Wow, this is blog #50…
John A. T. Robinson - Can a Truly Contemporary Person Not Be an Atheist?
Robinson takes the charges of atheism to heart and grows as a Christian because of them. He identified three main points: God is intellectually and emotionally superfluous and morally intolerable. He takes agrees with the points and uses them for indicators of how not to relate to God. He even goes so far as to say that God is dead and that once we have killed him he shows up again in a new much more powerful and authentic way.
God is Intellectually Superfluous:
In the past God has been used to explain the gaps in our thinking (It rains because God cries, etc.) Now that we are beginning to understand some of the processes of the world we don’t need a God of the gaps. The church is no longer in the domain of science but it still deals with guilt, but it is imaginable that one day people will be able to deal with their own guilt. There are no longer any gaps, so the need for a God of the gaps is indeed superfluous.
God is Emotionally Superfluous:
Freud and Marx attacked religion as a dangerous illusion because it allows people to escape the reality of their situation. For Marx an oppressed proletariat prays for his oppression to end without actually doing anything. Maybe we should get past a “good Lord provides” mentality and see Jesus suffering on the cross. Christianity isn’t a call to comfort it is to transcend the need for comfort. Jesus is about facing our fears and living, Jesus didn’t die to provide the american dream. “Men need to be weaned, however painfully, from refusal to accept the burden of responsibility. A God who relieves them of this requires killing.”(428)
God is Morally Intolerable:
“A God who ‘causes’ or ‘allows’ the suffering of a single child is morally intolerable.”
The answer Robinson seems to give is that it is time to stop blaming God and start looking at natural causes. People get sick because of disease. Earthquakes happen because of geological pressure, hurricanes happen because of warm oceans. As much as we should stop using God to fill in the gaps, and stop asking him to make things turn out for us we should stop asking why he is responsible for natural occurrences. It is something to grow out of.
After the Death of God:
“Even Jesus himself had to go through the process of the death of God - of the One who allowed it all to happen, ‘with a million angels watching, and they never move a wing.”’ (431) The words of Christ are very telling “Why have you forsaken me?” I can just hear it, why did you betray me? I did everything you asked and you handed me over “to suffering and death.” Does Christ ever reject God? Robinson is suggesting he did, “God who failed even his own Son.” (436) It comes down to God responding to evil not from the comfort of his throne but from the darkness of evil itself and saying I am still alive.
This is very hard for me to understand. But I think I am getting it. God isn’t up on a throne observing life, he is experiencing it with us, even experiencing death. He is walking in the alleys of Calgary…quietly.
It is this God than can help us heal. It is this God that is relevant.
It does become a stupid question to ask why he didn’t stop the earthquake in Turkey. He was there, crushed in a building.
But there is another part of me that asks if he is all powerful, why not just stop it? Even if he was there, why not stop the earthquake, why did the pressure have to build, couldn’t he bend the rules a bit and let it dissipate gradually? It would have saved the lives of 80,000 people.
The thing is, I just can’t let God die. There is too much love and compassion. It is just confusing and it doesn’t make sense. How is this the same God? I don’t have an answer.
There is a strange quote: “God, can ultimately be revealed and responded to only as love which takes responsibility for evil - transformingly and victoriously.” (437)
I don’t get it, any thoughts? Can someone explain it to me?