“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (1)


Title: Psalm 11:3 (NIV)

We live in a contemporary world where Christian faith for many has become not difficult, but rather incomprehensible.  When in 1882 Friedrich Nietzsche had the perception to notice and the courage to say that “God is dead,” he was commenting on a civilizational process that, while then hidden, was already well established. 

“God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him! How can we console ourselves, the murderers of all murderers! The holiest and the mightiest thing the world has ever possessed has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood from us? With what water could we clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what holy games will we have to invent for ourselves? Is the magnitude of this deed not too great for us? Do we not ourselves have to become gods merely to appear worthy of it?”  [The Gay Science, Section 125]

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy provides necessary assistance in interpreting this assertion (references have been removed).

… his doubts about the viability of Christian underpinnings for moral and cultural life are not offered in a sunny spirit of anticipated liberation, nor does he present a sober but basically confident call to develop a secular understanding of morality; instead, he launches the famous, aggressive and paradoxical pronouncement that “God is dead.” The idea is not so much that atheism is true— … he depicts this pronouncement arriving as fresh news to a group of atheists—but instead that because “the belief in the Christian God has become unbelievable”, everything that was “built upon this faith, propped up by it, grown into it”, including “the whole of our European morality”, is destined for “collapse.” Christianity no longer commands society-wide cultural allegiance as a framework grounding ethical commitments, and thus, a common basis for collective life that was supposed to have been immutable and invulnerable has turned out to be not only less stable than we assumed, but incomprehensibly mortal—and in fact, already lost.

We tend to focus on the contention of God’s loss as a foundation for Western Civilization’s morality.  But when we read his prophetic words again there is something even more subversive at play.  Nietzsche is here claiming that, to the extent that God ever lived, it was entirely due to our belief.  That is, we have the power to kill God because He is our creation.

If we wish to understand why contemporary Western Christianity is so irrelevant then this is one key.  We see this assumption at work in the Mainline denominations where “Christianity” is used as just another means by which to advance a secular and godless political ideology.  In the Catholic Church, what but a disbelief in God’s existence can explain the powerful and persistent clique of pederasty in its clergy? There is virtually no “fear of God” left in the Western Church, be it in the leadership or many in the pews.  For how can we “fear” something that we have created and that thus has lost its power to demand our allegiance?


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