The Christian Era from Jesus to Francis Fukuyama
Most people, it seems to me, don’t understand that the Age of Reason — or what we call “the Modern Era” — came to an abrupt end with the World Wars and the Holocaust. They have been sleepwalking through the times. Most people also don’t seem to understand either that the entire Christian Era was announced null and void by Fukuyama’s “end of history”, too, and not by Nietzsche despite his announcement of the “death of God”. It was Fukuyama who sealed the Christian Era and who prepared the way for “the new normal”.
We should understand some of the meaning of all this, for therein lies one of the great ironies of our time. Nietzsche, the self-declared “anti-Christ”, actually tried to redeem Christianity from its decadence through his “revaluation of values”, while the neo-conservative Fukuyama’s chiliastic triumphalism in “the end of history” was actually anti-Christ, and a symptom of the general degeneracy of the mental-rational consciousness.
The origins of the Christian Era lie in one imperative, really. It occurs in Matthew 5:48.
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
What an extraordinarily audacious statement that must have been to the ears of his listeners! In fact, it was blasphemous and heretical. Who in their right mind could ever believe that a human being could become as God is?
And yet they believed it was possible and that it should be attempted. Why? Because they had the proof of it in the example of the man before them. His mana — his charisma — must have been extraordinary to move people to accept that absurd invitation as being reasonable, and to take on themselves such an utterly audacious project — to become as God is! Without that imperative, and the affirmation it received, there would have been no Christian Era.
For John, who was not only a disciple, but Jesus’ personal friend, Jesus had been the perfect incarnation and expression of the Heraclitean Logos, the Logos in the flesh; the fully realised god-man. For those in his immediate life-circle, it may have seemed that the life of Jesus was an utterly unique event in human history, a turning point in the natural order of things. But they accepted his invitation and his challenge, and so became “disciples” — men and women prepared to risk everything for this on faith alone, that human beings could become as God is, for they had the proof of that in the presence of the man before them.
In consequence, and as has been noted by many, “progressive time” was instituted, and history became the story of man’s “redemption”, ie, god-man making. In accepting the challenge to become as God is, men and women had to break out of the ouroboric cycle or eternal recurrence of same. This Jesus accomplished by dissolving the lex talionis by a superior law — the law of forgiveness. Man was not obligated to the past or to being a prisoner of duties, but had a superior destiny and appointment if he chose to embrace it and meet it — “god consciousness” or “Christ consciousness”.
This was the whole meaning of “faith”, but which has been completely perverted over time. The faith of the early Christians was the absolute conviction that human beings could become as God is. And it was this faith that drove them out of the time-bound ouroboric cycle and into eternity. That is what Jacob Boehme’s famous illustration of the spirit breaking out of the ouroboric cycle represents,
That is why faith and belief tend in opposite directions of time. Belief draws backward into the past. Faith drives forward into the future.
There is, for that reason, an almost straight line, historically speaking, from Jesus’ “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” to the Enlightenment philosophe’s Marquis de Condorcet (1743 – 1794) declaring, with all the bright and early optimism of the Age of Reason, “the infinite perfectibility of man” based on Universal Reason.
This is still the response of discipleship! This is still an answer to Jesus’ imperative, and is still a faith. Only now, “god consciousness” (or the Logos) is equated with Universal Reason, and therefore with the mental-rational structure of consciousness. It is still, nonetheless, the old faith — human beings can become as God is.
This is the context of Blake’s revolt against “Universal Reason” (or “Urizen”, as he calls it). God, for Blake, is the Divine Imagination, not the Universal Geometer. “Christ consciousness” is what Blake calls “Imagination”. But the remarkable thing to note here is that whether you are William Blake or the Marquis de Condorcet or Adam Smith, for that matter, there is still this response of faith — that human beings can become as God is. For Blake, however, the God of the rationalists and the Deists is a false god, the god of the ouroboros, the old savage Moloch and Golden Calf resurrect. That’s the gist of his complaint in his manifesto, “There is NO Natural Religion“,
“If it were not for the Poetic or Prophetic Character the Philosophic & Experimental would soon be at the ratio of all things, and stand still, unable to do other than repeat the same dull round over again.”
