Training in Christianity: Part II

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In this second part of Søren Kierkegaard’s book, Training in Christianity, our author outlines ‘the possibility of the offense’ of Jesus Christ. This term (the possibility of offense) refers to that which in Christ Jesus man finds offensive. Kierkegaard maintains the term of offense a possibility because he holds Christ not to be an offense, but someone who has the possibility of offending us. We are either to believe or be offended. It is fitting that Kierkegaard provides Matthew 11:6 as the epigraph for this part of the book:

“Blessed is he whosoever is not offended in me.” (p. 63)

Kierkegaard defines three major aspects of Christ that man finds offensive (with a fourth added at the end).

  • [1] Man is offended that Christ came into collision with the established order.
  • [2] Man is offended that this man claims to be God (loftiness).
  • [3] Man is offended that God claims to be this man (lowliness).
  • {[4] Man is offended that the very thing that gives us peace, or relieves suffering, (Christ/The Word of God) is the very cause of more suffering.}

We are to either be offended or to believe. Let us all hope to come and say what our author does:

“Whether it now is a help or a torment, I will one thing only, I will belong to Christ, I will be a Christian!” (p. 102)

I will quote the prelude of this part of Training in Christianity at length because I found it particularly moving and clear:

Yea, blessed is he how is not offended in him, blessed is he who believes that Jesus Christ lived here on earth and was the One He said He was, the lowly man and yet God, the Only Begotten of the Father–blessed is the man who knows no other to go to, but knows in every case that he may go to Him. And whatever a man’s condition in life may be, though he live in poverty and wretchedness–blessed is he who is not offended but believes that this occurred, is not offended because it does not now occur but believes that it occurred. And whatever a man’s fate may be in the world, however the storms of life may threaten him–blessed is he who is not offended but believes fully and firmly that Peter sank for the one and only cause that he did not believe fully and firmly. And whatever a man’s fault may be, though his guilt were so great that not he himself only but the human race despaired his forgiveness–yet blessed is he who is not offended but believes that He said to the man sick of the palsy, “Thy sins are forgiven thee,” and that this was just as easy for Him to say as to say to the palsied man, “Take up thy bed and walk”–blessed is he who is not offended but believes in the forgiveness of sinners, although they are not helped like the palsied man to believe by the certainty of healing. And whatever be the manner of a man’s death when his last hour is to come–blessed is he who is not offended like the contemporaries when He said, “The damsel is not dead but sleepeth,” blessed is he who is not offended but believes, who (like a child who is taught these words as it falls asleep) says, “I believe” … and then sleeps; yea, blessed is he, he is not dead, he sleepeth. And whatever sufferings a Christian may endure here on earth on account of his faith, though he be ridiculed, persecuted, put to death–blessed is he who is not offended but believes that He, the humbled, the lowly, the despised man, He who in a sorry way learned to know what it is to be a man when it was said of Him, “Behold the man”–blessed is he who is not offended but believes that he was God, the Only Begotten of the Father, and that this experience belongs to Christ, and belongs to him who would belong to Christ. Yea, blessed is he who is not offended but believes–blessed the victory that overcometh, for faith overcometh the world by overcoming every instant the enemy within him, the possibility of offense. Fear not the world, neither poverty, nor wretchedness, nor sickness, nor need, nor opposition, nor men’s injustice, their insults, their ill-treatment, have fear of nothing that can destroy the outward man; fear not him who can kill the body–but fear thyself, fear what can kill faith, and therewith can kill for thee Jesus Christ, namely the offense, which another indeed can give, but which yet is impossible if thou dost not take it. Fear and tremble; for faith is contained in a fragile earthen vessel, in the possibility of offense. Blessed is he who is not offended in Him but believes. (pp. 65-66)

————–

Part I: Come Hither

Part III: He Will Draw All

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2 thoughts on “Training in Christianity: Part II

  1. Pingback: Training in Christianity: Part I | Lankford Press

  2. Pingback: Training in Christianity: Part III | Lankford Press

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