theological reflections at the intersection of (my) perception with reality
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
"Why Kierkegaard Can Help Us"
During my senior year of college (Wheaton, IL), I was introduced to Søren Kierkegaard's religious philosophy. As happens with many people, the first book of his I read was Fear and Trembling. While it's his most "famous" work, and the book most associated with his name, it's probably one of his more perplexing books. Nonetheless, it drastically re-oriented my thinking about faith and Christianity.
I had recently experienced an "epistemological crisis," of sorts; wondering whether Christianity was true after all, whether my faith was real (or just a hand-me-down), and whether, in fact, I could be confident that any of my beliefs matched reality. Kierkegaard helped me understand that faith, by its very nature, is meant to involve struggle. Doubt is and integral part of faith. Doubt is not necessarily sin. God does not want us to flounder in unbelief and apathy. He wants to stimulate in us the passion of conviction. Conviction is very different, though, from certainty. While someone who is certain can be passionate (and they often are, to disastrous results), the believer who is confident and convinctional about their beliefs is not as easily tempted toward dogmatism and is not as prone to making idols of their conceptions of God, their interpretations of Scripture, and their approach to the Christian life. They also make room for the convictions, beliefs, and distinctive "angularity" (particular shape of their humanity, or their "self") of others--even if they aren't persuaded by them.
The authentic, passionate, convictional believer is out "on 30,000 fathoms of water," and is better positioned to trust in God rather than in their own conceptions of God, their own ideologies (read: idols).
Kierkegaard helped me then (in 1995) and he still helps me today. That's why I'm glad to have the opportunity this Sunday (5:30 pm) to speak on the topic, "How Kierkegaard Can Help Us," at the Soulstice Service of Berean Baptist Church (309 County Road 42 EBurnsville, MN55306). If you're in the area, come by and check it out. And if you bring in this add, you'll get 5$ off.
I'm a theology professor at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, MN. I teach about Kierkegaard and postmodernity, theology and contemporary culture, the doctrine of salvation, theological perspectives on evil and suffering, and contemporary issues in the person and work of Christ. I enjoying cracking the mysteries of "Lost" with my beautiful wife, Sara.