God is not dead - 18 June 2020

By Ben Fourie

In the great work Also spracht Zarathustra by the philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, Zarathustra met an old holy man who lived in a forest. During their conversation, Zarathustra said, “I love mankind,” whereupon the old holy man answered, “At the moment, I love God”. This made Zarathustra wonder whether the old man had not heard that God was dead. Nietzsche was not the first to think or write about this, but the ‘God is dead’ idea in philosophy has been attributed to him ever since.

The so called Enlightenment of the 19th century put man in the centre and asserted the idea of an “Übermensch” in the philosophy of Nietzsche. According to this philosophy, man must always exceed his own limitations and in this process, become the representative of everything. Man is now self-sufficient and in the process, God “dies”, as Nietzsche says, “Now this God is dead! You most high people, this God was your biggest danger. Since he is in the grave you were able to rise up again. (Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche: Filosoof met ’n Hamer by WP Esterhuyse as freely translated by me).

Joshua had a completely different experience. When the people of God were preparing to cross the Jordan and enter the Promised Land, there were many dangers waiting for them, especially the hostile nations already living there. Joshua encouraged them by saying the Ark of the Covenant would be the sign that God would be with them. He then used the Hebrew name, El Chay – the Living God, in contrast to the idols of the other nations living in Canaan. Israel did not need to fear dead idols as the God of Israel is the Living God.

Nietzsche was wrong. Our God is alive and through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we will live with him.

Prayer: We praise you as the Living God, the One who cannot be declared dead by human thought or philosophy, the One who was there before anything came into being. Amen