Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Dead Authors can be Heroes

My new hero is Soren Kierkegaard. He is a tremendous writer that does not pull punches and he wrote in an environment not dissimilar to the environment of the church today,

  1. Intellectualism – Direct mental assent to Christ without the involvement of the heart. (Recall the first time that you accepted Jesus, was it a direct mental assent? Or, did your heart convict you of the need for a savior and then knowledge about Him was desired? Many churches today are stuck in the mode of discussing their brokenness and the intellectual ideas surrounding that without their heart saying “Yes” to the healing power of Jesus.)
  2. Formalism – Those in the aisle practiced a kind of silent atheism, unbelieving believers. (Those who attend church out of habit or for the purpose of taking something away from the church. For example, that the church would provide them with a social platform or a good moral foundation for their children. Lost in the formalism is the radical love for the person of Jesus Christ. Finally in formalism we almost never ask what we can contribute to the church because habit does not actively consider the needs of other members of the church)
  3. Pharisaism – Hypocritical Clergy serve themselves rather than the flock they promised to tend and keep. (Leaders with alternative motivations that benefit them and not necessarily the Kingdom are as prevalent today as they were then. Hunger for power and wealth derails many well meaning men and women in leadership)

Those dominated Kierkegaard’s contemporary church and we can hear it in the tone that Kierkegaard writes. I actually found the book Provocations on Jason Upton’s recommended reading page for following Jesus. It is a survey of his writings and is an excellent alternative to his normally dense and difficult essays. Likely, many of my upcoming posts will contain seeds from his thoughts and so here I will leave you with three of my favorite Kierkegaard quotes thus far (the first twenty pages or so),

“The path of an honest fighter is a difficult one. And when the fighter grows cool in the evening of his life this is still no excuse to retire into games and amusement. Whoever remains faithful to his decision will realize that his whole life is a struggle. Such a person does not proudly fall into the temptation of telling others of what he has done with his life. Nor will he talk about the “great decisions” he has made. He knows full well that at decisive moments you have to renew your resolve again and again and that this alone makes good the decision and the decision good.”

“He who says, “No,” becomes almost afraid of himself. But, he who says “Yes, I will,” is all too pleased with himself. The world is quite inclined- even eager- to make promises, for a promise appears very fine at the moment- it inspires! Yet, this is the very reason the eternal is suspicious of promises.”

“The greatest danger of Christianity is, I contend, not heresies, heterodoxies, not atheists, not profane secularism – no, but the kind of orthodoxy which is cordial drivel, mediocrity served up sweet.”

No comments: