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Christ has no doctrine

Christ has no doctrine

By Soren Kierkegaard

This excerpt from Soren's work "Concluding Unscientific Postscript" reminds us that the life of faith as it's own category of existence. Attempting to explain the life of faith using terms from the realm of rational discourse is a means of evading the task at hand: "Follow me..."

To become a Christian is the ultimate, to want to "understand" Christianity, as if it were some doctrine, is open to suspicion...

A true believer is infinitely interested in what is real. For faith this is decisive, and this interestedness does not just involve a little curiosity but an absolute dependence on the object of faith.

The object of faith, understood Christianly, is not a doctrine, for then the relation is merely intellectual. Neither is the object of faith a teacher who has a doctrine, for when a teacher has a doctrine, then the doctrine is more important than the teacher. The object of faith is the actuality and authority of the teacher; that the teacher actually is. Therefore faith's answer is absolutely either yes or no. Faith's posture is not in relation to a teaching, whether it is true or not, but is the answer to the question about a fact: Do you accept as fact that he, the Teacher, actually exists?

Please note that the answer to this is a matter of infinite concern. Of course, if the object of faith is only a human being, then the whole thing is a sham. But this is not the case for Christians. The object of Christian faith is God's historical existence, that is, that God at a certain point in time existed as an individual human being.

Christianity, therefore, is not a doctrine about the unity of the divine and the human, not to mention the rest of the logical paraphrases of typical religious thought. Christianity is not a doctrine but a fact: God came into existence through a particular human being at a particular point in history.

Christianity is not to be confused with objective or scientific truth. When Christ came into the world it was difficult to become a Christian, and for this reason one did not become preoccupied with trying to understand it. Now we have almost reached the parody that to become a Christian is nothing at all, but it is a difficult and very involved task to understand it. Everything is reversed.

Christianity is transformed into a kind of worldview, a way of thinking about life, and the task of faith consists in understanding and articulating it. But faith essentially relates itself to existence, and becoming a Christian is what is important. Believing in Christ and wanting to "understand" his way by articulating it and elaborating on it is actually a cowardly evasion that wants to shirk the task. To become a Christian is the ultimate, to want to "understand" Christianity, as if it were some doctrine, is open to suspicion.

That one can know what Christianity is without being a Christian is one thing. But whether one can know what it is to be a Christian without being one is something else entirely. And this is the problem of faith. One can find no greater dubiousness than when, by the help of "Christianity," it is possible to find Christians who have not yet become Christians.

Faith, therefore, and the object of faith is not a lesson for slow learners in the sphere of knowledge, an asylum for the ignorant. Faith exists in a sphere of its own. The immediate identifying mark of every misunderstanding of Christianity is that faith is changed into a belief and drawn into the range of intellectuality – a matter of understanding, of knowledge. Infinite interestedness in the actuality and authority of the Teacher, absolute commitment, becoming Christian – that is the sole passion and object of faith.

Source Credit: The Kierkegaard quote is taken from Provocations, Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard, compiled and edited by Charles E. Moore, Plough Publishing, Copyright 2002 (page design and HTML coding by John Parsons).


Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard by Soren Kierkegaard (Author), Charles E. Moore (Editor). Perhaps the most accessible presentation of the wonderful thinking of Soren Kierkegaard available in English. Highly recommended!


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