Kierkegaard and Christianity | INFJ Forum

Kierkegaard and Christianity

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by Altruistic Muse, Sep 10, 2010.

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  1. Altruistic Muse

    Altruistic Muse Community Member

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    What a legend Soren Kierkegaard is. I'm only just starting to read up about him and his works now, and they have taught me so much in such a short time! I would call myself a Christian, but I have been struggling to work out where I would fit into the common perception of Christianity. Firstly, I thought that most people were only going through the motions with religion, and if questioned would have little or no belief let alone faith. This troubled me. Then on top of this I questioned the element of guilt in religion. From reading the Bible it seems to be lists and lists of rules, actions to be avoided, sins never to be commited. And I felt that knowing this, these supposed rights and wrongs, would actually make me feel guilt in myself, and judgement against everyone else. Neither of which I felt would be productive or just, or at all my place. Kierkegaard's perspective righted this for me. He describes sin not as a matter of morality, but of health. We are all sinners, ever since Adam, so there is no need to feel guilt, or to work out when we are doing something good, or something bad Every moment is a sin. So this takes guilt completely out of the equation. He says that sins are anything that distances us from God. And to be apart from God creates a state of despair. So that to sin causes despair, a sickness of the spirit, that can be healed by prayer, turning to God. Because the opposite of sin is not virtue but faith. What a positive, sensical outlook :). It takes faith from being an unattainable target, and religion from being judgemental and cliquey, to something warm and soothing, and evokes compassion in the Christian. Which is exactly what Jesus wanted.

    I don't really know what kind of response I was expecting here! Just wanted to express my joy at finding something so fitting, and so positive! And wondering if any of you agreed!
     
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  2. freeeekyyy

    freeeekyyy Newbie

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    This is the truth that people who are not of the faith do not understand. It's not actions, it's about a person's position before God, which is made holy through Jesus Christ.
     
  3. OP
    Altruistic Muse

    Altruistic Muse Community Member

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    Thanks for the reply! It is the truth. I think actions help though. They improve the relationship. But what people don't get is that the relationship is already there. Jesus righted our sins so we can have a relationship with God. By doing good we can feel closer to God, and nothing feels better than this. He loves us either way, but it's us who benefit from being the best that we can be.
     
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  4. Barnabas

    Barnabas Time Lord

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    why is guilt a bad thing?
     
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    Altruistic Muse

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    Guilt in itself isn't a bad thing. A little of it. I experience it all the time. However, in large quantities, and about everything, it is paralysing. In that, worrying about it prevents you from being your best self and doing the good you would want to do. You are better without it than with it.
     
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    #5 Altruistic Muse, Sep 12, 2010
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  6. RedOrange823

    RedOrange823 Regular Poster

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    Kierkegaard's likeness to Nietzsche is kind of eerie in my opinion. They were both exploring the concept of individuality at the same time, unbeknownst to each other, and the fact that Kierkegaard considered himself a devout Christian and Nietzsche renounced his faith says more about their similarities than their differences. Both began on religious paths and turned vehemently against the church. But while Nietzsche felt that the institution of Christianity had brought about the corruption of man, and that man had to go beyond it, Kierkegaard rallied against organized Christianity in the name of a truer, more personal Christianity. Kierkegaard's rebellion focused on what he called "Christendom"-- the prevailing institution of Christianity which to him was an empty social institution devoid of spiritual meaning. He argued that it would take God himself to construct a religious institution because no mortal human being could create a system that made sense out of everything and resolved all the conflict and chaos of the world. He was very much against the Church itself and was much more concerned with how to live out his own destiny authentically, which for him still meant being a Christian.

    While Kierkegaard was concerned with what it meant to be a Christian, his ideas have influenced many who do not share his particular religious beliefs because his underlying issues were truth, honesty, authenticity, human destiny and the problems of human existence that are universal.
     
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  7. Prometheus

    Prometheus Regular Poster

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    Kierkegaard actually died when Nietzsche was still in single digits, but yeah, same general idea. In fact, there is evidence that a friend of Nietzsche's recommended that he should read up on Kierkegaard towards the end of Nietzsche's, erm, responsive existence. Hard to tell if he did. But their concepts are EERILY similar.


    I've had many friends who had existential crises pertaining to their religions and I always keep a few copies of Kierkegaard on hand for them to thumb through. They frequently find it comforting. Myself, I'm a "reject the institution" kind of guy and find myself not particularly fond of Christianity, either, but I do completely agree with the idea of referring to historical documents (see: all available lit/religions) to form an image of man that you personally agree with. While Nietzsche favored a God who could dance, I favor a God who can see past the faces stuck to his ass far enough to value the true conquering of the human spirit. I would worship nothing less.
     
