The Deaths of God in Hegel and Nietzsche and the Crisis of Values in Secular Modernity and Post-secular Postmodernity

In: Religion and the Arts
Author: William Franke1
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  • 1 Vanderbilt University
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Although declarations of the death of God seem to be provocations announcing the end of the era of theology, this announcement is actually central to the Christian revelation in its most classic forms, as well as to its reworkings in contemporary religious thought. Indeed provocative new possibilities for thinking theologically open up precisely in the wake of the death of God. Already Hegel envisaged a revolutionary new realization of divinity emerging in and with the secular world through its establishment of a total order of immanence. However, in postmodern times this comprehensive order aspired to by modern secularism implodes or cracks open towards the wholly Other. A hitherto repressed demand for the absolute diff erence of the religious, or for "transcendence," returns with a vengeance. is difference is what could not be stated in terms of the Hegelian System, for reasons that post-structuralist writers particularly have insisted on: all representations of God are indeed dead. Yet this does not mean that they cannot still be powerful, but only that they cannot assign God any stable identity. Nietzsche's sense of foreboding concerning the death of God is coupled with his intimations of the demise of representation and “grammar” as epistemologically bankrupt, but also with his vision of a positive potential for creating value in the wake of this collapse of all linguistically articulated culture. He points the way towards the emergence of a post-secular religious thinking of what exceeds thought and representation.

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