The Death of Theology After The Death of God

I don’t believe in God. I believe in the persistence of God.

Let me explain.

Imagine sitting around the table with some close friends and then suddenly receiving a call that one of your friends that was supposed to make it to restaurant was just killed in a head-on collision. Let’s remove all of the things you would do in-between and fast forward to a couple weeks after your friends death. You and the other friends are there reminiscing about the life of that person. The life of that person will persist through the narratives shared amongst those who have experience the life of this person.

You are talking as if that person still exists.

You are relating their life stories as if they are in the room with you, sharing laughter or tears, the memories of them make them feel as if they are still there. That is why things like nostalgia and reminiscing are two of the most important things to us, they connect us to the object or past experience in a way that makes it seem as if we are experiencing the event or the person in the now.

This is the same with God, the experience of God persists even when God is not present in our theology, churches, philosophies or world. Gods lack of presence doesn’t assume God doesn’t exist.

The God beyond God steps in and assumes the role of the God of our understanding yet is much more than the present God our theology permits us to understand. In the moment we realize the death of God, we then realize the death of the absolute, sovereign, strong God we once knew, now no longer exists.

Philosopher Jacques Derrida posited that God is the Event. A surprise. An unknown. Something that happens yet evolves. There is more to this idea of the Event, but want to give you a quick primer in terms of this idea of Event.

If God is the Event than God isn’t merely a surprise to us, but also a surprise to herself.

God in motion isn’t just a theological explanation of how we experience God move in our lives, it means God is progressing, changing and evolving. Therefore, our theology must follow. The God beyond God is the God who now exists. If God is continously surprising himself than she is learning how to be the God beyond God, the God that exists beyond our theology.

Philosopher Mark Taylor says this about deconstruction: “Deconstruction is the hermeneutic of the death of God’. Deconstruction isn’t the enemy to understanding. It is the flash light that leads us to deeper understanding. Depending upon where deconstruction leads us, which is inherently a personal choice, deconstruction can be the very end to itself. Deconstruction can lead us into a deeper enchantment of what we are attempting to discover; what we have to realise is that even the initial deconstruction of that object will also have its own limits, and so that leads us to deconstruct what we deconstructed.

Deconstruction leads us to the furthest possible end, but that furthest possible end leads us to reconstruction which will, over time, lead us to deconstruction. If this process does not occur than things like corruption can stall the progress of any understanding. As we have seen in the history of Christianity with the Church, deconstruction is a friend to progress. But, maybe we can use evolution rather than progress, because progress can be easily misconstrued as colonial or sovereign progress. Evolution enlists the idea of the natural characteristics of growth.

The death of God assumes the death of theology which is in very simple terms the evolution of both.

If the death of God takes us to God’s possible end, that it naturally brings us to the end of theology. This isn’t to say God doesn’t exist, it is to say that our constitutions of God or signifiers have an end, and if they have an end, then they bring us to the natural end of God. If theology is the study of God, or words about God, then we need to bring theology to its furthest possible end.

If theology is brought to its furthest possible end then so are the things that are connected with it. The death of apologetics, hermeneutics, missions, study and all the other things in between. Again, this may seem scary or senseless because then we question not only why we need these things, but what will take there place. The danger in asking the latter, is that in so many years time we will be here again.

A new reformation will come.

We must learn from the histories of before to live a better now. Maybe silence, awe, contemplation, weakness, self-implosive knowledge are some of the things we can embrace. Maybe these could be a new theology? Less control and more surrender to the mystery seems to a better possible option.

There are signifiers over thousands of years that have encrusted themselves on the face of God, covering the God of the Event, creating a God of signified (conceptual) design.

We need new signifiers.
New theology.
New truths.
New absolutes.

If we continue on the journey we are on now, we will have the appearance of evolution without really evolving. Much like the person who publicly agrees to something because the majority say ‘yes’ but inside really mean ‘no’; they appear to agree but actually disagree. This is incredibly touchy territory, but territory we need to enter to find the God who exists beyond God.


*This is an article work-up for a theological journal.*

About George Elerick

George Elerick is a widely sought-after speaker, activist and cultural theorist. He lives in England with his wife and two children. He and his wife run Cross Culture Consultancy (http://www.crosscultureconsultancy.com): A webinar & in-person speaking-based platform to discuss, apply & innovate new methods to respond to some of the world's biggest issues.

George majors on cultural engagement, pop-culture, postmodernism, theology & others. Deborah majors on human rights, gender equality,domestic violence, social justice issues and more. They are available for booking! He has a book out entitled 'Jesus Bootlegged' and has another on the way: Jesus and the Death of Church.

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