In 1882, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote the following parable, printed in The Gay Science (in modern vernacular it would be called “The Happy Wisdom”):

 THE MADMAN

Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: “I seek God! I seek God!” — As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated? — Thus they yelled and laughed.

The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. “Whither is God?” he cried; “I will tell you. We have killed him — you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.

 

“How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us — for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto.”

 

Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. “I have come too early,” he said then; “my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars — and yet they have done it themselves.

 

It has been related further that on the same day the madman forced his way into several churches and there struck up his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: “What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?”

 

On April 8, 1966, Time magazine ran with the cover, “Is God Dead?” This morning I write not with belief in either of these two conclusions. God is not dead and the world knows this. However, there is a fair question to be asked, “Has man evolved beyond God?”

 

We are now in our third century of the fierce rejection of God. Make no mistake about it, many centuries and civilizations before us have rejected God, but few denied His existence. In fact, as scientists of the 18th century recognized the order of the world, they regarded God as necessary for scientific discovery. They believed that God was stable and active in the world and for those reasons, they could understand the world more clearly. They could hypothesize, test, and repeat; because the world was stable. Today, this philosophy is rejected. What is new is always better is the mantra. Today, man does not reject God, he believes he is God. He regards any view of God nothing more than “left over traits of the unevolved.” L. Russ Bush wrote of our present society, “Faith has its origin in the poetic imagination; knowledge, on the other hand, originates in the reasoning intelligence of man.”[1] Indeed, God is dead in the hearts and minds of so many – but He is not in really dead.

 

The purpose of today’s blog (and those to follow over the coming weeks) is to ask you to consider where humanity is…facts will conclude that mankind does not really believe that God is dead, for we see religion playing pivotal roles in history as it is being written. The events of September 11, 2001 show us that religion – belief in a god(s) – is alive and well. The participants in that day’s events were fanatical, probably in need of psychiatric help. But they were also deeply religious. Man, even in our century, recognizes his need for God. But, as has always been the case, the problem facing this century is not the rejection of god, but the rejection of God. Recent events show us that man has set his course on killing the One True God, the God of the Bible, incarnated in Jesus Christ. This is why society is willing to accept religion, except Christianity.

 

Today, man desires to rewrite the rulebook, to become his own master and creator. It is the age old struggle, that which Adam was tempted of in the Garden – “For God knows that when you eat of it (the Tree of Knowledge) your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). If man can kill God and become his own god, then man can live however he determines is best. Man would be free, ungoverned libertarian freedom. Our society would like for God to be killed so that man can live. But there are great consequences to this decision. As L. Russ Bush concludes, “But if God dies, then man, who is made in his image, also dies. Man is no longer a unique personality purposefully created; he is the accidental result of a complicated process.”[2] If God is killed, man dies in the same process.

 

This series of blogs is a call to action to believers and a prayer of contemplation for unbelievers. My hope is that if you are reading these words over the coming weeks and you have not expressed faith in Jesus Christ, you might see how the Christian worldview answers life’s most difficult questions better than a modern philosophy. The evolutionary worldview, that man and all of creation is nothing more than the result of random acts of chaos, is not sustainable. It is not science in the true definition of the word because it is not repeatable, it is a philosophy. As a philosophy, it has devalued life, brought instability into the political atmosphere, and encouraged chaos around the globe. If you need verifiable evidence, turn on the news. So…I am asking you only to consider there might be an alternative to life greater than yourself, greater than the present experience. An alternative that would bring hope, peace, joy, comfort, and stability to your life. That alternative, I submit to you, is life in Jesus Christ.

 

On the other hand, if you are a believer reading these words and those to come, I am hoping to give you a few more tools for your tool bag. We are living in a time that needs courageous believers, willing to defend the faith. The world is looking for answers. They recognize that what they are doing is not working. The church has the answers, not because we are great or intellectually superior. We have the answers because we have Christ and He has the answers. My hope is that over the coming weeks you will be able to understand your faith more clearly and articulate it in a way that answers the questions being asked. If you look through history, man’s “Great Questions” have never really been changed, they have simply been reworded. As believer’s we need to know how to answer the sincere questions being asked, that God may be exalted as new believer’s come to Him and find the life of abundance He promises (John 10).

 

Today is the first part in a six part series: “A Defense of God: Why Man Needs His Creator.”

[1] L. Russ Bush, “The Advancement” (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishing, 2003), 25.

[2] Ibid.