|Thomas JJ Altizer, The New Gospel|
of Christian Atheism
What does it mean to say "crucified, dead, and buried" in the context of an incarnate God? A religion of recurrence, renewal, or return tends to envision death as a stopping point on the way back to the primordial reality where we started. In other words, it's like flipping a light switch. God is alive (lights on), God dies (lights off), God is resurrected (lights back on). This works for a pre-modern understanding of death. For moderns, however, death is both total and final. For God to die on the cross, all of that which is God must die (not just part) and that death must be permanent (not reversed, ever). The move from living God to incarnate God to dead God to resurrected God cannot end where it began. If death isn't total and final, it isn't death. Resurrection, then, isn't simply turning the lights back on (which would be a move backward), but rather something entirely new (a move forward) into an apocalyptic future.
I like the way Altizer opens the following documentary. He says,
God is dead. I mean that the Transcendent Lord, the Sovereign God who is revealed in the Old Testament (the Bible if you will), the God who is confessed in the Christian tradition, that this God is no longer present, no longer manifest, is no longer real. Furthermore, I intend to say not that this God is simply missing, not that this God is in eclipse, but rather that this God is dead.My thanks to Homebrewed Christianity for posting these videos.