a primitive look at issues,and they could readily accept fantasies. The rationale for this isthat there were no scientific explanations to detail certainhappenings. Anything could not have a direct and ready explanationbeyond what the people could comprehend was attributed to the unseenpower. However, with the increased scientific discoveries, peoplehave become less astute, and they consider some of the beliefs asjust myths. Interestingly, anything that cannot be satisfactorilydescribed by science becomes a myth. The local flood that consumed alocal community was taken as a worldwide epic.11
On resurrection, Wilhelm Wette provides claims that make the Biblemiracles appear like myths. The stories surrounding the birth ofJesus, his resurrection and ascension are linked to myths. Wettedescribes that these occurrences were just allegories and metaphorsthat were turned into bible facts when the bible was being written.
The requirement to accept the birth of Christ and his resurrectionpresented in the Bible and as outlined by Wette becomesunderstandable to an individual through a miracle of grace. Thedefects of accepting the accounts that surround the life of Jesuscan, therefore, be noted.
According to Pannenberg, the Bible was not written as a revelationfrom God. It does not exactly fall into the line of history. Thepremise used by Pannenberg is that history should be used to explainthe happenings in the Bible and not the authority that it holds.12As he puts it, the authority of the Bible as being inspired by Godcan bar one from questioning its historical accuracy. Christiansshould, therefore, embrace what history presents a true instead ofrunning from the truth.
Bible is HistoricallyReliable: The Facts
The account of the birth of Christ, hi life and death as well asresurrection are not a clever myth made by human beings. As Peterpoints out in the Bible, he was an eye witness in the account of theresurrection when he found an empty tomb. The holy women also foundan empty tomb when they went to anoint the body of Jesus. Also, thethree beloved disciples of Jesus John, James ad Peter were presentduring transfiguration when a voice from heaven announced that, “Thisis my beloved son, and I take delight” (Mathew 17:5). According toa first-century philosopher, Philo Alexandria, there is a distinctionbetween religion and the Bible. Religion largely relies on mythicalexplanations while the Bible contains history. The philosopher wasagainst the tendency of Jewish apologists who discredited theBiblical stories and presented them as myths. The factual nature ofthe Bible that distances it from mythical claims can be looked intofrom three basic premises.
The first premise is the origin of the manuscript from which themodern script was written. Bruce is of the opinion that among all themanuscripts written in the ancient times, the New Testament hasdominated the readership.13It has received consistent attention throughout the past generations,and it has not lost popularity. There have been very many, literaryworks written by different authors, and most of them have not stoodthe test of time. The only evince that they ever existed is becausethe can be found in libraries. However, the New Testament has beenreprinted hundreds of times, and it is still a popular text for many.For example, looking at the famous manuscripts written by Greekphilosophers, people do not question their historical accuracy. Also,they are not common among the people today apart from philosophyscholars who study them purposely to understand the ancient knowledgeor make philosophical inferences. Conversely, some theologiansquestion the correctness of the New Testament but this does notaffect the massive readership.14
In the ancient texts developed by different scholars, people tookthem to be historically correct unless the author proves otherwise inthe text. Any provable inaccuracies in a text disqualified a writeras factual. The new Old Testament texts include consistent andprogressive information that meets the threshold of being taken ashistorically factual. There is an overwhelming level of internalconsistency, and there is a question of whether the critics applythis knowledge before making their claims. A famous ancient textdubbed Iliad written by Homer is taken by scholars as historicallycorrect. However, the internals text corruption of the text is 5% ascompared to the text corruption in the bible that is only 0.5%. 15Therefore, the Bible is more correct than the famed Iliad text.
The scientific discoveries made during the middle 20th centurycreated a significant level of excitement among the people that theywould prove the biblical claims to be fictional. However, thearcheological discoveries did not have the effect that peopleexpected. Instead of their evidence proving the biblical claim to beobsolete they tended to incline to them. Also, the biblical correctarcheological findings do not become media luminaries like otherscientific findings. For example, the bones of the priest whoprosecute Jesus named Caiaphas were discovered a couple of decadesago. However, such a major discovery that gave concrete support tothe New Testament did not receive a significant media attention.
