Christ is certainly no less concerned than Nietzsche that the personality should receive the fullest development of which it is capable, and be more and more of a power. The difference between them lies in the moral method by which the personality is put into possession of itself and its resources – in the one case by asserting itself, in the other by losing it. . . . . We complete our personality only as we fall into place and service in the vital movement of the society in which we live.
Isolation means arrested development. The aggressive egoist is working his own moral destruction by stunting and shrinking his true personality. Social life, duty, and sympathy are the only conditions under which a true personality can be shaped. And if it be asked how a society so crude, imperfect, unmoral, and even immoral as that in which we live is to mould a personality truly moral, it is here that Christ comes to the rescue with the gift to faith both of an active Spirit and of a society complete in Himself.
I’m not sure that Christ and Nietzsche can be so easily divided along the lines of either asserting the self or of losing it. Certainly, Nietzsche advocates a form of becoming one’s own master through the auto-creation of values, but he isn’t simply an egoist. In his 1872, The Birth of Tragedy, he very strongly criticises individuation as a source of much that is wrong with humanity, arguing for the orgiastic ecstacy of Dionysian flux, whereby the self is reconnected with the chaos of the world through the experience of art (a position he calls ‘tragic’). Also, a minor point, but one worth making, to place Nietzsche in opposition to Christ is to play precisely into Nietzsche’s hands (as the self-confessed anti-Christ). Nietzsche was, oddly enough, a bit of an admirer of Christ and the power he has wielded over humanity, saying that ‘In truth, there has only been one Christian, and he died on the cross.’
Anyway, that’s my two penneth worth.
Thank you David. Leaving aside the “orgiastic ecstacy of Dionysian flux”, and the other Nietzschian particularities, I still do hold that Christ and Nietzsche can in fact be so easily divided. He may have well admired Christ whilst oxymoronically self-referencing himself as ‘anti-Christ’ but that doesn’t wash with me. A Christian is a “follower of Jesus Christ”, so Jesus could not have been the “only Christian”, since He didn’t follow Himself, (here FN’s theology resembles Muslim theology not Christian theology, so in my view, he got that wrong by confusing what Jesus was doing)! At best, he’s a pre-Gandhian, in that he sees in Jesus something that His followers do not live up to (which is always a fair criticism of the church – private thought – “Damn you sin!”). That’s because they (FN and MG) do not understand grace, nor the purposes of God, nor the doctrine of the Church! God will forgive them both, but that’s because He’s God. Nietzsche can admire Christ all he likes, but for all his genius, it is to Christ that he now experiences the re-birth of his tragedy. Which, I might add, is OK when one considers for just ten seconds the magnitude of what kind of salvation the Cross of Christ achieved. Thirteenthly, Christ didn’t come to be admired. He’s no prized animal from a far away place, to be caged and pointed at! FN was merely playing power games as if he is the ultimate one who chooses what is worth admiring (the Bible calls this idolatry I think). I admire his audacity, but am simultaneously repulsed by it. That’s my tuppenies worth.
Thanks for writing. Always appreciated. Sorry for the delay. I was having my hair permed.