Living With Christ and Dying With Him

A Brief Quote

11/23/1996

I came across a little booklet the other day and wanted to pass on a paragraph or two. The writer’s name is Soren Kierkegaard. He lived from 1813-1855.

Emotional love often breeds jealousy, and so causes agony. Emotional love seeks to possess the beloved, and so ultimately seeks to destroy the beloved. Thus if the beloved refuses to be a possession, the heart is on fire with jealousy. The jealous person does not hate the beloved, but is tortured with the fear of the beloved breaking free. The jealous person pleads for reassurance from the beloved, rejoicing in every sign of warmth. But this warmth only adds to the fire of jealousy by increasing the desire to possess the beloved, yet paradoxically, if the beloved is willing to be possessed, this does not quench the agony. Rather the jealousy turns to contempt, since a person who is possessed by another loses all individuality, all the qualities that may evoke love.

The acceptance of Christian doctrine does not make a person Christian. Becoming a Christian depends on living with Christ and dying with Him. Indeed the true Christian has no interest in doctrine, which is little more than an attempt to define that which is beyond definition. Just as a lover would never try to define his love, so a believer will never try to define his faith. Indeed, there is no difference between a lover and a Christian: both are filled with inward passion.

The misfortune of Christendom is that it has encouraged people in the notion that by knowing the facts about Christ’s life 1800 years ago, they have faith. By degrees, as knowledge about Christ became accepted as faith, so all the pith and vigor went out of Christianity; the tension of the paradox of faith was slackened; one became a Christian without noticing it: the offense of Christianity was ignored. One took possession of Christian doctrine, turned it about and inspected it, while the meaning of Jesus Christ Himself was lost. Becoming a Christian became as simple as thrusting a foot into a stocking. And in this way Christianity became paganism. On Sunday, clergymen in the pulpit talk a lot of twaddle about Christianity’s glorious and priceless truths, and the sweet consolation which it offers. But it is only too evident that the Jesus Christ to whom they refer is merely an historical figure, not a living reality.

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