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Point Of Inquiry Interview On Christian Non-Theism


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I posted a thread awhile back here on the concept of Christian atheism and if it was possible to be a Christian and not believe in God. The bible scholar, Robert Price, recently had an interview on the atheist podcast, Point of Inquiry, with a Christian atheist, Bo Bennet. They had a really interesting discussion on Bo Bennet's book "The Concept" where he lays out his defense of Christian nontheism. For Bennet, Christianity is about an aesthetic spiritual experience rather than trying to prove the existence of God with logical arguments. What he values in Christianity are the moral teachings of Jesus and the cultural traditions of the religion while at the same time he rejects all belief in the supernatural and he even questions the existence of a historical Jesus. Bennet sees God as a concept rather than a being out there and the moment you try to define what God is, then you've already lost the concept. I like how in the interview, Robert Price says God doesn't exist as a being out there but God exists in your heart. I think you guys might enjoy the interview and you can download it for free from here and it's the May 2, 2011 episode: http://www.pointofinquiry.org/ You can also check out Bennet's own site on Christian Nontheism here: http://www.christiannontheism.org/members/theconcept

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I posted a thread awhile back here on the concept of Christian atheism and if it was possible to be a Christian and not believe in God. The bible scholar, Robert Price, recently had an interview on the atheist podcast, Point of Inquiry, with a Christian atheist, Bo Bennet. They had a really interesting discussion on Bo Bennet's book "The Concept" where he lays out his defense of Christian nontheism. For Bennet, Christianity is about an aesthetic spiritual experience rather than trying to prove the existence of God with logical arguments. What he values in Christianity are the moral teachings of Jesus and the cultural traditions of the religion while at the same time he rejects all belief in the supernatural and he even questions the existence of a historical Jesus. Bennet sees God as a concept rather than a being out there and the moment you try to define what God is, then you've already lost the concept. I like how in the interview, Robert Price says God doesn't exist as a being out there but God exists in your heart. I think you guys might enjoy the interview and you can download it for free from here and it's the May 2, 2011 episode: http://www.pointofinquiry.org/ You can also check out Bennet's own site on Christian Nontheism here: http://www.christian...bers/theconcept

 

Thanks for sharing this. I'm on the same page as Bo Bennet. I began my non-theistic Christianity several years ago with absolutely no hope that it would ever metastasize into anything beyond my own mixed up worldview. But, hey, people like Bo Bennet keep popping up all over the place.

 

Cool.

 

NORM

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  • 4 weeks later...
For Bennet, Christianity is about an aesthetic spiritual experience rather than trying to prove the existence of God with logical arguments.

 

I think this is a wonderful approach to God. There probably isn't anything one can do about the term "Christian non-theism" sounding like an oxymoron. For someone who embraces that perspective, it still has an odd ring to it. But I think dismissing the possibility of such a thing might sell short the richness and texture of the Christian tradition when viewed from the standpoint of its entirety, especially when robustly drawing from its contemplative side. For indeed, even when I'm feeling rather a-theistic I am still drawn in by the prayers, paintings, chants, liturgies, and the qualities that convey the Divine life in Christ. Perhaps it is only when we try to define and confine that life in words that we are forced to choose between theism and atheism.

 

Peace to you,

Mike

Edited by Mike
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I don't think it's anymore of an oxymoron than Christian feminism or gay Christians.

 

You may be right, though Christianity on the whole has been defined by theism if nothing else, historically speaking. Though I understand it and embrace it from a subjective point of view, I still think Christian nontheism can be considered problematic, the only way out being, to my mind, a vast rediscovery and fresh exploration of apophatic theology.

Edited by Mike
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You may be right, though Christianity on the whole has been defined by theism if nothing else, historically speaking. Though I understand it and embrace it from a subjective point of view, I still think Christian nontheism can be considered problematic, the only way out being, to my mind, a vast rediscovery and fresh exploration of apophatic theology.

There was a movement of Christian atheism that was more popular in the 70s with radical theologians like Thomas J.J. Alitzer. It's not as popular anymore as progressive Christianity seems to have replaced it but Thomas J.J. Alitzer's "God is dead" theology was prominent enough that it was featured on the famous Times magazine cover that questioned if God was dead. Edited by Neon Genesis
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Hi Neon Genesis,

 

There was a movement of Christian atheism that was more popular in the 70s with radical theologians like Thomas J.J. Alitzer. It's not as popular anymore as progressive Christianity seems to have replaced it but Thomas J.J. Alitzer's "God is dead" theology was prominent enough that it was featured on the famous Times magazine cover that questioned if God was dead.

 

Interesting, I'm not familiar with Alitzer. Just thinking from a superficial association, it sounds like he was advocating Christian-themed existentialism. Guess I'll have to look it up to find out. :)

Edited by Mike
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Here's a copy of his book The Gospel of Christian Atheism to read online: http://www.religion-online.org/showbook.asp?title=523 Just a heads up that the book is very complex and not a quick read but very interesting and though provoking. If I understand his views correctly, Alitzer believed there was a god which existed that created the universe and that god took on the form of Jesus, but God died on the cross with Jesus and continues to remain dead and it's only when Christians recognize that God is dead that we can be free from the dogmatic control of the church. Though I'm not sure how much of Alitzer's God is dead theology is literal and how much of it is a metaphorical since as I said it's a very complex theology to figure out but at the same time intriguing.

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