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Mark Tietjen: Kierkegaard: A Christian Missionary to Christians

Some readers may be surprised to learn that many Kierkegaard scholars find it highly questionable and dispute the idea that

A missionary to Christians: Kierkegaard’s critique of his contemporaries strikes close to home today.

Kierkegaard is the father of existentialism. Tietjen notes, “Existentialism, though itself hard to nail down, seems to operate with a number of basic assumptions that Kierkegaard explicitly rejects.” (p. 39)

Tietjen tells us, “One of these assumptions is the maxim verbalized by Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘existence precedes essence’”. He continues by saying that this view states that one’s life and identity is determined by that individual and not by something outside of that person, but by their free choices. Kierkegaard rejects this as he affirms that humans are image-bearers of God (p.39).

Another misconception is that Kierkegaard wrote the expression “leap of faith”. Tietjen strongly refutes that claim:

It is interesting to note … that the expression “leap of faith” never occurs in Kierkegaard’s published work. Moreover, as Mariele Nientied claims, “the terms ‘faith’ and ‘leap’ rarely appear in the same contexts, nor do variants of these words (pp. 43-44).

For the one who knows little or nothing about Kierkegaard’s writings this is a great introduction on the basic thoughts of Kierkegaard. For those who are familiar with his writings they will be grateful for this refresher.

Reviewed by Larry Russi


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[1] Philosophy Now, Issue 115, August/September 2016, p. 10

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Category: Church History, Summer 2018

About the Author: Larry Russi, M.A. in Urban Ministry (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), is the Senior Pastor at Glendale Christian Lighthouse Church in Everett, Massachusetts. In ministry for over 40 years, he is the coordinator for the New England region of the American Evangelical Christian Churches (AECC) and also a member of the denomination's advisory board. Facebook

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