The church, as Soren Kierkegaard abhorred, celebrating the 200 year old theologian.
There is warmed up to Soren Kierkegaard’s 200th birthday 5 May, but the big party is manifestly not. For it was the bishops, with JP Mynster’s death in 1854 and the sequel HL Martensen’s eulogy of him that provoked Kierkegaard to his infamous ‘church struggle’ in 1855, shortly before his death.
Kierkegaard called Mynster a weak and self-indulgent, dramatically costumed deklamator. And he thanked ironic Martensen for the eulogy of ‘truth witness’ as the speech in its manifest mendacity could be a beneficial emetic against the rot in the official church.
He also stated that the church of paganism, the priests of liars and swindlers, and worship of the ‘disgust’, it is to serve God by keeping him for a ride.
By failing to go to church they had at least one great sin less on their conscience!
And the Copenhagen Cathedral is now on the 200th anniversary being a framework for a “commemoration service ‘with the bishop as a birthday preacher! How could it have gone that far with Kierkegaard from being the Danish church fiercest and most articulate critic ever theologians distinguished glitterati?
One out bad thinking about how Kierkegaard with its unparalleled language arts would have skewered and mocked future foolish and feminized church life today. But the planned commemoration service 5 May reveals that Kierkegaard today has become a theological authority. It has its reasons.
In Kierkegaard’s time was theology and thus the church facing the biggest challenge ever to the historical-philological Bible research since the late 1700s had shown how biblical texts had been through history, reflecting different authors’ time-bound horizons and assumptions.
No such historical texts can reveal eternal and universal truths. This made the rug pulled out from under the old belief in the Bible as divine revelation, beyond the vicissitudes of history. It remained long a concern of scholars university theologians, but could in the long run not be hidden.
All gods are symbolic sublimations of human experience and as such accommodate life and power – but not absolute truth. This historic vision may undermine Christian dogma with the possibility of salvation and eternal happiness, gradually became clear to those who dare to think – and it could and dared Kierkegaard.
Through his writings he took up the crucial question: When you have only the Bible uncertain, often dubious historical evidence, how can one believe in the eternal God and the hope of salvation and eternal happiness? And his honest answer was clear and simple: It can not be!
Kierkegaard, however, could not get the church, in his innermost he was bound by the old Lutheran doctrine. It forced him so to renounce all historical knowledge validity to retain God as an absurd, the historical paradox that can only be ‘faith’ in the passionate fervor through fear and despair.
Few could follow Kierkegaard before the European crisis of values that followed the First World War. With the so-called dialectical theology – in Denmark with Epoch 1926 – abandoned since all attempts at conceptual defend Christianity in favor of a credo quia absurdum, I believe, because it is unreasonable, and thus got Kierkegaard his breakthrough as a theological authority.
After 1945 the value crisis sharpened, and sought again to clear the shadows of the past – this time in the new ‘eksistentialismes’ name and Kierkegaard as a philosophical authority.
He could be read as an ‘existence poet’, which distanced itself from history and refined language arts wrote about life’s dead ends, there are also hypothetical suggested the possibility of total freedom to choose and be ‘themselves’.
Philosophers could rejoice in Kierkegaard’s newfound fame – even the French! And theologians could through existence analysis evoke fear and despair, and thus encourage the leap of faith ‘out of the 70,000 fathoms. ”
Kierkegaard was from the 1950s both a philosophical star and a philosophical anchor for theologians.
Thus chained one, however, also past Lutheran doctrine, which is provided in Kierkegaard’s entire paradox thinking. And any attempt at thought worn renewal of Christianity’s speech was doomed out – according to the responses to Thorkild Grosbølls proposal for a contemporary, meaningful talk about Jesus.
Alongside that Kierkegaard star through the 20th century was rising, was Grundtvig’s declining. Perhaps not surprisingly, since they are polar opposites in the understanding of human and folklore, history and Christianity.
Both stood as theologians in quite the same challenge of future biblical research, but their answers went in opposite directions.
While Kierkegaard would detach Christianity from history, would Grundtvig attach it as close to history as possible – and thus for the future vicissitudes. The Bible’s testimony was uncertain and dubious countered Grundtvig by referring to that Christianity sd bring older than the Bible with the oral creedal unbroken chain back to Christ himself.
In addition to this, the whole world history in Grundtvig’s eyes bore witness to Christianity blessed effects in the life of people. But Christianity had like everything else in the story evolved over time to still greater perfection – and could in no way be perfect today.
