Deconversion, Deconstruction, Disruption: A brief History of Radical Theology

A four-week course that explores the development and emergence of radical theology. The course will take a chronological, though not necessarily linear, journey through one of the most important theological disciplines of the 20th century. We will focus on key developments in radical theology, highlighting influences, theories and key thinkers who pushed the conversation along, and whose work offers us important insights for thinking about faith in the 21st century.
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Fragments

The call to radical theology is a journey into the depth of God, into the dark recesses of the corners of religion and belief. A living God, Altizer says, offers vitality and direction, a dead god brings weight, disorientation and sometimes even immobilization. How we transform that immobility into new action and move beyond the fragmentation of faith into living practice is the gambit of radical theology.

Fractures

Radical Theology assumes a fracture between the new Testament and our religious environment. This fractured world is the world of radical theology, a return to roots, an overturning, a deconstruction of the disconnects between now and then. Radical Theology is the environment in which the alternative becomes possible and fractures are the spaces where we find new theological hope.

Futures

Radical theology is firmly fixed on the present future, the issues and contexts that need to be addressed right now. Radical theology is neither conservative nor liberal but transformational offering new perspectives on old ideas and helping to orient us to the future. Radical theology is not the end of theology but a beginning, a way of moving past obstacles and reframing theology for our time. 

4-Week Outline

What this conversation is all about

This course is an introduction and exploration of one of the more important theological developments of modern times. Radical Theology, which at one point was almost singularly linked to academic notions on the Death of God, has re-emerged in the early 21st century as a key component in the re-framing and re-shaping of Christianity for the digital age. It will offer a reading of radical theology that honors its roots but is primarily future-focused. Through processes of deconversion, deconstruction and disruption, radical theology offers us opportunity to re-think our own theological projects both personal and communal.   

To sketch a line of thinking is to edit out all other lines and therefore present an incomplete picture of an idea, a theory or an event. This course is by no means exhaustive, there are many contributing factors and threads to follow as well as writers, thinkers and theologians who will receive scant mention. The contribution of portions of liberation and feminist theology for instance are important but too rich in their own rights to be dealt with here. The goal is simply to present a brief and broad perspective on the emergence of radical theology in the early 1960s and trace it’s fractures, fragmentations and re-emergences through until the current time. Radical theology has perhaps a higher public profile today than its earlier incarnations as religion itself has undergone its own disruptions which call for new approaches that Radical Theology seems able to provide.

We have outlined four key periods of both development and emergence—we call them waves, because like those disturbances on the surface of a liquid body like the sea, the waves of radical theology have disturbed the surface of both church and academy. And like waves they are both separate and connected; while contemporary radical theology is not necessarily Death of God theology, it acknowledges the contribution of such thinking to the overall project and our intent in the course is to offer a reading of radical theology that honors its roots and points to its possible futures.

What you can expect

  • This course starts LIVE Thursday, September 10th at 12pm PST via zoom.
  • For those who can't make the LIVE lecture it will be posted to watch at your leisure on our learning platform.
  • If you are purchasing this course after it has started you can go through the course from the beginning and still interact with the instructors in the archive learning section of each week.
  • Each weekly lecture lasts for about an hour or so and there will be a time of Q&A to further engage the content and instructors.
  • There are no assignments, but you can expect sessions packed with content as well as recommended reading and resources.
  • Check out some of our social media content on this course here, here and here. :) 

Barry Taylor

Co-Director of H&Co, a theologian-philosopher, musician, artist, academic and writer who has spent more than thirty years challenging traditional notions of religion and church and creating alternative communities built on the idea that life is uncertain, the future is unwritten and that none of us has the answer.

More on Barry here

Maria French

Maria is Co-Creator of H&Co.  The tenure of her career has been in theological education, as both professor and administrator.  Maria also has also worked in ministry, church planting and denominational leadership. She is focused on faith and culture, offering new forums for faith that are viable and sustainable for an uncertain future. 

More on Maria here

Radical Theology is an environment in which the alternative becomes possible.”

-Barry Taylor