John Henry Newman, the cardinal, and Friedrich Nietzsche, the atheist, may not seem to have much in common. But both were great writers, and both were opponents of the religious liberalism that was lapping at the foundations of European Christianity in the 19th century. This is the hundredth year since Nietzsches death (the hundred and tenth since Newmans), and it is instructive to read the two men side by side, while one sits in ones editorial chair waiting and waiting for todays high tide of religious liberalism to wash back out.
When these two wrote against liberalism, of course, Newman wrote out of his belief and Nietzsche out of his unbelief. But which of them wrote the following? When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under ones feet . Christianity is a system, a whole view of things . By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in ones hands . Christian morality is a command; its origin is transcendent; it has truth only if God is the truth it stands and falls with faith in God.
Newman might have written it, but it comes from Nietzsches Twilight of the Idols.
Both men also dissected, with razor-sharp rhetoric, the intellectual classs smugness about orthodox Christianity. (Nietzsches attitude toward Christianity was one of feral hatred, but, to do him justice, it was not smug.) The following passages are typical of many in their writings.
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