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I've seen many books and articles that use the word God-talk. This seems, often, to be used as a friendlier alternative to theology, which comes from the Greek θεός (theos) for God, and λόγος (logos) for word, talk, discourse, etc., and therefore meaning something like God-talk. Some examples from a Google Books search are:

  • The End of God-Talk: An African-American Humanist Theology, Anthony B. Pinn (OUP, 2012)
  • Racism and God-talk: A Latino/a Perspective, Rubén Rosario Rodríguez (NYU Press, 2008)
  • Doing girlfriend theology: God-talk with young women, Dori Grinenko Baker (Pilgrim Press, 2005)
  • Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenge of Womanist God Talk, Delores Williams (Orbis, 1993)
  • Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology, Rosemary Radford Ruether (Beacon Press, 1983)

It looks like this term is mainly being used by authors in feminist, womanist, and mujerista theology; African-American theology; LGBT and queer theology; and so forth.

I am curious about how this term originated and became popular, especially in relation to the communities just mentioned, and about what its connotations are, in contrast to "theology". (For example, I have a rough impression that "God-talk" covers any kind of talking about God in everyday life, as opposed to theology which is done in an academic or formal setting, but this is only an impression without evidence.)

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    Interesting. The main uses of the term I have encountered are in the use of Christian jargon (typically with a negative connotation, church-talk is a synonym) and in talk without fruit. (I am too cloistered.) It does make sense that those promoting a more relaxed view of the subject (casual/accessible or particularly non-traditional, human-centered) would adopt the term. God-talk gives one's opinion weight--making a distinction between thinking/talking about God and seeking to know God. – Paul A. Clayton Aug 22 '13 at 21:34
  • When I searched for "God-Talk" on answer.com, I ws redirected to their information about "Theology". – Pat Ferguson Aug 23 '13 at 16:15
  • It may used of talk about theology broadly but has the specific meaning of how we talk about God in particular. Marginalized groups have been most sensitive to problems with traditional language, and the phrase is also used among theologians (and popularizers) who posit new concepts of God. – Schuh Sep 26 '16 at 18:10
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I think you answered your own question in saying it was simply a "friendlier alternative to theology."

There could be many answers here, but I'm willing to bet those authors use the term God-Talk to come across more down-to-earth and less egg-headed. This is probably because their readership might feel intimidated by a book with the word theology in it.

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I'm pretty sure "God-talk" is just a colloquial term for theological discussion. We live in a very secular world, and it's probably just the new popular label for religious discussion.

Notice what google has to say: https://www.google.com/search?q=god-talk#q=god-talk+define

Google references wikipedia's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_Talk

Which redirects to theology.

Is that enough of an answer?

  • This answer amounts to "search Google which turns up a Wikipedia redirect". We generally want more to an answer than that. – ThaddeusB Dec 29 '15 at 16:10
  • Sorry an attempt to back my assertion was frowned upon. – Plasmarob Nov 21 '16 at 19:25
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Its liberal/post-modern scholar-word most likely to be used by Vatican II popes and other fans of Bonhoeffer and/or Tillich, among whom many Protestants will be found too. Its suggests that theology is just "talk about God" rather than study or reasoning from a revelation from God and thus there is no real absolute; its all just humanity making stuff up about God as opposed to study of an inspired text (i.e. the Bible). The very use of this term implies a devaluation of Christianity and an attempt to set all religions up as equal.

If you go to Google Ngram Viewer, which charts the use of particular phrases in books google has digitized (even ones you can't view on google books), and search god-talk you will find this phrase is a child of the 1960s. Ngram link for god-talk.

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    Bonhoeffer wrote in German, died in WWII, was vehemently opposed to post-modernism, and is in my opinion a wise and insightful teacher, martyr, champion of the Gospel, and example of zealous modern Christian discipleship. I don't see why his writing or readership should be associated with these groups or Vatican II. – Andrew Jul 11 '14 at 8:54
  • @Andrew, Bonhoeffer's theology developed well past evangelical orthodoxy in his later writing, the period during which he posited a "religionless Christianity". His thought played a critical role in the development of 'post-theism' and the 'death of God' movements in the following decades. – Schuh Sep 23 '16 at 17:11
  • @Schuh Interesting. Can you suggest further reading? – Andrew Sep 25 '16 at 20:18
  • @Andrew, this understanding of Bonhoeffer was popularized by John A.T. Robinson in 'Honest to God' (1962). Here's a recent discussion: garretmenges.wordpress.com/tag/religionless-christianity – Schuh Sep 26 '16 at 18:20

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