The Theistic God is Dead--A Casualty of Terrorism

The terrorist tragedy will help us step beyond yesterday's God, beyond pious delusions

BY: John Shelby Spong


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I roam inside these minority voices in the biblical story, in order to see God in a new way. God is not an external, supernatural entity, ruling the world from above the sky. God is rather the Source of Life, the Source of Love, the Ground of Being. It is a non-theistic definition. Life has taught us that theism is dead. There is no supernatural God directing the affairs of history. Atheism, however, is not the only other viable conclusion. Supernatural theism is nothing but a human definition of God. We need not despair when our human definitions of God die. We use that death to force open our eyes to new possibilities, to see God as the wind that animates humanity; as the love that expands humanity, and as the rock that is the ground of humanity's being.

This is the God I confront when the theistic images of the past crumble and fall apart amid the irrationalities of life, with its violence and pain. Neither we nor the theistic God can control our fate or make secure our fragile world. All we or the God within us can do is to grasp our moment and commit ourselves to live fully and thus reveal the Source of Life, to love wastefully and thus reveal the Source of Love, and to be all that we can be and thus reveal the Ground of Being. In that way, we enter, experience and reveal the reality of God. Here, we touch transcendence, welcome the emerging world, and by conscious act of our mature wills, we discover ourselves entering into the deepest mystery of both life and God.

The terrorist tragedy becomes an opportunity to step self-consciously beyond the God of yesterday, that promised us a protection theism has never been able to deliver. It calls us away from pious delusions. That is a frightening conclusion, but that is where we live.

The worship of this God, who is life, love and being, will never be a magic potion, which exists to keep us safe. It will, however, call us to move toward universalism, to move beyond the need to find acts of revenge that only expand the cycle of violence. It will build in us the commitment to live our lives in such a way as to create a new world in which everyone has a better chance to experience God by living fully, loving wastefully, and being all that they are capable of being in the infinite variety of the human family.

That is, in my opinion, the only way religious people can finally and appropriately respond to the madness of human life that occurred on Sept. ll.

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