A radical theologian who co-authored a book declaring the death of god has died in my home city of Portland, Ore. William Hamilton died at the end of February of congestive heart failure at the age of 87, according to KGW.com.
According to KGW, Hamilton was an “atheistic Christian” who wanted to redefine Christianity without the presence of god, but still revered the life and teaching of Jesus. His views made him an outcast.
Hamilton co-authored a book with fellow theologian Thomas J.J. Altizer in 1966 titled, Radical Theology and the Death of God. The men’s questioning resulted in the infamous “Is God Dead?” Time Magazine cover.
Hamilton’s doubts resulted from a 1938 pipe bomb explosion that took the the life of two Christian friends but left an atheist unscathed, according to the Oregonian. Hamilton told the Oregonian that,
Theodicy came to dwell in my 14-year-old head that Sunday.
Hamilton taught at Portland State University for 14 years after moving to Portland in 1970.
Given the chance to converse with Hamilton, I would have disagreed with his view of Jesus. As I stated in a previous post, we know far too little about the 1st century Palestinian to justify or modern cultural description. Christians worship a Jesus of their own making and construction, a fabrication of their own desires.
Hamilton also takes a swipe at the “new atheism” in the Oregonian article. It’s an interesting read, and I recommend it.
While Hamilton and I would have disagreed, perhaps fervently, I am sorry he is gone. My condolences go out to his family.