William Hamilton, a theologian made (in)famous in the April 8, 1966 “Is God Dead?” Time Magazine cover story, has died at age 87. You can perhaps guess that Easter Sunday was on April 10 that year, and Time was looking to move copies off the newsstand with a sensationalized cover. Although Hamilton eventually landed on his feet, the story resulted in him being essentially forced out of his tenured job at Colgate Rochester Divinity School, a ‘liberal’ Baptist theological school in New York.
Hamilton told The Oregonian newspaper in 2007 that he had questioned the existence of God since he was a teenager, when two friends — an Episcopalian and a Catholic — died from the explosion of a pipe bomb they were building, while a third — an atheist — escaped without a scratch….
He explained the concept as “not about the beyond. It’s about living a good life…. Pay attention to the Christian story. Reread the Sermon on the Mount.”
Born March 9, 1924, in Evanston, Ill, Hamilton was raised a Baptist and went to Oberlin College before joining the Navy during World War II. He was commissioned an ensign trained to identify enemy aircraft for the planned invasion of Japan, his family said. In his sea bag was a copy of a book by one of the most influential theologians of the era, Reinhold Niebuhr, who became Hamilton’s friend and teacher….
Besides his wife, Hamilton is survived by five children, eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
Read the rest here.
For Further Study
- Theologian William Hamilton pronounced God dead, faced the consequences (blog post about him published just before his death)