Fully Living Sacrifices
Where Nietzsche Was Right About Christians
What Nietzsche said in Der Antichrist about the shameful and unnatural weakness of Christians has a great deal of truth in it, truth with which we will someday have to come to grips. There has been something very wrong about the way the gospel is so often interpreted among us—wrong because it is not the will of God that we be the weak and passive things, the welcomers of shame and of death and of inferiority and imperfection that we so frequently are, the excuse being that we are put into this world to decrease and die.
For while it is true that we are here to die, we are put here first to live. There is a lie hidden in the way that the call to die is all too frequently understood, the lie being a Christological heresy having to do with the denial of Christ the perfect and the perfected man, and our duty to live as those who are “in him.”
The Creator’s Will
The Creator puts in all his creatures—let us not load this with unwholesome Nietzschean baggage by calling it the “will to power”—the will to live, to thrive, to increase and enlarge the self, to grow great so as to fill the place prepared for us in the world—to know (not Kant’s sapere, but Anselm’s quaerens) and through knowing, perfect the self, to be as strong, as wise and learned as we were made to be. How often what is called Christianity becomes the unnatural will to thwart the Creator’s will in this regard.
We forget that Christ, before he offered himself as a sacrifice, lived, thrived, grew great so as to fill the whole space in the world given him by the Father, so that he might be the perfect sacrifice, whole, mature in every respect, in the full vigor of early manhood, strong, and fully accomplished.
It is wrong to think of the sacrifice of one’s self for Christ’s sake, for God and his kingdom, as though it were a task that should be undertaken by those who are content with sickness, weakness, or inferiority, who have allowed themselves to be harmed, through unnatural passivity or weakness, outside the sacrifice itself, thus making themselves blemished, imperfect, unfit for the thing they say they are here for, unworthy symbols of the Christ they claim to represent, not unjustly, but justly despised by the world because their denial of the world is a denial of the good creation of God, of the highness and the glory and the excellence and the resplendence and the strength that all of us are called upon to achieve in accordance with what we have been given.
We are not called to sacrifice—because Christ was not called to sacrifice—as poor, injured, whimpering, parasite-ridden, sick, half-mad things, but as paragons of our kind: beautiful, whole, and accomplished. (I hope no one is fool enough to think that I am speaking against injuries or disabilities that are given to help make us great—these, in God’s reckoning, not being faults unless we make them so.)
The Appointed Way
When we do the things that befit blessedness and fullness of the life we have been given to live on this earth, we will—and not in accordance with our own will, which, when sane and healthy, desires to live forever in joy—have the sacrifice of Christ visited upon us by the will of the Father, as the appointed way toward our desired end.
But this is a true sacrifice, the giving and receiving of a beautiful and worthy thing, nourished and enlarged by the goodness of creation, as God intended it to be—not religion as suicide, or the gift of something sick or blemished. If we find ourselves with a Nietzschean devil as our accuser, let us not be forced to admit him right.
— S. M. Hutchens
S. M. Hutchens works as a reference librarian in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He holds a doctorate in theology. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.
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“Fully Living Sacrifices” first appeared in the July/August 2007 issue of Touchstone. If you enjoyed this article, you'll find more of the same in every issue.
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