Friedrich Nietzsche was raised in Lutheran Protestantism, like a panther raised by deer. He rebelled against the half-hearted piety around him and tore at the world with his words. He screamed and wailed in astonishment that people could believe something as paltry as Christianity for such a long time. He saw them as people hiding from the sun, afraid to accept the world around them. Many Christian people today hide from him. They find that he was insane and was possessed by a devil. But I find part of him to be a sideways hero of the Christian faith. He, like Kierkegaard, honestly, took the pulse of Christianity and found that there was none. From here, as said, the dead Christian community runs away hoping to find a preacher who will assure them that they are alive. But if one were to feel the refining fire from Nietzsche's words and then learn from the smarting, then that one is truly strong.
In the book of Exodus Pharaoh was king of Egypt and he held the tribes of Israel in his hand. He made them work for him through hard manual labor. In the third chapter the great 'I AM' appears to a man and tells him to go to Pharaoh and demand that all of the people of Israel be freed. The man goes to Pharaoh and repeats the message. Pharaoh does not free the Israelites; so many plagues come upon him and his people. There is blood in the water, gnats and flies, dead cattle, a great darkness, frogs, locusts and other attacks. By the end of the divine pain Pharaoh frees the Israelites and they march through the sea towards paradise.
With this scene as a stage I would like to say that Nietzsche is the plagues, the Christian community is Pharaoh and the true, strong Christ is the Israelites. Now Nietzsche, like the bugs and frogs and blood, had no intention of causing a man to free a people from bondage. He only reacted. Nietzsche saw the feeble land and overtook it. He saw the hypocrisy and swarmed around it. Instinctively, like the frogs that bred and chirped and filled what space they could, so Nietzsche saw the dishonesty and fear in the Christian community and exposed it. Nietzsche reminds me most of the plague of darkness. In the Bible it says that the darkness was a darkness that could be felt. And Nietzsche's words, when they are heard by a Christian, are that same thing. They are dark, but, mysteriously, potent and tangible and sharp. He, like the darkness, makes one truly ask one's self, "is all of this come because the darkness is an evil, or has the darkness come to feast on evil?" On the same stage is Pharaoh, the Christian community, not willing to let the true Christ out. Instead he is bound to labor and simplicity. He is not mysterious or strong, he is tired from labor. He is not allowed to pray or offer sacrifice; he is a tool for use and when his use is done, he is sent home.
So, then, how should a Christian react towards Nietzsche? I can only say that he should not be ignored because of his hate. His hate, though not all of it, is based off of Christian failure. And to look away is defeat. After having read Nietzsche, how is one to look at Christ? Is he really an instigator of weakness? Does he truly suck life and freedom out of his disciples? I say that Nietzsche's disgust with Christianity is both noble and ignoble. At times he swings his hammer at the wolves in Christ's flock (the half-believers, the careless, the hypocrites, the lazy and faithless) and at other times he swings at Christ himself. The Christian man ought to willingly bear the hammer when it falls on his head (for he must admit that he, at times, has been a hypocrite and half-believer) but when Nietzsche swings at Christ, this is where the Christian must stand up. This is where Nietzsche and Goliath's human strength must be defeated by a small stone. This is where Pharaoh must let the Israelites go. And there, as the stone fizzes towards Goliath, and as the Israelites walk through parted water; there is where true strength shall be seen.