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Christian heroism and the heritage of Reformation

Christian heroism and the heritage of Reformation

S. Kierkegaard brought the Danish philosophy out of the state of imitative discipleship of European thought, he became «the author of the authors» opening the space of game between notion and word, content and expression. You can take full part in this game only if you are prepared «without a backward glance to stake the very concept of your own name» in order to write «as it were on the reverse side of your own authenticity» [1. p. 558]. This is Kierkegaard’s choice; this is the clue to his intriguing pseudonymity. The «behind-the-scenes» existence of the author amounts to his rejection of what he has written. The author is only the resonator of meaning, who strives to depsychologize existential experience and create its ideal form. The form of such kind became Kierkegaard’s doctrine of three stages of human existence - aesthetic, ethical and religious. This trinity of modes of existence, full of fear, anxiety and despair, however, leads him to «rest in Providence», and open the face of God in the absurd of Faith.

At this point Kierkegaard turns to be a successor of the Reformation tradition, understood not technically and historically, but essentially in accordance with the principle «Ecclesia reformats et semper reformanda». Assessing Luther as «the greatest preacher of our church, as well as its most devout man» [2. p. 149]. Kierkegaard originally employs in his work three most important motives of the Reformer.

The first point is finding the fullness of the Christian freedom through the imperative «Sola fide». Luther's fearless and resolute appeal to a personal principle (personal God - Father and Lord- whose supreme revelation is the person of Christ) returns the gospel primevalness to the God-human relationship. The immensity of the grace of God reveals itself in the act of an absolute faith. It is rooted in the Saviour’s sacrifice as in the goal that he took upon himself.

The second point is the sharp criticism of the present state of the Christianity. Common agreement with the facts of the biblical tradition (fides historica) or external

being in the bosom of the church (fides explicits) have superseded the internal faith {tides implicits) as the soul’s innermost center, the spiritual ability to know, "active and powerful creative will". Kierkegaard strongly opposes "Christendom” (Christenheit) of the modern world to the true Christianity (Christentum).

The third point is the paradoxical simultaneity of mutually exclusive characteristics of the inner life of the Christian, which is expressed in the Luther's formula «Simul peccstor, Simul Justus», that is convicted and acquitted at the same time. This simultaneity is not perceived dogmatically, it must be confirmed by personal experience. The comprehension mode of such simultaneity, according to Kierkegaard, is subjectivity that searches for being.

Having formulated the following imperative «There is something that is not subject to thought and that is existence», Kierkegaard revealed anthropologic background of his philosophy. «Man is spirit» - he postulates - «But what is spirit? Spirit is the self. But what is the self? The self is a relation that relates itself to its own self, or it is that in the relation that accounts for the fact that the relation relates itself to its own self; the self is not the relation but the fact that the relation relates itself to its own self » [4. p. 255]. The reflection is thereby transferred into the self itself and caused the despair as the inner discrepancy in a synthesis of the self. The self is fluctuating between possibility and necessity and between finitude and infinitude. Despair of this kind does not take you beyond the limit of the self.

The ascent of despair to its own peak can be accomplished by means of two cycles. The first is despair-weakness, which is expressed in the desire not to be oneself, in a striving to get rid of it. The dialectic of despair-weakness culminates in despair over one’s weakness, while clarifying the reasons why the self didn’t wish to be itself returns the original relation of the self to itself. The self that does wish to be itself is aware of the active nature of despair; hence the second definition of man becomes despair-defiance. Despair-defiance gives into temptation «to create itself, to dress itself up, to exist thanks to itself alone». It empties by reflection.

Kierkegaard denies that classical philosophy possesses motion, which is merely imitated in it by reflection, mediation or removal. This is a movement of abstraction that reaches its apogee in pure being, or, rather, «dialectical wizardry» that compels opposites to signify one and the same being. The horizontal line of speculative movement starts out from abstraction and easily returns to it, leaving out of account the fact that in contemplation I can go around myself but I can’t «lift myself above myself; I can’t find the Archimedean point» [5. p. 75]. The prohibition on regarding existence as the product of consciousness alone and the escape of reality from the control of thoughts bring to light the limitation of speculative philosophy.

«The success of speculation in comprehending is just that of sewing without making the end fast and without knotting the thread;therefore it can marvelously keep on sewing, that is keep on pulling the end through» [4, p. 318]. The foundation left untouched by the «horizontal sewing of speculation» is freedom, from which existence is inseparable. The supreme interest of freedom is consists in restoring harmony of the self. Freedom as self-established existence is impossible without the turn to Christianity as «the best inventor of paradoxes».

Kierkegaard likens the vertical line of the establishment of freedom to a leap into the infinite, localized in the finite, in an instant. «To this end passion is necessary. Every movement of infinity comes about by passion, and no reflection brings a movement about. This is the continual leap in existence which explain the movement, whereas mediation is a chimera» [6, p. 42]. The leap into the infinite opens up the possibility of a trial of one’s own freedom. Is freedom capable of defending itself and thus fulfill its destiny? To answer this question means for Kierkegaard to leave the sphere of merely a man-to-man relation. The appeal to a «non-human measure», that is, to God, transforms a man into «the knight of faith». The devaluation of any and all ad hominem arguments places the individual «not this or that man but this definite individual before the face of God, alone in this tremendous exertion and this tremendous responsibility» [4, p. 251], face to face with the abyss that divides the divine from human. That is the position of Christian heroism.

Christian heroism is the kind of trial and the biblical Job - «the founder of the category of the trial, who gave birth for it in terrible torment» [5, p. 101]. The trial is absolutely transcendent and places man in a purely personal relationship of contradiction to God. The realized trial is temporary, its opens up for itself in the instant, which Kierkegaard signifies as «that ambiguity in which time and eternity touch each other, and with this the concept of temporality is posited, whereby time constantly intersects eternity and eternity constantly pervades time» [7, p. 184]. The meaning of the instant reveals itself in the absurdity of faith, when the self, being itself and wishing being itself, immerses itself in God through «its own clear transparency». The realization of the temporal in eternity, of the finite in infinity, of the human in God is the true implementation of existential freedom.


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K’erkegor S. (2011): Evangelie stradaniy Christianskie besedi Moskva Svatovladimirskoe izdatel’stvo. [Kierkegaard S. (2011): The Gospel of suffering. Christian talks. Moscow. St. Vladimir's publishing] 302 p.::

1. 3.Luter M. (1986): O rabstve voli // Erasm Rotterdamskii Filosofskie proizvedenia Moskva. Nauka.[ Luther M. (1986): On Slavery of Will // Erasmus Philosophical works. M.: Nauka]. P. 290 - 545.

K’erkegor S. (1993): Bolezn’ k smerti // Strakh i Trepet, Moskva Respublica. p. 251 - 350. [Kierkegaard S. (1993): Sickness unto Death in Fear and Trembling. Moscow. Respublica. P. 251 - 350.]

K’erkegor S. (1997):Povtorenie, Moskva Labyrint. [Kierkegaard S. (1997): Repetition. Moscow. Labyrint.] 157 p.

K’erkegor S. (1993): Strakh i Trepet // Strakh i Trepet, Moskva Respublica. s. 13 - 122. [Kierkegaard S. (1993): Fear and Trembling in Fear and Trembling. Moscow. Respublica. P. 13 - 122.]

K’erkegor S. (1993): Poniatie strakha // Strakh i Trepet, Moskva Respublica. s. 115 - 248. [Kierkegaard S. (1993): The concept of fear in Fear and Trembling. Moscow. Respublica. P. 115 - 248.] УДК 141.31

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