Kierkegaard on Upbuilding, Grace and the God Whom Gives Every Good and Perfect Gift

In “Against Cowardliness”, Kierkegaard is famous for stating: “Do what you can for God and he will do for you what you cannot do.”[1] Some scholars have suggested that this statement explains the perfectly compatible and consistent relationship that exists, according to Kierkegaard, between the individual, freewill and God’s grace. And, on the surface, such scholars are correct.[2] At first glance, there seems to be no difficulty in ascribing to the individual enough freedom so that he or she may attempt to understand, and love God on their own, while simultaneously allowing a place for God’s grace. Indeed, Timothy Jackson, for example, in “Arminian Edification: Kierkegaard on Grace and Freewill,” argues that Kierkegaard held a consistent Arminian view regarding freewill and the grace of God. Jackson writes:

We cannot independently reach for the gift of salvation, much less grasp it as a right, but we can either accept or refuse it. There is no merit in the acceptance, for we are merely letting God heal our abject sinfulness; but there is enough human freedom to say “Yes” or “No” to the physician.[3] 

But such a statement simply begs the question: What can we do? And what, exactly, does God do for us? What are we saying: “Yes” and “No” to and indeed, what does “Yes” and “No” imply? If we continue to analyze this, God as physician and the human individual, as patient analogy Jackson proposes, it is unclear exactly what God is responsible for healing and what the patient does for him or herself. Jackson is right in suggesting, as the above analogy implies, that a good deal of the onus of one’s salvation is placed on the individual. However, without specifying exactly how much onus, how much responsibility is placed on the individual’s shoulders, leaves it ambiguous in determining what, exactly, Kierkegaard thinks we are responsible for in regards to our own salvation.

What I shall argue, in this paper, is that even in the simple, straightforward, and yet extremely important essay: “Strengthening the Inner Beingin Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses, the tension between the individual, freedom and God’s grace is never resolved. That is to say, although Jackson argues that: “Kierkegaard rejects all narrow doctrines of election and any metaphysical account that would claim compatibility between determinism and freedom of the will.”[4] And furthermore that, “Such a rejection is implicit throughout the Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses,[5] Kierkegaard’s problem, however, is that he never rejects determinism explicitly. Indeed, as I will demonstrate, the problem is further exacerbated because Kierkegaard suggests that we cannot be saved in “Strengthening the Inner Being” no matter what we do. In other words, no matter what actions certain individuals take these same individuals will always be part of the condemned; the damned. In effect, I will argue that the doctor/patient, God/individual, analogy is not quite correct though not completely off the mark. Rather, I will show that God, according to Kierkegaard in “Strengthening the Inner Being” at any rate, is much more like a hospital administrator--He only chooses to save those who are members of His health insurance plan.

 One thing that seems to be certain is that the ‘Yes’ and ‘No,’ that Jackson argues for implies choice. But in a certain sense, it also implies cognition.  To look at an example in everyday life, when I am confronted with making a choice I understand that I am taking a course of action as opposed to other actions that I could take. The paths of my decisions are laid out before me, as it were, and I am only free if it is in fact the case that I can decide, choose and understand that I chose one path rather than another. If I do not have a choice in the matter, then I was not free to act otherwise. Simultaneously, if I did not comprehend the choices before me, as in the case when I was a very small child, we do not say that the child has freely made a choice. Choice, freedom and understanding, necessarily go hand in hand. For, if one does not understand, comprehend nor is conscious of making a choice, then one cannot very well say that they acted cognitively. They may take an action but why they acted in this way instead of that way, is, by definition, unknown to them. Such a ‘choice’ of action may be caused by instinct, the unconscious, but we normally think that the choice did not come from ‘us.’

However, if the act did not come from ‘us’ then surely the act is not a free act because we did not consciously choose to act in this way. Rather, we normally think that something else did: something that is not ‘us.’ Thus, according to Jackson’s interpretation of Kierkegaard, to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ implies that one is aware or cognitive of the choices before one. And of course, in this sense, the person is free to accept the gift from God or not.

