Lately it seems I cannot turn around without coming across the dead God. I have been reading Zizek again and instead of simply being playfully amused by his counter-intuitive insights I have begun to see more clearly his hegelian reading of the Trinity. God empties himself into Jesus and is split, de-centered from himself. And dies. The God of ‘beyond’ which can and does ground every ideology is emptied and the space of struggle, the Holy Spirit, is opened in this death. Traditional theology will tend to keep God the Father above and beyond pulling the strings and maintaining order. It is precisely that God that must be emptied into Jesus die for the purpose of salvation.
Man is eccentric with regard to God, but God himself is eccentric with regard to his own ground, the abyss of Godhead. . . . Christ’s death on the Cross thus means that we should immediately ditch the notion of God as a transcendent caretaker who guarantees the happy outcome of our acts, the guarantee of historical teleology – Christ’s death on the Cross is the death of this God, it repeats Job’s stance, it refuses any ‘deeper meaning’ that obfuscates the brutal reality of historical catastrophes. – The Monstrosity of Christ
I also recently finished reading Ronald Osborn’s Anarchy and Apocalypse. This is a relatively conservative appeal to the biblical resources of non-violence set within particular contemporary settings. However, here the dead God surfaces in the form of post-holocaust Jewish thought, namely that of Elie Wiesel. Wiesel sees God as the young child hung from his neck, dying and almost dead. This becomes the straightforward,
ethical as well as a religious imperative: if we are to remain human we must refuse passivity, ease, complacency, and fight for the justice which God, in His captivity, in the time of His banishment, cannot bestow. – Anarchy and Apocalypse
And all the reminded me of an old post I wrote reflecting on Kierkegaard’s test for true love which is to love someone dead. The dead is the absolute relationship. If the relationship of love changes it must be because of you, the variable element (no blaming the dead for not understanding you). To love one dead is love a non-being.
In order properly to test whether or not love is faithful, one eliminates everything whereby the object could in some way aid him in being faithful. But all this is absent in the relationship to one who is dead, one who is not an actual object. If love still abides, it is most faithful. – Works of Love
What is going on here? Will a decade, more or less, pass after which we will look back at these silly caricatures of theology? Or are these accounts already reflections and indictments of an already over-caricatured and debased theology and ecclesiology? I would like to call this theme humanist in its apparent rejection of God but that does quite do it justice. Death is something other than human or perhaps fully human; something that modern humanism (as I have encountered it) does quite seem to grasp. Also these accounts remain in many ways thoroughly theological. They are dealing with the dead God not with God as an illusion. It is this possible realism in theology that I find intriguing and potentially attractive.
And for your listening pleasure he is Gash’s 1986 God is Dead