A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Soren Kierkegaard: Postmodern Prophet #2

2. The Nature of SK's Attack Upon Christendom

Two points need to be made as we begin the discussion: First, Soren's attack upon Christendom was launched from within the church; that is, it was an in-house argument from a committed Christian who felt the church was in need of reform.

Second, SK's criticism was directed against Christendom, not Christianity. Nowhere does Soren oppose the teaching of the New Testament. He frequently uses phrases like "New Testament Christianity," "the Christianity of the New Testament," and "our Lord Jesus Christ," in an authoritative way.

Indeed, SK's point was that the Christendom of the Danish Lutheran Church (DLC) was not the Christianity of the New Testament. According to SK, the New Testament teaches that Christians would have to suffer for their faith, be hated by the world and live in poverty. In the DLC, however, the story was quite different. Everyone becomes a "Christian" by virtue of being born in the state of Denmark, the preachers are the state officials, and are very well off financially (being paid from state funds), and receive steady promotions. Such a comfortable situation revealed to SK that the Christianity of the DLC was not the Christianity of the New Testament. The New Testament says that the Word of God should be preached for nothing, in poverty and lowliness. Christendom understands that preaching is the surest way to bread and steady promotion, a good salary, the good life, and a position of high rank in the church-state organization.

SK believed that Bishop Mynster never preached the full extent of the antagonism between God and the world. On account of this, he failed to emphasize the certainty that Christians would suffer in the world. Whereas Luther had ninety-five thesis, Kierkegaard had only one: the Christianity of the New Testament no longer exists.

Soren believed things were so corrupt that he refused to participate in public worship saying that it was a mockery of God. The life of the Danish Lutheran Church, so SK believed, was not reflected in its worship; in other words: the DLC was nothing more than hypocritical.

So, what did SK want? That is the subject of the next post.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much.

Understandable given the situation that he would take a stand against it. I especially like his emphasis on Christians suffering for their faith in a world antagonistic towards God. This is a theme in the New Testament, and therefore, for me, any Christianity that does not take some kind of serious account of it, is in some measure, not New Testament Christianity (I didn't say to what extent. I've seen groups who, by practices meant to mark them out from the world, make themselves a spectacle in ways that I think distract from the gospel. But that's another issue.).

Very interesting. And I look forward to understanding Kierkegaard's critique of his nation's church, and of modernity in general.