Sunday, April 18, 2010

Freedom of Faith

For many, the Church seems somewhat universal. At the very least it seems that the holdings and teachings are universal in the Church community. Those who believe should all pretty much believe the same universal things. Kierkegaard does not agree with that idea. He argues that having faith in the Christian church is rather objective because we haven’t really taken a leap of faith. It can pretty much be said that none of us have had an experience like Abraham, which was a prime example of the most ultimate leap of faith. Therefore, Kierkegaard would say, the Church can’t really be so personal. The only thing we have to guide us in our faith-based journey through the Christian church is the teachings and text of the Bible, and supposedly our own personal faith. Without having made that leap of faith, we still might as well consider ourselves to be outsiders. We can understand the doctrines etc. but we cannot necessarily have had a strong enough experience to draw us into the faith.
Faith really is very important to Kierkegaard. He argues that we “can get no further than faith”. By this he means that faith is very enlightening. It exposes us to the realm of the infinite. By having such strong faith we will believe in the infinity of the afterlife. As I was reading this I was thinking back on some of the writers that I read in my Existentialism class. Many of those figures, who are contemporaries of Kierkegaard simply believe in finitude.The only thing they might say is infinite is the universe, but they don’t really even know if they can guarantee that. For example, Sartre is very well known for his focus on the finality of life. He suggests that faith in God is evidence of someone fleeing his freedom. This means that he thinks that believing in God is taking the cowardly way out. Sartre would argue that by putting your faith in God you are not taking full responsibility for your choices, which is a huge deal in existential philosophy. You are ignoring your obvious finitude by transferring your responsibilities elsewhere.
Kierkegaard would not approve of this. He would retaliate by arguing about how we still do have freedom. We have the freedom to make our decisions yet these decisions will aid us after death. Therefore we are not escaping our responsibilities at all. We are even taking them more seriously because there is the fear of the eternal consequences.

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