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  8. randomsomeone

    randomsomeone Well-known member

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    I very much agree. I cannot think of one thing about Christian culture that, upon understanding it more deeply, was not totally different than the preconceptions and assumptions I had going in. It's unfortunate that the excess baggage of the centuries has clouded the pure essentials of the Christian experience. Too often left with only a comical characature of what is really a very vibrant, mystical, and rich faith life.

    It is easy to criticize religious institutions...easy for me, too. And yet, I find nested within these very institutions, out of public view, a quiet and sound wisdom...a treasure beyond imagining. It is a fluke of history that we were (and are) thrown so far off the track of this. I am glad you are finding some light to bring forth some personal meaning that really is at the very heart of orthodox belief.
     
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  9. RedOrange823

    RedOrange823 Regular Poster

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    So yeah, I've been thinking about this topic a lot lately after dealing with this thread, and here are my two cents:

    The Church And Wealth

    *source for above

    The Bible And Wealth

    Amos 8:4-7
     
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    #9 RedOrange823, Nov 7, 2010
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  10. randomsomeone

    randomsomeone Well-known member

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    There is great hope here but also great danger in that we risk throwing away something important, a heritage that we do not grasp at all. We have done it in the past and we are doing it again now. Still, we must trust that the human spirit will prevail, at least in the individual cases where true inner freedom, humility, courage, and generosity prevail.

    The things of value, the things that really are the principle drivers, the things publicly articulated and universally known as the true wealth is not in bank accounts or properties or titles at all. It is an inner light....and all the rest means little and can vanish in an instant. It is in the Mother Teresas, the Francis of Assisis, the Damien of Molokais, the Cecelias, the Maximillian Kolbes and so many more. No one holds up the bureaucrats and politicians and the manupulators as kindred spirits...the light of individual faith is what the whole thing is about. It has always been thus.
     
  11. Morgain

    Morgain defective wisdom
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    I believe the human spirit will prevail. The teachings of Christianity (the ones that matter) are nothing new. All the wisdom that really matters is the core of each religion, each culture, it is wisdom of all ages. And it is always there to be found by the ones who have the courage to look inside.

    Therefore I don't think it would be a big loss if christianity as institution would vanish. Because the institution is something complete different than the core of Jesus teachings. Jesus said that the kingdom of God is inside, the church says you can only find the kingdom of God if you follow whatever stupid rule they have created for there own glory and benefit.
     
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  12. Prometheus

    Prometheus Regular Poster

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    The most important thing to take from Nietzsche or Kierkegaard is that we are, all of us, responsible for our own souls. I have been accused of being a "strict adherent" because I regularly quote them, but anybody who looks closer will also see that I am very critical of them both as well. One almost has to be if they are to do these men justice.

    Kierkegaard was notorious for using pseudonyms to represent alternatives to his own perspective. When his philosophy, which basically came down to "think for your goddamn self," became popular, many people flocked to Kierkegaard as though he were a prophet himself. This irritated him, as his pseudonymous identities can show, and he actually began to rip his own work apart. When those same people flocked to the new guy, he threw off the mask and said "Look, you fucktards, if you want to really listen to me, stop fucking listening to me." This is a pretty rough translation from Danish so, you know, it may be kind of...off. I'm not sure if they have a word for "fucktard" in Danish, but I'm sure he used some variant of it and...er, yeah. I have no idea exactly what he said. But he made his point nevertheless.

    Point is, think for yourself. All of those fancy words to say "think for yourself." Nietzsche himself was once devoutly Catholic, and then he began preaching Schopenhauer from a soap box, before finally realizing he didn't agree. Nietzsche even praised Jesus because Jesus thought for his own damn self and was, therefore, "the last evangel." The true Anti-Christ, in his eyes, was every Christian that came afterwards.

    I really wish Nietzsche and Kierkegaard could have sat down across from each other and had at it. Man, the world would have never been the same.
     
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  13. magister343

    magister343 Permanent Fixture

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    The idea that Christians go to heaven when they die and others to hell is not as supported by the bible as many think. A plain reading of the text, especially in the original languages, tends to instead support soul sleep, conditional immortality, and/or annihilationism. In one sense everyone goes to hell/Hades, as it just refers to the grave or state of being not alive. We will then all take place in the coming resurrection, after which true Christians will be translated to their incorruptible bodies to dwell in glory on the New Earth forever while the rest will pass away again leaving nothing behind but the disgust at their misdeeds in the memory of the saints. There is nothing supporting eternal torment or an immortal soul, but rather the eternal consequence of the death of naturally mortal souls and the gift of putting on immortality for those who continue to dwell in the only true immortal, the Lord.

