Learn Hebrew

Hebrew for Christians
Finding the Courage of Your Convictions

The Task before us

By Soren Kierkegaard

The fear of man drives many of us to say and think in ways that are inauthentic and sinful. By giving ourselves labels, aligning ourselves with certain doctrines or ideologies, engaging in certain formulaic rituals, etc., we hope to rid ourselves of the dread that we are eternally responsible for our own personal decisions.  Groupthink and accepting the propaganda of mass media are tools used by social engineers to enslave you. The devil's logic is always that of mediation, compromise, consensus, synthesis. How many of us are willing to sell our very souls for the creature comforts vainly promised by this world and its princes? How many of us have the resolute faith to turn away from the will of the crowd and face ourselves?

"Why is it that people prefer to be addressed in groups rather than individually? Is it because conscience is one of life's greatest inconveniences, a knife that cuts too deeply? We prefer to "be part of a group," and to "form a party," for if we are part of a group it means goodnight to conscience. We cannot be two or three, a "Miller Brothers and Company" around a conscience. No, no. The only thing the group secures is the abolition of conscience.


By forming a party, by melting into some group, we avoid not only conscience, but martyrdom. This is why fear of others dominates this world. No one dares to be a genuine self; everyone is hiding in some kind of "togetherness." Sensitive organs are shielded and not in immediate contact with objects, so us ordinary people are afraid to come into personal, immediate contact with the eternal. Instead, we rely on traditions and the voice of others. We are content to be a specimen or a copy, living a life shielded against individual responsibility before the Truth.

True individuality is measured by this: how long or how far one can endure being alone without the understanding of others. The person who can endure being alone is poles apart from the social mixer. He is miles apart from the man-pleaser, the one who manages successfully with everyone – he who possesses no sharp edges. God never uses such people. The true individual, anyone who is going to be directly involved with God, will not and cannot avoid the human bite. He will be thoroughly misunderstood. God is no friend of cozy human gathering.

Yes, in the purely human world the rule is this: Seek out the help and opinion of others. Christ says: Beware of men! The majority of people are not only afraid of holding a wrong opinion, they are afraid of holding an opinion alone. In the physical world water puts out fire. So too in the spiritual world. The "many", the mass of people, put out the inner fire – beware of men!

According to the New Testament to be a Christian means to be salt. Christianity addresses this question to each individual: Are you willing to be salt? Are you willing to be sacrificed, instead of belonging to the crowd, which seeks to profit from the sacrifice of others? Here again is the distinction: to be salt or to melt into the mass; to let others be sacrificed for us on behalf of the Truth or to let ourselves be sacrificed – between these two lies an eternal qualitative difference.

The deep fault of the human race is that there are no individuals any more. We have become split in two. When a book has become old and shabby, the binding separates and the pages fall out. Similarly, in our time we are disintegrated. Our understanding, our imaginations do not bind us in character. We are spineless wimps who only flirt with the highest. How can we ever possibly avoid the dizziness that comes from fear of people in the midst of this whirlpool of millions where everything is either crowds or movements? What faith it takes to believe that one's life is noticed by God and that this is enough!

Wanting to hide in the crowd, to be a little fraction of the group instead of being an individual, is the most corrupt of all escapes. Granted, it will make life easier, but it will do so by making it more thoughtless. Yet the question is that of the responsibility of each single individual – that each of us is an authentic, answerable self. It is a cop-out to make a racket along with a few others for a so-called conviction. We ought, before God, to make up our own minds about our convictions, and then live them out regardless of the others. Eternity will single each person out as individually responsible – the busy one who thought he was safe in some group or some enterprise, and the poorest wretch who thought he was overlooked.

Every person must render account to God. No third person dares venture to intrude upon this accounting. God in heaven does not talk to us as to an assembly; he speaks to each individually. This is why the most ruinous evasion of all is to be hidden away in a herd in an attempt to escape God's personal address. Adam attempted this when his guilty conscience led him to imagine that he could hide himself among the trees. Similarly, it may be easier and more convenient, and more cowardly too, to hide yourself among the crowd in hope that God will not recognize you from the others. But in eternity each shall individually render an account. Eternity will examine each person for all that he has chosen and done as an individual before God.

It will be horrible on judgment day, when all souls come to life again, to stand utterly alone, alone and unknown by all, and yet candidly, exhaustively known by him who knows all. No one may ever pride himself at being more than an individual. Nor can anyone despondently think that he is not an individual. No, each one can and shall render account to God. Each one has the task of becoming an individual."

Credit: The Kierkegaard quote is taken from Provocations, Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard, compiled and edited by Charles E. Moore, Plough Publishing, Copyright 2002.

Note: I should add that Kierkegaard wrote along this line because in the time he lived, Denmark was considered a "Christian" country by default, and the organized church functioned more as a social club than a place of living sacrifice. In a routine way, citizens were born Christians, lived in the world as Christians, and died as Christians.
In some ways it's like that today, though the prevailing ethos is not "Christianity" as much as it is secular humanism. Today's popular Christian culture (at least in the West) has been ghettoized and tends to breed a sort of entertainment mentality.  Regardless of the prevailing culture, if someone really decides to follow Jesus, what then? Kierkegaard's question still needs to be answered for each of us today.

<< Return


Hebrew for Christians
Copyright © John J. Parsons
All rights reserved.