UPDATED Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), is an updated version of his blog first posted on March 23, 2013.
Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend
“What is So Compelling About Nietzsche?”
The foo] says in his heart, “There is no God.”
Many years ago, a young man who attended my youth group in the mid-1980s sent me an email out of the blue; at the time, he was pursuing a Ph.D. in philosophy. I remembered him well. When he was still in my youth group, his mother, concerned that he was spending too much time praying and reading the Bible, asked me to tell him to tone it down.
Upon reading his email however, it was now my turn to be concerned. He wrote, “Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reading in Nietzsche [and] there is a worldview in his work that I find extremely compelling. Of course, it is completely pagan, but that’s what makes it so compelling.” Wondering about his faith, I thought to myself, “What is so compelling about Nietzsche—’a fool’, according to the Bible—who saw churches as no more than ‘tombs and sepulchers of a dead God?’”
Nietzsche, whose father and maternal grandfather were Lutheran pastors, had nothing but disdain for Christianity. He once said, “The most important of more recent events—that ‘god is dead’, that the belief in the Christian God has become unworthy of belief—already begins to cast its first shadows over Europe.” Nietzsche also knew that, as the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky declared, “If God did not exist, everything would be permitted.” Everything meant denying the existence of universal truth, including moral truth, which naturally leads to a post-truth world in which we find ourselves now.
Then what is left to validate our actions? “Will to power,” which means, “I do what I will to do without allowing any guilt for having done so.” People who think like this will not admit, for instance, that torturing babies, while they themselves wouldn’t do it, is inherently wrong. Certainly, Hitler, having been influenced by Nietzsche (Zacharias 1994:18), thought that torturing the Jews was a good thing.
Therefore, Nietzsche disdained those atheists who sought to salvage Christian morality, much like what Paul Kurtz tried to do. This famed secular humanist once declared, “Is it possible to be moral without the benefit of the clergy? Of course, it is [because] it is possible to ground ethical choice in rational intelligence” (1983:7). Scoffing at him, Nietzsche would’ve said, “Why do you still want to be moral since that comes from the idea of the Christian God.”
One compelling thing about Nietzsche was his consistency in living out the ramification of rejecting God and his moral truths: this voluminous writer became insane and “spent his last 11 years in asylums and never wrote another page” (Kramer 2001:60). So what does atheism have to do with him becoming insane? According to Francis Schaeffer, “he understood that insanity was the only philosophic answer if the infinite-personal God does not exist” (1976:180).
We can always find reasons to be dissatisfied with our lives but let us be reminded of this: Had God not invited us to believe in Him through faith in His Son Jesus, our lives would be so arbitrary and meaningless. Be reminded of how great it is to know God personally. And let us pray for our children.
Prayer: God help us to number our days. Let us be grateful that You led us not only to know Your truth but to have a personal relationship with the Truth himself, Your son Jesus Christ. Embolden us to share this truth during these dark and divisive days. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Corinthians 2-3