Nov 28, 2011

Kierkegaard's conception of Christ

Really, the only weakness in Kierkegaard's writing is that he didn't keep strongly pointing out what he meant by Christ. It is very easy for people these days, who call themselves Christians, to interpret his ideas about relying on Christ, in the light of their customary Christian views.

That is, they read Kierkegaard with the same old mawkish, saccharine attitude to Christ that he spent his life criticising.

Unfortunately, Kierkegaard doesn't always bring home that criticism, when it is needed. He got lazy. He expected people to have finally got the message. But they haven't. The situation is far, far, far more advanced than in his time.

So, I have to publish an amendment within his proposal below:


A Proposal to Put an End to All the Nonsense about How One Enters into Christianity

In regard to all existential knowing, the main thing is to bring about the situation. This is what people have completely forgotten, and for this reason they cannot get an impression of Christianity.

I am thinking of a man who so far does not have any impression of Christianity and is not deeply gripped by the sense of his sin but lives on in the comfortable notion that he is still going to be saved.

Let him then take and read the New Testament. No one can deny that the ethical teaching presented here is such that it moves the imagination of every man.

Well, now, let him begin there. He carries out his intention to realize Christianity; for the present, he says, it makes no difference whether Christ has existed or not, who wrote the New Testament, etc.

And so he carries it out. But look, because he carries it out, he will in a Christian way collide with the world; he will be abused as an egotist just when he acts most disinterestedly, etc.

Now the pinch comes, now he cannot hold out alone — now he must have religious help. In order to hold out against the surrounding world he must have religious help. But not for this reason alone — he must also have it to hold out against himself. Simply because the world squeezes him so strongly, he must — in order to hold out by himself — be entirely sure at every moment that the error is not in him, that he perfectly realizes the good.

See, now the matter is in full swing; now he needs grace; now he needs Christ.

[By Christ, Kierkegaard does not mean a human version of an omniscient and all-powerful deity, that overly-imaginative psychological conception of a spirit guide which is the most popular and widespread conception of Christ. He is talking simply about being fully conscious of what a Christ is: a God-man. A God-man is both God (the formless Infinite) and, importantly, a conscious being (an advanced biological organism that can reason and be aware of God's nature, and live according to this truth). A god-man is God conscious of itself; all things are God, but not all things are conscious. So the religious need described above is the need of the sinner, in the thick of his impulse to sink into egotistical self-protectiveness, to remember his true nature as Christ. He is not seeking an external authority to guide him, but looks inwardly to recollect and build up in himself the Christ. — KJ, 28/11/2011]

This is Christianity. Let a person just begin seriously to will to realize it and he will soon learn to need Christ. Let him literally give all his fortune to the poor, literally love his neighbor, etc. and he will soon learn to need Christ. Christianity is a suit which at first glance and to the imagination seems attractive enough, but as soon as one actually puts it on — then one must have Christ's help in order to be able to live in it.

It seems to me that this is very simple. But this aspect of Christianity people have completely abolished. And yet this aspect is suggested in Christ's words: If anyone wills to do what I say, he shall experience etc.; he shall experience — yes, it is almost ironical, he shall first of all experience that he needs the help of Christ.


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