The moral miracle.  In the sphere of morality, Christianity knows only the miracle: the sudden change in all value-judgments, the sudden abandonment of all customary modes of behaviour, the sudden irresistible inclination for new persons and objects. It conceives this phenomenon to be the work of God and calls it a rebirth, it accords it a unique, incomparable value: everything else which calls itself morality but has no reference to this miracle thus becomes a matter of indifference to the Christian  indeed, inasmuch as it involves a feeling of pride and well-being, it may even become an object of fear to him. In the New Testament, the canon of virtue, of the fulfilled law, is set up: but in such a way that it is the canon of impossible virtue: those still striving after morality are in the face of such a canon to learn to feel themselves ever more distant from their goal, they are to despair of virtue, and in the end throw themselves on the bosom of the merciful  only if it ended in this way could the Christian's moral effort be regarded as possessing any value, with the presupposition therefore that it always remains an unsuccessful, miserable, melancholy effort; only thus could it serve to bring about that ecstatic moment when he experiences the 'breakthrough of grace' and the moral miracle:  but this wrestling for morality is not necessary, for that miracle not seldom overtakes the sinner when he is as it were leprous with sin: indeed, the leap from the deepest and most all-pervading sinfulness into its opposite even seems to be somewhat easier and, as a more striking demonstration of the miracle, also somewhat more desirable.  For the rest, what such a sudden, irrational and irresistible reversal, such an exchange of the profoundest wretchedness for the profoundest wellbeing, signifies physiologically (whether it is perhaps a masked epilepsy?)  that must be determined by the psychiatrists, who have indeed plenty of occasion to observe similar 'miracles' (in the form of homicidal mania, for example, or suicide mania). The relatively 'more pleasant consequences' in the case of the Christian make no essential difference.

Friedrich Nietzsche - Daybreak
Book I - Aphorism # 87

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