St Mary's In-Depth Theology Course

A Drop-in Course as an Aid to Theological Discussion

Theology Course 12:
Don Cupitt: A Journey into and (arguably) out of Non-Realism
or a Cambridge Nihilist Textualist

The previous session on myth was very technical and the confusion with the word and its meanings was one reason for the confusion inherent in the book The Myth of God Incarnate. Theology has often had this difficulty of dealing in technical terms and yet needing to communicate. A person who has tackled this problem head on has been Don Cupitt, who has dealt with the intricacies of the philosophy of religion and yet tried to make his books readable by flattening out difficult concepts.
We look at Don Cupitt here because the course asks about upholding the claimed uniqueness of Christ. The authors of Essays and Reviews (1860) produced a kind of Anglican Unitarianism where Christ was unprotected from history and text. After them Charles Gore tried to stitch together such liberalism with a revision of the Oxford Movement into a trend that is visible still in today's Affirming Catholicism. John A. T. Robinson wanted to centre on the Incarnation of Christ but arguably left inadequate means to do so. So did the writers of The Myth of God Incarnate, where some of the looser definitions troubled John Robinson. Perhaps The Myth of God Incarnate was as far as liberal theology could go with the intention, at least, of keeping a Christ-centred theology. Then we have Cupitt, who tried a different road of a totally non-protective Christianity sometimes called Nihilist Textualism (Hyman, 2001) and shares this approach with the avant garde arts related theology of Mark C. Taylor.
Arguably the nineteenth century theologians all maintained belief in divinity, in God, but became weaker regarding the place of Christ. The twentieth century modernists were keen to maintain the position of Christ, and it is arguable that God was weakened for each. They were all very this worldly theologians. Barth and Bonhoeffer had God becoming rather distant and even unreachable; Tillich had God as systemic and approachable via questions; Bultmann developed biblical myth and language where God is somewhat displaced by writing. John Robinson picked this up (1963) started to place God into personalism and Christ into utter humanity - despite his insistent incarnation intentions. It is in this context then that Cupitt has impact (and see Cupitt, 1972). From Cupitt on there really is no way back other than via conservatisms of objective or postmodern sorts.
It is fair to say that Don Cupitt since 1980 has tried to use movements in philosophy where relevant to religion to produce a completely non-dogmatic version of Christianity. In being relativist within language, exploiting the linguistic turn in philosophy, and lacking doctrinal anchors, his writings have gone through several phases.
Nigel Leaves (2004) has suggested these distinct phases, after each of which a comment is added:
Stage 1 (1971-1979) The Negative Theology: "Negative" (or apophatic) says that we cannot say what God is, but only what God is not.

At this point Cupitt might have been accused of being somewhat Islamic regarding God, a pure transcendence, and he believed in a not simply a historic Jesus but the vital religious Jewish Jesus who pointed away from himself and towards God. This is arguably consistent with Barth and Bonhoeffer, although not particularly drawing from them.
Stage 2: (1980-1985) Non-realism ­and "Coming Out" ; closer to existentialist philosophers such as Bultmann and Tillich.

Nigel Leaves is arguably wrong in these examples. Cupitt rarely refers to these theologians who close their systems, one into parallel Christian answers to existential questions and the other from Bible text to limited modern understandings. Rather, let's see this phase as the individualist Cupitt, of an individual believer who has a crisis of faith and develops a non-realist path, one without God, and a sort of personal Christian Kantianism.
Stage 3: (1986-1989) Postmodernism and Anti-realism: There is not "the world" but only "our world".

In this stage, the individual believer realises that he or she is caught up in collective language: a collective language that gains meaning only through the words in the dictionary. In other words, the conversation of the collective predefines individual experience. The old object-subject division is gone (which is the liberal claim - that we are subjective individuals in an objective world) and we are simply to go with the linguistic flow. It is continental philosophy - particularly French - applied to a religious outlook.
Stage 4: (1990-1997) Expressionism: The introduction of "solar ethics".

