One or Two Worlds?

Rise up, Lord, confront them, bring them down;
    with your sword rescue me from the wicked.
By your hand save me from such people, Lord,
    from those of this world whose reward is in this life.
May what you have stored up for the wicked fill their bellies;
    may their children gorge themselves on it,
    and may there be leftovers for their little ones.
As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face;
    when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.

  • Psalm 17:13-15

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

  • John 3:19-21

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.  For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

  • Romans 12:1-8

“Nietzsche traces the fortunes of this tendency to split the world into two and finds that the same idea appears within Christian thought. In place of the ‘real world’ of Plato’s Forms, Christianity substitutes an alternative ‘real world’; a future world of heaven that is promised to the virtuous. Nietzsche believes that Christianity views the world we live in now as somehow less real than heaven, but in this version of the ‘two worlds’ idea the ‘real world’ is attainable, albeit after death and on condition that we follow Christian rules in this life. The present world is devalued, as it is with Plato, except insofar as it acts as a stepping stone to the world beyond. Nietzsche claims that Christianity asks us to deny the present life in favor of the promise of a life to come.
“Both the Platonic and Christian versions of the idea that the world is divided into a ‘real’ and an ‘apparent’ one have profoundly affected our thoughts about ourselves. The suggestion that everything of value in the world is somehow ‘beyond’ the reach of this world leads to a way of thinking that is fundamentally life—denying.  As a result of this Platonic and Christian heritage, we have come to see the world we live in as a world that we should resent and disdain, a world from which we should turn away, transcend, and certainly not enjoy. But in doing so, we have turned away from life itself in favor of a myth or an invention, an imagined ‘real world’ that is situated elsewhere. Nietzsche calls priests of all religions ‘preachers of death’, because their teachings encourage us to turn from this world, and from life to death. But why does Nietzsche insist that God is dead? To answer this, we must look to the work of the 18th-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant, whose ideas are critical to understanding the philosophy behind Nietzsche’s work.”

  • Sam Atkinson (senior editor), The Philosophy Book, Big Ideas Simply Explained

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) seemed to redefine the term “rebellious preacher’s kid.”  Maybe he was “rebellious preacher’s kid” on steroids.  His father, uncle, and grandfathers were all Lutheran ministers, but his father and younger brother died when he was a young child.  He was brought up by all the women within pastor’s families: mother, grandmother, and two aunts.  He may or may not have been a rebellious preacher’s kid at first, but with his world rocked to the core, he bore a deep resentment to the standard family values of his youth.

After trying to stop a man from whipping a horse, when he was about 45 years old, he collapsed.  He developed some kind of mental breakdown, often claiming to be Jesus Christ.  But was this breakdown the logical result of his philosophy, that God is dead?

Nietzsche’s most discussed work was Thus Spoke Zarathustra, published five years before his total breakdown.

Maybe if you have not heard of this work, you have heard the Richard Strauss classical composition of the same name, actually inspired by Strauss reading the philosopher’s work, although Nietzsche was insane by this point.

Oh, not that either?  Okay, picture yourself in the movie theater in 1968.  All you know is that this is the science fiction movie that everyone is talking about.  You don’t know that in 2010, The Movie Arts Film Journal will name this Stanley Kubrick movie the greatest film of all time, not just the greatest sci-fi film.  You see apes pick up bones and start to bang them onto the ground.  Then there is an eclipse that unfolds before you with this strange pounding music that you do not recognize, Thus Spoke Zarathustra.  You are about to see, 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Say “Hello” to HAL for me.

Nietzsche claimed that Zarathustra, or Zoraster, a Persian prophet from about 628-551BC, personally spoke the words that Nietzsche was to write down, thus the work’s title.  Zarathustra went onto a mountain to gain wisdom.  So proud of his wisdom, he starts to come down the mountain to share that wisdom with the common folk.  He meets a hermit who tries to explain that the common folk would not understand the wisdom and Zarathustra was wasting his time, so Zarathustra should go back to the mountain.  Zarathustra asks his hermit, who he had met before going up the mountain in the first place, what had the hermit done in all those years.  The hermit said that he had sung, laughed, wept, and praised God.  Zarathustra ignored the hermit, even laughing at him, because in all that time of contemplation, the hermit had not learned that God is dead.

Can we claim that Nietzsche was insane long before he became insane? … Officially?  Maybe, but God actually inspired the writers of Holy Scripture, and Nietzsche seems to be borrowing that ploy so that people will take him seriously.  Seriously?!  Okay, in Nietzsche’s time seances were a fad.  Some people might take him seriously.  Sadly, many did.

Much of the quote above from a philosophy book that seems to be slanted against Christianity, thus loving Nietzsche, seems to be the way many might view Christianity in a Legalist world.  Too many rules without the capability of following them, constantly in trouble as a result.  The typical rebellious preacher’s kid lament.  This world would be miserable.  With the constant preaching that the next world will have no pain, while this world has an abundance of pain, is it no wonder that someone whose mental faculties are on a razor’s edge might see it as described in the quote (Nietzsche’s views nearly applauded in the quote).

Indeed, Plato’s Forms and the next life for a Christian cannot be obtained from this world.  We must cross over.  But a reasonable facsimile is available to many Christians.  I do not say all Christians, because if you are trapped in the ideology of the Legalist, this world is not much fun.  But even then, you have an Advocate in the Holy Spirit that guides you.  You have almighty God protecting you and letting you know that He is there.  You have a brother and best friend in Jesus.  But if you have accepted that God has saved you and made you free, you can live that cheerful life that Paul speaks of TODAY.

In looking for the video above from the movie, this next video was suggested.  Guy Penrod speaks of having a wonderful life, here and now, singing with the Gaither Vocal Band, and in this case with Ernie Haase and Signature Sound.  We can live a victorious life now because God has claimed it for us and going to be with Him in Heaven is a bonus.

Or you can take Nietzsche’s approach.  You can reject God, because you were a rotten preacher’s kid, in full rebellion, and you never grew out of it.  Note: Not all PKs rebel, and many grow out of it, some becoming preachers themselves, but Nietzsche had his father and brother die in his formative years.  With God dead within your own mind, there is no hope.  There is no lasting joy, just the constant desire to achieve fleeting happiness with amusements of one sort or another.  With the rebellion of a PK, the loss of his father at a crucial age, and a philosophy that has no hope, it is only a wonder that it took 45 years before Nietzsche’s mind snapped and never returned.

GOD IS NOT DEAD!  God loves you.  God provides Hope, not just for the next world, but for this one as well.

Accept Jesus into your heart by trusting and believing in Him.  Do not hold anything back.

You will find the Hope and the Joy that you are looking for – available NOW.

If you like these Tuesday morning essays about philosophy and other “heavy topics,” but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Tuesday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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