One of my favorite philosophers is Friederich Nietzsche. Not in spite of his statement that ‘God is dead and we have killed him,” but because of it. However, many Christians are afraid of reading and seriously thinking about the thorny issues presented in a philosopher who is not so easy to refute with the Sunday School answers with which the modern church has equipped us to engage our culture. No longer should Christians be afraid to dialogue on scary topics that aren’t easy to defeat. These issues require more attention, not less, since themes of post-modernism, existentialism and nihilism pervade the worldview of our age. The church is stuck in a modernistic system, and unless it adapts it will become irrelevant. We must continue to be able to fight for absolute truth against any wind of philosophy that affects our world.
Unlike most logic based philosophers who deny any higher power, Nietzsche actually is internally coherent. Any philosophy which creates a system of morality must rely on the existence and mandate of a higher power. Unlike Mill’s Utilitarianism, which creates an artificial basis for morality that denies such a power and yet seeks to arrive at the same conclusions without it, Nietzsche fully realizes the consequences of denying god. He presents no sham reasons for morality in an essentially moral vacuum, instead he embraces that amorality. This honesty is what makes him so appealing to younger people in our world, and scares the rank and file of a church ill equipped to discourse on tough issues. Nietzche clearly and poignantly portrays a life spent denying any higher power from which stems all morality. As literature and philosophy are a primary way by which humanity can participate in the human experience without specifically living it, Nietzche presents a great deal of understanding for the Christian in how and what a life without God will be.
I would propose that every philosophically minded Christian who wants to remain relevant in our culture should undertake a survey of Nietzshe’s writings and theory. Coupled with a strong defense of absolute truth, such as C.S. Lewis’ Abolition of Man, this will give the believer new insight into how to interact with our society, maintain cultural relevancy, and still defend the absolute truth and the Absolute Truth from which it and all our systems of morality, extend.