Another major contemporary source of evidence is the inclusion ofsome of the accounts found in the Bible in the contemporary Jewishhistory. The Talmud that details a great deal of the Jewish historymention Jesus in its texts and this is proof that he really existed. A famous Roman historian named Cornelius Tacitus includes shortdescriptions of Jesus. Therefore, Jesus existed at a certain time inhistory, and his existence is not mythical.16
When the idea of criticizing the Bible and the existence of God comesfrom people who are not the Christianity circle, a neutral personwill find it acceptable. However, when radical theologians spearheada movement to assert that God is dead, it makes the whole idea ofGod, and the Bible appears as a real makeup. The ideas of Nietzsche,Altizer, Hamilton and Vahanian have influenced the 21st centurythought about God and the accuracy of the Bible. The paper hasprovided evidence that shows where the radical theologians went wrongalthough not through theological and philosophical arguments.
Despite the claim that the Bible misses a point while arranging itsaccounts in a factual chronology, the biblical manuscripts have beenproved to be consistent with historical accuracies. When juxtaposedwith other famous texts, the Bible turns out to be golden in itsconsistency and accuracy in historical events.
Also, the contemporary history of the Jewish society supports variouscritical accounts in the bible like the existence of Jesus. Jewishscholars brief mentioned Jesus in their works and this act as a propfor the information given in the Bible. Therefore, the claim that amiracle of grace has to happen to an individual for him/her to acceptthe Bible as factual suffers a great blow. The believers should notbe swayed by apparent smart, philosophical claims that dispute thebible. The mythical claim should not have a place in their societysince the truth about the bible’s authenticity, and historicalaccuracy is open to anyone who cares to look at what the proponentsof the Christian faith have to say. Also, they should not ignore thecontemporary history that supports the existence of Christ who is thecenter of their faith.
Bruce, Frederick. The Books and the Parchments (Old Tappan: Revell,1963), p. 78.
Copan, Paul &Moreland, William (Eds.) The Apologetics Study Bible: RealQuestions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (Nashville, TN:Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), p. 2.
Cross, Leslie &Livingstone, Elizabeth (Eds.). (2005). In The Oxforddictionary of the Christian Church (New York: OxfordUniversity Press), p,462.
Duffield, Cleave(1983). Foundations of Pentecostal Theology (Los Angeles, CA:L.I.F.E. Bible College, 1983), p.23.
Enns, Paul. TheMoody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989)p.589.
Gray, Patrick."" Controversy." New GeorgiaEncyclopedia. p, 6. (Accessed 06 August 2013. Web. 23 March 2015
Hamilton,William. "American Theology, Radicalism and the Death of God."Religion Online. Accessed November 11, 2015, p. 21.
Norman,Geisler and Brooks, Ronald. WhenSkeptics Ask(Wheaton, IL: SP Publications, Inc., 1981), p.361
Pippin, Robert ."Nietzsche and the Melancholy of Modernity." SocialResearch 66, No. 2 (Summer99 1999)
1 Brague, Rémi. "Are There As Many Gods As Religions?" Modern Age 57, No. 3 (Summer2015 2015): 79
2 Rémi, Modern Age 57, 79.
3 Pippin, Robert B. "Nietzsche and the Melancholy of Modernity." Social Research 66, No. 2 (Summer99 1999): 495-520.
4 Cross, Leslie & Livingstone, Elizabeth. In The Oxford dictionary of the Christian Church (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), p.462.
5 Hamilton, William. "American Theology, Radicalism and the Death of God." Religion Online. Accessed November 11, 2015, p. 21.
6 Hamilton, Religion Online, p. 23.
7 Gray, Patrick. "" Controversy." New Georgia Encyclopedia. p, 6. (Accessed 06 August 2013. Web. 23 March 2015
8 Duffield, Cleave (1983). Foundations of Pentecostal Theology (Los Angeles, CA: L.I.F.E. Bible College, 1983), p.23.
9 Duffield, p.28
10 Copan, Paul & Moreland, William (Eds.) The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), p. 2.
11 Copan & Moreland, p.6
12 Enns, Paul. The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989) p.589.
13 Bruce, Frederick. The Books and the Parchments (Old Tappan: Revell, 1963), p. 78.
14 Bruce, p.78.
15 Norman, Geisler and Brooks, Ronald. When Skeptics Ask (Wheaton, IL: SP Publications, Inc., 1981), p.361.
16 Norman & Geisler, p. 363