by i.burgess on December 31, 2010
Every individual ought to live in fear and trembling, so too there is no established order which can do without fear and trembling. Fear and trembling signifies that one is in the process of becoming, and every individual man, and the race as well, is or should be conscious of being in process of becoming. And fear and trembling signifies that a God exists–a fact which no man and no established order dare for an instant forget.
I’ve recently begun reading Kierkegaard and as such can consider myself an expert in existentialism. Not really. I’m still unsure what existentialism means (how’s that for an existential question?). I’m pretty sure that Kierkegaard was captivated by God and enamoured by something in Christ, and as such I find worth in his thoughts. In his day he seems to have been arguing against the conventional liberalism of his native church, which sought to argue for Christianity by demonstrating things like the divinity of Christ from the manifest results of his life (he refers repeatedly to the argument of the ’1800 years’). Kierkegaard dimisses any attempt to make Christ reasonable, calling such efforts blasphemy. Certainly a remarkable proposition.
In his day the default polemic of the established Church had, according to Kierkegaard, resulted in many people who assumed themselves to be Christian without ever having ‘met Christ’ in order to believe in him or be offended away from him.
In effect, he was disturbed by the fact that the church could be full of people who seem to have had never really thought deeply about how belief in Christ changes one’s existence and experience of reality.
That transforming experience of God is what the quote above states so plainly.
It’s a new way of viewing oneself which acknowledges the divinity of God and the frailty of humanity, from the individual to the mightiest institution. To know God causes the person to tremble with fear because they are immediately aware that they are not God, that is to say, not eternal or immovable or omnipotent or any other of those things.
The most remarkable thing about this thought is that for Kierkegaard it seems to suffice as evidence for God’s existence. Rather like being aware of another person causes us to respond, so the human awareness of the Divine evokes a response. In other words, the fact that one can be aware of God in such a profoundly life-altering way signifies the existence of such a being.
Following this line of thought one is taken to the staunchly biblical position that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:9). Of course that becomes the presupposition for the life teaching of the faithful believer contained in Proverbs, and indeed the foundation for the life of a believer of any generation.
How much further can one get from the historic proofs for the Christian faith? From reasoned arguments from careful examination of the evidence? I am finding this complete lack of defence of Christianity most intriguing and look forward to learning more.
Anyway, dear reader, I wonder if you had any response to this reasoning? Have you read Kierkegaard? Where should I go after I finish his Training in Christianity?
Possibly Related Posts:
- The Failure of Christian Ethics
- The Importance of Belief: A Response to Stephen Fry
- The Fear of Moral Decline
- John Piper: What Kind of Baptist are you?
- Stanley Hauerwas Diagnoses Evangelicalism