Theoclasm: Challenging Our Received Understanding of God

18 Jul

by Gary Hayes

“I pray God, rid me of God.” –Meister Eckhart

Defining “Theoclasm”

  1. Theo– Relating to “God” or “gods”
  2. Clasm– to disrupt, to break down

Therefore in this understanding, a theoclasm involves the notion of “disrupting, questioning and breaking down perceptions, beliefs and practices relating to God.”


Theoclastic: Pertaining to, or having the characteristics of, theoclasm.

Exploring Theoclasm and Theoclastic

As an example of how these two terms function: in my intended use of the words theoclasm and theoclastic, a good illustration would be the Reformation in the 16th century. The event of the Reformation would be described as a theoclasm, whereas Martin Luther and other Reformers were theoclastic.

That should help to soften any ideas of outright destruction or annihilation of God. That is not what I mean or intend here, but rather the intentional questioning, disrupting or even breaking down of structures, mental, physical or institutional, that relate to God where the theoclasm is justifiable.

Why? Because I have been through personal theoclasms that have helped me to discover a more authentic consciousness of, and relationship with, God. Therefore, I would say that my theoclasms were justifiable and helpful. I’m also sure that you have experienced changes in the way that you understand and relate to God since you first became aware of Him.

Each shift or step up from one level of understanding to another means the previous level of relationship or understanding had to be transcended and left behind, although still included as a step along the way.

I am putting forward the belief that, more often than not, the step up from one level of relating to God to another was the result of an experience that caused you to realise that your previous religious framework was inadequate, or exposed it as being lacking or flawed in some way. But, although you knew that God was real, yet somehow the framework for how you understood and experienced Him was no longer credible.


It is not the intention of these blogs to deliberately undermine, or destroy any individual person’s faith or belief system. However, my experience would lead me to say that if faith, belief or even our current understanding of God for that matter can be undermined, disrupted or challenged then it should, in order to leave us with what is God in essence rather than in construct.

So I will be writing and inviting guests to write on personal experiences of theoclasm and theoclastic examinations of a variety of topics relating to God.

Why? Simply this: because the unexamined God is not worth worshiping!

Contact Information

Follow Gary on Twitter: @Theoclastic

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