A Summary, Analysis and Discussion of Søren Kierkegaard, Training in Christianity

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A summary, analysis and discussion of Søren Kierkegaard, Training in Christianity[1]

I. Introduction

In this essay, I will try to summarize, analyze and discuss several pages of Søren Kierkegaard’s Training in Christianity. I will try to focus on his approach to sacred history, a general Christian history and Christianity, which he discusses in this work in relation to faith in God. In other parts of this essay I will attempt also to relate these pages of his work to some key ideas of Kierkegaard’s theology and philosophy and support this with some concrete quotations from the text. In the end I will very briefly compare different philosophies of Hegel and Kierkegaard and try to relate Kierkegaard’s work to a few topics, which were discussed in modernity.

II. God and man, Christ, Faith and Reason[2]

According to Kierkegaard, there is absolute qualitative difference between God and man. ‘There is an endless yawning difference between God and man…’[3] This difference between man and God can not be bridged over by reasoning. It can be bridged over only by faith (or leap of faith), which is matter only of a moment.[4] God is for Kierkegaard absolutely inaccessible transcendence. Man is in comparison to God imperfect and can never comprehend God. Man can comprehend only those things, that are part of his world, but he can never comprehend God and His will or His intentions. We can not box up God in our concepts, in our knowing.

God can not, according to Kierkegaard, be known, He can be only believed. There is nothing in between; there must be decision, choice. If man decides to believe in God, then he can recognize by reason that there is vast difference between God’s and his essence. Then man falls down and worships God. True Christian must, according to Kierkegaard suffer, he has to abandon everything. This is probably why he decided not to get married. Suffering is inseparable from faith. ‘Christianity came into the world as the absolute – not for consolation, humanly understood; on the contrary, it speaks again and again of the sufferings which a Christian must endure, or which a man must endure to become and to be a Christian.’[5] Faith is one of the themes that Kierkegaard preferred. He proclaimed subjectivity of faith against formal and intellectual receiving of dogmas.

Object of faith is paradox. Term paradox is favorite Kierkegaard’s term. Paradox is truth, which exceeds boundaries of reason. Jesus Christ is such paradox. Paradox however does not mean nonsense, because in front of God it is not a paradox. ‘He is the paradox, the object of faith, existing only for faith.’[6]

Christian religion, its dogmas are not comprehensible by reason. If they were only matter of reason or science, faith would not be necessary. Very important aspect of faith is emotions, emotions need paradox and there is no more paradox faith than Christian faith. On the other hand believing is not strictly irrational. For Kierkegaard is reason also very important. Christian should think rationally, because reason is also needed for faith. In Christian religion, true Christian believes against his own reason, and then he uses his reason. He affirms himself that he believes against his own reason.

III. History

Kierkegaard distinguishes between two types of history: Sacred history and a general Christian history. By term sacred history he means life, teaching and words of Jesus Christ, when he was on Earth, especially Him saying He is God. This history is qualitatively different from a general Christian history. Sacred history stands outside general history, ‘Christ’s life on Earth, sacred history, stands for itself alone outside history.’[7] It is therefore not a past event that happened several hundred years ago, as was taught during Kierkegaard’s life. For believer, this sacred history is always present; it is contemporary to every generation. ‘His earthly life...
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