Thursday 29 June 2006

The collapse of theism

“The major churches in Europe, and partly in North America as well, are currently experiencing the collapse of classical bourgeois theism. More and more people are turning away from belief in a personal figure who exists over and above this world.... This collapse, which naturally gives rise to powerful countermovements—for example, fundamentalist ones—is hitting churches and cultures hard. Many institutions and many people are experiencing a crisis of landslide proportions.

“Laments over this development mostly overlook the fact that almost all significant theologies of the twentieth century have actually worked toward this collapse.... It was above all christological and trinitarian insights and questions that were determinative of the efforts to put an end to classical theism.”

Michael Welker, Creation and Reality (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1999), p. 1.


byron smith said...

God is dead, long live God?

Mike L said...

Theism has been "collapsing" in Europe for quite some time; if it had not been, then Communism and Nazism could not have made headway. However, it is far from collapsing in the United States. By most statistical measures, we are neither more nor less theist than we were when George Washington took office as the first President.

As a philosopher trained in secular institutions, I note that classical theism is more respectable among English-speaking philosophers now than it was thirty years ago. Clear thinking helps.

Weekend Fisher said...

"christological and trinitarain insights and questions"? Aw c'mon, did he skewer and barbecue any sacred cows or not?

Looney said...

"bourgeois theism"? Is that a common theological term?

Anonymous said...

Have I got this right? The recovery of the God of the church has precipitated an ecclesiastical crisis, while the fundamentalists fight a rearguard action in defence of the god of the philosophers. So the likes of Karl Barth are the cause of the decline of Christianity, while the likes of Jerry Falwell are crypto-onto-theologists on a mission. If it isn't true, it ought to be. What a hilarious scenario!

byron smith said...

Nicely put, Kim.

I must admit that as a Christian I thought the collapse of theism was a good thing (in many ways), rather than a result of 'fuzzy' thinking. Is it possible to be both a Christian and a theist? I feel that clear (christological and trinitarian) thinking leads to a rejection (more or less) of classic theism - or at least its heavy qualification such that it is radically transformed.

Lady Raven said...

Yes, classic theism and biblical christianity are diametrically opposed to each other. The problem comes when we define Christianity so loosely...

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