Jun 25, 2011

The only error in Soren Kierkegaard's conceptualisation of God

Kierkegaard's conceptualisation of Christ as God has a touch of illogicality about it, but this is the only fundamental error I've found in his thinking. Overall, he is among the wisest and most courageous men ever to exist, so in that context, his error is minor. But I am keen to expose any fault in conceptualisations of God, and his is definitely one.

God is spirit, or rather, the nature of Reality is not something in particular. That is what spirit means. It is emptiness of form. So, Kierkegaard rightly thought of Christ as spirit, since that is Christ's true nature.

But Kierkegaard did not see Christ as a human being who became enlightened, who was educated out of ignorance. He didn't see him as intrinsically God, beginning with the dull, unenlightened human state, and progressing to become wise. Instead, he saw Christ as intrinsically God, but beginning as God. He regarded Christ as the incarnation of God and therefore automatically enlightened.

What does this mean for his conceptualisation of God? It means that, on some level, he does not see human beings, and their finitude, as intrinsically God. He doesn't see their dependence on food and drink as spirit. He sees spirit as something other than human finitude. This is clearly an error, and it is possible that it caused him to suffer unnecessarily, by not making a clear distinction between a psychological dependence on finitude, which is what the spiritual life is all about overcoming, and finitude itself.

On the other hand, Kierkegaard was well-aware that his conceptualising was virtually always poetic. His approach to Christ was a psychological one, and he knew that. He knew all sinners in need of grace conceived of Christ as an immediate Savior, an idealistic icon, to restore the picture of living rightly. So it is possible that he knew he was overlaying the actuality of the God-man with the suffering and struggling sinner's picture of a perfect Savior. This basically means that the imperfect human conceives of perfection immediately, just like the perfect Buddha is present in the imperfect one: From one enlightened thought, another enlightened thought follows. So, given Kierkegaard mentioned how the image of Christ was manipulated in the needy sinner's mind to help them climb out of the mire of their ignorance, it is understandable that, in more troubled, depressed states of mind, his religious poetry and personified ideals got a bit out of hand.

— Kelly Jones

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