Faith and Uncertainty

There is a line from Nietzsche that should give every thoughtful Christian pause: “Faith is not wanting to know what is true.” This is a more profound articulation of what has been heard from other quarters, that faith is a ‘crutch’ for the weak (this might be Nietzsche as well), wish fulfilment, or “believing what you know ain’t so.” The idea is that Christians, those with faith, are simply those who are unable to face the hard truths of life, the uncertainty, the struggle, and instead protect themselves with fantasies and comforting beliefs.

There is a lot of truth to Nietzsche’s critique, if there is anything that characterizes contemporary Christianity, it is fear. Christians in the West are terrified of terrorists, conservatives, social justice warriors, the immanent collapse of Western Christendom, Trump, and on and on. It was fear that led the majority of American Christians to vote for Trump. Fear which drives up the sale of guns after mass shootings. Fear which drives increased polarization. Fear which shuts borders. Fear, Fear, Fear. Fear is the opposite of Faith. Thus Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the man who died for his defiance of the Third Reich, who had much more reason to fear than most of us Christians in the West, could write:

Fear takes away a person’s humanity. This is not what a creature made by God looks like… the Bible, the gospel, Christ, the church, the faith—all are one great battle cry against fear in the lives of human beings.

If we overcome fear by faith, does this mean, as Nietzsche suggests, that Christians are afraid of facing the truth? That Christians are those who sit tight with their comforting beliefs, and simply don’t bother to venture out into uncertainty? Is that what it means to have faith?

There is a Polyanish caricature of faith embodied by many Christians which would suggest that this is the case. Christians who hold their beliefs to be certain and self-evident. Christians who protect themselves from the truth with unshakeable dogmas. Christians who, in the name of “rationality,” create an elaborate system of labels and boxes, into which any challenging idea can quickly be dispensed. Out of sight, out of mind.  I will not be the judge of weather of not such people have faith, only God can see the hidden inwardness of each individual and the suffering, anguish, and uncertainty that necessarily accompany Faith. But I can say this, if you have no doubt, no suffering, no dread, then you have either achieved immortality or you have no Faith. Why? Because Faith is not a way to avoid the truth, but rather, it is the only way to face the truth. Like God called Abraham out of the land of his father, faith constantly calls us out of our place of comfort and into uncertainty. And yet, it is precisely faith which sustains us on our journey.

In this piece, I will sketch out three images of faith, all of them drawn from the work of Søren Kierkegaard. The way Kierkegaard conceives of faith directly challenges Nietzsche’s account and also, deeply challenges those of us who claim to have faith.

Faith as Contemporaneousness with Christ

As believers, as people seeking Christ here in the 21st century, we have a problem, how are we to encounter Jesus Christ, a person who last walked the earth 2000 years ago? There are 2000 years separating us and that decisive event that is the incarnation, how then can we respond to the call of Christ to “come and follow me?” To Kierkegaard, this is where faith comes in, through faith (which is a gift from God), we can encounter the living Christ, become contemporaneous with him and enter into a relationship with him. There is then, this image of us, through faith, reaching back 2000 years and setting our eyes on Christ. And yet, the 2000 years remain, in actuality in place, we are embodied beings, who have been shaped by a particular culture, place, time, civilization and so on. And so, a movement of stripping back the layers begins. While we fix our eyes on Christ, while we cling to him in faith, we begin the process of deconstruction. This is done existentially, as we strive to “die to our old self,” to strip away the evil in our hearts, to kill our pride, our hatred, our false allegiances, our darkness. It is precisely the holding fast to Christ which allows us to both confront the evil within us, and to simultaneously be conformed to His image. The stripping away of layers is done intellectually, as we shed the scales from our eyes which distort the image of Christ, our idolatrous ideas, cultural presuppositions, political ambitions and the theological assumptions we carry which makes the voice of Christ muffled and domesticated. The stripping away is done practically as we reconsider the practices we engage in which shape to be more like our culture, better citizens, better hedonists, but worse Christians. So faith as contemporaneousness with Christ is a radical stripping away, repenting, reordering our loves and allegiances, while keeping our eyes on Christ.

