The comments to this response suggest that there is such a thing as a Christian who does not believe in God. To me, that is rather contradictory, sort of like social networking without all of the people.


  • how does it work?
    • What are the major authors?
    • Do they have a denomination?
  • Are there any statistics related to them? (How many, location mostly)
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    And anyone who cites J. S. Spong, well, I reserve my comments about them. Feb 20, 2012 at 14:41
  • I was about to ask the same thing - though you might want to ask what the percentage of non-theistic Christians is as well. Feb 20, 2012 at 14:49
  • I added a couple of sub-questions. If you can think of any more feel free to suggest (or simply add) them. Feb 20, 2012 at 15:00
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    Hey cwallenpoole: I know we've set a bad trend lately by letting a few through, but questions (as well as answers) should always be stand alone with enough background on the topic to ask without linking. People should never have to follow links to other answers, chat or comment threads in order to understand a question. If anything, include them in a post-script or even comments on the question. Thank you.
    – Caleb
    Feb 20, 2012 at 19:23
  • @SteelyDan, have you seen this question? Feb 23, 2012 at 17:31

2 Answers 2


First, define a Christian ;p It actually isn't as simple as you'd think - for example, consider the definition this site uses:

As far as the scope of this site is concerned, any group that identifies themselves as Christian are to be considered on-topic and allowed to label themselves Christian.

You would perhaps need to ask the author, but "cultural Christians" may be one answer; for example, the recent results of a UK MORI (i.e. well-respected/independent survey) of only people who self-identified as Christian showed that 65% are actually non-religious cultural Christians, i.e. identify as Christian for reasons such as "was Christened as a child", "parents are Christian", etc. Likewise, only 10% used religion as a primary tool in morality issues. Summary document - but emphasis: while the survey was commissioned by the Dawkins Foundation, the survery was conducted independently paying scrupulous attention to the actual questions to ensure the questions weren't leading, etc.

I can't know whether this relates to the thoughts of the answer you are thinking of, but that number is pretty telling, particularly when interpreting geographic religion statistics - i.e. how people identify might not actually relate much to their religious beliefs, but more to their historic/cultural identity.

  • I've upvoted this answer because I think its well-sourced- but I wonder if cultural Christians would call themselves "non-theistic". If you ask, many would probably say there is a God, although there would probably be no discernable impact of that statement. It is fuzzy, though, because non-theistic could mean there is no practical impact (which then means you are 100% on) or be a synonym for a-theistic (that there is no God), in which case its less valid. I think you're on a good track though. Feb 20, 2012 at 15:20
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    @Affable I don't quite see your distinction between "non-theistic" (this question) and "non-religious" (the survey). However, without a clear definition of how the OP means "non-theistic" it is hard to be sure. Feb 20, 2012 at 15:31
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    That's why I quoted the original commentator, to get to his belief, which I am using as the best available proxy for a definition. Feb 20, 2012 at 16:03
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    @Affable I think what I was trying to say is that the number of "people who identify as Christian but do not believe in God" may be much larger than you think - but yes: the "Jesus as non-deistic but still as our saviour" demographic is (I believe) a very small demographic. Feb 20, 2012 at 17:14
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    @DJClayworth no, it doesn't. I merely point out that performing such directly and obviously in association with church would bias the results. Nothing more. The survey done was performed imdependently without any mention of who was sponsoring it, or what the research was looking for - it was: research. I made no comment about non-secular anything. Mentioning that group A values X does not imply that group B does not. Feb 22, 2012 at 18:49

Nontheistic Christianity grew out of Existential Theology pioneered by Lutheran Theologian Paul Tillich and his concept of God as "the ground of all being". For Tillich, God could not be a being because then God would be limited by time and space as all beings are. So, instead, God had to be being itself and not an entity.

  • Welcome to Christianity! This looks like a good start, but can you add more details and/or links to sources?
    – Null
    Jan 5, 2021 at 13:58
  • "God had to be being itself and not an entity" Ironically, medieval theologians wouldn't disagree with that description and yet are theists.
    – eques
    Jan 6, 2021 at 13:07
  • As requested, here are a couple of sources: This link is to the Christianity section of the Nontehistic Religion on Wikipedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nontheistic_religion#Christianity This link about Christian Panentheism mentions that Tillich argued against pantheism (but not panentheism) and is generally considered a panentheist. Though at least one theologian disagrees with that assessment (search for Tillich on this page). encyclopedia.com/philosophy-and-religion/christianity/… Dec 6, 2021 at 21:05
  • This is unrelated to my previous comment, but here is a link to a Christian Pantheist group (unlike Tillich who was a panentheist). So, that's another perspective on non-theistic Christianity. ulcministers.org/blogs/25690/9689/we-are-christian-pantheist Dec 6, 2021 at 21:05

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