There is, however, a problem with the above interpretation. Simply put, this is not what Kierkegaard means by choice. For, in a certain sense, there is also an important non-cognitive element in choosing. As Kierkegaard writes:

In making a choice it is not so much a question of choosing the right as of the energy, the earnestness, the pathos with which one chooses. Thereby the personality announces its inner infinity, and thereby in turn the personality is consolidated. Therefore even if a man were to choose wrong, he will nevertheless discover precisely by reason of the energy with which he chose, that he has chosen wrong.  (My Italics) [6]

In this passage, Kierkegaard seems to be implying that there is always passion in making a choice and, for 21st century readers, this may seem perfectly understandable. Certainly, we can understand why we choose to act in this way rather than that way if we are under extreme emotional duress. But Kierkegaard’s claim is, in point of fact, much stronger than this: “Therefore even if a man were to choose wrong, he will nevertheless discover precisely by reason of the energy with which he chose, that he has chosen wrong.” This statement indicates that one chooses something over another because of an inner drive that, in a certain sense, and unknown to the person, has already chosen. This inner drive already ‘knows’, what the right choice is. By turning to one aspect of the self—the relationship between one’s desire for salvation as expounded in “Strengthening the Inner Being” we will further understand what Kierkegaard means by this inner drive.

 In Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses, Kierkegaard begins “Strengthening the Inner Being,” with the story of Saint Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. There seem to be two points that Kierkegaard wants to emphasize in the retelling of this story. First, Kierkegaard is contrasting the humbleness of Paul to that of the opulence and grandeur of the Roman Empire. In effect, Kierkegaard is reminding the reader that though Paul may be humble and even unworthy of torture, nevertheless, his teaching and his knowledge are far richer than the coffers of a thousand Roman empires. For according to Kierkegaard, St. Paul, teaches that which is eternal; the Kingdom of Heaven, which is far richer and important, than all of mankind’s empires put together. So, Kierkegaard is reminding us that the goal of human life is ultimately one of salvation. He is reminding the “Christian” that the purpose of life is to understand and love God.

Second, and more importantly, the way to salvation is in strengthening the inner being. The example of Paul is to show us that despite the hardships that the Saint went through nevertheless, he was steadfast in his convictions. He was, that is, steadfast in his resolution. Correspondingly, Kierkegaard is now asking us, the reader, to be steadfast in our resolution also. He is asking us to be strong in our inner being. As Kierkegaard writes:

What gave Paul the power for this? He himself had a witness; he was no doubter who in his innermost being retracted the strong thoughts. He had a witness superior to anything in the world, a witness that witnessed all the more powerfully the more the world went against him. Was he a weak man, then? No, he was powerful. Was he wavering? No, he was steadfast; he was mightily strengthened by God’s spirit in his inner being.[7]

As we can see in the above quote, it is God who provides the witness. This witness is also defined by Kierkegaard as the gift of “God’s grace of whom every good gift and perfect gift comes from.”[8] The question, now, is whether such a gift is completely responsible for strengthening the inner being. That is, is the gift both a necessary and a sufficient condition for strength or is it only a necessary condition that we must put into practice? Now, by all accounts, this first possibility is ruled out because if the gift of the witness or grace were both a necessary and sufficient condition for salvation then there would be literally nothing for the individual to do. One’s salvation is either destined to be or not. So this possibility, conflicts with much of Kierkegaard’s ideas on the self and salvation. The possibility, therefore, that I will explore is whether the gift of grace from God is merely a necessary condition that we have to put into practice. In fact, this possibility seems to square with standard interpretations of Kierkegaard’s philosophy—after all, Kierkegaard is both a Christian philosopher and the father of existentialism. However, this still raises two important questions which must be answered: First, if the gift of grace is only a necessary condition then what, if any, is the causal relationship between the gift and our actions for strengthening the inner being? That is to say, what does Kierkegaard think we should and can do in order to be good Christians. And finally, if grace is a necessary condition for strength does God grant this gift to all individuals or only to chosen few? We can find some of the answers to these questions in the later parts of the text.

