"If Faith Still Comes": an anonymous missive on Christianity's need for a revolutionary Oedipal act

Note from the editor: You may recall, gentle readers, two previous anonymous missives published here at DET. The full title of the first post was “‘Jesus was a failure': an anonymous missive on the possibility of faith in the modern world,” while the title of the second was "'We must become the prayer': an anonymous missive on the pastoral task after the death of God." That same anonymous author has once again been in touch to submit a third and - as I understand it - final missive, which you will find below. We have once again decided to publish the piece in accordance with the author’s wishes. – WTM



God appears as the invincible tyrant, the being in contrast with whom all other beings are without freedom and subjectivity. He is equated with the recent tyrants who with the help of terror try to transform everything into a mere object, a thing among things, a cog in a machine they control. He becomes the model of everything against which Existentialism revolted. This is the God Nietzsche said had to be killed because nobody can tolerate being made into a mere object of absolute knowledge and absolute control. This is the deepest root of atheism. It is an atheism which is justified as the reaction against theological theism and its disturbing implications.
— Paul Tillich


Public Domain,
via Wikimedia Commons
A Christian faith worthy of the modern age must begin with an Oedipal act. Though we may have drank deeply from the well of theism, we are not delusional to the fact that the time will come, if it hasn’t already, to kill off the Father. The metaphysical god, the ancestral divinity of myth, is not ours anymore. Much like the tribes of Israel in the last chapter of Joshua, the time has come for us to choose whom we will serve.

The fantastic claims of the Bible have fallen by the wayside. Many times over, we have hoped and prayed that we might see what people used to see, hear what people used to hear, and have the same security people used to have. And, many times over, we’ve been disappointed. I, for one, am tired of being disappointed. So, the two options are: we either abandon this system by which we have ordered our lives and created meaning, or we reconstruct it altogether. And, should we choose to do so, this reconstruction necessitates the toppling of theism for the idol that it is.

I’m not saying this kind of iconoclasm is easy. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Bringing all of our preconceived notions of divinity, and the security they afford us, crashing down to the ground is painful. But that’s to be expected. Don’t you think it was painful for Abraham to leave the only place he’d ever known in order to travel to an unforeseen land? Don’t you think it was painful when Christ cried out in the garden and from the cross for a god who never came? Don’t you think it was painful for the early Christian communities when the Parousia never transpired in glory? And yet, despite the consistent disappointment and pain, the faith still comes.

If faith still comes despite these failures on the part of the theistic god, then we must reconsider whether or not this god is a god at all, or if he is merely the interpretation of another time-and-place’s encounter with the beyond. If faith still comes, are we to worship this god of old, or are we to worship the god we find in the world and in one another? If faith still comes, must we continue to believe, or are we obligated to metaphysical rebellion? “Being made into a mere object of absolute knowledge and absolute control” by the god of theism, such as Tillich speaks of above, leads to only one logical outcome: revolution.

The church deserves leadership that is unafraid to lead the flock into the abyss of this revolution. Just as the crucified Christ conquered death through death, so must the faithful conquer atheism through atheism. I am one of these faithful atheists who labor in silence and invisibility. And make no mistake: I’m not alone. We, too, have been allotted our share in ministry. We may even be standing in your pulpit this Sunday. We see you, but you don’t see us. Our name is Legion, for we are many.

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