There is a theologian and religious philosopher named Adam Kotsko who claims to be a Christian Atheist. In an interview in Religious Dispatches Magazine he seems to try to explain this. The section of the interview which he addresses this idea is below and the full article can be read here.

 

Christopher Hitchens has said something to effect, and I can't find the quote, that if you take away many of the revolting aspects of religion, pushing your faith on others, the mandatory fear and worship of god, etc.. then he too would be a fan. This is not what Kotsko is suggesting but I believe he is saying that if you make Christianity more "humanistic" in nature, then you can both be an atheist and a christian.

 

I personally reject the idea, and think this is just another theologan trying to find a way to push back against the rise of secularism but I was wondering your interpretations and thoughts.


Can a chrisitan be an atheist according to Kotskos "logic"? 

 

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One of the interesting things I’ve found from reading your blog is that you are in fact an atheist. What relevance do you see this theory having for atheists?

Well, first I want to hedge on this atheist question in some way, and say I’m not a traditional theist; but if I’m an atheist, I’m at least a Christian one.

In any case though, I think that a lot of work by secular philosophers recently has been reclaiming the Christian tradition, and theological concepts, that provides some prima facie evidence for its relevance—people like Slavoj Zizek or Alain Badiou or Georgio Agamben. My work’s been very influenced by them as a way to reclaim the Christian heritage in a more convincing way than simply rejecting it because it has religiousness all over it.

At one point theologian Thomas Altizer posted on your blog that we haven’t really thought through a proper atheism yet.

Right. I think that you can see this with the New Atheists. Dawkins’ and Hitchens’ and Dennett’s books are a kind of simplistic critique of religion that’s basically not going to change anyone’s mind. I think there has to be more to say about religion other than the fact that it makes no sense as an empirical claim. That’s just too obvious to be interesting. I think that we as a society deserve a better form of atheism.

Another of the interesting moves you make is you effectively leave the anthropomorphic God “in place,” which is a definite contrast to the attempts to deconstruct the God of metaphysics in the work of philosophers like Jean-Luc Marion and Richard Kearney. What was the rationale for leaving God in place?

I took my cue from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who has argued that we have to accept the metaphysical parts of Christianity. This is against the work of Bultmann who in his reading attempts to rehabilitate Christianity by cutting out the bits that seem credible to contemporary people.

Bonhoeffer says basically to leave the myth in place, but what we need to do is remove the religious framework through which we interpret it. So we’re not necessarily talking about God, we’re talking about human beings. My reading is relevant to our concerns in our world, and not primarily about salvation or the Church. I object to the de-mythologizing approach in that it’s fundamentally arbitrarily and that it always has Christianity and theology in retreat. It’s trying to be acceptable to a liberal audience, and it’s doomed to be unpersuasive. You’re basically admitting what you’re saying is irrelevant. So I think preserving the text as is but with a different framework is a better approach.

So is it possible to have atonement if we deconstruct the idea of God?

I think it’s possible to have redemption, and have change and transformation in the way we relate to the world and each other. I don’t think that requires God.

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"Christian principles" has a pretty distinct meaning - going back to my definition which I think is fair: "of, or pertaining to, the 'nice' aspects of Christ's teachings - like Sermon on the Mount.". It doesn't mean that "Christian principles" = "good" and any principles which are NOT Christian are, therefore, not good. (A few too many negatives there, sorry.) One does not have to believe that Christ was God in order for them to accept these particular teachings as a good guide to a happy life.

In my opinion one can't be both Atheist and Christian as I consider such an implication contradictory. To me a Christian is someone who adheres to Christianity. Since Christianity obviously believes in a god (and that Jesus is said god in human form), that makes them theist. And one can't be both a theist and an Atheist.

 

If someone gravitates toward some of Jesus' better teachings, I don't feel like that's enough to make ones self a Christian. I'm not certain what term you'd use to describe such a person or if one is really needed. You could say that you're fond of an individuals message, or live by some of what they've said. But we all do this based on what we've learned from vast multitudes of people. Yet we don't attempt to craft "ian's" for all of them as well. Are there legions of (George) Carlinists out there? Or is it simply better to say that you tend to agree with George Carlin?

Sounds like he's essentially atheist; a religion is a strict thing with only one right answer to it, he's trying to figure his own beliefs based on it, which is essentially agnostisism. I don't think he reolizes that you don't have to be chiristian to have values that Jesus preached, ie. forgive others who tresspass against you, etc

In the 1960's there was a movement called the Death of God movement. It took a various forms but it argued that Christians found themselves in a world where God wasn't present the way He was to people earlier in history. Had he died or abandoned the universe?

 

America was founded by Deists who believe that God did create everything but then left it to mankind and does not participate nor intervene in human affairs through miracles or plagues.

 

Notice the kinship with Death of God theology?

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