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Posts Tagged ‘existentialism’

“Only the person taken on in Christ is the real human being; only the person confronted by the cross of Christ is the judged human being; only the person who participates in the resurrection of Christ is the renewed human being. Since God became a human being in Christ, all thinking about human beings without Christ is unfruitful abstraction. The counter-image to the human being taken up into the form of Christ is the human being as self-creator, self-judge, and self-renewer; these people bypass their true humanity and therefore, sooner or later, destroy themselves. Falling away from Christ is at the same time falling away from one’s own true nature.” p. 134 Ethics

Before any non-religious people get upset, I apply this passage to myself and all ‘believers’ as well. At the end Bonhoeffer reminds me of Kierkegaard in The Sickness Unto Death. I see the counter-image to the human being taken up into the form of Christ in the self-righteous, “holy” man who thumps his bible at people and condemns them, as well as the ‘free’ thinker who seeks to ‘free’ those still enslaved to religion. What were you created to be? Who you are in the eyes of God is what matters…can you see it? In the love of God, in Christ, we find ourselves as we ought to be, and as we shall be.

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“No! No one who was great in the world will be forgotten, but everyone was great in his own way, and everyone in proportion to the greatness of that which he loved. He who loved himself became great by virtue of himself, and he who loved other men became great by his devotedness, but he who loved God became the greatest of all. Everyone shall be remembered, but everyone became great in proportion to his expectancy. One became great by expecting the possible, another by expecting the eternal; but he who expected the impossible became the greatest of all. Everyone shall be remembered, but everyone was great wholly in proportion to the magnitude of that with which he struggled. For he who struggled with the world became great by conquering the world, and he who struggled with himself became great by conquering himself, but he who struggled with God became the greatest of all. Thus did they struggle in the world, man against man, one against thousands, but he who struggled with God was the greatest of all. Thus did they struggle on earth: there was one who conquered everything by his power, and there was one who conquered God by his powerlessness. There was one who relied upon himself and gained everything; there was one who in the security of his own strength sacrificed everything; but the one who believed God was the greatest of all.There was one who was great by virtue of his power, and one who was great by virtue of his wisdom, and one who was great by virtue of his hope, and one who was great by virtue of his love, but Abraham was the greatest of all, great by the power whose strength is powerlessness, great by that wisdom whose secret is foolishness, great by that hope who form is madness, great by the love that is hatred to oneself.” –Fear and Trembling, Soren Kierkegaard

Kierkegaard, an ordained Lutheran minister, and father of existentialism, here talks about reality as he sees it. Who will be remembered, how and why? Whether you feel his thoughts on this are appealing or repulsive, they are non-the-less interesting. Continue your struggle with God…

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“Surrounded by hordes of men, absorbed in all sorts of secular matters, more and more shrewd about the ways of the world–such a person forgets himself, forgets his name divinely understood, does not dare to believe in himself, find it too hazardous to be himself and far easier and safer to be like the others, to become a copy, a number, a mass man.” p. 34

Kierkegaard’s The Sickness Unto Death…a book that helped shape my life in a way. How true is this statement above in today’s society (perhaps in every society and every time)? I know many “mass men”, all of which are successful in life. Successful in the way society defines it, but inwardly and spiritually, I would not rate them so well. That is not to say I am some grand success spiritually, far from it…but I take note of my depravity…and pray. In my reading of this book, I’m always amazed at how true the text is, and how it seems to speak directly to me and apply to me personally. I’m sure this is a common experience, a sign of a talented philosopher and theologian.

Question: Should you try to bring the truths of this book to the “mass men” you know? If so, how? If not, why not?

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