“God is dead” Nietzsche, 1883
“Nietzsche is dead” God, 1900
Expanding upon last weeks posting, hermeneutics is influenced by the social and philosophical underpinnings of the times, and it is difficult at best for one to separate himself from his contemporary situation understand the lessons and times in which differing realities were the order of the day. Biblical times are very different than now, and this difference is reflected in how the Bible is applied to contemporary times versus how it was applied in earlier times.
Most of human history is incorporated in what could be called the agrarian age, in which agriculture was the mainstay for the vast majority of people. Life was simpler back then, and there was more of a sense of harmony and connectedness with the community and nature. Being very involved in the community was a necessity, and dependency upon God a common trait, as this society was very aware of the need for the earth to produce, and clearly understood what would happen if there were natural disasters or crop failures. Understanding God and understanding the need to pray to Him for a successful harvest was well understood, and there was a connectedness with God and with fellow man for the sake of survival.
God was held in awe by the vast majority of peoples for millennia, as they directly observed manifestations through nature, whether disaster or bounty, and had more sense of His Majesty and Holiness. Teaching about the unchanging nature of God was easily understandable, and was in harmony with what one could directly observe in one’s environment and culture. Respect for fellow man as well as environment was well established (I’m not saying there were not evil men back then). This system remained nearly unchanged for 1500 years, until the time of the Protestant reformation.
The invention of the printing press allowed for the explosion of knowledge, as up to this time, knowledge was imparted through primarily oral means, and thus limited. As knowledge began to increase, so did technology, and as technology increased, so did one’s ability to spend more time on what could be considered esoteric pursuits. As more were able to pursue matters other than survival and farming, these pursuits began to investigate and question the reality that had been passed down for millennia. The great demythologization of God began and was lead by the philosophers, who began to remove God from every day life and matters. As knowledge and technology advanced, it ‘appeared’ that God was not involved, and it seemed that God was more a myth than reality. Man began to solve many of the issues once thought in the realm of the gods, and began to dismiss the whole ideal of a god in the first place. Who needs a god when we can solve all of our problems?
This was ultimately manifested in the philosophy of the existentialists, and most notably, Friedrich Nietzsche, who boldly claimed God was dead. Karl Marx took this one step further and boldly declared that religion was “the opiate of the masses” and these two men began to usher in the philosophical underpinnings of the twentieth century. We can also throw in Charles Darwin, who proposed man evolved from lesser beings, thus taking what was once the Realm of God, Creation, and making it a random and meaningless event. With God being out of the picture, man is free to behave in any manner he wants, and there is no right or wrong, and all people are free to make their own decisions, with one decision not being superior to another. This philosophical system is known as relativism.
Since man has a natural need to have and worship a power greater than himself, the state has now taken the place of God, and is given deity status (that is why one can observe what appears to be rational people freely giving away their autonomy despite glaring and open violations of this by the state). Man’s allegiance and worship of the state is nearly complete, and as such, leaves little room for God, and the idea that we are accountable to a Being that requires certain behaviors from us, and set forth the moral order. In modern times, these two forces are diametrically opposed, and it is no more apparent than the push to separate ‘church and state’.
Relativism also has seeped into the Church as well. Many in the church no longer believe in the basic tenets of Christianity, as they themselves have not seen God intervene in man’s affairs, and as our technology exponentially increases and we violate more of God’s laws, there appears to be no apparent repercussions. For many, even in the Church, God is truly dead, and is irrelevant to ‘the new times’ we live in. The more dangerous form of relativism in the Church has to do with the idea of heaven and hell, and ultimately Satan and demons. There are many who hold (even some priests) that Satan is a myth, and that ultimately, we all make it to heaven no matter what , because God is a God of Love.
Does God the Father owe Jesus an apology?
If one follows through on the prevalent relativistic thought process currently in most churches, it would seem that Jesus death and resurrection was a ‘waste of time”. Most Churches teach that we are all basically ‘good people’ and as such are going to make it to heaven. Our modern times of relativism and ‘tolerance’ have been applied to God as well, and the idea of hell is simply not palpable to modern man. So in our arrogance, we are now dictating to God the reality of heaven and hell, and telling God how things are to be. Our holding relativism as the ‘new religion’ has pervaded our own sense of understanding, and we are now forcing our beliefs onto God and believing that he is complying.
Relativism dictates that we do not judge others, that no moral standard is better than another, that we can separate some aspects of our lives from others, and that in the end; we are all basically the same and will end up with the same reward. So, it is not inconceivable to be a ‘good Christian’ and be for legalized child killing, because in the end, ‘we all go to heaven because God loves us”. Most behaviors can be justified, and those that hold to Biblical precepts are labeled ‘old fashioned, rigid, judgmental” or other pejorative terms meant to stifle discourse and/or challenges to this bizarre philosophy.
If we end up going to heaven no matter what we do, then morality and the idea of right and wrong is just some archaic and inconvenient nonsense that only the ‘unenlightened’ adhere to. If this were true, then the Bible in its totality would need to be eliminated, as it would be based upon lies and could not be a guiding light for mankind. We would be our own saviors, and there would be no need for a savior, nor really a God for that matter, as we can deal with all of our own issues. Jesus, in effect died for nothing, and his father owes him an apology.
By looking at our modern times, we see the most violent of ages, with the greatest number of wars, abortions, concentration camps, etc. We have an epidemic of perversions of every stripe, lying, deception, thievery, disrespect, drug and alcohol use, preoccupation with sports and comfort and convenience, selfishness, hatred, pride and sloth. Are these the traits and characteristics of ‘saved’ people?
This is the dilemma in properly reading the Bible. The Bible is teaching a clear message that is contradictory to what the empirical world is showing, and it sows doubts about the Word of God. As doubt increases, so does the rebellion, and unfortunately the Church is in compliance with this doubt and sows plenty itself by its contradictory behaviors and teachings. We cannot apply relativistic philosophy to absolute truth the Bible teaches. This is why many in the realm of prophecy can make claims that prophecy is fulfilled even though it does not meet the qualifications; because that is what their life experiences have shown. It fits right into their scheme of thinking, that meeting all the criteria is relative, and some prophecy can be left out, at their discretion.
To sum it up, we read the Bible through the lenses of our personal experiences and contemporary times we live in. We are used to being told half truths, so it would follow that we read the Bible in the same fashion. Our Churches teach in the same fashion, and this only seems to clarify that truth is relative, and we choose for ourselves. Dangerous times we live in, and these times really require more vigilance to truth, not less.