Loving, just, fair, compassionate…it seems to be closer to the human heart. But Friedrich Nietzsche criticizes it and his criticism is foundational and crucial. He says, “You cannot say God is love because wherever love is, hate is and if your God knows no hate, he cannot know love. How will he find it out that this is love? To define love, a certain experience of hate is needed. To define silence, noise is needed. To define beauty, ugliness is needed. You are alive because every day many people are dying and you can see the distinction. If nobody was dying, you would not even be able to imagine what life is.”
His criticism is very psychological. He is saying that you are taking one part, one side of a coin, and leaving the other side. This is impossible. You cannot have a coin with only one side. You can go on making it thinner but the other side will remain – either both or none.
Nietzsche says Jesus’ God is nothing but the completion of the Jewish concept of God. He was anger, he was hate, he was rage. Jesus has taken the other side of the coin, but both are halves and God is whole. If there is any God, he can only be whole.
Jesus says, “If somebody slaps you don’t be angry, but with humbleness give him the other cheek also.” It is such a beautiful idea, but a man like Friedrich Nietzsche has an insight and maturity which the common masses cannot have. His criticism is one of the examples of the highest reaches of logic.
Nietzsche says, “If somebody hits me on one of my cheeks, I am not so inhumane as to give him my other cheek. That is egoistic. It is trying to prove that ‘you are just an ordinary human being – I am a messiah, a messenger of God. I forgive you and if you enjoy hitting me, you can hit me more.’” Nietzsche’s point is that you are reducing the other person to utter humiliation. Nobody in two thousand years’ history has raised this question.
Nietzsche says, “If somebody hits me, I will hit him as hard as I can because I am just as human as you are. I don’t want to prove myself holier than you, higher than you, superior to you. I respect your humanity and I accept your challenge. You have slapped my face. You have given the challenge to me.”
He is saying that Jesus’ idea is disrespectful. And certainly if you look deep into its psychology, you will find it is insulting. You are not accepting the other man as a man equal to you. He is an ignorant man, unenlightened. You are awakened. You are creating a distance between yourself and the person who has slapped you.
Nietzsche says, “I cannot create that distance. That distance is nothing but fulfillment of a very subtle kind – and fulfillment not of your being but only of your ego.”
But this bishop thought that by reading from the Sermon on the Mount, the old man was bound to be convinced that Jesus was as enlightened as Gautam Buddha. He read two lines and the old man said, “That’s enough. Whoever has written these will become enlightened in some future life but as far as this life is concerned, forget all about it.”
The bishop said, “But the lines are so beautiful – each word a diamond unto itself.”