Describing Kierkegaard's Personal Thoughts About Christianity

Kierkegaard, a well-know teologist, sees Christianity as the paradoxical truth; and he believes that “it is in the paradoxical that the eternal ones came into existence in time.” Socrates' perception of paradoxical predicament of man is stressing more the subjectivity of truth. But paradoxically it can't be proved that we are subjective. So the paradox is paradoxical in itself that is to say, subjectivity is truth as well as untruth. “This subjectivity is the beginning of the task of becoming the truth through a subjectifying process in the difficulty which is already in the truth.”

The problem therefore is not ignorance but sin. Christianity is aware that this is the crux of the problem. For most of the time we remain in untruth, not that we do not know what selfhood is, but because we will not risk subjectivity.

Christianity is Bearing Witness

Kierkegaard understands that the truth of Christianity is also the act of bearing witness to Christ, where as Socrates says 'Truth is in the subject'. But for Christianity truth lies in revelation, which has to be proclaimed. Socrates before Kierkegaard called what Kierkegaard calls “'indirect communication' as maieutic method.” This maieutic method is applicable to this world of Christians because most of the Christians live under the impression that they are just Christians. Hence, Christianity is just Christianity; the maieutic must become the witness. Therefore, the end result of this subjectivity is that which ends up in bearing witness.

Christianity as Man before God

Kierkegaard conceives God and man as two different qualities, in which, man stands before God. In a way, Christianity proclaims that God is the measure. “God however, can never become a third party when he is part of the religion; this is precisely the secret of the religion.” In other words, it really came about that God was man's goal and measure, so Jesus Christ becomes a paradigm of selfhood.

Christianity as Personalistic Religion

At one time Kierkegaard argued with Hegel regarding the content of Christianity. The reason for offence was a religious one to Kierkegaard, because Christianity for him became a very special one, which was in him and through a Personalistic religion, as fully depending on historical incarnation just clearly under the aspect of eternity.

On the other hand, we see Hegel, who called himself a Christian, believed that religious truth is a mere symbolic approximation to itself. Suppose, Hegel had come out of that notion of Christianity, then there could have raised another situation and all his system could have been an uncha11enged one. But this Hegelianism threatens Christianity more than any other anti-Christian Philosophy, because his system may lead one to confusion and misunderstanding, and then one wil1 not understand what true Christianity is. Hence those who continue to live their life of Christianity merely remain as Christians.

It Makes Man Extraordinary

Kierkegaard brings a notion that “many times people are offended at Christianity because its goal makes man something extraordinary” that he is unable to understand himself. It is impossible to penetrate into Christianity unless the story of Jesus is told or explained about God-manhood, that is to say, all men are in some sense divine, but this message of God-manhood stands unique. So there cannot be any combination between divinity and humanity. Therefore, “living a life of Christ leads one to become extraordinary in his ordinariness.” And here begins the real zeal and passion for Christ in proclaiming and spreading God's love for humanity.

Proclamation of Love by Christianity

Christianity abides by one thing that is love. This is a unique religion which stands out from other religions. We are called to live the life of Christ and to proclaim his love. The central point of Christianity is love. Love stands as a symbol of Christ because it was out of his love for humanity God sent His only Son to rule the earth and conquer it with his love. So, his coming is seen not as a repair but as love for humanity. He came down to teach us what love is and to love one another.

Kierkegaard says, “Love is self giving.” That's why Christianity forces one to create self-love in his heart. It teaches us to love our enemies, forgive others and become friends. So if one loves oneself he is also bound to love his neighbor. Christianity proposes this particular kind of love - love for a neighbor. A person, if he is able to love himself more and more, then, is it not possible for him to love the other like himself? Yes, it is possible; that is why we see Jesus stressing this point several times in the Bible.

So the Gospel is a unique teaching which is the witness of people who wrote this, and who experienced Christ in their lives. And we hear, “I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”. Jesus further says in another place, “Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself.” This kind of teaching is marvelous and motivating. Kierkegaard says, “It is God the Creator who must implant love in each human being because He himself is Love.” And therefore, Christ is the inspiration for you and me to follow him ardently. The love that is shown to the other should not become a subject to object love rather; it should be a subject to subject love, where one is becoming the other, two in one. “Christianity knows far better than a pact what love is and what it is to love.”

Christianity is: Love of Neighbor

When we say that love has to be created between two subjects it is that of myself and my neighbor. Kierkegaard says that loving one's self should go with loving one's neighbor. In fact this is the principle of Christianity. Then, the problem is who my neighbor is? The neighbor is not only the one who is next to you or dwells nearer to you. The neighbor in philosophical terms means the other. The neighbor need not exist in real sense but thinking itself is enough so that the love is shared with the other. Neighbor can be anybody or all people. Therefore, loving the neighbor is nothing but loving the Lord. And Jesus is the best example for us who loved His Father and obeyed Him, accepting His will to die upon the cross. It is all because of his love for humanity. The greatest command that gives to us is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Neighborly love is Self-denial and its aim is to love the whole human race, all people, even the enemy, and not to make exception, neither of preference nor of aversion.

