The Rational Depth of Christian Morality

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Published on: January 21, 2015

Part of the depth of Christianity can be seen in what philosophers call its “moral psychology.”  This is why the world attacks this psychology by first of all attempting to falsify it.  Falsifying it entails twisting it into something it is not; unpacking its purported dishonesty, its supposedly inauthentic attack on nature as an attack on reason.  

Nietzsche claimed that the moral psychology of Christianity is sick, even decadent from a natural point of view.  He argued that Christian morality is a war on human nature, not the fulfillment of it.  (This message has been repeated over and over again, after Nietzsche invented it, by both liberals and libertarians.)  What is natural, Nietzsche said, is the will to power.  And Christian “slave morality” is the attempt to suppress naturally superior human beings who have been chosen by evolution.  The herd should sacrifice itself, including its insipid morality, to those who are superior rather than vice versa.  

Of course, in the long run, Nietzsche did not himself impress us with any clear demonstration of superiority.  He was pathetic, albeit in a clever but familiar way.  It is clever to camouflage one’s weakness (physical, social, moral, intellectual) as new forms of superiority which are ahead of their time and therefore mostly unrecognized.  Philosophers, in their vanity, are particularly vulnerable to this hoax.  Nietzsche seemed to believe that he was an instance of perfection, literally the savior of the unnatural Christian world, misunderstood and completely unappreciated by an ignorant and horrendously imperfect world.  In clinical psychological terms this is called “narcissistic personality disorder.”  Nietzsche is perhaps the greatest poseur in the history of western philosophy.  He was morally impoverished and solicited us day and night to pretend he was rich.  Those who identify with him are habitually posing as the superior souls out of whose way we should scurry.  Often they call themselves “libertarians.”  Christians should never place this label on themselves.

Nietzsche’s vision of Reality is the raving of the natural man, predicted by Christianity.  The extent to which he has been taken seriously as a moral psychologist is the self-satire of secular western culture.  People who are out of control — behaving in a fashion which is both destructive to themselves and to others (including those who are declared successful simply because they are winning, regardless of how they are winning) excuse themselves as being more natural and in that sense the true examples of authenticity.  They are out to convince us that they are the new universal model, rather than people beset by a list of relative, self-centered, personal problems which the majority of us have had the moral strength to overcome.   They mistakenly believe they can convince us that their moral weakness is strength by simply being brazen about it.  This has been going on in the reprobate for thousands of years.  I know very well that my moral weaknesses are not some new form of strength.  They are just moral weaknesses; the same old moral weaknesses that have been around for thousands of years, including the failure to care enough about my neighbor.  I am sorry for my weakness.  I apologize for it.   And I thank God for the grace of Jesus Christ.  And when I do this, at the recommendation of my honest (i.e. honorable) conscience (the Holy Spirit), I become the best example I can be. 

The heart of the naturalistic, Nietzschean moral psychology, which is not morally authentic, is actually a form of perfectionism.  This is ironic to be sure.  Nietzsche and his many heirs are rejecting the moral law for the ironically Christian reason that it is death: The law shines a light on their imperfection.  If this light can be turned off, the imperfection seems to disappear.  But it remains with us, waiting in the dark.  (We cannot actually evolve into a whole new moral consciousness.)  Nietzsche understood, and his heirs understand, that the law is death in this sense of revealing the non-reality, the non-being of our perfection.  This, they think, is an unnatural form of oppression.  Traditional good and evil are an anti-human, life denying yoke.  We must move beyond good and evil.  A whole new standard of perfection, they believe, must be enunciated, a “transvalued” set of values which by their very nature deny the Christian revelation and glorify the creature.  This, they think, is the route to victory over the otherwise unrelenting tragedy of human life.  Of course, for Nietzsche this project is elitist.  The liberal state, managed by optimistic morons, attempts to universalize it. 

This process of destroying traditional standards, of changing our functional concept of what is good, is now rampant.  It is occurring daily in secular and religious culture — in the individual, in the organized church, in the military, in business and politics where the government has so clearly demonstrated that it cannot live up to even modest standards of virtue and effectiveness.  (This moral chaos is discussed with a great deal of philosophical sophistication in After Virtue by Alasdair MacIntyre.)  The overall response to Christianity by the secularist is a huge and ongoing conspiracy in human history, a gigantic charade, an attempt to coerce everyone with ideology and finally even with the positive law.  The goal is to intimidate the church into cooperating with pretense; to pretend that we are what we are not — essentially perfect in our naturality; this, in the face of God’s daily and providential work to make sure that nature is not perfect, and therefore not identical with Him, and therefore not to be worshipped.  The whole secular project is an illusion; it is all bad faith.  And the Christian existentialist, focused on the individual’s honesty with himself and God, has been unveiling it for what it is for quite some time now. 