This phase needs dividing into two. An interview with Stephen Batchelor (2003/ 4), an agnostic or Western Buddhist indicates the stronger formation of solar ethics via Cupitt's illness in 1993. Don Cupitt says:

The only religious convictions that are of any value to you are ones you have formulated yourself and worked out and tested in your own life and in debate with other people. In 1993 I came very close to death, and my own convictions and beliefs were tested. Not only was I going through a very severe period of poor mental health, but I also had a burst cerebral aneurysm. Surgery left me with severe head pain, and for a time it seemed I would never write or work again. I managed to survive that period. But I asked myself afterward how I had got through such an extreme time and how it was I had known moments of great happiness in that period. Out of the self-questioning that began early in 1994, all my later thinking developed. It reflects a complete break with dogmatism and a desire to make a fresh start in the religious life.

This period included a religious vision of a white light through a window and a sense of great happiness.
Stage 5: (1998) The Turn to Be-ing: Following Heidegger to say that only "coming to be" ("be-ing") existed.

Sometimes this philosophy is a more realist philosophy, but closer to the kind of realism found in Buddhism. Buddhism is a process religion that deals in much negating to affirm the purer, an orthopraxy through removing and achieving (regulatory practice - suck it and see, not truth-bearing - and deniable - doctrine) and here we have the eastern understanding of transient realities but presented via Western philosophy. Arguably Cupitt used Western philosopher Heidegger to have this verb like sense of being, of processing. However, Cupitt does not let go of the religious experience in the Solar Ethics and in a way Heidegger is used in a struggle to philosophise the religious process behind Solar Ethics.
Stage 6: (1999-2000) Ordinary Language: "Life" is taking over from "God" and some secular institutions better reflect Jesus' "Kingdom" message than does the church which is trapped in its institutionalism.

This really is a combination of collective language and experience. The (use of) Heidegger phase was quick, but makes everything more realist and straightforward. The language Cupitt now wants to embrace is the simpler and more common language of ordinary speech. He considers the Church more here, in that it really is distant from ordinary discourse of people in this secular age. He can ever return to his first phase of the religion of Jesus, in that ordinary language seems closer to this Jesus than the construction of Church language in all its dogmas. The Solar Ethic is still there: but it is the simple, this worldly interpretation of light through the window that is sufficient for describing such religious experience
Stage 7: (2000 onwards) The Religion of the Future: Religion should be about affirming life. Blending Nietzsche and Nagajurna we must pass through nihilism to radical humanism.

This draws back in continental philosophy again, plus the Buddhism of Nagajurna also used previously. Much appeals to the Far East (Cupitt, 2008b). However, Cupitt has changed again and arguably there is another stage.
Stage 8: (2006 onwards) The Old Creed and The New (2006) represents a simplification and directness (autological) of religious language compared with the roundaboutness (heterological) of Church religious language (stories of resurrection, incarnation etc.), and it is direct language that is found in the everyday. Heidegger, Solar Living, the everyday come together but this now seems to present a purely secular religion, completely Western, humanistic, and finds expression in optimism. He rejects a postmodernism that allows people to believe any old tosh in their bubbles - the big Western narratives of Darwin and physics are affirmed. He uses philosophy to take the philosophy out. It is almost a religion of the sociology of knowledge and the sociology of everyday folk. It is impossible to match this view and the circuitous language of the Church, as in liturgy, and this made his break with the Church in 2008 inevitable. His position is closest to that of Daphne Hampson (1996, completely post-Christian) than ever before, though she has always affirmed theism. The Meaning of the West (2008a) again affirms the West and finds Christianity undergoing a natural development into a secular humanitarian scheme. This is quite a realist view! Furthermore, this 'realism' is also evident in his 2009 book Jesus and Philosophy, about which the foreword says:

I say that the whole of our knowledge of the human world prior to the invention of printing rests upon physical evidence that will always be open to various interpretations, and manuscript evidence that is always some steps away from the original holograph. All our historical knowledge is fal­lible, but since the human life-world - a fluid, everchanging and multiperspectival world - is now all we have and all we'll ever have, human philosophy simply ought not to be too puritanical.