We see a contradiction that Christian love is a duty, the form of which poses motivational road blocks to otherwise salutary aims. Kierkegaard's view, however, is that human love generally is a site of internal struggle, that the conflict between self-destructive or antisocial form of attachment and more authentic desires arise from within the moral agent. This Kierkegaard refers to self-love which command assumes in loving the neighbor as you. “Love does not come from outside but from within, instinctive, inclinational, and spontaneous, love, which is true love.”

In this aspect Kierkegaard says “love must first undergo ‘the change of eternity’ by becoming a duty.” Until then love remains selfish, insecure and independent, each of which indicate a despairing malaise within the self. And Christianity is also that which removes this or that similarity in loving the neighbor.

“A Christian, who wants to love only himself, cannot deny Christianity because Christianity is love. If he doesn't have love for his neighbor and then, he also doesn't have love for Christ because Christ is in others.” We hear in the Bible “whatsoever you do to the least of my people that you do unto me”. So it is very clear for each and every Christian that Christ dwells in each and everyone. Hence, as Christians we are gifted with love in view of our neighbor.

The Principle of Christianity

Christianity takes a big step in telling that “You shall love”. Kierkegaard speaks about love in a right manner. He says that a natural man simply understands what a universal love is, but he in that universal love forgets the individual love that God speaks of, and also to love himself, but Christianity teaches one to love the other. So each Christian is obliged to love his neighbor, and it's a divine message to all people.

There is always an objection made against Christianity by some who say that Christianity talks about erotic love and friendship. It does talk about it, but there is a vast difference between lovers (between couples) and the other lover (lover of Christ) who has this kind of love for some purpose. That is what Kierkegaard speaks about here. Those who defend that Christianity is love have given an answer to this one who ought to love God with his whole heart and his neighbor as himself. However, one should clarify the doubt about Christianity's love whether it is erotic or agape, in order to establish spiritual love in its place. If that is the case it has to share the same love with one's neighbor. “Erotic love is undeniably life's most beautiful happiness and friendship is the greatest temporal good.” The erotic love and friendship belong to paganism. Christianity teaches about the love of God and love of neighbor and this is true love according to Christianity.

Christianity in truth is spirit; it understands sensuous as something quite different from what men call simply as sensuous. Christianity also has given some misgivings about erotic love and friendship because “performance in passion or passionate preference is really another form of self-love.” Love for one’s neighbor is self-renouncing love. Self-renunciation throws out all the se1f-love, pride and ego. “Wherever Christianity is, there is also self-renunciation, which is Christianity's essential form.”

Christianity is: Man-to-Man Relationship

Christianity has made every human relation as a man and man relationship of conscience. It has done not for its glory but to fulfill God’s word and establish a kingdom. “Just as the blood throbs in every nerve, so also Christianity in the relationship of conscience will penetrate everything.” The aim of Christianity is to breathe eternal life, the divine into the human race. That’s why Christians are called a nation of priests. If Christianity is made one’s own and it will show the outside world by which one can move heaven and earth so quietly and so easily. This becomes a miracle of Christianity. It is like changing water into wine. So when Christianity lives in the relationship of conscience there everything gets changed.

Kierkegaard by elaborating this aspect of love says that “Christianity makes transformation of infinity in all its calmness. And it is that Christianity transforms every relationship between man and man into a relationship of conscience,” and this relationship develops only in love. And Christianity has a beginning which has been rooted in love. Here, Christianity neither begins with God nor with the neighbor, but with love. Since God is love it must start with God and in loving his neighbor, he must find God. Hence God-man relationship brings erotic love into conscience. And that becomes the love of neighbor.

Christianity knows only one kind of love that is Spiritual love. This spiritual love remains with one as long as he is in it. Christian love is love of an enemy because Christ Himself said, “Love your enemies”. Love for enemy should come from the heart and not merely from lips and it should find faith in the Lord.

“To love means to have come into infinite debt,” being in debt may be only a notion a fancy of love. Christianity also says that it is our duty to be in debt. Christianity understood that no man on earth has accomplished the utmost in love. And even if this great impossibility is done, then the understanding of Christianity would be a new task. It knows how to discipline love and to teach that every moment is a task. A task of an individual Christian is to make Christianity one’s own. And that is what we see in Kierkegaard.


Kierkegaard, being a Christian, had a very deep knowledge of Christianity. That is why he could explain to us what Christianity is all about. His teaching is profound and unique which enables us to know what a Christian is, and how to remain as a real Christian, in order that he may practice the values of Christ. He focuses on each individual’s love for Christ. His focus is also on being one with one-self and being with the neighbor. This is how he discovers Christ in his own individuality or subjectivity. 

07 July 2022
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