Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Life is the Task of a Lifetime

Munson Park, Monroe

Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard satirizes people who think they come to a point where they have arrived, and finished life. He writes:

"When they have arrived at a certain point in their search for truth, life takes on a change. They marry, and they acquire a certain position, in consequence of which they feel that they must in all honor have something finished...,  And so they come to think of themselves as really finished... Living in this manner, one is relieved of the necessity of becoming executively aware of the strenuous difficulties which the simplest of propositions about existing qua human-being involves." (
Concluding Unscientific Postscript, 18-19)

C.S. Lewis describes life after life on earth as a continual growing "further up, further in." Paul encouraged us to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling." Kierkegaard picked up on this and wrote 
Fear and Trembling. Faith, for Kierkegaard, is "the task of a lifetime, not a skill thought to be acquired in days or weeks." (F&T, 5) A good part of Kierkegaard's work is motivated by his antipathy to Hegel's idea of a logical "System" that achieves perfect rational clarity.

Faith, for example, is forged through trials. One continues to believe in spite of an Hegelian logic that tells us otherwise. Faith, by definition, means to step forward into the nonlogical (deductive-wise, that is). Logic strives to resolve paradox (dialectically, as in Hegel); faith embraces it to achieve its object. Abraham, for Kierkegaard and Judeo-Christianity, becomes the "father of faith," as he acts against all Western logic in moving to 
sacrifice Isaac. Paradox, trial, and logical uncertainty become the crucible that forges people of faith.

This does not happen in an instant. It takes all of life to become a person of faith. Even Jesus "grew in wisdom and stature." Sozo-ing is not simply making some "decision" to follow Christ; it is more an experiential reality to be entered into and lived out as one actually follows Christ, rather than a theory to be rationally believed in.

Life is the task of a lifetime.