When you are an atheist, thinking can get you in trouble.
There are seemingly no limits to the mental self-tomfoolery that folks will engage in to avoid the obvious. Apparently, there is a small but growing group of atheists that reluctantly acknowledge that the typical atheist worldview, that of Dawkins and Hitchens, is not sufficient. Militant nihilism has no answer, at least no transformative answer, to the suffering of this world.
Suffering, they realize, is the one true constant of this world and the only one worldview adequately acknowledges and transforms that suffering into something useful. Christianity. So these suffering atheists are turning to Christianity to make sense of the suffering. The only problem, and its a doozy, is that they want Christianity without Christ.
At the American Academy of Religion meeting in Montreal last year, he may have gotten his wish, or something resembling it. Following an apocalyptic sermon from “death of God” theologian Thomas J.J. Altizer, to the podium came the ruffled Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, a self-described atheist and “materialist through and through”, before an audience of religion scholars, theologians, and costumed adherents. He spoke of truths Christianity alone possesses and how Christ’s death reveals that “the only universality is the universality of struggle.” Atheism, he explained, is true Christianity, and one can only be a real atheist by passing through Christianity. “In this sense, I am unconditionally a Christian”, said Žižek.
This would seem like progress in that these atheists admit the uniqueness of Christianity in its approach to suffering. The problem is that you cannot have Christianity without Christ. Suffering, without uniting it to the redemptive suffering of Jesus, is just as pointless as an Al Gore poem.
The true thing about truisms is that they are usually true. The oldest and most reliable truism is that “there is nothing new under the sun.” What these atheists of today are trying to do is what enlightened secular humanists have tried to do for centuries. Lukewarm Christians or enlightened agnostics decided long ago that they wanted a society with Christian values but without all that hokey religion. This enlightenment eventually leads myriad other isms and inevitably to very dark places. Finally, generations of tired enlightened agnostics, turned admitted atheists, throw up their hands at their own failure-ism and turn to nihilism.
Then, in a stroke of genius, some few enlightened atheists decide again that Christianity without Christ might just be the answer beginning the entire silly and futile process over again. Its like the movie The Matrix. At first you think that they might be on to something only to be disappointed that it ends in a never ending loop of lies and slavery.
Sorry folks. If you really want a world where suffering makes sense and world with “Christian values” there is no other answer but Christ himself. There is no Christianity without Christ.
January 6, 2010 at 11:26 am
It sounds like the Flannery O'Connor novel "Wise Blood": "the church of Christ without Christ"
January 6, 2010 at 12:54 pm
There is something to be said for the harsh life of peasants and tillers of the soil particularly when it comes to academicians and self-proclaimed intellectuals who are so in need of good honest work.
January 6, 2010 at 1:13 pm
At the same time, it illustrates perfectly the emptiness and vanity of atheism. As Christians, we should herald Zizek for stumbling on a truth, albeit an imperfect and far from complete truth. It is Christian charity to pray that Zizek and others like him eventually come to know the whole Truth of salvation.
January 6, 2010 at 3:24 pm
Try to understand the term "Christo-pagan." I've been involved in a very heated debate when I merely stated the obvious that the term is an oxymoron, yet there are people that truly believe they can be Christo-pagans.
January 6, 2010 at 3:51 pm
In the past, the error was seeking Christ without the cross. It looks like that's been turned around in seeking the cross without Christ. You're right that it is mental self-tomfoolery. They would make more sense by turning to Stoicism.
January 6, 2010 at 6:17 pm
Stuff and nonsense. And why is the "American Accademy of Religion" meeting in Montreal? That alone speaks volumes as to their wayward compass (moral and geographical).
January 6, 2010 at 6:35 pm
Y'know… isn't it a wee bit self-contradictory for Mr. Altizer to call himself a "theologian" after proclaiming the death of God? I humbly suggest the new title, "crapologian".
BTW: Archbishop Sheen had the best reply to the "God is dead, and we killed Him!" people:
"Of course! We knew that. But turn the page, and read what comes next. He's no longer dead; He has risen!"
January 6, 2010 at 7:08 pm
This proves that aetheists do not really deny the existence of God, they merely are usurpers of God. This is what Christ said in the parable of the landowner who sent his son to the field to the laborers, and who then thought to themselves that if the killed the son, the farm would be theirs. Today's aetheists think that if the "kill" the world will be theirs to do with what they wish.
January 6, 2010 at 7:32 pm
Paladin – thanks for that!
"Where have you gone, dear Archbishop Sheen? The faithful turn their lonely eyes to you (woo woo woo)"
January 7, 2010 at 4:07 am
Quote from Article: "The suicide bombers and abortion-doctor killers whom we all decry seem able to tap into a well of deep conviction like what brought Paul and other early Christians to be martyred for their faith."
Okay…once again, how many abortion-doctor killers have their been? Can anyone give me a headcount? Does a group of two people necessitate the creation of a new category of evilness?
Then, brethren, let us decry the widespread violence perpetrated by husband-castraters: a clear indication of the suppressive and evil nature of monogamy…or something. I mean, right off the top of my head, I can think of one husband-castrater whom I can't even name!
Lord, let the mad war cease!