Below, the latest form of theology will be discussed, that puts
everything that has gone before in the shade. Protestant, Catho-
lic and Anglican theologians are denying either the existence of
God or life after death in the other world for the soul. There
have always been people who denied God, but it is only now, in
these final days, when the confusion of minds is moving towards
its highest point, that such things are said by theologians, and
indeed by an Anglican bishop.
Even in antiquity, philosophers held opposing views as to the existence of God. Atheists have always considered chance to have been the beginning of everything, with history then taking a deterministic course. Democritus (460-360 s.c.) considered the principle of form to lie in matter itself, just as present-day materialists do, and with this established the mechanistic view (Fragmente phys. 1)
Heraclitus (500 B.C.) who was to influence particularly Hegel, Nietzsche and Heidegger, 105 said: "This scheme of the universe, the same for all beings, has not been created by any god, it has been there for ever" (Fragmente 30).
Anaxagoras (500-428 s.c.) held the view that the world, while divine in origin, was a mechanism that once set in motion is then only causally determined, without teleological forces. (Fragmente 12) This image of God being a kind of clockmaker who created a work and then let it run without taking further care of it, is one that recurs again and again in the course of time.
Even within the Catholic Church this view was presented in the nominalist theology of Nicholas Oresne (d. 1382).
Concurrent with the atheistic views held in antiquity, other Greek philosophers believed in a personal God. Pythagoras (500 s.c.) believed in a creator god, the divine origin of the soul and its immortality after death. 106 Socrates (470-399 s.c.) also believed in god and considered the soul to be part of divine nature. 107 Plato (427-347 B.C. likewise believed in a creator god who existed invisibly, nonphysically and eternally, beyond the visible world, and in the immortality of the soul. 108 And so did Thales of Miletus (d. 636 s.c.). 109
It was not until the 18th and 19th century that the problem of God was again discussed among philosophers. This started with Descartes (d. 1650), the founder of rationalism and of modern philosophy altogether. Auguste Comte (1798-1857) established the basis for positivism and hence the precondition for materialism. Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872) initiated a new era of secularization.
Feuerbach's work attracted little attention to begin with, and the philosopher was forgotten. Yet his books Das Wesen des Christentums (1841), Das Wesen der Religion (1845) and Theogonie (1857) (The Nature of Christianity, The Nature of Religion, Theogony) were to bring about a decisive change. Feuerbach only considered realism and materialism to have validity in philosophy. He attempted to knock over the whole system of religion. As there was no room for a heavenly paradise in his philosophy, he believed in "changing the evils that are revokable in human life" (I 200), i.e., realization of paradise on earth.
Feuerbach had a powerful influence on Marx and Engel though these were later to go their own ways. "Engel's doctrine of dialectical materialism subsequently formed the basis of Soviet ideology, an ideology so dogmatic that it often evoked comparison with a secular religion." 110Meanwhile dialectical materialism has also spread in the West, inundating all countries, like a flood.
Originally, little attention was paid to those ideas, but they were explosive by nature, as is apparent to everyone today. According to the Spiegel (German news magazine), God is dead for every third person in Germany today. 111
For some time now, atheism * has crept in even among theologians. A particular sensation was the book Honest to God by Archbishop John A.T. Robinson (U.K.). The book reached an edition of 350,000 copies, and readers were taken aback on finding themselves asked if they had ever considered that getting rid of a divine being might be the only way for the Christian faith to continue to have any real meaning in future. This would mean that mankind would be able to, and indeed have to, manage without a God who was beyond this world. 112 The writer continued to ask if the whole world of supernaturalistic concepts did not favor such a christology constructed regardless. He felt that we should be able to read the story of the birth of Jesus without having to give it reality by literally looking for the supernatural intervening in the natural world. When the Christmas event became a nice story, then naturalism - i.e., the attempt to explain the Christ event in purely human terms - would rule supreme, as the only alternative that had meaning for an intelligent person. Once the "dogma" of the divinity of Jesus had been removed, one would be left with quite a sympathetic image of Jesus as a person - despite his radically "antitheistic" character. 113
Robinson - like others - was preaching Christianity without religion. A Christian faith without Christ and without God - a paradox par excellence. As Blaise Pascal has said, men are "in a natural and unavoidable weakness, to take any science to absolute, perfected order." 114
For various American authors, among them Paul van Buren who also wrote a bestseller, "God" also is a word that has no meaning." 115
Manfred Mezger, Professor of Theology at Mainz, also considers "God" to be an empty term. He has said: "There is a Lake Constance, and there are the Himalayas, but there is no God." 116
The worrying thing about these statements is that for many a member of the clergy who is a believer and understands the facts of the case, the question arises: "Is it not only Dr. Robinson who is atheistic, but generally speaking the whole of Protestant theology today?" 117 The following declaration given by Professor Wilker in March 1974 makes it seem justifiable to speak of an "emergency state in the church". Wilker said that far too many theologians considered Christ merely an earthly being. The Clergy Training Institute was according to him "a sociopolitical school" where the servants of the word were trained to become "social engineers". The phrase "state of emergency in the church", he said, was to be heard throughout the Protestant church." 118
