Nietzsche's "death of God" is possibly the most misunderstood area of Nietzsche's works and has served as the basis for misunderstanding the rest of Nietzsche's works within theological beliefs. After Nietzsche from the church and postmodern culture: conversation by impleri
Later in The Gay Science, Nietzsche states that Schopenhauer first saw that belief in God was a lie.4 Furthermore, Schopenhauer raised this as a problem with the rest of Europe; and it is this European conscience that finally ceased tolerating this lie.5 This may bring us closer to discovering the murderers of God than what is first seen. Through this, it may be assumed that God's murder occurred years (if not centuries) before Schopenhauer. Jumping back in history, we can see when God became a tool of man for Nietzsche: the Jews and early Christians. First, the Jews begin interpreting "all happiness as a reward, all unhappiness as punishment for disobeying God, as 'sin.'"6 As "sin" is introduced through the Jews, it becomes a device for the priestly class to maintain the order they want. To Nietzsche, the Jewish priests did not stop there and they began falsifying their history to further their control over others. For Nietzsche, the Jews continued to negate the ideals of what was natural and seen in all of the non-Jewish people. Through this, the Jews were able to form Christianity to suit their own needs:
The 'holy people,' who had retained only priestly values, only priestly words for all things and who, with awe-inspiring consistency, had distinguished all other powers on earth from themselves as 'unholy,' as 'world,' as 'sin'--this people produced an ultimate formula for its instinct that was logical to the point of self-negation: as Christianity, it negated even the last form of reality, the 'holy people,' the 'chosen people,' the Jewish reality itself.7Christianity has become the ultimate form of Judaism in that it even rejects its own true self. Nietzsche further sees the death of God being embedded in the fact that God is never found. There is no evidence anywhere for Nietzsche in the historical, natural, and even the supernatural. The death of God was the creation of a god. In Nietzsche's mind, this is found clearly in Paul: "The 'God' whom Paul invented, a god who 'ruins the wisdom of the world' ... is in truth merely Paul's own resolute determination to...give the name of 'God' to one's own will."8 The death of God is a will to nothingness, a call to nihilism. Back to the madman, we find that individualism is what killed God as the madman asks, "Shall we not ourselves have to become gods, merely to seem worthy of it [killing God]?"9 In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche writes that God died of pity. Nietzsche also mentions in Zarathustra that God dies many times. This resonates with Nietzsche's thoughts of eternal return—to will something to occur eternally. Yet, in order to keep within Nietzsche's critique of Christianity, it seems fair to consider that the death of God is brought along in part by the Judeo-Christian priestly class who have replaced God with their own puppet and covered this up with a lie in the myth of the resurrected Christ. Shockingly, Nietzsche respects this one aspect of Christianity because it was a creation of new values. Nietzsche's phrase "God is dead" may be understood now in terms of who and how, but it still needs to be placed in the context of Nietzsche's meaning. There still remains to be determined whether or not Nietzsche's "Christianity" was synonymous with Christianity as a whole or just in terms of a single section. Some see Nietzsche in terms of the Christian church contemporary to his day much like many see Kierkegaard in terms of the Danish church at his time. If Nietzsche was reacting primarily against the German Lutheranism of his day, how much of his critique is still applicable to theology today? If Nietzsche's criticism was also in view of Christianity as a whole, we must discover how accurate are his depictions of Christianity and how should they affect Christian theology. It should be noted that the figure of Jesus appears to largely be excluded from his critiques of Christianity... Mark Taylor is one of the few who have appropriated Nietzsche into a working model of theology. In his Erring, Taylor notices in sections of Christianity something similar to Nietzsche's madman: individualism. Taylor points out that it was Luther's conception of Christ living and dying pro nobis--"for us"--that has radically shifted the focus of theology from God to self.