An Open Letter to Peter Kirby

Peter Kirby was an atheist then a Catholic and now he says he’s not quite one or the other.

Looks to me this choice of his is a forced one, as William James wrote about. It seems to be an agonizing one for him. Agnosticism isn't an option for him. Okay. But there are two other options for him. I want to offer them up here.

One option is Christian atheism, or secular Christianity. This theological view was the one that hit the cover of Time magazine in the ‘60’s. It stems from things Nietzsche said that Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote about during WWII in the face of Hitler, which in turn was developed into a theology by Gabriel Vahanian, Paul van Buren, William Hamilton and Thomas J. J. Altizer. You can Google these theologians to read more. Today Don Cupitt in his book Taking Leave of God is a modern defender of this view.

The second option is to protest the lack of evidence and the lack of a caring God by proclaiming yourself an atheist, even though you aren’t sure he doesn’t exist. Theologian John Roth has developed a “Theodicy of Protest” to deal with the problem of evil which can be seen in a chapter for the book edited by Stephen T. Davis, called Encountering Evil: Live Options in Theodicy (John Knox Press, 1981). Roth protests the evil in the world by attempting to shame God into doing what is right. Likewise, Kirby can protest the lack of evidence and the lack of a caring God by proclaiming himself an atheist. I do that. Why not?

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