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Whom then does Christianity negate? What does it call world?

(Z 38) by Samuel Diaz Fernandez LIttauer (2004) Perhaps this question posed by Nietzsche is the most misunderstood and pertinent question for Christians today. More often than not, the answer that is yelled back from the barracks (another mistaken home that we ha ve come to nestle into) comes in the form of a political party or special interests group. Even more unfortunate, is that those lobbing attacks at the enemybe it republicans, democrats, fundamentalists, secularistsare not the passionately devoted mystics, imitators, and followers that believe in the kenotic gospel of caritas, but the princes which Nietzsche describesthose decidedly anti-Christian expression[s] of the selfishness and conceit of [their] people, but without any shame--confessing [themselves] a[s] Christian[s]! (Z 39) Be it as it may, they are the contemporary face of Christianity, as they were in 19th century Europe. We who desire to be faithful must then ask, who are they fighting (and by effect asking us to fight) against and what in the world are they fighting for? The problem in responding is a threefold one. Confused Christians either: dont know why they battle, go to battle with the flame of ideology in their breaths, or simply go to battle in the first place. In some ways Nietzsche disregards the first group by commenting that, when it comes to the true insidious meaning of the gospel, everybody knows [it] and yet everything continues as before. (Z 38) Either that or they are poor ignoramuses that are false to the point of innocence. (Z 39) Either way both kinds are certainly problematic, to Nietzsche and authentic Christianity alike, since they live in blatant ignorance or glowing deceit. In the second group are those Christians who believe that Christianity is subsumed under promises of empire or morality , hidden never-so subtly under the socio-historical loyalties which they believe most resemble their personal gospel (usually in pragmatic and utilitarian ways.) That one is a soldier, that one is a judge, that one is a patriot (Z 39): these are the militant politicos and moralists that swing Christ like a club to whomever does not fit their particular brand of consciousness--one that fulfills those human ideals they hold to be the gospel. Nietzsche is quick to point out that to reduce being a Christian, Christianism, to a matter of considering something true, to a mere phenomenon of consciousness, is to negate Christianism(Z 39). It is in essence, we say, to miss the very redemptive God-action Christ came to incarnate and enact with fundamental peace, love, and non-violence. This leads to the most problematic syndrome found in contemporary Christianity which is a methodological one, expressing how confused we are about the telos of the Church from the get-go. It is the mistaken notion that we must fight and that we (as individuals and as the Church) have something to fight against, to begin with. That Christ came with a message intentionally absent of violence or coercion, manifested in the exemplary character of this kind of death, the freedom, the superiority over any feeling of ressentiment (Z 40), is at the heart of His entire message. Nietzsche is absolutely correct when he claims that many of Jesus followers throughout history misunderstood this. By raising their own banner of attack against whatever seemed unchristian at the time, they opened the door to the most unevangelical feeling (Z 40) to pervade Christianity: that of revenge. It has been evident, to Christianitys chagrin, what kind of damage this kind of wild and vengeful club-swinging has resulted in: systemic antiSemitism, chauvinism, racism, genocide, schism, and division, to name a few. Yet Yoder puts it well when he rectifies: When He called His society together, Jesus gave its members a new way of life to live. He gave them a new way to deal with offenders by forgiving them. He gave them a new way to deal with violence by suffering He gave them a new way to deal with a corrupt society by building a new order, not smashing the old. He gave them a new pattern of relationships between man and woman, between parent and child, between master and slave, in which was made concrete a radical new vision of what it means to be a human person. Jesus Christ did not come to battle old institutions and ideologies, or to impose the kingdom of God as a judgment over his enemies (Z 40), but to instill a new and discrete way of life. It is a way of life that Nietzsche calls Christians to be consistent with, even if he does deem it to be decadent. Thus we do not battle against anything; instead, we intentionally live

the political vision the Redeemer came to inculcate as a redemptive countercultural community of light, fully available to a fallen and fragmented society. In the end, one need not take all of Nietzsches extreme genealogies and excursions into historiography as accurate, to understand that the general accusation that he is hurling at Christians is amongst the most piercing and relevant of them all. So sharp is his criticism that he goes so far as to declare that there have been no Christians at all. (Z 40) This indeed is something that we must address. Bypassing then the most extreme form of his thesis against Christianity, but allowing it to sink deep enough so as to walk away bruised and battered but purified and improved, we must listen carefully to better understand why it is that we have fallen away. Nietzsche, paradoxically, believed that the project of Christian action was still tenable. He wrote this of true Christianity: Such a life is still possible today, for certain people even necessary: genuine, original Christianity will be possible at all times. (Z 39) Amen and we add: for all peoples.