When I was a student in seminary many years ago, I developed a love for the writings of Danish philosopher and theologian Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). Through the years my interests have taken me in other directions, but I have been able to renew my appreciation for him this summer as I have refreshed my memory of his work by turning to him once again. I begin a series of posts on his thinking, particularly his much read and discussed Attack Upon Christendom. I think that SK (as we will call him) assists us in working through what it means to be the church in a postmodern context.
1. The Attack
The last few years of SK's life were directed toward a very harsh attack against the established Lutheran Church. His journals reveal that for most of his lifetime he believed the Danish Lutheran Church, the state church, was in awful spiritual condition. The bishop of the DLC was J. P. Mynster. Soren had grown up hearing his sermons Sunday after Sunday. Over time SK came to believe that the bishop was doing more harm than good when it came to preaching the gospel.
In 1854 Bishop Mynster died. At the memorial service, Professor Hans L. Martensen eulogized the deceased cleric by saying that he was one of the true witnesses to the truth, a link in the chain that stretched all the way from the time of the apostles to the present. SK, who had been publicly silent up to this point concerning his feeling toward the Established Church, could be silent no longer. In his writings Soren placed great emphasis on the necessity of witnessing to the truth. To refer to Mynster as such a witness was more than SK could handle. He chose a popular political journal, The Fatherland, in which to hurl his assault. The critique and criticism was continued in a series of papers called The Instant, which were compiled into a book entitled Attack Upon Christendom.
In my second post on SK, we will discuss the specific nature of his attack.