Up@dawn 2.0

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Søren Kierkegaard, Final Project - Third Installment (#11)

Kierkegaard sitting in the Royal Library Garden in Copenhagen

A Leap of Faith

Kierkegaard, being as devoted to his religion as he was, wrote very often and very in depth about his faith and the ways in which he thought all believers of that same faith should practice their beliefs. He was a staunch critic of the Danish Church, his outspokenness on that matter earning him his fair share of negative attention, and overall thought that the Church perpetuated a certain comfort and contentment among Christians of the day that he highly disapproved of.

When it comes to exactly what Kierkegaard believed about God and how he believed it, his most famously cited parable is the Biblical story of Abraham and his son Isaac. In brief, Abraham is directed by God to make a sacrifice out of his son, Isaac. Obviously, Abraham has no desire to kill his son, but, at the same time, an order from God, in his mind, is an order that must ultimately be obeyed. Abraham takes a three day journey with Isaac up onto a mountain and prepares to kill his son, only to have an angel of the Lord stay his hand at the very last minute. Kierkegaard referred to Abraham’s willingness to abandon both his moral and fatherly duties in the name of God a “leap of faith”. Abraham undoubtedly knew that killing anyone, especially his own son, was a morally incorrect thing to do, however, he put his absolute trust, or faith, into God that He would not purposely lead him astray. Through this story, Kierkegaard tried to illustrate that there was no duty, morally or socially, that was more important that one’s duty to put their complete and absolute faith into God. It sounds unreasonable, irrational, and illogical, though Kierkegaard was not unwilling to concede to the fact that it really was. It was that risk, the risk that Abraham ran by obeying God’s order to murder his son without knowing the reason why or what he might gain from doing so, which Kierkegaard believed was true Christianity.  

Source: A Little History of Philosophy, pg. 153-157

1 comment:

  1. The thing is, if (in Kierkegaard's telling) Abraham had decided to resist the call for Isaac's sacrifice that would also have represented a "leap of faith." Faith in this sense is self-validating, and to that extent useless.

    Kierkegaard himself was such a morose character, I can't imagine what would have become of him without that restorative daily walk he talks about. His faith was less in a leap, than in a stride!