Faith as a Venture

Kierkegaard writes of “holding on to the objective uncertainty with infinite passion,” and then “going out over 70,000 fathoms,” where only God can reach you. I have probably quoted this line from Kierkegaard in every piece I have written on him, but I keep coming back to it because it so powerfully captures the notion of faith as a venture. The “objective uncertainty,” is that which is, objectively speaking, uncertain, paradoxical, or even irrational: Jesus the God-man. And yet, for the person of faith, the paradox of the God-man is the rock, the centre, the lifeline to which one eternally clings.

Faith here is in a sense ‘betting your life’ on the “objective uncertainty,” it is, as Kierkegaard puts it, a choice between “time and eternity, heaven and hell.” The acceptance the paradox is not some objective proposition one merely adds to the list of things one believes, rather, it is something one clings to with “infinite passion,” it is a Truth one commits to, and seeks to embody in the pattern of one’s life. To Kierkegaard, the best proof for the deity of Christ is a person who has “risked his entire life” on that reality and “lives in conformity.” The best proof of God’s existence, writes Kierkegaard, is worship.

Faith is this holding fast to the Truth—which is paradoxically both the “objectively uncertain” and our only certainty, our only comfort and hope—and then going out into uncertainty. Faith allows us, and even calls us to where we do not want to go, out over 70,000 fathoms, down into the abyss, all the while holding fast to Christ. It is no coincidence that Christ called his followers with the words “follow me:” to know Christ is to follow him, to follow him, is to be called into uncertainty. It is only by the venture into uncertainty that we grow in the image of Christ, that we grow in faith or that we grow to know Christ. It is only faith, the “holding fast,” which makes the venture possible. Nietzsche thinks Christians are “afraid of the truth.” But ironically, it is only Christians who should not be afraid of the truth. Because we hold fast, we should be able to look at the darkness of the past, we should be able to recognise the truth of who we are today, and we should be able to face the future fearlessly. Because we hold fast we should be able to face our doubts and fears head on, and trust that we will overcome them. Because we hold fast, Christians should be the most fearless livers of life, the most fearless speakers of truth, the most fearless in confronting injustice, the most fearless in radically living the image of Christ. Because we worship a God who was killed and descended into the lowest places, we too must follow him to death, to the abyss, and then, with him, rise again.

Faith as Resigning and Receiving

In the most famous of his works, Fear and Trembling, Kierkegaard explores the faith of Abraham “the father of faith.” Kierkegaard focuses on the story of the binding of Isaac, in which God “tempts” Abraham to take his only son Isaac to Mount Moriah and kill him as a sacrifice. What makes the situation especially difficult for Abraham, is not just that God is calling him to such an absurd and vile act, but that God had promised to make a great nation out of the descendants of Isaac. How could God honour His promises on one hand and call Abraham to an act that would nullify those promises on the other? Despite these questions, Abraham is obedient and travels to Mount Moriah to sacrifice his only son. At the last second, and Angel intervenes and stops Abraham from killing Isaac, showing him a Ram to offer in his stead. To Kierkegaard, this story shows the paradox of faith: that faith gives up what is of greatest value, and expects to receive it back, “by virtue of the Absurd.”

Kierkegaard conceives two characters, the knight of infinite resignation, and the knight of faith to show the movements of faith. The first, the knight of infinite resignation, is one who renounces what he loves, who gives up the finite in hope of the infinite. Kierkegaard recognises that it is difficult to make the move of infinite resignation, but Faith, and Abraham go further:

So I can perceive that it requires strength and energy and freedom of spirit to make the infinite movement of resignation, I can also perceive that it is feasible. But the next thing astonishes me, it makes my head swim, for after having made the movement of resignation, then by virtue of the absurd to get everything, to get the wish whole and uncurtailed—that is beyond human power… Whenever I essay to make this movement, I turn giddy, the very instant I am admiring it absolutely a prodigious dread grips my soul—for what is it to tempt God? And yet this movement is the movement of faith and remains such, even though philosophy, in order to confuse the concepts, would make us believe that it has faith, and even though theology would sell out faith at a bargain price.

I sympathise with Kierkegaard, the movement he here describes as faith, is one that makes my own head swim. To have faith, is not just to resign everything, not just to resign and hope for better things in heaven, but it goes further. Faith “renounces the claim to everything,” and expects to receive it back “by virtue of the absurd.” This is the faith of Abraham. Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac, not because he was a knight of infinite resignation, but rather, because he was a knight of faith who expected to receive his son back from the dead. He believed, even as he lifted up the knife to slay his son, that God would keep his promises.

