William Hamilton, who said `God is Dead,’ dies at 87

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Religion News Service photo by Ross William Hamilton/The Oregonian.

Religion News Service photo by Ross William Hamilton/The Oregonian.

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PORTLAND, Ore. (RNS) William Hamilton, the retired theologian who declared in the 1960s that God was dead, died Tuesday (Feb. 28) in his downtown Portland apartment. He was 87. By Nancy Haught.

  • JW1951

    I remember the statement clearly that God is Dead! As a young minister then it was clear that religious idea’s and tradition were being used to abuse the masses. Hidden in the message was the idea that we are becoming Godless. Today the abuse of families in the churches is even more prominent. Take note that the world will soon try to remove truth about God and His Word. But Strong action will be taken! The Holy Scriptures reveal that the masses “Will have to know that I am Jehovah” before they are destroyed at Armageddon. Just a warning that man may think God is not viewing the wicked acts of the many but like Noah’s Day they will be a sudden destruction as Jesus said. God is not Dead nor powerless. God is patient in that he does not want any to be destroyed.. John 3:16 is proof. Not that He loves any and all but that He wants repentence based on love of righteousness. Not Polical correctness. See Daniel 2:44

  • mabrumley

    With all due respect to the deceased, I have always thought William Hamilton’s positions confusing. I see the pyschology of them: clearly, Hamilton was a man who grappled with the problem of evil. His two options regarding the Holocaust and God are psychologically understandable but somewhat logically and theologically simplistic. He rightly regards the New Atheism as a kind of fundamentalism but I suspect a subtle fundamentalism lurked behind some of his ideas about an “active God” and the “death of God”. Christianity without God is meaningless. Indeed, human life without some orientation to a transcendent and immanent divinity, even one only vaguely recognized and fathomed,is meaningless. The notion that we “create” meaning rather than discover it seems incoherent. The trouble with the Godless universe is that it winds up being about bread and circuses, even if the food and fun are by some people’s tastes more refined than dope and pornography. It reduces, ultimately, to avoiding or relieving our pain through amusing ourselves, in one form or another, until we die. William Hamilton’s desire to try to find a way to have the value of Christianity in a comsos in which God doesn’t exist is commendable insofar as it tacitly seems to regard Christian values as involving real goods. But without God it is in the end arbitrary at best and incoherent at worst.