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Oxymoron ”Christian Atheism” appeared in the middle ‘60s in the USA in the wake of “theological revolution”. This time was marked by unprecedented social and political unrest, innovations in culture, and religious quests. This oxymoron became popular mainly due to “The Gospel of Christian Atheism” written by an exceptional American thinker Th. J. J. Altizer, who was a leader of radical theological movement the “death of God”. Although few protestant theologians-modernists, who were associated with this movement, agreed with this statement, nevertheless all of them criticized religious, dogmatic Christianity and its “religious forms”. All of them, especially the representatives of so called “secular theology”, were unanimous in proclamation of the “Post-Christian Era”, and this or that way they were trying to implement and develop the concept of “religionless Christianity“ (“religionsloses Christentum”) of D. Bonhoeffer. As a result, the “Christianity” protestant theologians-modernists were talking about being filled with new meaning, which was quite far from orthodoxy. In fact, the project of “Christian Atheism” was one of the ways to “save” Christianity, which led to ethication of Christianity and leveling of Christian faith itself. Thereafter, in 1970-80s it was continued in radical postmodern project “A Postmodern A/theology”. Philosophers of new generation, such as C. A. Raschke and M. C. Taylor tried to fit the concept of deconstruction of J. Derrida in theology to be more consistent in destruction of metaphysics than the death-of-God theologians. The concepts of “Christian Atheism” and the “radical theology” were the most striking examples of the crisis of traditional Western-Christian consciousness and the search of the new Christian reference points in the contemporary secular world. However, the predominance of pluralism threatened Christian theological exclusivism. The refusal from the latter resulted in dilution of Christian identity in modern western society. In light of this the problem of attitude of Christianity to Atheism and secularization has become vital. And the future of Christianity much depends on solution of this problem. Nowadays, for Western World in the period of celebration of five hundredth anniversary of Reformation, this problem is especially acute.

Key words: secularization, Protestantism, modernism, D. Bonhoeffer, “religionless Christianity” (“religionsloses Christentum”), “secular theology”, “death of God” theology, “post-Christian era”, “Christian atheism”, Th.J.J. Altizer,  “a/theology”.

DOI: 10.22250/2072-8662.2017.4.86-96

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About the author


German E. Bokov – PhD (Philosophy), Associate Professor of the Department of Philosophy of Religion and Religious Studies,

5 Mendeleevskaya liniya, St. Petersburg, Russia, 199034; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.