Of course many have argued since that God is not dead and that faith is continuing to grow.
I watched this the other day:
'Do you know what's kept me alive all these years? Fear. The spectacle of fearsome acts. Somebody steals from me, I cut off his hands. He offends me, I cut out his tongue. He rises against me, I cut off his head, stick it on a pike. Hold it high in the streets so all can see. That's what preserves the order of things.'
I sometimes think that there are those who believe the best way of 'keeping God alive' in society is fear. A notion that if you offend God He will, as it were, cut out your tongue. Sam has blogged about offence here.
John Piper, among others, insists on speaking about the wrath of God as some outside source, almost like it is a god in its own right (although he would never put it like that!). He often writes about how we should be thankful that God has saved us from His wrath as though God is a schizophrenic. I have written before about my rejection of penal substitution. One of my problems with it is when people like Piper say, 'if God did not punish the Son in my place then I am not saved from my greatest peril, the wrath of God.' In this theology God becomes a Bill the Butcher character who 'cuts of our hands' if we steal from him. God's wrath becomes a god that God Himself is subject to. It's all about fear.
This is not the God I see in revealed through Jesus.
This is not the God I see who loved, lived, died and rose again.
This is not the God I see who beckons us to Himself, to know Him in Jesus.
Perfect love drives out all fear.