Our conclusion from last week, that the resurrection turns the tables on the tables that keep turning in human history answers Nietzsche's uber-complaint against Christianity, that it engenders "the most corrupt kind of corruption." (The Antichrist, tr. Kaufmann, section 58.)
A fuller statement is found earlier in The Antichrist (section 18): "The Christian concept of God--God as god of the sick...is one of the most corrupt conceptions of the divine ever attained on earth. It may even represent the low-water mark in the descending development of the divine types. God degenerated into the contradiction of life, instead of being its transfiguration and eternal Yes! God as the declaration of war against life, against nature, against the will to live." I contend that Nietzsche's point, when unpacked, does not threaten the Christian position, but rather makes it clear why it is needed.
Speaking entirely in the abstract, if a weaker, aggrieved party uses legal or moral sanction to overthrow a stronger, aggrieving party, though justice will presumably be served, but is it necessarily the case that good has been served in addition? Nietzsche helps us see that the presumption is false.
He, of course, opposed moral and legal sanction against the stronger party on behalf of the weaker on the grounds that it is natural for the strong to dominate the weak. That is what nature sanctions, he would say, so we should too.
But there is a much more interesting aspect of this charge that he brings against Christianity: that its transvaluation (its unnatural love of weakness instead of strength: cf "the beatitudes") is born out of envy: "'When the great man screams, the small man comes running with his tongue hanging from lasciviousness.'" (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, tr. Kaufmann, Third Part.) If Nietzsche is correct here, it is the end of a moral justification of justice: we may support justice out of social necessity, but the idea that it serves good has been burlesqued. From this perspective the Apostle Paul and Nietzsche agree: Humanity is "a slave to the law of sin." (Romans 7:25--of course Nietzsche would not call it "sin.")
The tablative justice that we considered last week, then, turns on the power that the law gives to the aggrieved. But the power of the aggrieved is just another form of power, and a form that Nietzsche hates because it overturns the natural order and that Christianity critiques--or at least ought to--as spinning the wheels of justice without making any progress toward good. Nature will not be transcended in Nietzsche's view: So justice is a sham. He was correct in this, at least, a justice that does nothing more than turn the tables on the natural order without implementing a clear good in its place is, in fact, the most corrupt kind of corruption." And that is not possible without a change of heart that redefines the human nature. We ought to thank him for that crucial point and take it to heart.
To make progress toward good, it is necessary that the one who takes power does so with the intent of benefiting others with that power. That is the ostensible goal of the Christian view of Agape love. The question, of course, is whether Christianity really turns the tables on the turning of the tables. More on that next time, as we examine a related and further critique of Nietzsche's, for which we should be grateful.
As relief to the abstract point of view given here, it's worth noting that as Talk of the Nation ended yesterday (5/21/09, NPR) the parting comment following a discussion of the ongoing debate between our President and the former Vice president was that--and I paraphrase--projecting strength (Cheney) or projecting values (Obama) is a classic dilemma. If this post is on target, it is only by using strength to promote the welfare of others that the dilemma can be resolved.