Thus he is now saying the equivalent of 'be reasonable' and has returned to material more determined and historical than even as was written in 1979 with his excellent The Debate About Christ (1979) Keeping with the Jesus Seminar's history-affirming work and producing a portrait is quite a revision from his previously held position that regarded history as lost in the multiplicity of texts and the plurality of Jesuses.
Along with these phases a biography is helpful. Don Cupitt was interviewed by Alan Macfarlane on 16th February 2009 (all paragraphs below are derived from Macfarlane, 2009, unless stated otherwise). Now in his mid 70s Cupitt is reflecting back on his life.
He was born in 1934 to a father who would run a metalwork factory and his mother worked for Singer sewing machines, and because of his father's good income all four of them had a private education, his brother and he went to Charterhouse, his sisters to Cheltenham Ladies College. They all underwent a cultural shift from their parents. There was no religious upbringing from the parents but a grandmother was intelligent, frustrated and into all sorts of superstitions and Theosophy. Taken to a spiritualist meeting by her, Don Cupitt reacted by wanting people to have real religious information.
Two important aspects then: no religious formation, but a desire when encountering religion to get to the hard truth whatever. This is the child that became the man.
Cupitt has also had periods of fads and crazes, but he has retained an interest in butterfly conservation. Butterflies led to looking at birds and getting into natural history. Another fad was Italian opera with many gramaphone records purchased but he had little in the way of musical education. A further fad was architecture. There was train spotting. He became a dedicated and speedy reader of novels, consuming one a day until he was thirty and thus teaching himself the use of English.
Thus we have one explanation for Cupitt's phases in theology and philosophy of religion, and a dedicated obsession with some philosophies to produce a vitalist religious outlook. Yet there is no religion in this formation - except some introductions at Charterhouse among the Italian, Zoology, Architecture and English subjects.
He had the idea that he would be a leader, coming up a social class. This, of course, was never realised, probably because of his theology. He was broad Tory in a Christian Democrat sense.
He became a practising Christian after confirmation at fifteen being then on a weekly communicant and with added attendance in the old chapel at Charterhouse. From the age of about sixteen onwards, Plato's top-down vision clashed with Darwin's British empiricist, bottom-up vision of the universe - as an induction into becoming leaders the school monitors read Plato in the headmaster's study. With Darwin and zoology Don Cupitt soon drifted away from religion only to come back at eighteen at Cambridge, when he started to go to religious camps with evangelical Christianity touching him.
In his writings Cupitt often uses Plato to reject the top-down approach, and he regards Church based Christianity as top-down. [not interview]
When Don Cupitt was first converted he had an experience of God with a feeling of almost continuous warmth; the earliest religious experiences written about were undergraduate ones. These were visual and outside himself, as in a super-vivid sense of colour in a Vincent van Gogh and the brilliance of the world. Such visual experience he found highly conscious, where the world takes on a kind of glory. Such continued: something like a 'Protestant joy' of grace boiling over into his soul. Yet now regards it as an extinct kind of religious experience (presumably the guiding interpretation).
Yet such experience is affirmed in later books, and indeed with his illness in 1993 a similar religious experience was highly significant. It is just that its interpretation is much purer to the source, to ordinary language (now) and still constitutes a religious vision.
Cambridge and its University has dominated his life. He called it the best youth club in the world and now it is the best day centre for the elderly. He has never had to construct a CV, but has just been selected and picked for each role he has played.
In Cambridge studying Botany he saw the famous stay, come and go, but an important influence was Russ Hanson, a scientist, who also read and introduced Don Cupitt to Wittgenstein, where both learnt that the eye doesn't just photograph the world but interprets it already. Thus science became a cultural activity and has a history and reflects the society that produces it. For Cupitt, reading history and the philosophy of science was a useful transition subject when he turned to theology.
Possibly loneliness was the reason why Don Cupitt was converted on the spot at the University of Cambridge at the end of his first term. Seeing evangelicals as too narrow almost straight away, and anti-rational in the sort of language used, he was one for about a year but also doing his own reading. He realised that belief shaped experience and not the other way around. He went liberal and then Anglo-Catholic, and by the end of his second year wanted to be ordained as he moved from science as his primary interest towards theology. He was into Anglo-Catholic writing, also less so into Dean Inge and liberal platonic Protestant writing, and much into the mystics. At the same time he was still trying to do science, in which he received a Part 1 2:2 (a comparable lack of concentration). So he changed to theology and learnt about nineteenth century Church history from Owen Chadwick and the philosophy of religion from George Woods, a Cambridge Latitudinarian who advised Don Cupitt not to be so absorbed in religion and college duties like he was and fail to marry like he had. Cupitt was very absorbed: attending King's College Chapel most weekdays at 5.30 for evensong. In Part 1A theology he achieved a 2:1 and not a first, but Owen Chadwick backed him and he received a place at Wescott House to train for the ministry.
National Service meant the Army looked at his science and sent him to the Royal Signals. He took many philosophy books with him to Cyprus (relieving troops who went to Suez), and among his achievements were being top cadet at officer training and winning in heavyweight boxing.
