Kierkegaard's Vision of the Incarnation

Kierkegaard's Vision of the Incarnation

Kierkegaard's Vision of the Incarnation

Kierkegaard's Vision of the Incarnation

Synopsis

In this study of the works of S/oren Kierkegaard, Murray Rae focuses on his understanding of the Christian faith and the nature of Christian conversion. He looks particularly at the transformation of an individual under the impact of revelation in terms both of the New Testament concept of metanoia and in comparison with claims to cognitive progress in other fields.

Excerpt

From the rather difficult elucidation in chapter 3 of his claim that no philosophy has ever given rise to the idea of the incarnation, Climacus proceeds, in chapters 4 and 5, with a discussion both lucid and straightforward about the incapacity of historical investigation to establish the truth of Christian faith. Against the background of Lessing's demurral at the theological traverse of the great ugly ditch separating contingent truths of history from eternal truths of reason, and in the context of various nineteenth-century attempts to extricate the 'historical' from the 'theological' material of the gospels, Climacus sets out in chapter 4, to consider whether the disciple who was contemporary with the God-Man possesses any advantage for faith, and correspondingly, in chapter 5, whether the logic of conversion must somehow be adjusted for the sake of those who are temporally remote from the historical actuality of the God-Man.

On the title page of Philosophical Fragments, Johannes Climacus had posed three questions: 'Can a historical point of departure be given for an eternal consciousness: how can such a point of departure be of more than historical interest; can an eternal happiness be built on historical knowledge?' We have seen in the thought experiment of chapter 1 that Climacus offers an affirmative answer to the first of these questions. When the eternal God becomes a subject within time and takes upon himself the conditions of human finitude then, in the language of the thought experiment, the moment in time becomes decisive. It is not simply that the presence of God in time serves as the occasion by which humanity learns of its own relation to the eternal, as Hegel would have it, thus becoming the subject of only passing historical interest. Rather the event of God's participation in history is to be regarded as the conditio sine qua non of salvation. It is the event which establishes rather than merely informs us of humanity's soteriological relation with the eternal God. Climacus affirms, therefore . . .

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