Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: Cupitt, Don from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

English theologian and university lecturer. An Anglican priest and world-renowned theologian, Cupitt has become well known in Britain for his numerous television appearances. Recognized as one of the leading exponents of a nonrealist approach to theology, he also began, during the late 1990s, to explore the implications of postmodernism for religion and ethics. Cupitt first came into the public view in the mid-1980s with his BBC television series Sea Of Faith, which also produced a radical religious network of the same name. The success of this television series demonstrated his ability to communicate theological concepts in terms accessible to a lay audience.

Born in Oldham and educated at Cambridge, Cupitt was ordained to the Anglican priesthood in 1959. He followed an academic career and was appointed vice-principal of Westcott House, Cambridge in 1962 and was dean of Emmanuel College 1966–91. A life fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge from 1996, Cupitt has lectured in the area of philosophy of religion and ethics since 1966. Aside from his academic commitments as university lecturer, Cupitt has also written extensively on theological matters. A prolific writer, he often provoked extreme reactions to some of his more radical views. This was perhaps most notably illustrated by the response to his book Sea of Faith (1984). His other publications include Christ and the Hiddenness of God (1971), The Long-Legged Fly (1987), The Time Being (1992), Mysticism after Modernity (1997), and The Revelation of Being (1998).

Cupitt's radical thinking began in the early 1980s with his books Taking Leave of God (1980) and The World to Come (1982). In these works Cupitt proposed a new understanding of Christianity: God does not exist ‘out there’, but is part of our human reality, a personified ideal of religious values. In order to explore this new understanding of God one therefore needed a new type of Christianity – a Christian Buddhism. The aim of this new Christianity was both to help individual development and to operate as a collective agency for progressive social change. Cupitt's early themes were developed further in his steady output of theological works, but not substantially altered. Cupitt's theological thinking was always related to philosophy, and the underlying importance of philosophy to this new theology present in his all his works is made most explicit in The Last Philosophy (1995). Throughout his books Cupitt makes frequent references to Friedrich Nietzsche and Søren Kierkegaard, and he has also written about various modern philosophers, including Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, and Jean Foucault.

© RM, 2016. All rights reserved.

Related Credo Articles

Full text Article Theologians/Philosophers
Who's Who in Christianity, Routledge

100-600 Aphraates Athanasius Augustine of Hippo Boethius Cassian, John Clement of Alexandria Columbanus Cyril of...

Full text Article Cupitt, Don (1934 - )
Who's Who in Christianity, Routledge

Cupitt was educated at the University of Cambridge and for most of his career served as Dean of Emmanuel College. He is the...

Full text Article Nietzsche, Friedrich
Key Terms in Literary Theory

German philosopher (1844–1900) whose writings marked an epistemic shift away from humanist assumptions; his works are often cited as fundamental...

See more from Credo