Well over a hundred years ago the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche declared, “God is dead.” He suffered a mental collapse in January of 1989, and spent the remaining ten years of his life mentally ill dying on August 25, 1900. Philosophers have debated what Nietzsche meant when he said, “God is dead,” but no one is debating whether Nietzsche is dead.
The cover story of the April 8, 1966, edition of Time magazine asked, “Is God dead?” The cover provoked popular criticism drawing attention away from the actual content of the article. The article addressed the theological problem of making God relevant in an increasingly secular and scientific society.
Of course, Time magazine was merely following Nietzsche’s lead, and the Church would have done well to contemplate why the question was being asked?
The Church of England recently relaxed its requirement that the faithful attend weekly services. Poor attendance, a symptom of disinterest, was blamed. The waning of Christian influence in Great Britain is currently highlighted here in the policies and character of our two candidates for the Presidency and the lessening of evangelical influence not only in the electoral process but also in our culture.
The question is not, is God dead, but is the church alive to God?
Jesus said to the Pharisees and scribes, “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me,” Matthew 15:7-8.
Biblical faith has always been intended to restore and foster a relationship with our Father. Our first parents forfeited their relationship with God when they decided to disobey. We inherited the inclination to sin from them, and in doing as they did, we surrender our hope of a relationship with the Father.
Jesus came to satisfy our sin debt so that we could be restored to right standing and a relationship with Father God. By repenting of our sins and turning in faith to Christ for forgiveness that relationship is restored. But when Christianity devolves into meaningless routine and religious practice it sucks the life out of the relationship.
In Isaiah’s day the people of God had lapsed into idolatry and the true worship of God was just traditional formality; their heart was far from God. Praise was mere lipservice and rituals were empty routine. In Jesus’ day idolatry was supplanted by self-righteousness, much like today.
The church is no longer hallowed by this generation, but seen as hollow, empty of life. I believe there are people in America who hunger for a real relationship with the Father, and they will only find it in those who are alive to God.
John wrote of Jesus, “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men,” John 1:4. That is the life we have to share with others, and we cannot wait for them to stumble into our world, we need to step into theirs.