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Why Nietzsche?

The “illiterate” apostle, fisherman John, needed to step down to the level of the philosophers and scientists to communicate Truth to people who could not discover it without his guidance.

The apostles received Truth from the second person of the Holy Trinity and experienced its energy by the Holy Spirit. It was when, by faith, they received Him and were made holy by Him that they were able to see the truth clearly. It was not through their intellectual training.

I Corinthians says that Christians “Have the mind of Christ,” and that “the spiritual judges all things, but he himself is judged by no man.”

Paul says, “I wish you would become fools that you might become wise”.

Then why turn to everybody but the holy to build and assess our schools by the standards set by the secular, Nietzschean world? (Look at some of the articles below to see what I mean). Do we not see that to do so is a confession of unbelief, an anti-creed?

Human history is the story of a long series of failures of judgment, but it also includes episodes of wisdom. Not many of those episodes happened in the last couple centuries.

I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God, which is your rational [in a pre-Cartesian sense!] service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you can assess what the will of God is: that which is good, and pleasing, and perfect.

That word for pleasing, that pops up twice, is quite interesting, so one or two of you may be interested in this digression:

In the Greek New Testament, the word is euarestos, which is an intensified form of arestos. Arestos means “pleasing” and is usually used in the NT of things pleasing to God. Adding the “eu” prefix makes it more intense: not just pleasing, but “well-pleasing.”

My Little Kittle (a Greek Dictionary of the NT) includes some notes that I find intriguing. It tells us that this word is “Never an evaluation (except in Phil. 4:18…) but always the goal of the Christian life…, so that we are constantly to test what is euareston (Eph 5:10).

I’m not sure what distinction they are trying to draw, because the idea that we are constantly to test what is well pleasing to God seems to suggest that we are supposed to make an evaluation. It seems like Paul’s whole point is that we need to be evaluating constantly, but not by the false standards of “the world”, which might be better translated “the age”.

And that leads me to a second note. There is another word used in the NT built on the same root (aresko). That word is anthropareskos. This is a compound word, combining anthropos with areskos. It means “man pleasing” or “pleasing to men.” Paul uses it in Col 3:22 and Eph 6:6.

The Ephesians 6 passage is the Christian response to the entire Nietzschean, post-modern critique of Christianity that argues that the gospel offers a slave morality and enforces it with a rhetoric of violence. It addresses the slave and says, “Slaves, obey your masters after the flesh with fear and trembling, in the simplicity of your hearts, like Christ; not to serve the eyes like man pleasers, but, like slaves of Christ, accomplish the will of God from your soul.”

If Christ was not resurrected, this is a cruel, violent, manipulative thing to say. If He is, then what could matter more than to please Him? What is the span of a short lifetime against the chance to hear Him say “Well done”?

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,” and that liberty begins with the soul free to obey its oppressor with joy even while under oppression. Here is a true radicalism. But it offers nothing to the man or woman who does not believe in Christ.

Colossians 3:22 says the same thing, almost exactly.

The astounding point is that he is telling slaves to obey their masters, but “not as man pleasers.” You aren’t doing it to please the master, but to please and to be like the Son of God who became “obedient to death, even the death of the cross,” dying the way Spartacus died but for the opposite reason.

Compare that with Romans 12 and something peculiar comes out. The slave was to obey his master to please Christ. But we are told not to “conform to the age,” but to discern what is well-pleasing to God.

Neither of us, neither the slave nor the free man, are to fear our masters. Both of us have the opportunity to please Christ. But you can’t please Christ if you fear men. You simply can’t. You will lose your mind, becoming double-minded, confused, anxious.

This is why in I Corinthians 7 Paul tells the Corinthians not to seek a change in their status:

Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let this be a concern to you. But on the other hand, if you are able to become free, that would be good! For whoever in the Lord is called when he is a slave, is a freedman of the Lord. Similarly, whoever is called when he is free is a slave of Christ. You are bought with a price, do not be the slave of men.

I want to draw your attention to that last phrase. All of us have had the privilege of being born into a slaveless country, but we have forgotten, I fear, that we are, by analogy, slaves of Christ. As such, we do not have the right to make ourselves voluntary slaves of men.

That is what we do when we “conform to this age” and when we judge what is well-pleasing not by what pleases our own Husband/Master/Redeemer/Beloved/Creator but by what will please those around us.

This is an issue of wisdom and sound judgment.

If you do not believe in a resurrected Christ who ascended into heaven and gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit, then you will be unable to think straight. If you accept this as doctrine, but do not see how it sets you free from the silly standards of an enslaved and frightened age, please look more closely.

Our Christian classical schools are growing and maturing, but the ease with which we are willing to subject ourselves to a yoke of man-pleasing slavery raises concerns. Never has the need for fools been more pronounced than it is today.

Let us learn to speak speak into the violence of our age by imitating the resurrected lamb of God. He will not abandon us.

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