A Response to Nietzche, Part 1
“Fellow creators the creator seeks, those who inscribe new values on new tablets." - Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Prologue, 9
“Change of values—that means change of creators. Whoever must be a creator always annihilates." - Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 1.15
In Friedrich Nietzche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883), the main character, Zarathustra, urges his followers to create new values. This will require the annihilation of old values, particularly the values of Christianity. The creators’ “new tablets” will replace the old tablets, a reference to the tablets on which God engraved the ten commandments.
“Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets that were written on both sides. On the front and on the back they were written. The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets." - Exodus 32:15-16
Whose prerogative is it to create values? Who gets to say, “This is good,” or, “This is evil”? God or man? Zarathustra asserts God is dead and his values are obsolete. It is now up to man to create his own values.
Is man able to create values that are superior to the ones established by God? The answer is no. Man is finite, fallen, and fragile. History demonstrates the futility of man's attempt to create new values. When he does so, horrible consequences result. Societies crumble into anarchy or are enslaved in tyranny. The French, German, Russian, and Chinese revolutions of the past three centuries were all attempts by man to create new values on new tablets and apply those values to entire civilisations. All have resulted in violence and tyranny.
The Bible says God is the establisher of values, and because he is infinite, unchanging, and righteous, the values he sets are not subject to change or revision. Those values correspond to God’s holy nature. We are to share his values—holiness, righteousness, justice, love, patience, mercy, grace—as those values are defined, described, and demonstrated in Scripture and especially in the life of Jesus. We are to be holy as God is holy, not to redefine values at our whim.
“[B]ut as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct…” (1 Peter 1:15).
We must say no to Zarathustra’s invitation to create new values. Our job as creatures is to live by the most ancient values, the true values that undergird all reality, ones that were established by God long ago.
- Jeff Coleman