Discourse on Religion: Nietzsche and Edwards

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Friedrich Nietzsche certainly serves as a model for the single best critic of religion. At the other end of this spectrum, Jonathan Edwards emerges as his archrival in terms of religious discourse. Nietzsche argues that Christianity’s stance toward all that is sensual is that grounded in hostility, out to tame all that rests on nature, or is natural, akin to Nietzsche’s position in the world and his views. Taking this into account, Edwards’s views on Christianity should be observed in context targeted at those who agree with his idea, that G-d is great and beyond the capacity of human reason.

Edwards reaffirms for his audience G-d’s Spiritual and Divine Light. This light imparted to the soul by G-d, is of a different nature from any that is obtained by natural means (Edwards, 214). Edwards spells out that his sermon was not intended to address the men who believe solely in life’s natural condition and the anger of G-d. Spiritual light is also something that cannot be witnessed by eye, only by “due apprehension of those things that are taught in the word of G-d.” It is at this juncture that Nietzsche wholeheartedly agrees, affirming that the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ is a condition of the heart and is not something that emanates from death or comes ‘upon the earth’ (Nietzsche, Sec. 34).

However, Nietzsche debunks Edward’s idea of sin, claiming it as a contrivance used to invoke fear in the believers of Christianity and to denote ruling power to the Priest (Nietzsche, Sec. 49). Nietzsche proceeds to deride the value system of Christianity, spelling out what he sees through the will to power as definitions for happiness, good, and bad (Nietzsche, Sec. 2). For Nietzsche, happiness is the feeling bolstered by power: “that a resistanc...

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...y, according to Nietzsche, still exists as part of certain individuals’ subconscious states. Since that individual has a preconceived notion of it in their mind before they achieve a higher state of being, it provides light at the end of the tunnel to fuel their mental digression. Pity too must be a product of that individual’s emotional state. For people who desire self-pity, the idea of Christianity offers them closure, a rationalized conclusion, at the end of the pathway of the individual’s subconscious. In their eyes, the idea of Christianity affords them some level of higher status within their community, which they would not otherwise be able to attain. Christianity rationalizes for the individual his state of depravity. Had this individual been able to see reality from the get-go, achieve some modicum of societal power, they would not require self-pity today.
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