Friday, May 05, 2006
“God creates out of nothing.
Wonderful you say.
Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful:
he makes saints out of sinners.” - SK
Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (SK) was born this day in 1813. SK was a profound and prolific Christian writer. His work crosses the boundaries of philosophy, theology, psychology, literary criticism, devotional literature and fiction. SK brought his potent mixture of discourses to bear on the renewing of Christian faith within Christendom.
Having begun my own theological journey in a fundamentalist environment, SK was off limits. As a matter of fact, I managed to stay clear of him until being required to read “On Christendom” while at Princeton Seminary. What a shock! This little book was a powerful critique of organized Christianity and superficial faith. I was convicted! I remember vividly sitting at my study desk, placing my face in my hands and laying my forehead on the desk edge as the Holy Spirit ministered to me. God be merciful to me a sinner was my cry!
SK is often vilified by Fundamentalists as the "father of existentialism", but at least as important are his fervent attempts to revive the Christian faith. His central problematic was how to become a Christian in Christendom. He employed an "inverted Christian dialectic" not to make the word of God easier to digest, but to establish more clearly the absolute distance that separates human beings from God. His point! Human beings are utterly reliant on God's grace for salvation.
For SK Christian faith is essentially a matter of individual subjective passion, which cannot be mediated by human instrumentality. Active faith is paramount because only on this basis does a human being become a true self. Christian dogma, according to SK, embodies paradoxes which are offensive to reason. The central Christian paradox is the assertion that the eternal, infinite, transcendent God simultaneously became incarnated as a temporal, finite, human being named Jesus. There are two possible attitudes either believe it or not. Reason is not an option. The object of saving faith is higher than reason.
Bottom line: Crucial to the miracle of Christian faith is the realization that over against God we always miss the mark. That is, we must grasp that we are always in sin. This is the active condition for dynamic faith freely given by God. God, in Christ, saves sinners!
1 Timothy 1:15-16