Get Thomas J. J. Altizer essential facts below. View Videos or join the Thomas J. J. Altizer discussion. Add Thomas J. J. Altizer to your PopFlock.com topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
Thomas J. J. Altizer
Thomas Jonathan Jackson Altizer (May 28, 1927 - November 28, 2018) was a radical theologian who was known for incorporating Friedrich Nietzsche's conception of the "death of God" and G. W. F. Hegel's dialectical philosophy into his systematic theology. He regarded his philosophical theology as grounded as well in the works of William Blake and considered his theology to have come into its own with his extended study of Blake's radical visionary thinking: The New Apocalypse: The Radical Christian Vision of William Blake (1967); indeed he regarded himself as the first and only fully Blakean theologian.
He was assistant professor of religion at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, from 1954 to 1956. He went on to become an associate professor of Bible and religion at Emory University from 1956 to 1968. He was professor of Religious Studies at the Stony Brook University from 1968 to 1996. Until his death in 2018, he was Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the university.
"Death of God" controversy
During Altizer's time at Emory, two Time magazine articles featured his religious views--in the October 1965 and April 1966 issues. The latter issue, published at Easter time, put the question on its cover in bold red letters on a plain black background: "Is God Dead?"
Altizer repeatedly claimed that the scorn, outcry, and even death threats he subsequently received were misplaced. Altizer's religious proclamation viewed God's death (really a self-extinction) as a process that began at the world's creation and came to an end through Jesus Christ--whose crucifixion in reality poured out God's full spirit into our world. In developing his position Altizer drew upon the dialectical thought of Hegel, the visionary writings of William Blake, the anthroposophical thought of Owen Barfield, and aspects of Mircea Eliade's studies of the sacred and the profane.
In the mid-1960s Altizer was drawn into discussions about his views with other radical Christian theologians such as Gabriel Vahanian, William Hamilton, and Paul Van Buren, and also the rabbi Richard Rubenstein. Those religious scholars collectively formed a loose network of thinkers who held different versions of the death of God. Altizer also entered into formal critical debates with the evangelical Lutheran John Warwick Montgomery, and the Christian countercult movement apologist Walter Martin. The evangelical theologians faulted Altizer on philosophical, methodological and theological questions, such as his reliance on Hegelian dialectical thought, his idiosyncratic semantic use of theological words, and the interpretative principles he used in understanding biblical literature.
In Godhead and the Nothing (2003), Altizer examined the notion of evil. He presented evil as the absence of will, but not separate from God. Orthodox Christianity--considered nihilistic by Nietzsche--named evil and separated it from good without thoroughly examining its nature. However, the immanence of the spirit (after Jesus Christ) within the world embraces everything created. The immanence of the spirit is the answer to the nihilistic state that Christianity, according to Nietzsche, was leading the world into. Through the introduction of God in the material world (immanence), the emptying of meaning would cease. No longer would followers be able to dismiss the present world for a transcendent world. They would have to embrace the present completely, and keep meaning in the here and now.
Schoonenberg, Piet, "The Transcendence of God, Part I," Transcendence and Immanence, Reconstruction in the Light of Process Thinking, Festschrift in Honour of Joseph Papin, ed. Joseph Armenti, St. Meinrad: The Abbey Press, 1972: 157-166.
Schoonenberg, Piet, "From Transcendence to Immanence, Part II," Wisdom and Knowledge, Essays in Honour of Joseph Papin, ed. Joseph Armenti, Villanova University Press, 1976: 273-282.
Corrington, Robert S. (1992-04-01). "Genesis and Apocalypse: A Theological Voyage Toward Authentic Christianity By Thomas J.J. Altizer Louisville, Westminster/John Knox, 1990. 198 pp. $18.95". Theology Today. 49 (1): 132-134. doi:10.1177/004057369204900121.
Thomas J. J. Altizer Papers, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries -- The Thomas J. J. Altizer Papers contain correspondence (1960-1970); typescript books and page proofs; published articles and essays; three audio tapes; and four scrapbooks. Much of the correspondence pertains to the "death of God" movement of the 1960s, of which Altizer was a leader. Arranged in four series: Audiotape recordings: three tapes with recordings of appearances at colleges and on radio programs. Correspondence: primarily responses to Altizer's "death of God" theology representing a wide variety of opinions from grade-school children to learned theologians. Printed material: essays and miscellany. Writings: books, essays, and magazine articles by Altizer. There are no access restrictions on this material.
^Altizer, Thomas J. J. (2006). Living the Death of God: A Theological Memoir. Albany: State University of New York Press. ISBN0-7914-6757-0.
^Altizer, Thomas J.J. (2012). The Call to Radical Theology. Albany: State University of New York Press. pp. 153-54. ISBN978-1-4384-4451-2.