    Of course, the duty of evangelism is not really decreased by the knowledge that others are facing total destruction rather than eternal torture. One thing it does change is making it a little easier to explain theodicy, giving you a better chance of reaching those who ave rejected God because what they have been taught of him is seen as a petty and unjust deity not worthy of worship. Fire and brimstone preachers who try to win converts through fear tend to do more harm than good.
     
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  14. randomsomeone

    randomsomeone Well-known member

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    Very true...I think I like these guys!

    Simply brilliant!

    I totally agree. In fact, I hear theologians an clergy say this, too. I wonder why the masses still cling to this if it is not even coming from orthodox institutions?
     
  15. RedOrange823

    RedOrange823 Regular Poster

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    From my notes on the documentary "Hell: The Devil's Domain."

    The Old Testament contains only fleeting and indirect references to Hell. Sheol, the Hebrew abode of the dead is sometimes compared to modern conceptions of Hell, but in reality, it is quite different. Sheol is synonymous with the grave
     
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  16. magister343

    magister343 Permanent Fixture

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    Technically both Hell and Hades are terms whose ultimate roots mean "hidden," especially hidden directly below the ground. Apparently in middle English "to hell" was a verb for burying something (generally food) for storage. The Greek god's name may be related to the Helm of Darkness, which in the war against the titans he used to become invisible and make stealth attacks. It may also be important to note that Hades was not only god of the realm of the dead, but of everything physically below ground. His bore the title Ploton (wealthy) because he was also the god of mineral deposits including gold mines. In revelation it says that Hades will give up his dead and the sea will give up his dead, referring to both those who are buried under the ground and those who were lost at sea.


    That reference to hell in Mark actually says "fires of Gehenna," literally the garbage incinerators outside of Jerusalem. If I recall it is also a quote "where the worms that eat the do not die, and the fire is not quenched" is also a quote form the old testament.


    Incidentally Greek the word for Sulfer is the same as Divine. Fire and brimstone might be more literally translated divine fire.


    The terms everlasting and eternal are actually aion or its adjectival form aionian. This does refers to an indefinite rather than infinite period of time. (In its earliest usage it apparently most often referred to the span of a human's life, but by the time the bible was written it was considerably longer) Etymologically speaking Aionian should mean the same thing as Secular, but there is a strong connotation that the former refers to the next age/word and the later to the current.
     
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  17. RedOrange823

    RedOrange823 Regular Poster

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    Isaiah 66:24, “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”

    As for the Greek/Hebrew-English translations, many people seem to forget/ignore the fact that the Bible is indeed a translation, and that not everything can be taken literally. With this in mind, it becomes rather obvious why people do view Hell as a place, rather than a state in which one is "without or separated from God."
     
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    #17 RedOrange823, Nov 8, 2010
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  18. randomsomeone

    randomsomeone Well-known member

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    Good points. I'm sure we still "see through a glass darkly" regarding the precise dynamics of the afterlife.
     
  19. Faye

    Faye ^_^
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    1. Kierkegaard and Nietzsche were not exploring concepts at the same time. Nietzsche had just had his 12th birthday when Kierkegaard died. Kierkegaard preceded Nietzsche.

    2. Kierkegaard's conception of Christianity will never fit into the general perception of Christianity. His infamous statement "I am the Christian" is enough, but also he was excommunicated, and your typical Christian today would say that he worships himself or something along those lines.

    3. Kierkegaard posited the aesthetic, the ethical, and a return to the aesthetic via the ethical, a.k.a. becoming a knight of faith.

    I would argue that you can never really become a knight of faith, or at least that you would not want to. But that is my distaste for anything that could be classified as existential.
     
  20. RedOrange823

    RedOrange823 Regular Poster

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    Yes that was already corrected, but it doesn't really change anything. Both were unaware of (not hard in Kierkegaard's case) the other, yet still focused on the same concepts. They just arrived at different conclusions.

    I think that's kind of the point. Kierkegaard argued that the "general perception of Christianity" had wandered far from what the "true meaning" of Christianity was supposed to be; far from the message that Jesus had preached.

    Yeah, funny how churches (institutions, Christendom, etc.) can reject those that God loves, isn't it? Didn't Jesus tell us to love each other?

    Kierkegaard once said:


    The typical Christian probably would, but they would be mistaken to do so. By rejecting the institution, Kierkegaard himself would be free to "get clear about what he must do" and "to find a truth which is truth for him." Kierkegaard favoured a one-on-one personal relationship with God to a ritualized institution that allows for blind followers who don't even realize the true meaning of Christ's teachings. By finding your own personal identity in Christ, you are not worshiping yourself, you are freeing yourself to the options that God has given you, and you are able to realize the "gifts" you have been allotted.

    I know, what a harsh reality it would be...

     
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    #20 RedOrange823, Nov 10, 2010
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