Back at Cambridge and with George Woods again he finally got his first. He went to Wescott House, with indications immediately of becoming Vice-Principal if he was so needed. Much was liberal in theology and socialistic (all the way to Thaxted and English Communist Catholicism, with the belief before the 1960s that communism and Christianity shared a vision) and so Cupitt went in that socialist direction with the ethical dream of building a Kingdom of God on earth. He was yet still attracted to Anglo-Catholicism and Aquinas and yet a direction with Kant and Kierkegaard was beginning that related to rejecting his grandmother's religion along with wish-fulfilment and anthropomorphism (enjoying the art of Mark Rothko and also Jewish religious minimalists). Added to these was Hume and biblical criticism.
He never liked the far off Oxford alternative of Tolkien and C. S. Lewis and neo-orthodoxy; C. S. Lewis demanded thick religion, with as much blood, mythology and symbolism as possible, whereas Don Cupitt wanted increasingly a thin religion of almost abstracted idealism. From his mysticism came the negative way, and was already into refining, purifying, emptying out, and giving up human images of the divine. So, Cupitt's God was becoming almost Islamic where God was then beyond language, and his development was towards religious thought as a journey into the unknowing: towards much later on becoming at ease with the void and with death and not to be terrified by surrounding emptiness.
In those days ordination was conditional on a church paying to have a curate, a mediaeval hangover to stop wandering clerics. And so Don Cupitt left Wescott House to become Deacon and Curate at St Stephen's, Salford, whose Rector was Gwilym Morgan in June 1959. This was but a short stay up to 1962 when he was called back to Wescott House on his promise to go if becoming Vice Principal. He taught the whole syllabus in theology, while the Principal focused on administration, writing his lectures and doing ordained religious duties. A 7 am to 10 pm working day seven days a week turned him into a workaholic. Thus he became lonely in vacations, but found a modern linguist and secretary in The Times called Susan Day, a sister of a friend, who was living near his parents, and and it took just one dinner date to decide the rightness of marriage (at 29 years old). In other words not only did Cupitt's career life fall into his lap but so did his romantic and family life. Indeed Dennis Nineham offered him the Deanship of Emmanuel (appointed late 1965). His University teaching post in the Philosophy of Religion lasted from 1968 until 1996, and then he became a Life Fellow (Emmanuel College, 2009).
Don Cupitt did not like John Robinson's Honest to God (1963). He then thought it and other radical books tried to humanise God too much. Don Cupitt's own books started to come out in from about 1970. The kick off for his creative stimulus was the Stanton Lectures [1971] (see 1972/ 1985), and he knew that for the rest of his life he would do creative writing and religious thought in the production of new ideas. The Leap of Reason (1976) involved mental arousal, exultation and a kind of felt power toward expressive clarity. He joined The Myth of God Incarnate group of Church authors recognising the mythological character of the idea of incarnation. That caused some scandal but he regarded Taking Leave of God (1980) as the book that froze both his ecclesiastical and academic careers in the way that John Robinson was sidelined into relative obscurity and academia. John Bowden, the managing editor of SCM Press, told him it might cause trouble, in that it was a renewal of the radical theology of the 1960s, a book of ultra-Kantian idealism in which God is a spiritual goal but cannot be considered in any way causal of anything.
Don Cupitt was supported by the Master of Emmanuel College, Derek Brewer, and by the Bishop of Ely; Archbishop Robert Runcie's line was that academics should be free to pursue new thought. He had tenure anyway from 1976 so couldn't just be dismissed. John Robinson, then Dean of Trinity, became friendly and supportative to see that someone had moved the argument on (he retaining his personalist theology - discussed last session - but never saying Cupitt was wrong) and Cupitt preached twice for him. The difference is that although Cupitt's position could have been defended on perhaps dogmatic symbolism grounds, he had been too explicit.
His next major impact was the BBC Sea of Faith series (1984), never shown on US networks due to evangelical influence. Peter Armstrong wanted a systematic theology but Cupitt wasn't ready for that and instead did his historical-philosophical survey of challenges to belief in six documentaries. This gave rise to the Sea of Faith groups committed in part to non-realism and in part to religious freedom, thus to some extent building in a conflict between a defined radicalism and an open liberalism.
Cupitt's view in 2009 was the evangelicals took over from 1963 on, after Michael Ramsey refused to back John Robinson and kowtowed to them, and remembers that in 1980 he started to realise that evangelicals would always win out because they were closer in literal terms to the foundation documents of the Church of England.
Nevertheless in 1989 [not in the interview] he responded to requests for a book about strategies for radicals in the main Church. A Church is a vocabulary and a community, he wrote, to be transformed (1989, 102). The Church will not reform, so strategies include evasion as in vague sermons and retreats into history, biblical theology ('Scripture says' and 'the Church teaches') and passive Jungianism (103-106), deception or never coming out - but which ends up bending the language and meaning all over the place (107-112), organised dissent for those who care about the future (112-116) or it means going outside the Church (116-123). He had a vision of a "structurally democratic, credally minimalist and consistently libertarian" Church, which "will be the first genuinely radical Christian church" (173). Yet earlier in the book, he wrote of the Church as 'cruel' and therefore surviving, adding:

