Tuesday, April 3, 2012

William Hamilton, Death of God Theologian

William Hamilton, one of the theologians, who in 1966 was associated with "Death of God" theology, died on February 28th. He co-authored with Thomas J. J. Altizer the book "Radical Theology and the Death of God." In the Easter 1966 issue of Time Magazine, he featured prominently in the cover story. Hamilton was a Baptist; studied at Union Theological Seminary and later taught at Colgate Rochester Divinity School. He is often mentioned in conjunction with Paul van Buren, an Episcopalian.

Hamilton said, "The death of God is a metaphor." His work was a reflection on the possibility of Christianity without the presence of God. Altizer once said, "...the death of God was the ultimate act of God in the crucifixion..."

I find myself, each and every year, as I prepare my sermon for Good Friday, thinking about the Death of God. Here is the quote from Neitzche, upon which I often meditate:

“I seek God! I seek God!...Where is God gone?...I mean to tell you! We have killed him,--you and I! We are all his murderers! We are all his murders! But how have we done it? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the whole horizon? What did we do when we loosened this earth from its sun? Whither does it now move? Whither do we move?...Backwards, sideways, forwards, in all directions? Is there still an above and below? Do we not stray, as through infinite nothingness? Does not empty space breathe upon us? Has it not become colder? Does not night come on continually, darker and darker? Shall we not have to light lanterns in the morning? Do we not hear the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we not smell the divine putrefaction?--for even gods putrefy! God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him. How shall we console ourselves, the most murderous of all murderers? The holiest and the mightiest that the world has hitherto possessed, has bled to death under our knife--who will wipe the blood from us?...What are these churches now, if they are not the tombs and monuments of God.”

No comments: