In his poem 1867 poem Dover Beach, Matthew Arnold described the withdrawal of faith in Western society. And a couple of decades later, Nietzsche declared that God is dead. R.J. Neuhaus in his book Death On A Friday Afternoon: Meditations On The Last Words Of Jesus From The Cross calls Jesus’ fourth word from the cross the “cry of dereliction.”
And then Neuhaus comments:
Long before Arnold’s sea of faith began its withdrawal and long before Nietzsche, Christians contemplated what it means that God has died. Imagine the worst. The worst that could possible happen has already happened. Far beyond plague or nuclear annihilation or the withering of the last flower or the death of the last child–it happened a certain Friday afternoon outside the walls of Jerusalem. There we turned on the One who embodied all the light, all the love and all the hope that ever was or ever will be. This is what we did to God. In the unflinching realism of Christian faith, there is nothing to be done about it, there is no undoing of it, there is only the possibility of forgiveness.