Resurrection and Nietzsche go to Church

Today is Resurrection Sunday – Jesus is alive and we’re just barely beginning to understand what that means and how it touches our lives. I didn’t hear much of today’s sermon, thanks to Little Rogers, but the text from Luke 24 got me thinking – “He is not here, he is risen”.

Yesterday was Holy Saturday, when Jesus was dead, buried, and with him all hope, life and joy. It was an appropriate day to read Nietzsche’s Madman:

The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. “Whither is God?” he cried; “I will tell you. We have killed him—you and I. All of us are his murderers”…

“What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?”

But today is Resurrection Sunday – Jesus is alive, death could not hold God down. Not the murderous Romans and their torturous cross. Not the atheistic moderns and their apathetic scientism. Jesus is alive!

But as the followers go to the tomb, they hear “He is not here…” and sometimes the same thing can be said in the monuments to the deceased God of modernity. Doug talked (while I was there) about what God was doing outside of our church, where we could not see him, where we were not looking.

The women at the tomb knew what culture expected them to do for the Rabbi. They knew where to go, what to do, how to mourn him. But they’d overlooked the most important thing – death could not hold him, no cross, no graveclothes, no tomb could keep him.

How did modernity finally kill God? They figured out how to nail God down. Doctrines, dogmas, denominations, structures, agendas. They pierced his heart with divisions and distinctions. They entombed him in new forms of rigidity and protestation. They buried him far below the text, interpretations and criticisms.

But nothing will hold this God down. Jesus is alive and won’t be held down! Your church may not be a ‘sepulcher of God’, but perhaps this Resurrection Sunday you will find him out on the road with the homeless, travelers and  others of dubious repute. Maybe you will feel the heart burn of tasting resurrection life outside of the sanctuary, because “He is risen!”



Aside: I don’t pretend that I’m revealing what Nietzsche really meant in The Gay Science, merely using his cutting critique of modern christianity. It’s too far a stretch to call on Nietzsche to support postmodern christianity, but not to engage with his critiques is a great oversight.