In a recent podcast by Christ & Pop Culture Rich Clark and Ben Bartlett discuss the presence of nihilism in pop-culture. For those of you unfamiliar with that term, it is a philosophical label that refers to a worldview, mindset, etc. that believes there is no meaning to anything. It is most often characterized, in the academic world, by the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche. In the podcast, however, Rich Clark states that nihilism is, in many ways, the unfinished process of coming to Christ. Such a statement is indeed profound, and I believe accurate. Nihilism represents the realization that life, without God, is meaningless. How can we have morals, love, joy, and purpose without a Creator who gives us such things? We cannot. This realization, then, points us to the great need we have for there to be a God. Nihilists, however, refuse to believe in God and therefore conclude their spiritual journey before its appointed end. Rich continues, however, with another profound point.
Rich states that those who believe Christianity is nothing more than a system of religious and moral beliefs will find no answer, no solace, to their nihilism and hopelessness. It is my conviction, if I may add to Rich’s thoughts, that this is where many churches (at least in my area of the world) fall short. Instead of offering Jesus, they do seem to offer a list of “do”s and “don’t”s. It is the difference between legalism/religion, and the true Christian faith. If we wish to offer the world, our communities, a real answer to that feeling of hopelessness it must be found in the person and work of Jesus…not in moral strivings and moral systems. If we wish to help people, as churches should, get to the complete end on their spiritual journeys, we must point them to the cross.
In some ways, then, we can thank God for nihilism…but only if we are faithfully pointing people to Jesus when their reach that point of despair.