In Memoriam: John Hick (1922-2012)
February 10, 2012 — 8:11

Author: Yujin Nagasawa  Category: Uncategorized  Tags: , , ,   Comments: 28

John small.JPG
I am very sorry to have to tell you that John Hick passed away yesterday evening. According to his son Pete, John died peacefully in his arms. We had John’s 90th birthday only three weeks ago.
John was Danforth Professor of Philosophy of Religion at Claremont Graduate University and H. G. Wood Professor of Theology at the University of Birmingham. He delivered Gifford Lectures in 1986-7 and he was awarded the Grawemeyer Award for Religion in 1991. He was best known for his work on the problem of evil, religious pluralism, eschatology and Christology. He published numerous books including Faith and Knowledge, Evil and the God of Love, Death and the Eternal Life, An Interpretation of Religion, The Metaphor of God Incarnate and Between Faith and Doubt. John was also highly respected in Birmingham for his community service in the areas of civil rights and inter-faith/inter-race relations.
Last year the University of Birmingham awarded him an honorary doctorate and launched the John Hick Centre for Philosophy of Religion in honour of him. His last public speech can be watched here.
He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
We will provide further details as they become available.

  • Keith DeRose

    EVIL AND THE GOD OF LOVE may be the most worn-out-from-use book on my shelves. RIP John Hick. Hope you were right!

    February 10, 2012 — 9:53
  • James Orr

    Sad news – but what a rich legacy.

    February 10, 2012 — 11:27
  • Dianelos Georgoudis

    Yeah, John Hick is in my judgment the greatest theologian of the twentieth century, and a great person to boot. I am so sorry I never met him in person, but a big part of his mind is in mine anyway. I feel really saddened with the news, but look forward to meeting him in the afterlife.
    I am sure you are quite happy where you are, John. Where I daresay you are not resting but continuing to work for the truth.

    February 10, 2012 — 11:47
  • Chris Hoeckley

    The single most important thing I learned from knowing John is that finding friends is more important than identifying enemies. I didn’t have to huddle in my theological fortress with the small remnant of true defenders of the faith, fighting off attacks from whoever denied some point of doctrine. I disagreed with John on central issues—the divinity of Jesus Christ most importantly. But fundamentally he was an ally. Like me, he was seeking a way forward in his relationship with God, even as he encountered ideas and events that unsettled what his faith had been.
    That shared journey of faith is the essential thing. The differences in our paths are important, but the essential thing is to stay on the journey. John did his whole life. I can only hope to be as faithful.
    John, I trust you now know what you hoped for during your many years with us: “All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of thing will be well.”

    February 10, 2012 — 12:15
  • Sad to hear- the very first philosophy class I took was a Philosophy of Religion class where we used this anthology and his volume in the _Foundations of Philosophy_ series. Without that class I probably never would have gone in for philosophy.

    February 10, 2012 — 20:24
  • V. Alan white

    In my 30-year teaching career in philosophy of religion I have always regarded him to be the epitome of what sound philosophy of religion is all about. A fearless thinker; a good soul. May that soul be recreated in our thoughts even if not in other worlds of divine grace.

    February 10, 2012 — 21:20
  • I only briefly corresponded with Hick, never had the chance to meet him personally, and disagreed with him on a number of theological points. Nevertheless, interacting with his religious epistemology and pluralism for my master’s thesis was extremely formative in my philosophical development, as was working through his major writings (Faith and Knowledge, Interpretation of Religion, Evil and the God of Love, Death and Eternal Life, etc.). If only there were more philosophers today as willing to tackle life’s major questions as was John Hick. Hopefully he is now having some of those questions answered more fully.

