Responding to Hampson’s “After Christianity”, Chapter 6

Responding to Chapter 6: A Future Theism

Daphne Hampson, After Christianity (London: SCM Press, 1996)

Summary and Commentary:

Discussing scholars such as Schleiermacher this chapter explores the place of God in our lives, considering approaches that seem to me similar to a pantheistic (unitheistic) view, the idea of God being a dimension of reality.

On thinking about miracles she gives examples from Oxford Religious Experience Research Unit. At Trinity St David Lampeter I am fortunate to have access to the Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre myself and have found them similarly profound.

We return to Schleiermacher who Hampson seems to favour. Despite the defense that he is not pantheistic, it definitely seems like a pantheistic view to me. I don’t like it much personally.

As Richard R. Niehbuhr well says well says: ‘The fundamental thing that Schleiermacher has to say is [that]… religion is an intrinsic element in the self-consciousness of the fully developed man.’ For Schleiermacher the self would seem to open out on to that other dimension which is God. The self is not itself except as it must always lead beyond itself.

– Niebuhr’s The Christian Faith (Torchbook Edition), p.xii and Hampson, p.233

Towards the end of the chapter, though still skeptical, I began to understand why she had dedicated a chapter to this pantheistic theism. I see where Hampson is coming from (attempting to solve issues of transcendentalism and suffering), but have difficulties with her approach. I do not agree that it is necessary that God become understood as a dimension of reality rather than as an actual being, though I agree that we can be considered to demonstrate God’s presence in the world when we ourselves do something of a spiritual nature. I have never gotten on with pantheism, though I have tried to be patient when reading this chapter. I have gotten on with elements of panentheism and favour it highly above pantheism, but hold myself against neither title.

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