In parts of the text, Kierkegaard seems to imply that all humans have received this gift of God, or concern for one’s soul, yet few act upon it. Kierkegaard writes:  “After all, every person in all ages does indeed have his struggle and his spiritual trial, his distress, his solitude in which he is tempted, his anxiety and powerlessness when the witness slips away.”[9] Kierkegaard continues: “Only the person who has abandoned his soul to worldly appetites, who has chosen the glittering bondage of pleasure and has not managed to extricate himself from its light-minded or heavy-spirited anxiety, only he is satisfied to let the creation bear its witness so that he can shrewdly and prudently use it in the service of the moment.”[10] If we combine these two passages we find that Kierkegaard’s idea of inner being seems to fulfill the minimal conditions for freedom and grace. If we look at the first quote, we find that Kierkegaard argues that “every person, in all ages” goes through this spiritual struggle. The anxiety and powerlessness that one feels when the witness has slipped away is common to all people despite the fact they may have been born before the birth of Christ. The angst that one experiences when one has lost contact with God, therefore, is part of the existential and ontological structures of humanity. This is indeed a perpetual, human, struggle that one can only affirm in the repetition of the resolution; that is in renewing one’s faith on a day to day, hour to hour and from minute to minute basis.[11] So, from the first passage, Kierkegaard is, in fact, arguing consistently that one can only find a solution to humanity’s anxiety via the grace of God and that God’s grace is available to every human.

If we turn to the second passage, Kierkegaard argues that one must choose to be concerned for their soul for, as he writes: “Only the person who has abandoned his soul to worldly appetites, who has chosen the glittering bondage of pleasure…etc.” (My Italics)[12] To abandon something implies choice, abandoning is an action and therefore it is an action that we can choose or choose not to perform. We therefore employ our freewill when we decide to engage in worldly appetites or not. Thus, Kierkegaard seems to resolve the problem of grace, God’s goodness and free will. For we do in fact need God’s grace in order to be saved, however, God’s grace is given to all. He is not therefore a Calvinistic ‘monster God’ who gives grace only to the elect. While finally, this grace is not sufficient to strengthen one’s inner being. One must make a resolution and act upon this resolution in the world. Grace therefore, would be a necessary condition for salvation but as Christians, we must still, according to Kierkegaard, edify or upbuild our soul in order for such grace to be sufficient. Thus, although one is given the foundation, one must still ‘upbuild’ and edify this structure on one’s own.

If one stopped reading “Strengthening the Inner Being” at this point, one might justly wonder what all the fuss is about. However, on the very next page we find this strange statement, which, on the surface seems to contradict the above interpretation:  “This night I will require your soul from you---His soul from him; is that not asking too much? I wonder if he would understand it.”[13]  This passage seems to suggest that in order for a person to begin to ‘upbuild’ one’s inner being, as it were, he or she must also possess certain capacities. And as will be clear, not all people seem to possess them. This interpretation is confirmed in the paragraph that follows just after:

Only the person who cravenly runs away from every more profound explanation, who does not have the courage to assume responsibility of the master by submitting to obligation of a servant, who does not have the humility to be willing to obey in order to learn how to rule and at all times is willing to rule only insofar as he himself obeys—only he fills time with perpetual deliberations that take him nowhere but only serve as a dissipation in which his soul, his capacity for comprehending and willing, vanishes like mist and is extinguished like a flame.  (My Italics)[14]

The problem, evidently, is that one cannot very well assume responsibility for one’s soul if one lacks the necessary capacities from the beginning. Courage and humility are virtues, not actions. As I will argue, Kierkegaard at least in “Strengthening the Inner Being,” believes these virtues are either already there or they are not.

Nevertheless, before I investigate Kierkegaard’s conception of virtues, I want to examine one possible objection to my interpretation. One, could argue, that although courage and humility are not actions this does not necessarily mean that they are not teachable. To understand this point, let us examine Aristotle’s treatment of the virtues as found in the Nicomachean Ethics: “Virtue of character {ie : of Ethos} results from habit; hence its name ‘ethical’ is slightly varied from ‘ethos’.”[15] And virtues such as courage, according to Aristotle, can be acquired by doing courageous acts.[16] Is it not therefore possible, one may argue, that Kierkegaard also holds that virtues can be learned?