The Catholic Church has also been affected by these destructive tendencies, as may be seen from the following examples. A Jesuit, Professor Rupert Lay, declared at a meeting of young Christian Democrats held at Mainz in Germany: "We are failing in our job when we put people off with words of a heaven in another world that does not exist." 119 Another Catholic theologian, Professor Halbfas, denies the resurrection of Jesus and also the existence of hell. In an essay entitled "Illusionen muessen sterben" (Illusions will have to go"), this teacher of religion wrote: "There is no passage in the New Testament where it says that there is anything in man that will continue beyond death." 120
Dietrich von Hildebrand has stated that far more Catholic theologians have become infected with Bultmannism than is generally realized. "The whole of this confusion", he wrote, "has its roota in Heidegger's existential philosophy." 121'
A Protestant theologian, Dr. Dorothea Soelle, holds the view that it is not necessary to believe in God in order to be a Christian. "God, magnificently ruling over everything from the world beyond, has become an impossibility." 122
A Protestant professor of theology, Herbert Braun, a leader in the world-wide "God is dead" movement within the church, considers that God does not exist in some place or other, but that "God is nothing but a certain kind of feeling for one's fellomen." 123
All this is indeed dismaying, and we can feel with Franz Deml when he says: "As a Christian, one can only look upon the atheists in clerical garb with incomprehension." 124
No less worrying reports from Protestant theological faculties where the fruits of secularism and materialism, from seeds sown well over a century ago, are now showing themselves. In 1969, students of the Basisgruppe Theologie (fundamentalist group in theology) at Tuebingen University distributed leaflets saying: "The New Testament is a manifest of inhumanity, trickery practised on the masses on the grand scale. It makes fools of people rather than make the objective interests clear to them." "The New Testament is the product of neurotic Philistines." 125
In another leaflet the group distributed at Heidelberg University, a leaflet given the majority vote in a theological seminar, one reads: "Sermons have to be abolished, and there are to be no seminars on biblical texts, for it is entirely a matter of revolutionary speeches to change the system of the church and of society." 126
Reading such anarchist products from the minds of budding theologians, material given a majority vote in seminars, the inevitable conclusion must be that now, in these final days, the spirits have entered the field for the decisive major battle against the plan of salvation.
Feuerbach's philosophy of atheism has made its way. The insiduous process of secularization is about to change the Christian faith into an atheistic philosophy. The "God is dead" school has replaced God with "being there for others", i.e., religion is transformed into something else, into pure morality. That is a perversion of the concept of religion. Religion comes from the Latin religare, i.e., man being bound to and dependent on his originator, which is God. Atheistic humanism, however, knows nothing of an encounter with God, and no dependence on the numinous. Promethean man will not suffer a God above him on whom he would be dependent.
The "message of salvation" of what is known as the "immanence secular school" will, however, not bring the salvation men are hoping for, and shall soon show itself to be "utopia" and a threat to existence.
The roots of these forces of anarchic chaos go back to the age of secularization. The worrying signs of dissolution can be understood only if one knows how and when the seed of unbelief was sown. What the previous century was beginning to think, the present century has put into application. That is the reason why this chapter started with a brief introductory review of the philosophers of the age of secularization.
The views quoted below of the theologian Bonhoeffer differ in no respect from the philosophy of Laplace (d. 1827): "Man has learned to find his own solutions to all important questions, without recourse to the 'working hypothesis God.' 127 Considering the ecological disaster now beginning to emerge, a disaster more or less impossible to avert, with mankind blindly destroying his life environment, one wonders if Bonhoeffer would still assert with equal conviction that man will cope with all the problems on this earth and that everything can be done.
The days of the great cleansing, in conjunction with terrible disasters clearly described in New Revelation, will not be far off now. Then many will have to agree with Nietzsche: "Where has God gone? Let me tell you. We have killed him - you and I. Are we not all the time stumbling? And moving backwards, sideways, forwards, in all directions? Is there still an above and a below? Are we not lost in endless nothingness? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not grown colder? Is not night and ever more night constantly approaching?" 128
Mystics and poets often have deeper insights than the atheistic theologians. "You can possess God only in your heart, not in your intellect", the mystic Eckhart said, 129 and Friedrich Rueckert wrote: "Anyone who does not feel God within him and all spheres of life will never prove his existence by bringing proof." (Weisheit der Brahmanen)
The current situation is strikingly similar to that described in New Revelation, when the present age was forecast. "It will be difficult to realize where the truth lies hidden and buried under all the tissue of lies." (Pr 222) "It grieves Me to see how the masses begin to turn their back on Me and, instead of following Me, follow the one they know to be evil" (Pr 287)
"Everywhere people wish to adapt My teaching to their life in such a way that no sacrifice, no denial is required to become My disciples, My children:' (Pr 17) "Even now (in our day) My teaching takes its own line straight through these obstacles, and it shall become accessible to mankind when the right moment has been achieved through harsh fates, affliction and suffering, when all false hopes for worldly power and eminence stand nakedly revealed as the delusions they are, will-o'-the-wisps that lead those who follow them into swamps and morasses instead of onto dry ground. Then at last clear insight into My word will prevail, bringing faith even for those who have previously, on the basis of their intellectual knowledge, imagined there to be no God, and that they themselves were the God - at least on this earth -, i.e., the man of intellect with the construed figments of his mind." (Pr 107)
"I am sending you these explanations in order to open up for you the Gospels, that are sealed with more than seven seals, and through these books (New Revelation) clear the way to Me and My heavens." (Pr 229)
* Atheism = doctrine of the nonexistence of God.