I think this is the principal reason why the invisible God willed to be seen in the flesh and to converse with people as a person. He wanted to recapture the affections of carnal humanity who were unable to love in any other way, by first drawing them to the salutary love of his own humanity, and then gradually to raise them to a spiritual love.
St Bernard of Clairvaux
In Michael Casey’s book on Lectio Divina, Sacred Reading, he makes the point that relationships and bonds between persons are emotional in nature. I have never really thought about that but I suspect it is very true. (Yes, very true!) In a modern context, maybe we are tempted to intellectualize relationships into common aims and common beliefs. But what bonds me to you is my feelings for you.
The above from St Bernard reminds me of Kierkegaard’s story of the king who falls in love with his servant. Love should be freely given and not forced. The Incarnation is an invitation to love on “my level”. Jesus does not force love but offers it.
Kierkegaard’s idea of what it means to be an Australian would surely have matched his idea of what it meant to be a Christian—an idea that was far removed from what he saw around him, especially within the institution of the Danish State church.
Being a Christian is about a relationship with God in Jesus. That is hardly comparable to being an Australian? I think this illustrates one of the points about Kierkegaard that frustrates me most: he is above all a Christian, writing about being a Christian, alone before God. Some of his more philosophical work prepares the way for his Christian work which prepares the way for his “upbuilding work”.
The only way of coming to know and understand the divine, therefore, is by the god annulling the absolute difference in absolute equality in the absolute paradox of the incarnation.
Sylvia Walsh. Kierkegaard: Thinking Christianly in an Existential Mode (Christian Theology in Context)
I want to collect quotes that help me work towards a definition of a disciple and the discipleship pathway. I am deeply indebted to Kierkegaard for my major understandings in this area so I am looking for quotes from him. I guess I should start with Scripture, the New Testament, and Jesus.
So the above shows how God takes the first step in the Jesus-event, especially the incarnation. And there is an absolute difference between God and me that can only be bridged in Jesus.
No, the test in which this woman is tried is: to love her Saviour more than her sin.
Kierkegaard, Søren. Discourses at the Communion on Fridays, 114
I like SK’s Communion Discourses. They are good spiritual reading. He mixes his various geners into these “talks”.
I have been thinking about the above quote from a discourse on Luke 7:47, “Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little”. I will leave the quote for you to meditate on.
… when [the Advocate] comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.
The Holy Spirit will “prove the world wrong about sin, because they do not believe in me”. Kierkegaard would point out that sin here is the opposite of faith. I would dare to say that sin and faith are two sides of one coin we call “relationship”. One side is a relationship with Jesus we call faith, the other is a broken relationship with Jesus we call sin. Both express themselves in action but that is only a symptom: the relationship is the real issue. So sin is more about being outside of Jesus than having something missing within.
In the mission of the church, in the proclamation of Jesus, the way the individual sees “sin” is central – only thing more important is what the individual says about Jesus. I think we sometimes fall into an idea of sin that is too much like a law-court and too focused on actions. The reality is that the actions follow the relationship and everything done apart from Jesus is sin – even a great good.
I have to acknowledge that I live with both in my life. I try to have a relationship with Jesus but often my brokenness and distance from Jesus shows itself in my actions. And when I am honest about that tension in my life I am always driven back to Jesus as my Saviour.
“The same evening that the news of Kierkegaard’s death spread through Copenhagen, out at the poet Johannes Fibiger’s, where he chanced to be, Marstrand made a number of loosely sketched ink drawings of Kierkegaard, from memory – one of his specialities!”
Now the dates do not match up but it is a great drawing and it exemplifies how I see Kierkegaard.
Read the whole article with an open mind. I think it makes some important points. However, as always, I think that most of the points are made by Kierkegaard some 200 years ago. Not as directly as the article but I think that a Kierkegaardian approach (what a horrible term) to Christianity (as against Christendom) would reach the same conclusions.
So… let me just put a few things out there. I think that the modern “charismatic movement” is a form of pietism which, in turn, is a protestant form of Catholic mysticism, which is a form of Desert Spirituality. I think that two points from the article are worth considering:
PEOPLE WANT TRANSFORMATION, NOT INFORMATION
Wow, could there possibly be a more Kierkegaardian idea. Kierkegaardian scholars would call it the “leap into faith” – passion for uncertainty that changes me. The article goes on to speak about “passion” over “polish” – yes, and yes!
TRANSCENDENT IS CONNECTING MORE THAN IMMANENT RIGHT NOW
Now here is my real point. I think that transcendence is the modern way to experience God. But transcendence assumes a “gap”. Whatever we call that “gap”, the individual needs to become aware of it first. Modern people seem to relate better to the completely “Other”.
So, here is a question that I have often considered: if Søren Kierkegaard were around today, would he be a “charismatic”? Maybe not the hands-in-the-air type but a person who values an experience of God over information about God?