Well, once more Kierkegaard is ambiguous on this issue. For Aristotle, virtues can be attained but only through habit and Kierkegaard, as we have seen, also stresses the importance of repetition and resolution. However, in other texts, especially that of “Strengthening the Inner Being” Kierkegaard suggests that virtues cannot be learned. He writes:

Not until the moment when there awakens in his soul a concern about what meaning the world has for him and he for the world, about what meaning everything within him by which he himself belongs to the world has for him and he therein for the world—only then does the inner being announce its presence in this concern.[17]

But how, exactly, does one’s soul become awakened? Are there any special steps or exercises that one may perform on oneself in order for this ‘inner being’ to ‘announce itself’? Indeed, one would think by the very title of the discourse, that one must strengthen oneself by taking the initiative.

This is just simply not the case. For Kierkegaard, such concern for one’s inner being he does indeed call knowledge (Viden) but, it is an altogether different type of knowledge that one cannot gain from life experiences. He writes: “This concern is not calmed by a more detailed or a more comprehensive knowledge; it craves another kind of knowledge, a knowledge that does not remain as knowledge for a single moment it is possessed, since otherwise it is not possessed.       (My Italics)”[18] Kierkegaard continues: “How, indeed would a person through this knowledge be sure that his prosperity is God’s grace, so that he dares to rejoice in it and safely devote himself to it, or that it is God’s wrath and is only deceitfully hiding the abyss of perdition from him so that his downfall might be more terrible?”[19] The only answer is that this concern, this witness, comes from God.

It now seems as though Kierkegaard is arguing that not only is God’s grace a necessary condition for strengthening the inner being but is both a necessary and sufficient condition. As he writes: “But nobody can provide this strengthening for himself; indeed, the one who receives a witness is not the one who gives it. Paul also reminds us of this in our text, because the witness itself is a gift from God, from whom comes every good and perfect gift.”[20] The only conclusion to reach from these above three passages is that one can simply not attain this knowledge for oneself because it is a completely different type of knowledge than that which one receives from experience. For as Kierkegaard himself mentions: “But god is spirit and therefore can give a witness only in spirit; it is in the inner being.” (My Italics)[21] Therefore, according to Kierkegaard, such a gift can only be given internally. That is, we could say, that the gift is an ontological capacity or structure that must already be there—it must be provided by God before hand. If it is not there then no matter what one does, no matter what actions one takes, the gift will simply never be because if God could give this witness externally, then, “any external witness from God, if such a thing could be thought of, can just as well be a deception.”(My Italics)[22] The inner witness is simply there or it isn’t.

If the above analysis is sound, then Kierkegaard is faced with some rather tough questions. First, if God gives this witness in one’s inner being, then why is it that some realize this and not others? And indeed, if one has not received the gift from God, then in what way, if at all, is one responsible for one’s inner being? In other words, if we lack the capacity to be fully ‘human’ in the first place, then in what sense are we truly free to seek or salvation or not? Before we examine these questions, it is necessary to examine possible objections to the above interpretation that I have outlined.

Still, one may argue, it might be possible to maintain that there is a certain amount of effort required in strengthening one’s inner being. Kierkegaard, as we have seen, does not say that one comes to know the witness but rather that the witness is awakened. Thus, although as Kierkegaard writes any “external witness from God, if such a thing could be thought of, can just as well be deception” seems to point to the possibility that no one can come to learn about the gift without already knowing it, this does mean that the gift is ‘just there’. One, in a certain sense has to, with a great deal of effort, awaken oneself to this gift. As Kierkegaard writes in The Point of View for My Work as an Author:

I became a poet; but with my predisposition for religion, or rather, I may say, with my decided religiousness, this factum was for me at the same time a religious awakening, so that I came to understand myself in the most decisive sense in the experience of religion, or in religiousness, to which, however, I had already put myself into relation as a possibility. The factum made me a poet…But just because I was so religiously developed as I was, the factum took far deeper hold of me and, in a sense, nullified what I had become, namely the poet. It nullified it, or at least I was led simultaneously to begin in the same moment at two points….[23]

The point that I think Kierkegaard is making here is that just because one is suddenly awakened does not mean that one did not exert any effort for this to happen. Yes, to be sure, one cannot will oneself to have a “religious experience.” But on the other hand, it is possible to take certain measures in order for one to have a religious awakening. Fasting, meditating, and reflection, are ancient methods for achieving this purpose. And for Kierkegaard, it is possible for each of us to reflect upon our lives and to think about what our despair or anxiety, is all about.