    February 10, 2012 — 22:40
  • Thank you everyone for the comments. I didn’t agree with John on all philosophical issues but I admired him greatly as he was a very inspiring philosopher who did not hesitate to tackle big questions in life, as Mr. Cramer says above. (By the way, his Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on John is excellent: ). John was also a gracious human being and you can tell that from his work.
    Some random facts about John Hick:
    –His textbook _Philosophy of Religion_ in the Fundamentals of Philosophy Series sold over half million copies (including translations).
    –His last monograph was _Between Faith and Doubt: Dialogues on Religion and Reason_ (2010), a very accessible and fun introduction to his philosophical views on God, science, religious experience, death, faith, etc. Highly recommended.
    –Until his death he was working on a new collection of his previously published papers.
    –When a conference in honour of him was organised last year (2011), he read all the conference papers in advance and came to some of the sessions to give comments.
    –Robert Lawrence Kuhn and his team filmed the last interview with John in summer 2011 for the TV series Closer To Truth ( ). A CTT episode with John is currently in production.

    February 11, 2012 — 4:02
  • While I cannot say that I agreed with him on every point, his work inspired a great deal of my current thinking about theological matters. I only wish I had the opportunity to meet him.

    February 11, 2012 — 8:18
  • Samuel Han

    I am deeply honored to have read the great works of this exceptional human being. My philosophical journey into religion owns a large part to this man. May others discover and experience the pleasures of conversing with him. Rest in peace.

    February 11, 2012 — 11:22
  • Would it be allowed to use the photo for an obituary on
    Michael A. Schmiedel

    February 11, 2012 — 11:26
  • Yujin Nagasawa

    Yes, feel free to use the photo.

    February 11, 2012 — 11:38
  • It was a great privilege to visit him and he is someone that I shall miss greatly.

    February 11, 2012 — 12:28
  • Kenneth Surin

    Hick was my doctoral supervisor at Birmingham in the early 1970s. We disagreed on theological points, but he saw me through to the end.
    A good man, a life well lived.

    February 11, 2012 — 17:22
  • Kenneth Surin

    Hick was my doctoral supervisor at Birmingham in the early 1970s. We disagreed on theological points, but he saw me through to the end.
    A good man, a life well lived.

    February 11, 2012 — 17:24
  • I was honored to have John Hick contribute a chapter to a book I coedited, the Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Religion. I had read Hick’s writings at the very beginning of my philosophical studies in the mid-1980s—and have continued to interact with his work over the years. Despite fundamental disagreements (I join the dissenting chorus above), I always appreciated his graciousness and charitability.

    February 11, 2012 — 18:13
  • I enjoyed what he wrote. Thank God for him and his perspective: he opened avenues for many of us that would have otherwise never existed in the realm of the academic study of religion. Rest in peace.

    February 11, 2012 — 18:26
  • There is a personal and very heart-touching comment of Edward Feser at its personal blog:

    February 12, 2012 — 19:02
  • David E. Schrader

    Like so many philosophy students, John’s Philosophy of Religion, 1st edition (Foundations Series) was the first philosophy of religion book I read. Many years later I presented a paper at a Society for Philosophy of Religion meeting. John raised a challenging question. I felt a bit like Jacob wrestling with God. It was something of a seminal moment for me, as a young philosopher, relizing that I was now playing in the major leagues, since that was the league in which John played. He was a fine person and a first-rate philosopher.

    February 13, 2012 — 8:33
  • John was a very gracious and unassuming person. He was kind to young philosophers who had yet to make any mark on the field. We need more people like him.

    February 13, 2012 — 8:52
  • Carlos M. Serrao

    Undoubtedly one of the most gracious, kind and brightest minds I’ve ever encountered. His wisdom in the classroom had a profound impact on my own thoughts and words. May he truly rest in peace.

    February 14, 2012 — 8:06
  • Starting when I was in 6th form, and then throughout my university career, I read works he wrote and edited. Then I was lucky enough to meet him in person twice, the second time at a conference Yujin organized. I know that his works will be studied by the next generation of philosophers and theologians and that his influence will continue to be felt. I’m very grateful I had the privilege of meeting him. I doubt any two philosophers ever agree on every issue, but I think even people who disagreed with Hick would say that he helped to set the agenda for philosophy of religion, because he asked questions that were on so many people’s minds.

