The academic Seminar on God and the Human Future began its work in 2013. Inspired by the pioneering research and public notice of the Jesus Seminar, it has sought to attract a new generation of scholars to the mission and ongoing work of the Westar Institute. In a short time it has attracted over thirty participating Research Fellows who together are exploring new ways and new images for thinking about God in a post-theistic context.
Unlike past Westar seminars, the God Seminar consists primarily of philosophers of religion, critical theorists, and radical theologians rather than biblical scholars and historians. At the same time, as was confirmed in one of the seminar’s earliest votes, the work of the God Seminar acknowledges its debt, is engaged in conversation with, and is deeply informed by the historical critical work in biblical scholarship for which Westar has been known.
The current research project of the seminar is to introduce, critically explore, and publish a volume on the varieties of post-theism that animate the most innovative and progressive thinking in philosophy of religion and theology today. This project began with the exploration of John Caputo’s weak, post-metaphysical, deconstructive theology. Caputo is a charter member of the God Seminar. He has made the case that a theology of the weakness of God is an extension of Paul Tillich’s efforts to think about God in non-theistic ways. Similarly, we have heard from Richard Kearney and explored his conception of ana-theism. His anatheism is likewise a form of non-theism and occupies the space after the death of the “Alpha God of triumphal might and metaphysical certitude.” We have also devoted sessions to the important work of J. Kameron Carter, whose conception of “para-theology” is a way of doing a theology of and for the undercommons as developed within critical race theory. And most recently, we have distinguished between the panentheism of Catherine Keller and the pantheism of Mary-Jane Rubenstein.
By staying true to Westar’s dual mission (1) to conduct collaborative, cumulative research in the academic study of religion, and (2) to promote religious literacy, the God Seminar is unique in the academic fields of Philosophy of Religion, Critical Theory, and Theology. For those who share our vision to reimagine God differently for the 21st century, we invite you to participate in and follow our unfolding work.
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