The above interpretation is also supported by the respected Kierkegaardian scholar, Jamie Ferreira. In Ferreira’s book, Transforming Vision: Imagination and Will in Kierkegaardian Faith, he explains Kierkegaard’s idea of the self and the relation between one’s self to the will:

Such a notion of efficacious reflection embodies the element of attraction and engagement which is central to my reading of Climacus’ model of transition (for without it we have ‘knowledge merely’). What is at issue is the transformation of self, not the static revelation of self. The dichotomy between knowledge (reason) and will is thus transcended in an understanding of will which reinvests the concept of will with some of the richness of the classical Aristotelian heritage…The understanding of will in terms of appetite and attraction fits in easily with his emphases on ‘interestedness’ and the engagement of the ‘how’.[24]

Thus, just because one cannot will Kierkegaard’s “double movement leap” or will to strengthen one’s inner being does not mean that “it is all up to God”. Rather, it is up to the individual to reflect upon the witness that God has already given. This ‘reflection’ is not really that of ‘knowing’ the gift, that is, as an object before the mind in cognition. Rather, as Ferreira himself suggests, it is more akin to reflecting upon a Gestalt picture like that of the rabbit and duck and being able to see both. Yes, sometimes we may see only one aspect at any one time but if we are patient and open to what is before us, we can ‘learn’ to see both.[25]

 Although ingenious, I do not think the Gestalt analogy, as proposed by Ferreira, is applicable to “Strengthening the Inner Being.” A further examination of the text bears this out when we examine those in which the inner being has ‘announced itself’ and those whose inner being has not. Let us investigate the latter case first. Kierkegaard writes:

Everything became confused for him. No longer was there a sovereign in heaven; the wide world was a playground for the wild pandemonium of life; there was no ear that brought the confusion to harmony, no guiding hand that intervened. No matter how a person could find consolation in life, hope was lost, so he thought and hope remained lost.[26]

Now compare this with the person who possesses ‘strength in the inner being’:

But the person who had this concern in his soul before the arrival of the concern that comes from the outside the person whose soul was never satisfied by joy in such a way that it lost concern about the witness but was not overwhelmed by the external concern that comes in such a way that the possibility of joy vanished so long as he was still concerned about the witness—for him, the concern that came from the outside little by little became a friend. (My Italics)[27]

 In these two passages we seem to have two different reactions to adversity. For the person whose inner being is weak, there seems to be no hope of salvation. No hope for understanding and comprehending one’s despair in the face of struggle. On the other hand, the one whose inner being is strong understands that trials and hardships are simply part of life and, ultimately, part of God’s plan. The question that must be resolved is one of deciding whether those who have a weak inner being can take measures to strengthen their self or whether or not they are always without hope.

If we examine some other passages of the text we quickly discover that adversity is an important ‘exercise’ in becoming awakened. In order for Ferriera to maintain the validity of his interpretation we must be able to find passages whereby there is a link between the inner and the outer. That is, where the outer can help shape one’s understanding of the purpose of adversity, in order to realize the truth of the witness. Such evidence is indeed available: “It joined the concern within him; it prevented him from being mistaken about life; it helped him to allow his soul to sink deeper and deeper into concern until it discovered the witness.”[28] So, when one experiences adversity, this allows one to come to understand the truth of the witness. The outer does not really transform the inner being but rather, allows the inner being to realize itself.