    February 14, 2012 — 18:26
  • Carneades of Ga.

    Goodbye, John!
    I use him as a foil but find him knowledgeable.

    February 14, 2012 — 23:43
  • Jason Cruze

    Doug Geivett has also written a personal note about his friendship with John that can be read on his blog:

    February 18, 2012 — 23:52
  • Horace Fairlamb

    I thought Hick’s neo-Kantian approach to pluralism was flawed and that he dismissed the Perennialists too quickly. I also believe that incarnation need not be metaphorical any more than being truthful need be metaphorical. Despite these deep reservations, I don’t think anyone in 20th century theology has anticipated more completely the questions upon which further theological progress depends. His critics make good points, but they have no better way of dealing with the epistemic and moral parity of religious traditions. I wish I had met him.

    February 20, 2012 — 23:48
  • abdolkarim.abad

    john woke me from dogmatism sleep…happy soul

    February 21, 2012 — 6:31
  • Rosemary Westwell (nee Hammond)

    I will always remember John Hick as ‘family’. I came to England in the seventies and eventually established a career in teaching. When an ‘A’ level student I knew was having difficulty in understanding a text of his, I telephoned John out of the blue, introduced myself as a distant cousin from Australia and asked him about the text. He was charming. He invited us to lunch and spared time to talk about his own family and his pride in his sea captain ancestor. Not long after, when I was at Birmingham Children’s Hospital visiting a sick relative, he again took time and trouble to enrich my mundane life by driving down to the hospital, taking me back to his place for lunch and driving me back to my post at the hospital again. I was very grateful for this. He also was very gracious about receiving my monthly emails that I write to friends and family to ‘keep in touch’ and soon after his autobiography came out I received a copy from him with a comment that he, too, was keeping in touch. His 80th Birthday party was amazing and I had my suspicions that the ‘letter from someone with a flat in Spain’ that his son mentioned was indeed one of my monthly emails that he was taking the time and trouble to read – even though I have no doubt he had much deeper and more erudite texts and thoughts to pursue! He is very fondly remembered.

    March 5, 2012 — 13:27
  • khazeh fananapazir

    throughout my own life i was most interested in what that truly great man Prof John Hick wrote He wrote beautifully and well. i was very happy that two of my closest friends the publishers of ONEWORLD [OXFORD] and the then editor of BAHAI STUDIES REVIEW corresponded with John and from their contact i felt he would be nice to me should i get a chance to see him in this earthly life.
    in the year 2007 through the help and instrumentality of the reverend ALAN RACE one day together we went to professor Hick’s home, and spent four or five hours in his company. a truly great and spiritual and illumined English gentleman. every moment of that day is printed in my memory and soul until hopefully we meet in the GREAT BEYOND
    he autographed all the books i had authored by himself and accepted my offering of a great book on GEORGE TOWNSHEND
    Hofman, David (1983). George Townshend. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. ISBN 0853981264.
    AND I GREATLY TREASURE WHAT he wrote to me later. and i read his words with great affection
    Dear Khazeh,
    Now that I have had time to read it, I am writing to thank for the biography of George Townshend. A remarkable life, and so comparatively close to the origins of the Baha’i faith. I was interested to see that Sir Francis Younghusband was well acquainted with the Baha’is and invited Shoghi Effendi to provide a paper for an early meeting of the World Congress of Faiths – of which I am now a Vice President. I was also interested to find several places with which I am familiar – for example, Cottingham, on the outskirts of Hull, where I lived in a students’ hostel when studying law at what was then University College, Hull; and Hoddesdon, where I have been at conferences of the Modern Churchpersons’ Union – all this a long time ago now.
    It was a great pleasure to meet you when you came over with Alan Race in July. Best wishes Yours, John.

    March 25, 2012 — 14:46