Søren Kierkegaard: A Christian Thinker

In my previous treatment of Kierkegaard (S.K., hereafter) as a relevant Christian thinker of our day, I drew upon basic themes in S.K. to illuminate an apologetic for the imagination, so to speak. One of these basic yet classic themes in S.K. was “truth as subjectivity.” For such a phrase, S.K. has (wrongfully) been acclaimed a relativist, or a fideist.

But my goodness! S.K. has also been said to be a European moralist, a postmodernist, an existentialist, a poet, a psychologist, and much more. Among the receptions of 20th century scholarship there is also a cloud of smoke: the reader’s (sometimes reluctant) yielding to S.K.’s desire to be read as he intended, or attempting to retrieve an understanding of the “man” through his Journals, among other such “clouds.” I wish to take S.K. to round two of the battlefied; not of an attack upon “Establishment Christianity” (as he saw it), but to a retrieval of S.K. from his critics [1].

Setting the Record Straight 

Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (1813-1855) is a very interesting philosopher and individual who has gained my undivided attention over the past year. His use of indirect communication, irony, satire, and impressive wit make him a rather unprecedented – or perhaps ‘unusual’ – thinker of his time. Even as a boy, by the testament of fellow classmates [2], he was not one blessed with the powers of physical strength, but God nonetheless left him with his uncanny wit, so that he might not be left completely defenseless. As one classmate recollects:

As a boy, he did not have the least trace of the great poetic gifts he later developed. Now and then, when our classmate H. P. Holst would read us his attempts at poetry or a Danish composition which displayed his poetic talents, S.K. was always one of the first to interupt his reading by throwing a book at his head (Kirmmse 1996, 8).

Other instances such as this, left the young S.K. (“fork” as he was called) with much of a beating from other classmates he annoyed and ridiculed. Such a wit he maintained and executed all throughout his life. However, should the reader not be too upset, I would like to (though it is custom) pass over a biographical sketch of S.K. and get right to the meat of his thought (please see note [3] on this). The question of this article is basically this: Is Kierkegaard a relevant Christian thinker for today? [4]

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On the Importance of Studying Greek

SONY DSCBy Dax R. Bennington

Introduction

The reasons for studying Greek are numerous. This essay will address a number of the benefits of studying the ancient language. Some of the benefits are intrinsically valuable, that is they are good in and of themselves, not sought out for any particular means, and some of the benefits for studying New Testament Greek (Koine) are meant for more pragmatic purposes, or they are sought out for a means to an end. Some of the benefits of studying New Testament Greek are philosophical, theological, grammatical and linguistic, the general discipline of study, as well as for apologetics. A brief discussion on the benefits of each topic will be addressed respectively.
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Having Conversations Full of Grace and Seasoned with Salt: Advice to the Christian Debater

In his letter to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul instructs his readers to “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person,” (Colossians 4:6). I have found this advice to be invaluable in the context of debate, an activity in which many of us in the apologetics community participate.

Recently, I have had the opportunity to be involved in a few radio debates. In such situations, it is so important to always exemplify an attitude of humility and graciousness. Too often, regrettably, I have seen people (believer and unbeliever alike) attempt to disparage people on the other side of the argument. For the Christian, I firmly believe that the purpose behind debating is not simply to win an argument. Let me say that again: The purpose of debating, for the believer, is not simply to win an argument. It is possible that one successfully win an argument while failing to win the audience or one’s interlocutor. There are souls on the line. A message of love should thus be clearly conveyed — through the words we speak, through our conduct and mannerisms, and through our devotion to the message of the cross. It is so easy to let our Christian apologetics be reduced to nothing more than an intellectual pursuit, or a way to bolster one’s own ego. But as the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:2,

If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

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Identity Crisis: Should We Use the Term Apologetics?

skeptical guy pulling down sunglasses

Do you get blank stares when you mention apologetics? Should we drop the term and find another, like case-maker? Having tried apologetics as well as other terms, I think the problem is deeper. What can we do, and what might we learn from others who share a similar identity problem? [Read more…]

Answering Jewish Objections: “Jewish People Don’t Believe in a Suffering/Atoning Messiah”: Part One

Introduction

Over the years, I have had the chance to talk to several Jewish people about spiritual issues. A common Jewish objection that I continue to hear is that Jewish people don’t believe that a human can be sacrificed for sins. In other words, a human can’t atone for the sins of the Jewish people.

First, let me give some background to the idea of atonement in Judaism. For Jewish people Yom Kippur, which is also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. When the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D, the religious and social life changed forever for the Jewish people. The Jewish people no longer had a sacrificial system in the Temple. Therefore, the atonement structure was changed to repentance which entails prayer, fasting, and doing mitzvah (good deeds).

The Importance of Atonement

One of the  Bible’s central messages is atonement. Hence, God has provision for humankind to come back into harmonious relation with him is one of the central themes in Scripture. The Hebrew word called “Shalom” which means peace, completeness, can refer to either peace between two entities (especially between man and God) or peace between two countries. Why do we lack this wholeness? Sadly, sin causes us to be fragmented. The Hebrew verb ‘to atone’ (kaphar) means ‘cover.’ In other words, we need a covering for our sins. [Read more…]