This is the essence of the secular cultural project — the destruction of natural law, documented in the Christian tradition, in order to liberate people from their sense of unworthiness as the most fundamental form of human alienation, of death; the daily, grinding, guilt-ridden experience of inadequacy, of incompleteness. 

The distinctively Christian solution, founded upon Grace, is unacceptable to the secular mind because it keeps the light on; it requires admitting to ourselves that we are fallen, that the moral law has the right to kill us, to condemn us, to make us feel unworthy.  For the Christian the resurrection of self-worth is finally rooted in real authenticity, not feigned authenticity.  What is required of us is not actual perfection, but perfectly natural, rational honesty about our place in the universe; that we are creatures, not The Creator.  (For what evidence is there that we are the Creator?)  Therefore we are imperfect, sometimes even vile.  God longs to bless us, but cannot bless us until we become conscious of the Reality in which this takes place, for where else could it actually happen?  We are imperfect.  When we admit to our place in Reality, God Himself bestows upon us a dignity which He will not allow any man to question without severe consequences.  Why?  Because God Himself has suffered and died to bestow this dignity upon us.  Our yoke becomes light.  It is not the yoke of personal perfection or the exhausting conspiracy of bad faith which crushed Nietzsche emotionally and will crush his heirs.  And it is not the authoritarian political yoke which is implied by this secular moral conspiracy to oppress the Christian tradition. 

The prohibition of free speech and free association is always rooted in this secular project of forcing people to cooperate with the moral illusion that all of the people (except the awful Christians) and their government are good and in the process of saving themselves.  Both the Nazis and the Marxist-Leninists in the twentieth century ironically enslaved and killed people en masse in their attempt to establish this moral illusion.  Christians are now threatened with coercion if they will not cooperate with the establishment of inauthentic moral illusions; the pretense to natural perfection which is not just appreciated, but nurtured, by a liberal government.  This is hatred of orthodox Christianity which will not tolerate Nietzsche’s myth — the transvaluing of value; the retirement of the Christian account of the human condition as tragic and in need of divine intervention.

We save our orthodox church only by speaking out even more loudly.  The gospel cannot overwhelm the secular project if it is not preached.  The more the secular conspiracy attempts to intimidate the church, the more the church must speak out, breaking down the lies with the force of the Holy Spirit.  Remember that the tactical key is private education.  We must work every day for the retirement of government education — the modern secular church — and gather the vast majority of the children into Christian schools.   The government schools are the official church of the state (the chief competitor of the true church) and they are being used to sustain the moral illusions of the secular state; to indoctrinate our children in the secular moral project of evolving (“transvaluing”) our values.  The revolution starts and ends with the complete moral and spiritual deconstruction of state education.   

True existential authenticity is fulfilled in confession.  Christian existentialism is the conviction that our lived world, including the human nature described by scripture, Dostoyevsky, and Shakespeare (not Nietzsche, Freud, or Marx) is the Reality which we cannot escape, no matter how much science and philosophy attempts to reduce it to an illusion and establish a new Reality.  There is no other Reality.  This is why God becomes incarnate in it, why the body is resurrected, why the world becomes even more real and eternal under Christ’s rule.  Authenticity is the honesty to admit that our practical moral reality is not evolving; there is no new human consciousness.  We cannot live as if there is.  This can only lead to chaos. 

Those who live by Nietzsche’s project die by it spiritually, as he did himself.  This outcome is structural, part of our lived world, our practical Reality.  The evolution of human values and consciousness is not a part of our practical experience.  It is a secular fantasy.  It is the attempt to normalize what will never be authentically normative.   

The reality of being a fallen creature only (as opposed to a superman living beyond good and evil) terrified Nietzsche and now his heirs.  They do not trust God.  A universe in which they are dependent upon God is more terrifying than an absurd universe where they are on their own.  The project is existentially motivated, not a product of pure reason.  Their project begins by confusing themselves with God.  They are alone and therefore entirely self-centered.  This is the tragic moral psychology of those who are running from Reality, as opposed to those who are running toward it.   The enemies of practical Reality have no resolution; they have no peace.  They have only themselves and a fantasy in which they accept the absurdity of the universe but are somehow able to create value.  This is never enough to withhold despair.   

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