…but Abraham was greater than all, great by reason of his power whose strength is impotence, great by reason of his wisdom whose secret is foolishness, great by reason whose form is madness, great by reason of the love which is hatred of oneself.

So, we have seen three different, but closely related, images of faith: Faith as contemporaneousness with Christ, faith as a venture, and faith as giving up and receiving. What all three of these images have in common is trust, a “holding fast,” to Christ. It is this trust that then allows the second movement, the stripping away, the venture, the giving up and receiving back. We can see that Faith is not motivated by fear; rather, fear is antithetical to faith. Faith is a courageous movement into uncertainty, motivated by trust. Conversely, it is only by venturing into uncertainty that it is possible for your trust to grow. Faith is not uncertainty, but it is how uncertainty is overcome. Faith is a good and pure gift from God that is given to to those who venture out over 70,000 fathoms where only God can reach them. It is only by reaching out, that God reaches down to touch us. This is the paradox of faith: it is only by going out like Peter over the uncertainty of the sea, keeping our eyes on Christ, that the assurance of Faith is given.


22 thoughts on “Faith and Uncertainty

  1. I think that is a nice way to view what is saying, but if he was saying that then I think he would have just said it.

    Faith is what constitutes the not knowing of truth. It is the “move” that one must make into a knowing of truth.

    But where truth has manifest, there one is immortal or has no faith.

    K posited faith as that which is already occurring, already there which is as it does the leap which is true. It is the absurdity that faith can not grasp, and thus the reason why one thinks that k is saying an enigma, as not speaking what he actually means, as though he is talking about how one makes a choice to leap into faith. A leap into having faith is the evidence of not knowing the truth.

    But yours is more inspirational. Becuase, again as k says: the crowd is untruth, ie most people do not want to know the truth, so they have faith.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s aufly hard to say what k thinks about any given subject, because of how many pseudonyms he used. I’m drawing here from three of Kierkegaard’s works: Training in Christianity, Concluding Unscientific Postscript and Fear and Trembling.
    In all three cases, what I take K to be saying is that faith reaches for the “objectively uncertain,” the Paradox which cannot be reached objectively.
    Faith for K is about subjective truth, that is, being in proper relationship with the truth. That’s what’s important about Christianity, that your faith is authentic, that you embody it and don’t simply parrot because everyone else does. Furthermore k thinks that to have paradoxical faith is to be fully human. The person of faith is in relationship to the truth because he is becoming a subject.
    Thus the crowd is “untruth” because everyone is just going along, bumbling about, never really BEING in the truth. The the polyanish christian I mentioned in my opening is a person in the crowd, who doesn’t really have faith, who isn’t really allowing himself to grow or be challenged as authentic faith will.

    “The truth is precisely the venture which chooses and objective uncertainty with the passion of the infinite.”

    Would you disagree with this?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. C S Lewis emphasises a very real danger, the fact that in all narratives, it is possible for “allegorists” to express their personal perceptions of “abstract universals” through an outward projection of their personality, while “symbolists” in expressing their views relate to an existing internal and external “living spiritual” reality. The importance of having a clear distinction between the two can not be exaggerated.

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  3. Now examine yourself — for that you have a right to do. You have a right to examine yourself, but you really do not have a right to let yourself without self-examination be deluded by “the others” into the belief, or to delude yourself into the belief, that you are a Christian — therefore examine yourself: supposing you were contemporary with him! Selections from the Writings of Soren Kierkegaard, Preparation for a Christian Life – Hollande tr. r 1923 P. 181

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  4. almost get a vision of wisdom as ‘that which knows it cannot escape the absurd’, and faith as something like ‘the embodiment of that absurdity that is so ridiculous as to manifest love’. in a sense, one can be wise without faith, and one can have faith without wisdom, but seemingly it’s the paradox of their simultaneous synthesis (as opposed to them being linearly lived out as a process from one to the other) that it seems like kierkegaard (or atleast how i’m understanding him as you’ve written of him) is always dancing around – what he’s trying to point at from as many directions as he can.

