Friday, July 12, 2019

Kierkegaard and Disabusing Battalions of Unbelieving Christians

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(Church, in Columbus, Ohio)

This morning I am reading from Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard. The explanatory Introduction by Charles Moore is worth the price of the book. At Northwestern I was a T.A. for my theological/philosophical mentor James Will's course on Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard, as Moore acknowledges, is hard to read!

In a recent post I asked if Francis Chan is the new Kierkegaard. Of course Chan (and hardly anyone, self included), is not as brilliant as Kierkegaard. But read Provocations, and then compare it with what Chan is saying in his Letter to the Church.

Here is a sample, from the Introduction by Moore.

"Kierkegaard was single mindedly driven. He writes in his Journal: “The category for my undertaking is: to make people aware of what is essentially Christian.”...

In Practice of Christianity, Kierkegaard writes: “If anything is to be done, one must try to introduce Christianity into Christendom.”"

Moore continues:

"The backdrop to his entire authorship was a Danish Lutheranism that had degenerated into a nominal state-religion. Three things, in particular, marred the church of his day: 

(1) Intellectualism – the “direct mental assent to a sum of doctrines”; 

(2) Formalism – “battalions upon battalions” of unbelieving believers; and 

(3) Pharisaism – a herd of hypocritical clergy that ignore the Christianity they were hired to preach.

It was in this climate that Kierkegaard felt compelled to reintroduce Christianity. He sought to provide a kind of map that would, for the sake of Christian truth, steer people away from Christendom. “An apostle’s task is to spread Christianity, to win people to Christianity. My task is to disabuse people of the illusion that they are Christians – yet I am serving Christianity.”"  (K41)