I have been thinking that two concepts I do not really grasp are irony and paradox. So I thought I would share the following quote:
The more common type of irony, he says, is irony in which something that is a jest is said as if it were meant seriously. The rarer type of irony, the type he himself exemplifies, is when an author says something serious but does so in the form of a jest.C. Stephen Evans. Kierkegaard on Faith and the Self: Collected Essays (Provost) 207-208.
I think the important thing, for me, in the above is that irony is about ideas or speech. And paradox, therefore, is about existence. I think the two can overlap and sometimes something is said to be ironic when in fact it is paradoxical, in the Kierkegaardian way of seeing things. But both confront us with the absurdity of life or of a particular idea.
I think it is all related to communication. And, for me, it is related to the paradox of the incarnation – how I am called to proclaim a Person who is a paradox.
I have been meaning to write on this topic for some time. I have written previously on Kierkegaard’s insights on sermons. Today I stumbled across this blog post, Soren Kierkegaard and Preaching…, and it reminded me that I wanted to write on the topic. But, as I reflected on preaching, it struck me that topic is much larger. Rather than preaching, it is about how to communicate the faith since it is faith in a Person.
Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy. For those who speak in a tongue do not speak to other people but to God; for nobody understands them, since they are speaking mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, those who prophesy speak to other people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. Those who speak in a tongue build up themselves, but those who prophesy build up the church. Now I would like all of you to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. One who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.1 Corinthians 14:1-5
Paul writes that those who “prophesy speak to other people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation“. The older Prayer Books used to call it “edification”. Kierkegaard would maybe call it indirect communication.
The aim of prophesying or preaching is not supplying of information but rather the upbuilding (towards God) of those who are listening. It is done to encourage the listener to do what they believe. And to find consolation when things do not work out in Jesus. Modern sermons are too often academic discourses that speak little to individuals. And all too often do not require a response from the individual in their daily life.
Preaching is an impossible task because it is a Person who is experienced that is the aim and end. This Person is not an absent past reality but a present person in the community. And this Person calls me to communion with Him. He calls me to intimacy now. And He speaks a very simple command, “Follow Me”.
I want to keep this topic open as I think it is very important for me to thinking aloud.