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Essay about Nietzsche and the Death of God Theology

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Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) was perhaps best known for pronouncing that “God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him!” (Nietzsche, The Gay Science 388). Thinkers of the death of God theology of the American 1960s such as Thomas Altizer insisted that “we must recognize that the death of God is a historical event: God has died in our time, in our history, in our existence” (Christian Atheism 61). Although these two conceptions of the death of God differed, they had several aspects in common: they faced opposition, they thought religion was a product of human necessity, they acknowledged the importance of coexisting opposites, they expressed a certain humanism and interest in individuality, they saw God and religion as products partially of human influence, and they saw that Christianity diminished to a nominalistic existence. Friedrich Nietzsche and the death of God theology thinkers recognized the death of God as the logical result of the secularization of their societies and the change in their culture’s ideas, and so they insisted on a parallel secularization of Christianity.

Nietzsche’s bold belief in God’s death grew out of his firm resolution that Christianity was a negative force. Christianity’s stress on the virtue of such things as meekness and poverty did not inspire people to better themselves; it simply made laziness and lack-of-progress appear to be acceptable if not recommended (De Botton 237). In addition to harmfully encouraging mediocrity, Christianity (according to Nietzsche) dangerously denied the importance of the individual by proposing predefined paths to supposed greatness. Christianity, therefore, robbed humanity of the personal vitality of living. According to Nietzsche’s belief in the neces...


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...g that Christianity evolved to a point where it only ostensibly held real meaning concerning God, Nietzsche and the death of God theologians in effect asserted that Christian thought became a matter of nominalism. The name and concept of God only held import within the parameters of a society’s own thoughts, and God was meaningless in the context of contemporary America. The religious incorporation of secularization appeared in such contexts as the stress by Hamilton and others on Jesus Christ’s importance. According to both the ideas of the 1960s and Nietzsche, Christianity needed to adapt in order to survive. The history of America brought the nation to a position where spiritual ideas could only exist as a part of the secular world; and in asserting that God was dead, Nietzsche and the thinkers of the death of God theology acknowledged this condition of society.


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