What do Christians think of Nietzsche? (2 of ?)
|January 6, 2015||Posted by Joseph Keysor under Blog|
Having said something in the previous blog about the many different responses of different sorts of Christians, and having also attempted to clarify my own position (that of an Evangelical Fundamentalist who believes in the Bible and in the essential truths of the Christian religion as I understand them), I think it necessary to further explain that I am not a Nietzsche scholar. I have not read all of Nietzsche’s works, and don’t intend to. Also, it would be possible to write an entire book on these things, which I am hoping someday to do – but since this is merely a blog I’ll have to content myself with brief observations. Also, in a blog I can speak more freely than is permitted by the often (in my opinion) artificial constraints of academic discourse.
I have read The Genealogy of Morals carefully several times, and taken notes on it. I have also read The Antichrist a number of times, perhaps four or five, and taken notes on that as well, which notes I am now trying to arrange in some sort of order – not that I am trying to systematize Nietzsche’s thought, but only so that I might find more readily comments on related topics. I have sort of read Twilight of the Idols – skipping portions that seemed tedious or irrelevant, but noting here and there some ideas of interest. I am now doing the same with Beyond Good and Evil – going quickly over parts, but looking for ideas that relate to some important aspects of GM and AC.
Some may object that this is not the right way to read Nietzsche, he must be read with care, and I have done that with the first two books mentioned, and spent some time with them. The other books however I find uninteresting, except as they illuminate some of the main points I hope to examine someday in a book on Nietzsche. This book, for which I am now doing research, might be called Nietzsche and the Failure of Modernism, or more narrowly, Nietzsche’s Antichrist: Signpost on the Road to Auschwitz?– (maybe without the question mark).
As a part of my research project I have also read or am reading some books about Nietzsche. They are: Hollingdale’s biography Nietzsche: The Man and His Philosophy . . . Nietzsche, Godfather of Fascism: On the Uses and Abuses of a Philosophy by Golomb and Wistrich (eds.) . . . Stephen R. C. Hicks’ Nietzsche and the Nazis: A Personal View . . . Nietzsche, by Crane Brinton . . . Steven Aschheim’sThe Nietzsche Legacy in Germany 1890-1990 . . . Wagner and Philosophy by Brian Magee . . . and finally The Shadow of the Antichrist: Nietzsche’s Critique of Christianity by Stephen Williams. There were also a few other books which I don’t need to mention as they seemed pretentious, empty, and futile exercises. There are other books I hope to obtain in the future. I especially need to get a hold of Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy – I want to see if he really did herald Wagner’s music as eternal truth and the source of salvation for German culture (before changing his mind and attacking Wagner with great bitterness).
This is of course a very small portion of the huge amount of books that have been written about Nietzsche, but I have no great ambition to become an expert in this field, there being many other areas of study that I find more personally rewarding. But, while researching the origins of National Socialist thought, I became interested in the Nietzsche controversy – hence my current endeavors, and hence my interest in the question referred to in the first blog: “What do Christians think of Nietzsche?” Also, this is a matter of Christian apologetics – someone as influential as Nietzsche, who attacks Christianity so bitterly and with so many falsehoods and errors needs to be responded to more than has been the case.
So, speaking as a Christian who wants to base his life as much as possible on the teachings of Christ as contained in the New Testament (which teachings I take to be fully and accurately expressed there) – what do I think of Nietzsche? Eschewing deliberately the rhetoric dear to the hearts of some Nietzsche scholars (“the eclectic appropriations of a quasi-political Nietzschean sensibility, and the asymmetric symmetry of a vitalistic hermeneutic that is at the same time representative both of our deepest existential concerns, and our mythopoeic legitimations”) – not attempting at any pretense of professional academism, I am glad to share my thoughts with whoever might happen to see them.
First, I think Nietzsche was mistaken in his atheism. If there is a God, and I believe there is, Nietzsche’s entire philosophy collapses, being right here and there (if it is right at all) only by accident. I don’t feel the need by the way to elaborate on this with many arguments, as Nietzsche didn’t either. He often only makes his assertions, and leaves it at that. In fact, he does this constantly – state his opinions about God and Christianity with a complete assurance that can justifiably be called“dogmatism” and “certainty of truth.”
It is a common error of these people, to say “There is no higher truth,” and then proceed with complete certainty on their own convictions. “There is no real morality, no right or wrong, therefore, we must accept abortion and homosexuality as right, and those who do not accept these and other practices are wrong.” More could be said about this, but people with this mindset have no interest in reason, logic, evidence, or facts. They are concerned merely and solely with what is agreeable to their personal feelings or instincts, and openly repudiate logic as inimical to those instincts and feelings that are their sole guides. What they like and what they feel is their truth, which they hold to with complete conviction even as they proclaim there is no truth – and they are too dense to notice the contradiction.
Nietzsche did this all of the time – proclaim that there was no higher truth or morality, then condemn things as wrong and unhealthy, and uplift other things as right and healthy.