However, and conversely, it is not the same for those that are weak and who seem to lack the witness:

If one does not have this prior witness then one concludes because of the wrongs one has suffered that everything became confused for him. There was no God who intended everything for the good but everything was left up to human beings who intended everything for evil. But the more his soul stared down into the abyss of dark passions that arose in him, the greater was the power that the anxiety of temptation gained over him, until he himself plunged down into it and lost himself in despair…Or he bent like a reed, languishing in a slowly consuming sadness, an anxiety to himself and to everyone who witnessed how he was being snuffed out. (My Italics)[29] 

There are two points that I think are important in this passage. First, Kierkegaard writes that this particular type of person, the one who has a weak inner being, lacked the “prior witness.” This seems to indicate that God gives the witness only to a select few. Second, this first point seems to be confirmed in that Kierkegaard never writes that this type of person can overcome his or her despair. For, they are slowly consumed by sadness and “snuffed out”. Surely if this person had a witness would there not be at least some chance that they might find it?

The reason for this, as I understand it and as Kierkegaard presents it, is that the person who’s strengthening is possible, has experiences whether good or bad that can help her to reflect upon her despair and purpose in life. The outer experiences, for this person, act as an alarm clock---it wakes the person from their slumber of despair but does not transform the person in their very inner being. The choice is theirs to make. On the other hand, for the person who lacks the prior witness, it seems that the outer experiences do indeed transform the person’s inner being. Adversity or prosperity, serve to actually mould and shape one’s inner being. Once more we can see this interpretation validated in the text. If we look at the former case first, we find the following passage:

But the person whose soul the inner being announced itself in that concern of which we speak, the person whose soul no human being’s love filled in such a way that the witness departed from his thoughts that person probably never found people to be as that wronged person found them and yet he perhaps found them to be different from what he had hoped and wished them to be. Then his soul in its concern sought more and more inwardly until he found the witness. (My Italics)[30]

Now turning to the person who is weak, we find this passage:

It seemed to him as if it were God himself who laid his powerful hand on him, as if he were a child of wrath, and yet he could not come any closer to understanding or explaining how this could be. Then his innermost being rebelled within him, then he did what is related in an old devotional book: “he boasted that he was lost”, and that it was God himself who had plunged him down into damnation. Then the inner being within him froze. (My Italics)[31]

We find, in the first passage, that the “witness never departed from his thoughts.” Thus, knowledge gained from life experience only awoke for this person, what was clearly already there. However, in the next passage we find two things. First, the person “could not come any closer to understanding or explaining how this could be”. Kierkegaard seems to imply that such a person is lost for all eternity. He never says that this person can regain his or her hope. And second, the reason for this is that this person’s inner being is susceptible to change from the outside, as Kierkegaard mentions: “Then the inner being within him froze.” The inner being freezes as a result of the adversity and struggle that this person experiences. Thus, outer experiences serve to transform her inner existence unlike that of her strong counterpart. In short, while Ferriera’s interpretation of God’s grace and the witness certainly is capable of explaining the apparent incoherencies and inconsistencies of some of Kierkegaard’s texts concerning grace and free will, it simply cannot explain “Strengthening the Inner Being” which is, arguably, the most important text for understanding Kierkegaard’s conception of the soul, freedom and God’s grace.

In conclusion, the connection between grace, the soul and free will is just as an important question for Kierkegaard to resolve as it is for previous Christian thinkers. Many scholars have either failed to appreciate this connection or have attempted to interpret Kierkegaard’s texts by utilizing a questionable interpretive scheme. It is for precisely this reason, that I provided a detailed examination of Kierkegaards’ discourse “Strengthening the Inner Being”  in Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses. In this discourse, the relationship between freedom, the self and God’s grace can be seen. From the above analysis, I see no way that Kierkegaard can maintain that all individuals are free to accept or reject the call from God. It seems from the analysis that one is either already strong or weak to begin with. That is, although the strong have to do something for their salvation it seems as though there is nothing the weak can do for theirs. One either has the potentiality to be awakened or one is forever slumbering in a prison that is not of his or her own making. In this sense, the doctor/patient, God/individual analogy that Jackson proposes is clearly false. Instead, God, according to Kierkegaard, is more like a hospital administrator who only accepts those He has already given medical insurance to. Part of their healing, to be sure, is still placed squarely on their shoulders but at least they have the capacity and choice to strengthen their inner being. Whereas, for the rest, for those people, who are not given the prior witness, their choices and experiences are already pre-decided and pre-determined according to Kierkegaard, by a “God whom gives every good and perfect gift.”

