Augustine & Kierkegaard

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In Confessions, Augustine gives an account of his conversion to Christianity through the telling of his life story. In this text Augustine explains his relationship with God, both past and present, and in doing so confesses the doubts that he has had and the problems that he has encountered in attempting to follow a path that leads him towards God. In the text Fear and Trembling, Johannes de Silentio writes on the topic of the knights of infinite resignation and faith, both of which deal with the way in which people approach the events that occur in their life. Thinking of Augustine in terms of Johannes de Silentio begs the question: which applies to Augustine? Is Augustine a knight of faith or a knight of infinite resignation?

When Silentio writes on the knights of infinite resignation he speaks of those who resign to the irrationality of their situation and will act out of obedience rather than faith, which speaks to those who have blind submission to the church. In the situation of Abraham taking Isaac up the mountain to be sacrificed, if Abraham was a knight of resignation, he would have obeyed God because he was resigned to the fact that God must be obeyed. Abraham would resign fully to the idea that God is correct and there would be no doubt in his mind to what he would have to do.

When Silentio write on the knights of faith he speaks to those who demonstrate faith in choosing their actions. The knights of faith operate on a more individual level as opposed to the group level of church submission that the knights of infinite resignation function on. In the situation where Abraham is willing to sacrifice Isaac, he is only willing to follow God's orders because he has faith that in the end God will not actually make him kill his son or that God has another, grander plan that will explain why it was necessary for him to sacrifice someone he loves [Kierkegaard].

The difference between the two knights is, essentially, the difference between faith and...
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