Throughout the course of European history, the progress of the continent has come largely from an evolution of not only people, but an evolution of ideologies. From Hegal's idea of synthesis to the Enlightenment philisophes, the ideological history of Europe has not been insignificant. One of the major periods of advancement in this field was the late 19th century. One such thinker to arise in this period is Friedrich Nietzsche. Greatly controversial, Nietzsche's work was perhaps the some of the most fundamentally non-Christian opinion ever. While Nietzsche's beliefs toward Christianity did equate with his own personal doctrine, I do believe that his view on Christianity was greatly unfounded, and lacking of true Christian understanding.
To really understand Nietzsche's opposition to Christianity one must really understand his entire doctrine of hierarchy. At the core of his theory, he thought man's quest in life was the "enhancement of power"(Perry, p.272). He thought that one should follow chaotic passions, and to assert his own personal will over all (Perry, p.272).
He theorized life as a constant quest for advancement in power and minimized anything less, saying "what determines your rank is the quantum of the power you are, the rest is cowardice." In this Nietzsche imagines that society should reward a sort of "superman," or "overman," this man being higher in power than the masses (Perry, p.275). He thought society must be dominated by this sort of person. At the heart of the whole theory is a basic belief in an inequality of people. This inequality leads Nietzsche to be thoroughly opposed to "suffrage universel," Socialism, as well as European democracies. Perhaps the most important opposition of Nietzsche's though, was his opposition to the idea that mankind is equal before God, and understandably so considering his basic doctrine (Perry, p. 274).
This of course sets the stage for a massive conflict between the teachings of the Church and Nietzsche's Antichrist theory. At the heart of all Christian belief is the faith in indiscriminating God who holds all of mankind in high esteem. Nietzsche's sees this as unacceptable, referring to the idea as the "poison of the doctrine" (Perry, p.275) He says that all men are in no way equal before the almighty, and Christianity should reward the higher men among the masses, but thinks that Christianity fundamentally fears the higher man (Perry, p. 275). He refers to Christianity as the "religion of pity," objecting by saying that pity leads to depression and unhappiness. He states that the lowest classes, or the "herd" seek redemption in Christianity, the weaker among us (Perry, p.275). Another of Nietzsche's objections has to do with the faith that Christianity places in God. He firmly disagrees with the rather "imaginary" effects such as soul, God, and spirit.
To Nietzsche's argument against an indiscriminate God, I would say that this is certainly not founded on true understanding of Christianity. According to the Bible, God
rewards the better amongst men with eternal happiness, therefore making all men in very obvious discretion before God. In terms of Christianity fearing the "overman," I would say that this is equally misunderstood. It is not a fear in the higher men among us which drives the masses to Christianity, but a desire to become a better person before God. This defeats Nietzsche's primary argument at the core of his theses. He misunderstands that God will reward all who flock to him, and hold each of them as the higher man, there is no concept of any member of the "herd" being lower than any other. As far as the idea of pity, I disagree with Nietzsche's interpretation of this. The idea of pity is not at the core of Christianity, it is rather a compassion that drives this religion, a showing of compassion for all.
Thus, it is clear that there are some very important aspects of Nietzsche's doctrine that do no equate with the realities of Christianity. It is clear now that there is a truly sound argument against Nietzsche's ideas, and consequently there was reason for controversy.