The Death of God

“Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him;they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”    Luke 18:31-33

Jesus seems to be pretty open about his belief that one day he would be murdered. In fact, Jesus repeatedly tells his disciples that he will be murdered. When looking at his ministry and seeing how offensive he was to the ideologies of the time, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched that Jesus would have this idea. We can find people trying to murder him as early as Luke 4, which was shortly after his encounter with Satan in the desert. As Luke described it, after preaching from Isaiah, the crowd attempts to push him off of a cliff and Jesus manages to run away. His ideas were quite radical, and there is no wonder as to why people felt like he was worthy of death.

When looking at Easter, we can find that there is a tremendous amount of people who focus on the idea that Jesus died for our sins. That may very well be true, but I would like to focus on a more meta way of thinking. As I think about the death of Jesus, it makes me look at it in a philosophical way instead of a literal way. While I know that Jesus actually died, I want to take the perspective that this is a story instead of a literal death.

“At hearing the news that ‘the old god is dead’, we philosophers and ‘free spirits’ feel illuminated by a new dawn; our heart overflows with gratitude, amazement, forebodings, expectation. Finally the horizon seems clear again, even if not bright. Finally our ships may set out again, set out to face any danger; every daring of the lover of knowledge is allowed again. The sea, our sea, lies open again; maybe there has never been such an ‘open sea’.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

“Such a caring for death, an awakening that keeps vigil over death, a conscience that looks death in the face, is another name for freedom.” ― Jacques Derrida

When we look at the death of Jesus, we can find that God is being killed. This demi-god, Jesus, is killed by the hands of angry and fearful men. The Romans see him as a threat. They see a rebel leading a revolution to free the Jews from the authority of Caesar. The Pharisees also see him as a rebel but fear that he is seeking to tear the Jewish faith apart. At the peak of Jesus’ ministry, everything falls apart. He’s betrayed, put on trial, and murdered on display for everyone to see. As told by the Christian tradition, Jesus rises after being in the grave for three days. This is critical in understanding how this story can relate to us.

“Faith, then, is not a set of beliefs about the world. It is rather found in the loving embrace of the world. Because the actual existing church has reduced the Crucifixion and Resurrection to religious affirmations held by a certain tribe, rather than expressions of a type of life, the event they testify to has been almost completely eclipsed.”
― Peter Rollins

I recently talked to a pastor about the meaning of Easter. While I don’t have everything figured out, I do my very best to contemplate and examine everything. I listen and absorb the words of philosophers who examine religion and the problems we face in the world of theology. In all that I have learned, I have come to the conclusion that we have killed God. I want to examine this two ways: pastors playing God and us killing the God we are given to actually encounter the divine.

Jesus’ death as a story can teach us so much. I have found that pastors tend to proclaim that they are the voice of God without heeding to the realization that they are human. It’s become a show. Pastors are the best actors that I have ever seen. They act like they have their life together as they lead thousands of people blindly following their words and believing on them. I find a bit of hypocrisy in this. So often these pastors criticise the Catholic Church for following the words of the Pope all while taking on the very role that they are criticizing: the absolute voice of God. When we are handed a God like this it can be quite misleading and quite toxic. When we are handed a God like this we absolutely must kill it. I have found this in deconstruction.

Deconstruction rips everything we have apart. It is a demolition. It takes any and everything and breaks it so that everything is in pieces. We are given the opportunity to take these pieces and make something new and beautiful out of this act.

Deconstruction breaks the religion that we have been given. It kills God. Sometimes we need to kill God in order to feel that resurrection. The resurrection doesn’t have to be literal when reading the Bible. It can be a metaphor for our spiritual journey. Killing God gives us the power of the resurrection. When we deconstruct the God we have been given, we experience the power of this story. We find our God die, be buried, and resurrect triumphantly as something unrecognizable just like Jesus did.

As I have been intertwined into the Evangelical tradition, I have realized that the view of God that they hold is so shallow compared to the ancient traditions and mysteries of the Christian faith. The two oldest forms of Christianity are Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodox Church. Both of these denominations seem to argue about who was first, but both predate Protestantism and Evangelicalism and arguably go back to the Apostles. I have found comfort in some of their explanations to this wonderful mystery of the cross. Every day we become freer through the power of the cross. The cross shows what it’s like to experience pain, to be mocked, and to be made fun of. The cross shows us how bloodthirsty we are and how prone to violence we are. Jesus endured that so that the world could experience freedom. Every day the power of the cross brings all of the universe closer and closer to God; it heals us.

We find this beautiful mystery of the divine when we deconstruct and step out of our fear of questioning. We are resurrected with this new idea of God and find that the divine is in all. Jesus gives us more than we could ever ask for. Jesus gives us a fresh life. My hope is that one day we can lay down our differences and systematic textbook definitions of God. I hope that one day we can all embrace the mystery as is and take up our cross to experience the power of death and resurrection. I hope that one day we can all experience the death of God that brings forth that resurrection power.

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