...there have already been plenty of weak churches, creedless denominations, liberal Christian groups without a strong power structure - and where are they now? They are not doing very well. (25)
It is now, however (continuing with Macfarlane, 2009), that he clearly sees membership of the Church and critical thinking as incompatible, at least in the long run, and thinks now that the Western Churches will go the way of the Russian Church.
Quoting directly from his Macfarlane interview in 2009, he has evidently gravitated towards one of those weak, creedless Churches without a strong power structure:

I have now, very reluctantly and sadly just recently discontinued communion; it was very painful and I hated it, after sixty years, but I felt I had to do so; John Robinson, to some extent, tried to work his way back into respectability, but I won't do that; I think it is time to admit that once you move over to a critical view of scripture and Christianity you can no longer belong to one of the traditional scriptural religions which have a fixed framework of thought; in my most recent theology I align myself a bit more with people like the Quakers and say I am a post-ecclesiastical sort of Christian; I greatly love Christian culture, ethics and spirituality, I admire Jesus for his extraordinary ethical radicalism, and I would like to imagine a new secular future for Christianity, but I don't think we can any longer hope to maintain the continuity of the Church, the apostolic succession, the tradition of truth within a community.
Cupitt continues to want to build a spirituality without metaphysics. He draws on aspects of Romanticism, he draws on interpretations of Buddhism, he discerns from continental existential philosophy, and he pulls from the Jewish Jesus, in a setting where there is no beneign divine providence but we start with ourselves. In moving to a religion of every day language, he sees it in writers like David Herbert Lawrence and the critic Frank Raymond Leavis, reflecting Cupitt's use of the arts - modern art and here literature - that is all about faith in life and learning lessons from life. For Cupitt the shadows that least interested Plato are the most interesting: what is most human and often the most fleeting. Movements out of religion into the secular involve a kind of post-ecclesiastical fulfilment of religion. His later writing has become well received in Communist China, where his philosophical stance finds some resonance and harks back to earlier Confucian ideas (given the decline of Marxist ideology) [not in interview], and in his pro-Western stance he prefers European social democracy to American evangelicalism - modern civil society is more civil than what the Churches have represented, and he wants mass education to continue the democratisation of philosophy so that, he thinks, people are not the empiricists they once were. He writes now not to tell people what to believe, but to show what they already do believe. (Pausing use of Macfarlane, 2009)
Is there is weakness in Don Cupitt's material? Yes there is, and it is the absence of social science material. Much of what he wants to say is already worked out in sociology - he would gain much from considering the sociology of knowledge, the sociology of religion, and the social scientist's angle on liberalism to postmodernism.
The second issue is the denominational one. The fact is that in contemporary times you can choose your Church. He assumes too much. Churches become broad Churches if broad people populate them and speak up; liberal Churches are not weak if people like him attend them.
Another issue is his claimed rate of change of ideas. There are, as noted, phases in his thought, but his books can be criticised as somewhat repetitive - the background explained over and again to make the following adjustments. But he now sees something different, as again from this interview in 2009. With the end of metaphysics, all that is left is writing and therefore biography:

