God is dead. Long live God
Belief in God is dying in the west, says Martin Camroux, but the mystery of God is inescapable
Can’t you hear those little bells tinkling? Down on your knees! They’re bringing the sacraments to a dying God,’ wrote the German poet Heinrich Heine in 1834. Decades later, the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche made a similar observation. ‘God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.’ By this he meant that the culture was becoming one in which belief in God was no longer going to be possible.
It took a little time, but today we are nearly there. Already, by the time I went to university in the 1960s, church congregations were mostly elderly and I took it for granted that most people I knew, especially young people, would not be Christian. Since then, the decline has accelerated. If I could go back to those congregations now, I’m sure I would think how young church congregations were then!
Today most people are simply indifferent to churches. They are busy working, trying to survive or to bring up families. They usually have little time for religion and are profoundly ignorant about it. My son went to a comprehensive school in south London where few of the children were openly Christian. One day, he came home and recounted with scorn that the RE lesson had involved a trip to a nearby church…
Martin Camroux is a retired minister and writer. His latest book is Keeping Alive the Rumour of God When Most People Are Looking the Other Way (Wipf and Stock, 2020)
This is an extract from an article published in the December 2020 / January 2021 edition of Reform