IS GOD DEAD?

The answer – despite what you read from Dawkins, Hitchens and ther ilk – is a resounding no. Far from it.  Or to put it another way: Is Christianity on the decline? Again, a resounding NO.

What’s the fastest growing religion in the world today?  It’s Christianity. Christianity claims 2.18 billion believers – a third of the world’s population. By 2050 Christians will outnumber Muslims 3 to 1.  As a recent Pew poll shows, Christianity may be in decline in the global North.  But it is exploding in the global South.  Nigeria now has more than twice as many Protestants (60 million) as Germany, the birthplace of the Protestant religion. Brazil has more than twice as many Catholics (130 million) as Italy. In the United States the most vigorous form of Christianity is the Pentecostal version.  About half the world’s Christians are Catholic – Conservative Catholics, not liberal ones, which explains why Rome is in no hurry to embrace birth control, female priests or gay marriage any time soon.

For millions of young rural immigrants flooding into our great cities, Christianity  provides meaning, community, refuge, support networks, and an anchor. It also offers blessing and redemption.  Christianity in its original form, preaches that supernatural intervention can help you in the here and now. And it promises the gift of eternal life as a reward for the pain and suffering of this one – surely the greatest selling proposition of all time.  Christians already form a majority in about two-thirds of the world’s nations.

So as we read Hitchens and Dawkins, it’s worth remembering that the Christian God, merciful and frightening, is still very much alive.

Is God dead?

Does it make any difference one way or another?

What do you think?

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12 Comments »

  1. 1
    SUZANNE Says:

    About half the world’s Chriostians are Catholic – Conservative Catholics, not liberal ones, which explains why Rome is in no hurry to embrace birth control, female priests or gay marriage any time soon.

    Yeah, it has *nothing* to do with the 2000 year teaching against such things. *eyeroll*.

    You’re right to point out that Christianity is growing in the Third World. Christianity may be on the decline in the West, but it’s advancing in places like China.

  2. 2
    Neil McKenty Says:

    There did not seem to be any difficulty changing the thousands year old tecings on usury and slavery.

  3. 3

    `merciful and frightening`. That`s a pretty good way to describe G-d,in any religion. As you say, it offers a strong sense of community , a social support system that governments cannot duplicate.

    Yes, it has a reward system , but sometimes you wish the cheques weren`t always post-dated. We have to cope in this world,and that is where the faith comes in. It gives meaning to all that goes on.

    As to what we`re doing here , I picked up an older (1995) book this past year by way of Abe`s Books,titled ` G-d .A biography, by Jack Miles. A bit heavy going, but a fascinating angle.

  4. 4

    “Is God dead?”

    The actual answer to that depends on who you ask. And how. And who publishes the answers.

    A better question would be: is (your) god relevant (to anyone else)?

  5. 5

    “Is God dead?”
    I am a Christian. Our God lives. He was resurrected.

    “Does it make any difference…”?
    I don’t really understand the question.

    “What do you think?”
    I enjoy the inner peace, comfort & serenity I have because I believe in God.

    ( God is “frightening” ?) Not to me.

  6. 6
    Jim Says:

    Many years ago a monument was erected to Nietzsche. There was a plaque attached which read “God is dead” and it was signed “Friederich Wilheim Nietzsche”. The words on the plaque were struck, and now showed “Nietzsche is dead” signed “God”. Now, many at the time read something into the saying, that he didn’t nuance and if they had studied further, what they would have found is, he said the “do-gooders” with their pushy faith-battering had disconnected the people from learning more about Him and so He died. He saw God as no longer a realistic source of study. Later in life when he was into deliriums because of syphilis he penned “Hear me! Hear me! For I am such and such a person. Above all, do not mistake me for someon else.” Absolutely beautiful.

  7. 7

    A man comes up to you with, in one hand, a suitcase containing a million dollars and, in the other hand, a loaded gun. He then says to you: “You have only one choice: I either give you the suitcase with a million dollars in it or I shoot you dead. Which do you choose?”

    Well, the choice is a no-brainer, of course.

    The analogy is the best description of Christianity I’ve ever heard. Or, at least, fundamentalist Christianity as it’s fashioned by the likes of the Jerry Falwell’s of the world. It describes to me the utter insulting nature of Christianity (you know, the version that says that unless you accept Jesus Christ as your personal saviour you will rot in hell for all eternity) and, I believe, it has absolutely nothing to do with either the God of the Bible or his Son. It degrades the whole concept of God. I would never serve a God like that and I hold no truck with those that serve such a God.

    I heard the analogy the other day on the radio by one John Hogue {whom I had never heard of until then).

  8. 8

    Neil writes:

    There did not seem to be any difficulty changing the thousands year old tecings on usury and slavery.

    Really?

    Britain only outlawed slavery, if memory serves me correctly, in the early part of the 19th century; the United States about 1863; Brazil even later.

    Seems to me it took us the better part of 5,000 years since the writing of the Old Testament and about 1,900 years since the writing of the New Testament to change the teaching regarding slavery.

    That seems to me to have been a long, arduous, and very difficult process.

  9. 9

    Here’s where all the trouble started:

    John 14:6

    Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

    A description of the goal is not an instruction to get to the goal.

    The above is a description of the goal; unfortunately for the hundreds of millions who have suffered as a result of it, most Christian scolars have interpreted it as an instruction to get to the goal. It is not.

    Such scriptural writings have a meaning only on the level of consciousness. Within, the great sages tell us, is contained the entire universe. It is the ultimate reality. But that reality can only be understood by direct experience. In order to confirm these inner experiences, the holy scriptures of the various religions of the world contain descriptions of these experiences. But they can’t and don’t hold meaning for us without that direct experience. John 14:6 is an example of one such experience (one, by the way, that is available to all humans, Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Jew, Atheist, and Agnostic alike).

    Using John 14:6 as a sledgehammer to blackmail or coerce non-believers into becoming Christians not only does not accomplish the true goal of Christianity (unity with Christ Consciousness) but delays and postpones it indefinitely until the aspirant sobers up and relieves himself of the undue influence imposed upon him through the fear perpetrated by the ill-informed peddlar of phony spirituality that accosted his soul and sent him on the lost highway of “or else” relgiosity that, sadly, prevails as Christian thought today.

  10. 10
    SUZANNE Says:

    Neil: there was never a change on the teaching on usury or slavery. No pope ever said that slavery was morally acceptable. The Church does not teach that the commissioning of interest *as it was understood in the Middle Ages* is acceptable.

  11. 11

    I can’t see why the decline or growth of Christianity has any connection to whether or not “God is dead.” Dawkins, Hitchins, etc. were not commenting on people’s beliefs, they were discussing the likelihood that there was indeed some superior power and their conclusion was that there was not. I must say, that’s my conclusion too.

  12. 12

    Tony, Why do the Jerry Falwell’s of the world, seem as though they speak the truth? Do they yell louder than most? There are always those who profess to “understand” the meaning of the Bible, who interpret it and swear to the meaning.
    Worst still are the people who follow blindly. And then there are those who rewrite it!
    Theologians have been studying the Bible for years and there are many interpretations. There are also many detractors, and conspiracy theorists.
    John 14.6
    It could mean: If you understand Jesus, why he came to fulfill the prophecy, and why he lived and died as a teacher and a common man, and was resurrected to demonstrate the promise of eternal life, and prove that God loves us.
    That is the “way” to God.


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