...although it seems to me that my thinking has changed radically all my life, often quite recent thoughts are already to be seen in my early stuff; the whole notion of what our mental development is and how it takes place is rather mysterious to me; I have called my writing a 'projet fleuve' and you are meant to understand the whole thing as a kind of personal story because I don't believe that any human being will ever again be able to suppose that he has caught the whole of reality in a single system of thought; once you introduce a time dimension, once you think of everything as relative, transient, flowing, a 'projet fleuve' is all you can do, and this is how it has seemed to me over the period from the 1960s to now when I have been writing; my books are the only autobiography I can produce; I don't really know why I have travelled this way; I don't believe in metaphysics any more but I do believe in writing as an attempt to describe one's own journey; I have sometimes said, 'Would anybody like to take up my project and continue from me as I lose the ability to continue with it?'; one or two people might want to try to do that; so instead of writing traditional, systematic, philosophy or theology, I have done a sort of confessional engagement with my own times - a kind of spiritual autobiography which has documented how someone like me has changed over these generations. (Macfarlane, 2009)
In this set of discussions so far we have looked at the authors of Essays and Reviews, who really lost the protection of Jesus as the Christ. We saw how the Modernist systematic and biblical theologians constructed ways to protect Christ in the face of modern criticism and world events. In terms of Anglican controversies, John Robinson wanted to maintain an Incarnation but asked the Church to attend to this, because he had not, and The Myth of God Incarnate got into a muddle as it looked for means of sufficiency regarding a functional Jesus. Cupitt, we see, took the extra position of giving up that particular struggle and try a wholly different approach. He failed too - failed to produce an identifiable Christianity that was free of dogma and doctrine. Most of his arguments are for maintaining some identifiable Christianity, but now, it seems, he realises that it is not possible - only cultural hangovers. It means that, in essence, the secular university stays secular.
From now on in our discussions, the movement will be the other way. The controversy over David Jenkins is over small details - nothing like the larger movement of John Robinson, and then the Doctrine Commissions are cagey and increasingly restrictive if active at all after the 1970s, and after these we note the reactions, and all the other theologies (some politically and socially radical but theologically conserving) including the conservative attempts at postmodern religion. It seems that the trinitarian Church lives in Churchworld and the rest of the world lives its transient, secular, plural life. Some of us choose to make our religion in Churchworld, and some of us choose to make it in the transient world (including weak, democratic, liberal groups) - as does Don Cupitt. The issue then is whether Churchworld is a fantasy world or the real world, or if it is all a fantasy (and examine the implications, as Cupitt does). You can choose your own fantasy package, such as the way the Radical Orthodox have embraced Platonism, Church history and theological hegemony over all else, from its postmodern bubble, after all these had, for others, become clapped out and effectively died off. Some know all this but say Churchworld, and its history, its 'theology as history', and all these saints and the rest, its fantasy of coloured windows, and strategies of being a contemporary person among the liturgical demands and apostolic promises, is still useful for developing spirituality; others say that such cosiness is too costly, when spirituality can be developed inside the transient, the weak and powerless, under the white light, and in the spaces of the radically unknown.

Summary Points

Discussion points

  1. Is that it then?
  2. Is it Churchworld or secularworld: that you either have the realist Christian language or you don't?
  3. Are both the liberal approaches and radical approaches doomed within the Church, and is the Church doomed within society?

By the way, this is produced for a small Anglican Church group discussing these things! But it is uphill from now on.

Some Books

Cupitt, D. (1971), Christ and the Hiddenness of God, London: SCM Press.

Cupitt, D. (first published 1972, 1985), Crisis of Moral Authority: The Dethronement of Christianity, was Lutterworth Press, SCM Press.