                                                                      Works Cited.

[1] Soren Kierkegaard, “Against Cowardliness,” in Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses, trans. Howard V. Hong and Edna Hong, (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1990). p. 352.

[2] See David J, Gouwens’ Kierkegaard as Religious Thinker. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996) p. 102.

[3]  Timothy Jackson, “Arminian Edification: Kierkegaard on Grace and Freewill,” in The Cambridge Companion to Kierkegaard, p. 237.

[4] Timothy Jackson, “Arminian Edification: Kierkegaard on Grace and Free Will” (pp. 235-256) in The Cambridge Companion to Kierkegaard, edited by Alastair Hanny and Gordon Marino, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).p. 238. 

[5] Timothy Jackson, “Arminian Edification: Kierkegaard on Grace and Free Will” in The Cambridge Companion to Kierkegaard, p. 238.

[6]  Soren Kierkegaard, Either/Or Vol. 1. Trans. Howard V Hong and Edna, Hong, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987), p. 144.

[7] Soren Kierkegaard, “Strengthening the Inner Being,” in Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses, trans. Howard. V. Hong and Edna H. Hong, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990), p. 83.

[8] See Soren Kierkegaard’s “Every Good and Perfect Gift is from Above” in Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses, p. 141-158.

[9] Soren Kierkegaard, “Strengthening the Inner Being” p. 84.

[10] Soren Kierkegaard, “Strengthening the Inner Being” p. 84.

[11] See Soren Kierkegaard’s, Repetition. Edited and Translated by Howard V. Hong and Edna Hong. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983).

[12] Soren Kierkegaard, “Strengthening the Inner Being in Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses. p. 84.

[13] Soren Kierkegaard, “ Strengthening the Inner Being” in Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses. p. 85.

[14] Soren Kierkegaard, “Strengthening the Inner Being” in Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses. p. 85.

[15] Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics. Trans. Terrrence Irwin. In Classics of Western Philosophy edited by Steven Cahn. Indianapolis, Indiana. Hackett Publishing Co. 1990. p. 231.

[16] Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, in Classics of Western Philosophy, p. 232.

[17] Soren Kierkegaard, “Strengthening the Inner Being”, in Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses. p. 86.

[18] Soren Kierkegaard, “Strengthening the Inner Being”, in Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses. p. 86.

[19] Soren Kierkegaard, “Strengthening the Inner Being”, in Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses. p. 86-87.

[20] Soren Kierkegaard, “Strengthening the Inner Being” in Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses. p. 98.

[21] Soren Kierkegaard, “Strengthening the Inner Being” in Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses. p. 88.

[22] Soren Kierkegaard, “ Strengthening the Inner Being” in Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses. p. 88.

[23] Soren Kierkegaard, The Point of View for My Work as an Author. Translated and Edited by Walter Lowrie. (New York: Benjamin Nelson, 1962.) pp. 83-84.

[24] Jamie Ferreira, Transforming Vision: Imagination and Will in Kierkegaardian Faith (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991.)

[25] This analogy is used by Ferreira to great effect and seems to explain the problem of grace and free will in many of Kierkegaard’s texts. But, as I will show, I think it is still defective in regards to Strengthening the Inner Being.

[26] Soren Kierkegaard, “Strengthening the Inner Being”p. 94.

[27] Soren Kierkegaard, “Strengthening the Inner Being” p. 95.

[28] Soren Kierkegaard,  “Strengthening the Inner Being.”. p. 95.

[29] Soren Kierkegaard, “Strengthening the Inner Being.” p. 96.

[30]  Soren Kierkegaard, “ Strengthening the Inner Being”. p. 96.

[31] Soren Kierkegaard, “Strengthening the Inner Being”pp.97-98.

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There are too many errors in this book for unsophisticated readers. McLaren’s book has value only to readers who recognize the mistakes but are willing to learn about a position that springs from ideology and a theological framework. For me, the emerging church movement is enough to consider by itself without flawed economics intertwined

Mordecai Kaplan: Rethinking Judaism for the New World

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