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Are the Only True Atheists Actually Theologians?
  • Colby Dickinson, Loyola University Chicago
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Contemporary continental European philosophy circulates around particular apocalyptic themes, offering new insights and suggestive proposals for theology to think through the implications of this often most difficult of religious subjects. As such philosophies manoeuvre to define apocalyptic through its return to questions of antinomian thought, of the 'interruption' of normative religious imagery, and of the negation of our most cherished theological representations (including our representations of God and the Law), we constantly find these philosophers engaged with the most basic foundations of Western religious history. From its inception, apocalyptic has been a genre of literature, and more generally of religious thought, concerned with unveiling what was previously hidden. Yet what exactly it has sought to disclose has not always been so clear. An apocalyptic message is certainly being sent through many religious channels about the 'normal' manner of doing things this side of heaven, but we humans have not always been able to receive that message 'in full'. In many ways, apocalyptic thought tells us to listen closely, for something important is going to be revealed to us, although we are not always sure what the revelation that is taking place is. Nevertheless, a conversation between humanity and a higher truth (or deity) is staged and tries to provide us with a glimpse of what (new) relations are possible between humanity and God. No doubt true dialogue will take place only when we are stripped of our arrogant presumptions concerning the nature of humanity's relationship to truth: quite simply, we are not God. In many ways, the humility within this realization propels apocalyptic thinking to relativize the many human truths we surround ourselves with for security, and loosens the normative boundaries that ceaselessly divide yet constitute our (highly symbolic) world.
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S C M Press

Author Posting. © S C M Press, 2014. This article is posted here by permission of S C M Press for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Concilium, Iss. 3, (2014)

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0
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Colby Dickinson. "Are the Only True Atheists Actually Theologians?" Concilium Iss. 3 (2014)
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