Cupitt, D. (first published 1976, 1985), The Leap of Reason, London: SCM Press.

Cupitt, D., Armstrong, P. (1977), Who was Jesus?, London: British Broadcasting Corporation.

Cupitt, D. (1979), The Debate About Christ, London: SCM Press.

Cupitt, D. (1980), Taking Leave of God, SCM Press.

Cupitt, D. (1984, 1985 paperback, revised 1994), The Sea of Faith: Christianity in Change, BBC Books.

Cupitt, D. (1989), Radicals and the Future of the Church, London: SCM Press.

Cupitt, D. (1995), Solar Ethics, London: SCM Press.

Cupitt, D. (1987), The Long Legged Fly, London: SCM Press.

Cupitt, D. (2006), The Old Creed and the New, SCM Press.

Cupitt, D. (2008a) (Chinese only), A New Method of Religious Enquiry, Beijing: Religion and Culture Publishing House.

Cupitt, D. (2008b), The Meaning of the West, SCM Press.

Cupitt, D. (2009), Jesus and Philosophy, London: SCM Press.

Goodwin, C. W., Jowett, B., Pattison, M., Powell, B., Temple, F., Williams, R., Wilson, H. B. (1861, first published 1860), Essays and Reviews, 8th edition, London : J. W. Parker.

Hampson, D. (1996), After Christianity, London: SCM Press.

Hick, J. (ed.) (1977, second edition 1993), The Myth of God Incarnate, London: SCM Press.

Hyman, G. (2001), The Predicament of Postmodern Theology: Radical Orthodoxy or Nihilist Textualism?, Westminster: John Knox Press.

Leaves, N. (2004), Odyssey on the Sea of Faith: The Life & Writings of Don Cupitt, Santa Rosa, California: Polebridge Press.

Leaves, N. (2005), Surfing on the Sea of Faith: the Ethics and Religion of Don Cupitt, Santa Rosa, California: Polebridge Press.

Robinson, J. A. T. (1963, 1994 imprint), Honest to God, London: SCM Press.


Batchelor, Stephen (2003/ 4), 'The Eclectic Cleric: Stephen Batchelor interviews Don Cupitt',, [Online], Available World Wide Web, URL: [Accessed: Monday October 12 2009, 20:23]

Emmanuel College (2009), 'The Revd Don Cupitt', Emmanuel College - Admissions - The Fellows, Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, [Online], Available World Wide Web, URL: [Accessed: Wednesday October 14 2009, 05:15]

Macfarlane, Alan (2009), 'Don Cupitt interviewed by Alan Macfarlane', 16th February 2009, Alan McFarland and the University of Cambridge, into the DSpace Archive [Online], Available World Wide Web, URL: and [Accessed: Monday October 12 2009, 20:25]

The Sea of Faith Television series, using the locations of its subjects:

Episode 1, 'The Mechanical Universe' looks at the split between religion and scientific knowledge which emerged in the 16th century brought about by the work of such thinkers as Galileo and Pascal. The programme ends with him recalling his time as a curate and what to say to people in hospital: he told them a naturalistic interpretation and finishes:

...religion was a way of affirming the value of human life, from the first breath to the very last. It is up to us to give it that value: to affirm human dignity in the face of the indifferent universe.

Episode 2, 'The Human Animal' considers some 19th century thought of Charles Lyell, Darwin, Freud and Jung as background to changes in religion.

Episode 3, 'Going By The Book' focuses on David Strauss and Albert Schweitzer in their radically impacting critical interpretations of the Bible.

Episode 4, 'Prometheus Unbound' looks at the life of Marx and his theory; and at Kierkegaard and existentialism.

Episode 5, 'Religion Shock' considers religious pluralism. There is the spread of Eastern religions to the West. A universal Christianity and its power has given way to the secular.

Episode 6, 'The New World' looks at Nietzsche, Wittgenstein and makes an evaluation of Christianity undergoing pressure to change.

<-- Previous SessionClick for the previous session's resource paper on The Myth of God Incarnate    Next Session -->Click for the Theology and Events of the Durham Affair of 1984/ 5


Adrian Worsfold