a witness

The true knight of faith is a witness, never a teacher, and therein lies the deep humanity that is worth more than this frivolous concern for the welfare of other people that is extolled under the name of sympathy but is really nothing more than vanity.

Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy), 70

Faith cannot be taught but only “caught”.

heroes of the faith

A hero who has become an offense or stumbling block to his age in the awareness that he is a paradox that cannot make itself intelligible cries out confidently to his contemporaries: “The outcome will indeed show that I was justified.”

Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy), 55

Another quote! I like that being a hero for SK is connected to the paradox. Rather than explaining everything, having all the answers, the hero stands and says, “I don’t know”.

more about faith …

The paradox of faith then is this, that the single individual is higher than the universal, that the single individual, to recall a now rather rare theological distinction, determines his relation to the universal by his relation to the absolute, not his relation to the absolute by his relation to the universal.

Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy), 61.

More to add to the list of quotes for a definition of discipleship.

being me

Many poets are not poets for the same reason that many religious men are not saints: they never succeed in being themselves.

Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

I like the theme that runs through Merton of “being me”. So the above is part of that!

existential individuals

We are born biological beings but we must become existential individuals by accepting responsibility for our actions. This is an application of Nietzsche’s advice to ‘become what you are’. Many people never do acknowledge such responsibility but rather flee their existential individuality into the comfort of the faceless crowd.

Flynn, Thomas. Existentialism: A Very Short Introduction

I have always thought the above is a good definition of existenalism. If not a definition than a great place to start the discussion. I think SK would add “before God” but that is covered by “accepting responsibility for our actions”.

I often flee into the “comfort of the faceless crowd” – I allow others to define me, to give me meaning, to give me purpose. I escape to a mask that others ask me to wear. Because, in the end, it is much easier to let other’s define me than to do the hard work of looking at myself “before God”.

Yet I have a choice – yes or no. Do I allow others to define me or just to describe me? Yes, I am weird and awkward. But those are not failures but superpowers! I need to learn to be an “I” with all the quirks and eccentricities. Because, in the end, Jesus calls me to place my centre in Him – I am by faith an eccentric.

more “I”

The basic depravity of our times is that personality has been abolished. No one in our time dares to be a personality, everyone shrinks in cowardly anthrophobia from being I over against, perhaps in opposition, to others. Then the politicians avail themselves of the public. The politician is no I – good gracious no, he speaks in the public’s name. Religiously, ‘the Church’ is used in just the same way. What people want is an appropriate abstraction which helps them avoid being I, which is surely the greatest danger of all.

The Journals (1855)

I have to find the source of the quote! Maybe I should start a new category “Find Quote”?! Anyway, well said SK!

truth

Here is such a definition of truth: the objective uncertainty maintained through appropriation in the most passionate inwardness is truth, the highest truth there is for someone existing.

Kierkegaard: Concluding Unscientific Postscript (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy), 171.

I am pretty sure I have shared this before. I think this hits the heart of what SK is speaking about. And I think it is an important step in discipleship – passionate inwardness.

Followers!

The difference between an admirer and a follower still remains, no matter where you are. The admirer never makes any true sacrifices. [They] always plays it safe. Though in words, phrases, songs, [they are] inexhaustible about how highly [they] prizes Christ, [they] renounce nothing, give up nothing, will not reconstruct [their] life, will not be what [they] admire, and will not let [their] life express what it is [they] supposedly admire.

Kierkegaard (modified)

I cannot believe I have not shared this quote. I think it is an excellent place to start when looking at the question of the nature of discipleship. I am going to try to collect some quotes from SK on the topic. So here is the first!

we need martyrs

What the age needs is not a genius — it has had geniuses enough, but a martyr, who in order to teach men to obey would [themselves] be obedient unto death. What the age needs is awakening. And therefore someday, not only my writings but my whole life, all the intriguing mystery of the machine will be studied and studied. I never forget how God helps me and it is therefore my last wish that everything may be to his honour.

Journal, Nov 20, 1847 (modified)

I really like that quote. I like the idea of the world needing martyrs. And I like the idea that I have to be willing to die for what I believe in. Yes, martyrs who follow Jesus to the cross.

this is between Jesus and me

Christianly, struggling is always done by single individuals, because spirit is precisely this, that everyone is an individual before God, that “fellowship” is a lower category than “the single individual,” which everyone can and should be. And even if the individuals were in the thousands and as such struggled jointly, Christianly understood each individual is struggling, besides jointly with the others, also within [themselves], and must as a single individual give an accounting on judgment day, when [their] life as an individual will be examined.

Practice in Christianity (slightly modified)

I think people sometimes misunderstand Kierkegaard on the issue of being “the single individual”. I have heard him quoted as an individualist who promotes absolute subjectivity. Hardly! The context into which he speaks is Christianity properly understood. The people I have heard accuse him of being an individualist tend to be Biblicists or fundamentalists (even the Catholic variety) who place the individual below doctrine – or, as Kierkegaard might say, “place the abstract over the individual”.

Yes, other people can help – they can be examples, share their insights, and support me within my struggles and journey. I have felt that reality and I am thankful to God for the faithful people He has placed in my life. And I need to be encouraged (and reminded) to be that person for others – to seek spiritual friendship and to allow my gifts (and struggles) to help others. But in the end, I cannot answer for another when Jesus returns. I cannot answer for their life and no one can answer for my life. Maybe the best way is to think of it in terms of being “alone together”?!

God became a Single Individual in Jesus and went to the cross alone for me, so I come before God alone, seeking His love and mercy.