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“We Confess that we are Atheists”

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2024

Stephen Bullivant*
Affiliation:
St Mary's University
*
Twickenham, TW1 4SX. stephen.bullivant@stmarys.ac.uk

Abstract

In the immortal words of Herbert McCabe, ‘Whatever we are referring to when we use the word “God” it can no more be a god than it can be a model aeroplane or half-past eleven’ (God Still Matters). This striking idea – the “atheism” of true Christianity – has, in fact, a long pedigree. This paper traces its history from the early Church to the Angelic Doctor himself. The essential point is this: if our God really is who Christians claim God is, then all our words about God – including the word “god” – must necessarily fall short.

Type
Catholic Theological Association 2019 Conference Papers
Copyright
Copyright © 2020 Provincial Council of the English Province of the Order of Preachers

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References

1 An earlier version of some of this paper was published in Faith and Unbelief (London: Canterbury Press, 2013).

2 Towey, A., An Introduction to Christian Theology (London: T & T. Clark, 2018), p. 201Google Scholar.

3 The translation used here (slightly amended) is taken from Staniforth, Maxwell (trans.), Early Christian Writings (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968), pp. 153-67Google Scholar.

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13 McCabe, op. cit., p. 56.

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24 Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, IV, 20, 4.

25 D. Turner, op. cit., p. 11.