Kierkegaard’s Forgotten Gospel

  Here are several excerpts from “Provocations”, an anthology of essays and writings by Soren Kierkegaard, compiled and edited by Charles Moore. There are several very pertinent, direct hits from chapter 5, that seem to apply more to us today than even in his time.

“When Christianity came into the world, it did not need to call attention (even though it did so) to the fact that it was contrary to human nature and human understanding, for the world discovered that easily enough. But now that we are on intimate terms with Christianity, we must awaken the collision. The possibility of offense must again be preached to life. Only the possibility of offense (the antidote to the apologists’ sleeping potion) is able to waken those who have fallen asleep, is able to break the spell so that Christianity is itself again. Woe to him, therefore, who preaches Christianity without the possibility of offense. Woe to the person who smoothly, flirtatiously, commendingly, convincingly preaches some soft, sweet something which is supposed to be Christianity! Woe to the person who makes miracles reasonable. Woe to the person who betrays and breaks the mystery of faith, distorts it into public wisdom, because he takes away the possibility of offense! Woe to the person who speaks of the mystery of the Atonement without detecting in it anything of the possibility of offense. Woe again to him who thinks God and Christianity are something for study and discussion. Woe to every unfaithful steward who sits down and writes false proofs, winning friends for themselves and for Christianity by writing off the possibility of offense.


“The gospel no longer benefits the poor essentially. In fact, Christianity has now even become a downright injustice to those who suffer (although we are not always conscious of this, and certainly unwilling to admit to it). Today the gospel is preached to the rich, the powerful, who have discovered it to be advantageous. We are right back again to the very state original Christianity wanted to oppose! The rich and powerful not only get to keep everything, but their success becomes the mark of their piety, the sign of their relationship to God. And this prompts the old atrocity again – namely, the idea that the unfortunate,  the poor are to blame for their condition; that it is because they are not pious enough, are not true Christians, that they are poor, whereas the rich have not only pleasure but piety as well. This is supposed to be Christianity. Compare it with the New Testament, and you will see that this is as far from that as possible.”

 It’s been a long, long time since I have read any of Kierkegaard.  I’ve forgotten how direct, swift, and penetrating his frontal attacks on Christendom, and especially the State Church, were.  And I’d also forgotten how much of what he wrote abruptly awakens something in me that falls asleep too easily.  His words are more like a dream, that I suddenly remember, or a conversation that was left unfinished, and is now being resumed. His writings provoke something in me, stir something, just as I suppose he intended.

 He himself provoked, and brought the offense of the Gospel into full light. He may not have claimed the title, but he was definitely a Prophet. He wore the mantle well. And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

Joh 6:61  But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this?”

Rom 9:33  as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Gal 5:11  But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.

1Pe 2:8  and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

Heb 13:11  For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12  So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13  Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14  For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.


About chuck

Aha! Look what I've created. I... have... made... FIRE!!!
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