But let me explain why I don’t think so.
Friedrich Nietzsche is probably most known for saying “God is dead,” although Fyodor Dostoevsky said the same thing decades earlier. He wasn’t saying that God doesn’t exist — although he did think that — nor was he saying that God is a figment of our imagination — though he also thought that — but rather that the meaning of God in our lives has been lost, as compared to religious people in ancient times. His solution is a return to the Greeks, who aspired to live well and die well, in their not knowing anything better.
This ‘anything better’ is Christ. Even the Greek language, informed as it is by Plato and Aristotle, was enslaved by Christ to be the language of the Gospel, just one display of how Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33).
Nietzsche has many ideas that when freed of their materialistic bars, allow for openness to real spiritual experience. A big problem though is that being spiritual is not good enough. As Peter Kreeft likes to point out, even the devil is a fully spiritual being. What we want is spiritual development or spiritual goodness. Because there is spiritual badness and it’s associated with much that is wrong in this world.
Let’s look at Nietzsche’s pronouncement of loving fate. ‘Amor fati’ is really just a distorted version of trusting in the will of God, where instead one places trust in whatever it is that dictates our destiny, even if this isn’t acknowledged as God.
Nietzsche is like a toddler who refuses to try new food, judging it to be yucky based on appearances. And when they finally try it and find out how delicious it is, they admit that it’s yummy, but only “a little.”
That’s how Nietzsche rejects the unseen Christ’s message of salvation. Nietzsche may have referred to himself as the antichrist, but as a child of God he couldn’t help but aspire for His truth in some way; just not the way.
When it comes to the study of knowing, Nietzsche takes on after Immanuel Kant a good deal, of being skeptical of knowing anything at all, but Nietzsche has the advantage of writing after Kant, and so gets to be skeptical of Kant as well. He criticized Kantian categorizing in favor of a more outward-inward experience of spirit.
In spite of such skepticism over science’s knowledge claims, Nietzsche couldn’t accept Jesus or even a more generalized concept of God, since Nietzsche himself is stuck in the materialism he rails against. When he reduces Saint Teresa of Avila’s interior castle to be a matter of sexual ecstasy, you know Nietzsche himself is trapped in his dungeon of categories.
Nietzsche doesn’t have all the answers
Nietzsche prefers Buddhism to Christianity, and sure enough for the reasons why Buddhism is regarded as more a psychology than a faith, a science more than the provider of a supernaturally true experience for its adherents.
If we regard Nietzsche’s work solely for their psychological explorations and thought experiments, we have a lot to learn about our being human. But we’re not just the animals he portrays himself and us to be.
I wanna know why he didn’t go to Hell, not an exposition of his philosophy! We have Wikipedia you know
So why didn’t Nietzsche go to Hell even after spending his last two lucid decades at war, mostly in his head, with Christianity? We could think of the millions of people whom he turned away from the faith by the sheer force of his writings, which if you’re not protected by the truth that is Jesus, convinces you, “You’re stupid and weak for believing in that crap.” How could he escape God’s divine justice?
My answer would be, simply, grace. People who loved Nietzsche prayed for him, and this began before he was even conceived. Born from a line of pastors, I’m sure his ancestors prayed for the salvation of their children’s children’s children, if not of the whole world.
There is much folly brought on by Nietzsche’s ideas, however ill-represented these were by his fans. But I also believe God’s goodness could very well have triumphed over his lack of trust. I believe Nietzsche’s insanity for the last 11 years of his life could be considered purgative, God’s way of saying, “Enough already, this is what your lifelong suffering actually means.”
Insanity as compassion
In his autobiography ‘Ecce homo,’ Nietzsche claimed gratitude for his ill health, in that it helped him develop his ideas and style so as to tell things as they were, or rather, as he saw them to be. He opposed comfort as a goal or desired endpoint in life, echoing Christ’s call for us to take up our crosses. Rather than following our Lord, however, Nietzsche felt it better to say, “Thus I willed it!” and other things that puffed up his self-importance.
Rendered helpless by the disease that ate at his brain, Nietzsche had no will of his own, but this may have been what was needed to elicit the pity, and the prayers, of those whom he encountered. In this sense, the insanity was God’s mercy. Nietzsche, critic of pity, would have otherwise driven away his well-wishers.
Jesus’ second coming should be interesting. We will get to see who did get to Heaven, among whom would be the most unlikely characters such as this miserable man, who fashioned himself God’s ecstatic archenemy.
If you liked this rambling, you might appreciate ‘How to be Catholic during your rebellious years,’ where I discuss my recent conversion after a long time away from the Church.