Modernity without Restraint: The Political Religions, the New Science of Politics, and Science, Politics, and Gnosticism

By Manfred Henningsen; Eric Voegelin | Go to book overview

3
The Murder of God

Our analysis of parousiastic doxa began with the Marxian texts that have to do with the prohibition of questions. The examination was based on these passages because in them the motives, symbols, and patterns of thought of the gnostic mass movements of our time can be seen in rare concentration. It would be difficult to find another document of modern Gnosticism that in power and clarity of expression, in intellectual vigor and ingenious determination, would compare with the manuscript of the young Marx. Nevertheless, the selection has a disadvantage in that one of the most powerful motives of the speculation does not stand out with a distinctness in keeping with its actual importance. This is the motive of the murder of God.

The aim of parousiastic Gnosticism is to destroy the order of being, which is experienced as defective and unjust, and through man's creative power to replace it with a perfect and just order. Now, however the order of being may be understood—as a world dominated by cosmic-divine powers in the civilizations of the Near and Far East, or as the creation of a world-transcendent God in Judaeo-Christian symbolism, or as an essential order of being in philosophical contemplation—it remains something that is given, that is not under man's control. In order, therefore, that the attempt to create a new world may seem to make sense, the givenness of the order of being must be obliterated; the order of being must be interpreted, rather, as essentially under man's control. And taking control of being further requires that the transcendent origin of being be obliterated: It requires the decapitation of being—the murder of God.

The murder of God is committed speculatively by explaining divine being as the work of man. Let us consider what Nietzsche's

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