When Kierkegaard in 1855 fell to the street and died soon afterwards, Grundtvig wrote that he had basically earned. For he had committed the greatest sin: making Christianity inhuman. Grundtvig called him a blasphemer and even a possible forerunner of the Antichrist, which would usher in Judgment Day, and as might be expected would emerge as the devil in Christian disguise!
Kierkegaard’s style was more elegant in the mocking mention of Grundtvig as the ‘old nordic’ fight with too much time fantasizing sermons like “a weekly exhaustion ‘, which otherwise would’ fill time and life with the world-historical visions, a cordial and live ‘chat’ on the family’s warlike deeds and farm – one grasping at the earthly and the promises of this life. ”
Rarely have two Danes been each other as equal in genius and yet so dissimilar in outlook. Where the people and the story was the foundation of Grundtvig’s vision, as applied to the opposite of Kierkegaard, that only the individual and currently counts. To all communities, people or congregation, he had only scorn and mockery left over – like mass and volume represented the only breathlessness and falsehood.
Kierkegaard’s rising star crossed Grundtvig’s declining in the 1950s, when the personal emancipation and individualization won new ground. One could now be reflected in Kierkegaard’s refined even stagings and observations of the soul of life’s finest sentiments – while Grundtvig’s popular-national rhetoric seemed outdated.
Kierkegaard was all soul, while Grundtvig was the spirit interpreter – but the word ‘spirit’ also reveals the differences between them. For Grundtvig, man was’ a divine experiment of dust and spirit ‘, while Kierkegaard held that “the synthesis of the spiritual and the corporeal must be of the spirit’. But the spirit is here with radically different meanings.
For Grundtvig meant spirit of the invisible but active force throughout the ages in the ‘living word’, which conveys ancestral vision and legends, hope and faith, victories and defeats of inspiration to continue to fight for life and the light of this Earth. Spirit can only be shared with others, living as well as deceased ancestors and unborn descendants.
Kierkegaard, however, only had the spirit alone – the spirit does the individual’s relationship to himself or ‘in the relationship that it relates to itself’. However corresponds Kierkegaard’s concept of spirit not a new age religues quest of the divine through the depth. On the contrary, Kierkegaard went deep inside a void – hence the fear and despair that is the condition for the leap of faith.
The question is not who is right. No one can take out a patent on the words, not even the word ‘spirit’. But use of the word reveals something about the zeitgeist. Kierkegaard’s fame is due to the zeitgeist, that recognized himself in his intense preoccupation with the individual rather than the people currently over time, the existence rather than the story.
Kierkegaard was right, that Grundtvig’s response to future theological challenge was quite untenable – but his own answer was a non answer. And how Kierkegaard locked away inside the dogmatics, as was Grundtvig’s response as linked to the history open to the vicissitudes of history and thus for future new interpretations.
When Kierkegaard aged 150 years in 1963, was his star near its culmination. As we approach the 200th day of subdued celebration expectation, one must ask whether the star has long been declining? Epoch has stagnated in its dogmatism and philosophical existentialism seems to have exceeded the expiry date.
The spirit of Kierkegaard and existentialism heyday in the 1950s and 60s was also reflected in the ‘theater of the absurd’, released from all traditions that could provoke the citizenship. Today is the release really made to the case, that the theater of the absurd would seem ordinary and tedious.
Articles and contributions to the debate up to the birthday betrays still the astonishment and respect for the brilliant language artist, but also a certain fatigue of Kierkegaard’s incessant preoccupation with spiritual gripes beyond redemption. After the birthday, we can well again let his books rest in peace …
While waiting for Godot – and the bishop and his party talk, we can fantasize us that he in the cathedral as ‘dramatic costumed deklamator’ will speak up and get away with Kierkegaard labored in inhumane Christianity.
Kierkegaard was against Christians who had not become a Christian by means of cognition. Kierkegaard founded existentialism, which is very large. Existentialism had its heyday after Sartre had written his thoughts on “to do is to be”. Existentialism is well on its way to the grave, because no one can bear the thought that every minute should be optimized to live life and always be accountable for every choice in life. It is guaranteed to go down with stress. Especially in the United States is Kierkegaard still a superstar. It is not so much because Kierkegaard presented the three steps to Christian understanding. There are many who feel attracted to the idea, that Christianity must be recognized for being a Christian. Whether you disagree with Kierkegaard’s philosophy or not – Kierkegaard will probably remain as Denmark’s greatest philosopher of all time.