Blake still affirms the old faith, though, that “…God becomes as we are, that we may be as he is”, the statement that closes his manifesto. Only, one must be careful not to confuse Blake’s “God” with “Jehovah”, who Blake considers anti-Christ in the form of demented and deranged Zoa “Urizen”.
Enter Nietzsche. As a young man, Nietzsche was inordinately pious. His “stare into the abyss” was, in many ways, the realisation that everything he believed in was untrue. People call this stare into the abyss “a crisis of faith”, and that is true for Nietzsche. He experienced it most acutely. “When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back into you”, is how he put it, most beautifully too. The Great Nothingness. The effect was devastating for Nietzsche, who records his own incinerating despair in the opening pages of his Thus Spoke Zarathustra, where Zarathustra lugs the ashes of his life up the mountain for 10 years sojourn in the wilderness until he reconstitutes himself and his old faith, but on a new basis.
“God is dead”. But what “God” is that? Blake would welcome the death of God, who he believed was a presumptuous and false god anyway. The irony of Nietzsche is, that the denunciation and negation of Christianity was necessary in order to redeem its core value and faith — history as the process of god-man making, the history of human striving toward god consciousness. This is Nietzsche’s “overman” or “transhuman” — the same “god consciousness”. Nietzsche’s real delinquency and hybris was not in declaring the death of God and himself the anti-Christ, but in the presumption that he, Nietzsche, would succeed where Jesus had failed. But in almost all respects otherwise, Nietzsche reconstituted and reaffirmed the Gospel of primitive Christianity. His belief that he was the new caesura of history, and that time henceforth would be measured in terms of before Nietzsche and after Nietzsche was grounded in his conviction, however aberrant it may have been, that he was the true successor of Jesus, and not his negation. This is the really chilling aspect of Nietzsche’s thought — his conviction not that Jesus was wrong. But that Jesus had failed.
The irony of that is, that if Jesus failed, then Nietzsche was an error himself.
That historical faith, nonetheless, seems to have come crashing down with Fukuyama’s “end of history” and “the new normal”. What typifies the end of history and “the new normal” is its total faithlessness. I do not mean, by that, its irreligiosity, for in some ways it is highly religious (in a perverse sort of way), but its apparent conviction that the historical process of god-man making — of stretching our imagination towards god consciousness — is not worth the candle. Whereas, I insist (and if I have been understood) it has been the principal driver of our social and civilisational evolution, and perhaps of any kind of progression made by human beings generally; the process of turning an ape into a god — a fully aware, a fully conscious being. That is what is meant by “perfected”. “Perfect” means whole, complete.
That’s the illusive seduction of the “end of history” — that the human form is complete and the man or woman of the modern type is final, the accomplished goal of all history. But that is just utter narcissism speaking — the closure of the self in upon itself, just as Blake warned
For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern.
That is not only the meaning of the “end of history”, but also of the return to the ouroboric condition. And in that sense, Fukuyama’s end of history and the new normal is also post-Christian.
In that sense, it’s not really even a contradiction (as some have claimed) that Fukuyama followed up his End of History and the Last Man with Our Post-Human Future. It seems like a contradiction but the one follows logically from the other.
What is generally called “Christian” today is really a corpse, and perhaps we should not mourn its passing. In a large measure, it has become highly reactionary — something in the process of negating and devouring itself. But it’s because “Christian society” has forgotten its tasks, purposes, and even its very meaning, and has become merely a shell — having become mere ritual, dogma, and ideology — that its children look elsewhere. And that’s not just to “find meaning”, as the usual sociological interpretations give.
It’s for “the keys to the kingdom”.