“Gott ist tot” (God is dead) – Not so much

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers.” Psalm 1:1

It was German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche who famously stated: “Gott ist tot” or God is dead! Such a stance assumes that Nietzsche’s previous understanding of what he defined as God once lived. I see Nietzsche’s stance as unwarranted yet valid in three ways:

  1. God defines Himself.
  2. Nietzsche’s god is dead but what killed Him?
  3. God as understood through revelation and defined by Himself is alive (“Gott ist lebend”)!

I will begin with point number two. A wooden chair that is handcrafted by the best of wood workers and sold for top dollar will most likely yield greater value the longer it is taken care of as furniture with sentimental value and monetary value. There is a little to be learned of the carpenter that made the item. History records the wood worker’s influence, endeavors, and time frame of their business ventures. I think any one of us would be impressed with a person who came forward with Nietzsche’s personal chair on the program The Traveling Road Show. Being that the chair was once a living, breathing, growing, and reproducing organism, it stands to reason that once it is cut down (killed) and fashioned into the wooden chair you love to sit upon for rest, reflection, and reading that it would be revered and a much sought after antique. However, the fact remains that it is dead wood.

1055Nietzsche no more had the authority to define God than he did the authority to prevent his own death. He lived from 1844-1900, but the philosophical chair he built has both outlived him and endured the rear ends of some seemingly powerful thinkers. Nietzsche’s phrase whittles down to a philosophical argument that is certainly valid because it represents his opinion and we should all be entitled to our opinion. However, one’s right is not the same as one’s authority. Fortunately for Nietzsche, he was born in a geographical location and within a culture that allowed for questioning and challenging the positions of others with his philosophical efforts. Had he lived in the Middle East, he would have been killed for his views and not able to live to be 55 years old. Instead he may have been crucified at age 33. Inclusivity and exclusivity are powerful influencers on personal rights and privileges. Therefore, Nietzsche’s claim is valid because it is his but unwarranted because he has no real authority over the matter. He has done exactly what Christians have been accused of doing, he crafted god in his own image. But he did not stop there, he went on to kill the very god he had formed. Nietzsche’s god is dead because he killed him and fashioned him into an argument that others have been more than happy to sit upon. Thankfully, God is not so handled, defined, or shaped by man.

First of all and thirdly, God defines himself. That is not to say that he is a self defining argument. From the attributes revealed through the Bible, God equals eight phrases and none of them are dead.

  1. God is One, Deut. 6:4
  2. God is Spirit, John 4:24
  3. God is Love, 1 John 4:8
  4. God is a man of war, Exodus 15:3
  5. God is Good, Psalm 136:1
  6. God is Able, 2 Corinthians 9:8
  7. God is Just, Job 34:17
  8. God is Holy, Matthew 5:48

Honorable mention is how God revealed Himself, to Moses…”I am that I am” (YHWH). Fortunately for us, the above phrases are simply the introduction to who God was, is, and will be. They are the most precise references given in scripture but not the only ones given and the predate their written forms. They serve not as a dead wood argument but a living testimony of the one true God. Such observations, knowledge, and understanding are priceless. Sometimes, priceless can be confused with worthless because no one could afford them in the first place. God gives us and allows us to participate in His priceless nature through the Grace afforded all and the measure of faith implanted within each person. Only a living God could achieve such a feat.

BGsB4KsCAAA7lGGPerhaps there is another error within Nietzsche’s antique argument, not only is his argument unwarranted that God is dead but it begs the question if he knew what it means to be alive or live. More specifically, one could reliably argue that Nietzsche’s god was never truly alive as defined by the one true God. If our temporal nature is all that truly exists in regard to life, then Nietzsche’s god was alive before he killed him but if life exists beyond death in any form or if that form is eternal life then Nietzsche as a person did once exist for a time but his argument has proven unwarranted twice over due to its inability to successfully challenge God’s Grace. I believe it is the singer Matthew West who has famously sung and observed, “Grace wins every time.”

The training and concessions Nietzsche had to make in order to arrive at his work bench of conclusions may have looked masterful when presented and convincing to those who were interested in such topics but the road he had to travel to arrive at his saw horse looks a lot like the one outlined in Psalm 1:1. All who travel that road will eventually sit in his chair. In order to be blessed by the living God, avoid walking in the counsel of the wicked, standing in the path of sinners, and sitting in the seat of scoffers.

Only a living God would give such advice or even care in the first place. Gott ist Lebend!

Mijikai Mason
Disclaimer: The thoughts and views published on the Veterans to Christ blog are those of Mijikai Mason and in no way are meant to represent the United States Army or the Armed Forces.

Bio: Mijikai Mason is an Ordained Southern Baptist minister and Chaplain in the United States Army. He has been in the Army for 26 years both as an enlisted Soldier and now as an Officer. He has been stationed at various bases in the United States and in United States Army Garrison Schweinfurt, Germany. He holds an undergraduate degree in Religion from the University of Mobile, a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in Theology and Evangelism and a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Webster University. Chaplain (MAJ) Mijikai Mason was selected by the Army in 2013, to become a Family Life Chaplain and began his service in this field starting 15 May 2015. He is the Deputy ESC Chaplain and Family Life Chaplain for the 593 Expeditionary Support Command at Joint Base Lewis McCord. He has deployed four times: Desert Storm (1991), Iraq twice (2005-2006; 2007-2008), and Afghanistan (2012-2013). He has a total of 42 months deployed in combat and logistics operations. Mijikai and his wife, Ashley, have been married for 17 years this May and live near Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington with their four daughters.