Modern people and modern theology, in trying to start from man alone, are left where the brilliant German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche found himself. Nietzsche in the 1880s was the first one who said in the modern way that God is dead, and he understood well where people end when they say this. If God is dead, then everything for which God gives an answer and meaning is dead… I am convinced that when Nietzsche came to Switzerland and went insane… it was because he understood that insanity was the only philosophic answer if the infinite-personal God does not exist. —Francis A. Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live?
In my days as a college philosophy student (it was the Age of Aquarius, but I never inhaled!), a popular t-shirt had this emblazoned across the front: God is dead. —Nietzsche. On the back it read: Nietzsche is dead. —God.
Talk of God’s “death” was prompted by his apparent silence and disinterest in a world full of war and suffering. If God was there, why wouldn’t he step in to stop the madness?
Today, God has become irrelevant. Some say there is no God at all. Others prefer Richard Dawkins’ blind watchmaker, a brilliant craftsman who created the universe and then wandered off, forgetting where he laid us. New Age spirituality says simply that a life energy radiates from all material things. Whatever the case, most moderns agree that the relational God of the Judeo-Christian faith is out.
Francis Schaeffer argued that there are serious consequences to eliminating God. If mankind is alone, life becomes pointless. The emptiness of the universe becomes unbearable. Which is why the movie Alien is so terrifying. Alien is a post-modern parable about being alone and utterly dependent on ourselves for survival. Ripley, the heroine, finds herself trapped on a space ship a million miles from nowhere with a blood-thirsty creature stalking her. The movie’s tagline? “In space no one can hear you scream.”
College taught me that most German philosophers are a bit tightly wound. Too many bedtime stories by the brothers Grimm, I figure. In this age of managed health care, no American would look to insanity as an answer to anything, except a defense to murder.
We’ve adapted. And in the process, we’ve discovered that a life without God can be pretty darned good—heck, did I say good?! Why, it’s a non-stop party!
With a fistful of credit cards and a stockpile of coke, weed or meth, life is sweet. Or, if legal stimulants are more to your liking, a case of “Two-buck Chuck” and a vial of Prozac will do very nicely. Prozac and its cousins, those breakthrough drugs for treating clinical depression, are being famously over-prescribed to thousands who are not depressed at all, but simply hoping to deaden the post-modern ache in their souls.
We wrap ourselves in comfort, we busy ourselves with work, we ease our guilt by sweating for important causes, we set goals and achieve them, we surround ourselves with happy people, we get high, we let our passions off the leash, we live life large in wide-screen Technicolor and THX surround-sound!
Our lives have become a house of cards—the smallest breeze will collapse the whole works.
One moment, we’re laughing. The next, we’re doing the equivalent of a slow-motion tumble in the shower, hands desperately grabbing at the air, legs flying, the cold, hard floor coming up at us way too fast.
What then? As Francis Shaeffer was fond of saying, “God is there and he is not silent.” God is waiting patiently to have a relationship with us, not just at the moment of our greatest need, but always, daily, moment by moment.
I run for dear life to Yahweh,
I’ll never regret it.
Do what you do so well:
get me out of this mess and up on my feet.
Put your ear to the ground and listen,
give me space for salvation.
Be a guest room where I can retreat;
you said your door was always open!
You’re my salvation—my vast, granite fortress.
—Psalm 71:1-3, The Message
In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me. —Jeremiah 29:12,13, NLT, (God speaking)
We are not alone. God is only a prayer away. Don’t wait until life is coming apart at the seams. Give him a call today. Operators are standing by.