    i think with the polyanish christians u reference, there is a mistake of ‘wisdom’ – which is to say that they don’t see the absurdity, or otherwise spend their time taking for granted the miracle of creation at all. they can still have faith, but that faith is operating in the wrong context – it sees love, christ, as not absurd but part of the ‘rational order’, which strips it of what makes it ‘alive’, contemporaneous. it’s like a radical kind of ‘taking for granted’, not realizing the depth of the gift (or maybe we should say, the depth that the gift can fill), a kind of dull, blind naivety that seems to cover everything in a ‘well of course this is how it is’ – a deep rooted assumption of self knowledge that projects itself onto god.

    the pitfall of having wisdom without faith i think we are more currently familiar with, or atleast is more often discussed at the moment – could call it the root of the ‘postmodern condition’. it sees the absurdity but then delights in it’s own ability to recognize the absurdity, and does this while putting on a show of loving the absurdity which in honesty it hates. its a kind of solipsism or narcissism, a fixation on the abstract ‘truth’ and a fascination with one’s ability to colonize it, a game of metalayers that divide infinitely inward – that which sees the ‘likeness of god’ in itself but gets sucked into it’s gravity instead of blooming outwardly INTO god (a metaphor might be a tree more fixated on the phenomenon of it’s own growth than on it’s desire of the sun, ironically missing the connection between the two, and thus the manifestation of it’s growth causes it’s own death – bound roots and choked branches). usually a couple layers behind this act is a desperate kind of cynicism, an extreme desire for an order that has been refused, a bitter chuckle that both elevates itself while acknowledging its incapability, we all in a sense become kings that hate their kingdom but trust no one more than ourselves to be king – or we could say we use absurdity as the ultimate justification for our clinging to order.

    buut as usual i’m all over the place here. very much enjoyed the read and connected with it very strongly. look forward to your next piece.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Nick,

      Sorry for leaving both of you guys hanging, its been a eventful last few days.

      I like how you characterize the “polyanish Christians,” there is a very nieve, and I would even say almost beautiful, childlike (in the best cases) taking things for granted. I honestly felt a bit bad for calling those people “polyanish” because often, these are the people who will display a much more beautiful, simple faith, than any intellectual. In the uncertainty that comes into their lives through tragedy, it is their faith that brings them through it. The problem here is that people are just too comfortable with the status quo and do not see that faith requires them to get out of their land of comfort.

      Spot on with your second paragraph. I wonder if this post doesn’t sort of titter a bit on the edge of becoming that. I wonder if a venture for the sake of a venture, a deconstruction for the sake of deconstruction would bring about the sort of getting sucked in on one self you discribe. A delight in the aubsurd. Stairing into the abyss until you become it.

      You are an interesting thinker sir. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. no worries, life happens and all that good stuff lol.

        yes, i did not mean to be overly harsh on the polyanish christians. it’s almost a kind of ‘skip to the end’ way of doing religion lol. now i’d say that something is lost in throwing out that middle step, but i do often find their company a great refreshment when compared to the over intellectualizing theologian, perhaps as a kind of reminder to myself to not get so caught up in the analysis as to forget the living part lol. thinking about it now poses what might be an interesting question, which is ‘is the union of heaven and earth after christ greater, lesser, or equal to the garden of eden?’ i spose i almost view certain types of ‘polyanish christians’ to represent a kind of having never left the garden, which made me wonder if the whole step of being removed from the garden could be seen as part of a grander story or if it’s a kind of cyclical ‘look at all this trouble you made for yourself’ story where we return where we started.

        i spose we could extend that metaphor a bit and see a kind of pitfall of ‘being tempted by the snake’ in the polyanish christian as well, though it takes on a weird form – instead of being a temptation of ‘the unknown’ it’s almost an inverted ‘threat of the known’. i always found it interesting that god doesn’t warn adam and eve of the snake in the garden, and going with the assumption that what god made was good, it follows that their naive trust of the snake was exactly the appropriate response to faithfulness to god (save of course for the breaking of the rule of eating the fruit, which makes me wonder if the ‘moment of awakening’ or ‘realization of knowledge’ was not actually at the eating of the fruit but at having ‘what was good’ tempt against god’s rule in the first place).

        and while i ramble away, i do notice that some of the questions i posed relate to your latter reflection. i suppose that the call to adventure was made for us, and at best we can wonder at if god wanted it so or was pleased enough with the story of the permanent garden. i guess i like to project such ventures onto god as part of his desire, and hope that the heaven that comes is greater than the heaven that was, but i can at best call this a bias lol.

        and thank u, i find you an interesting thinker as well : )

        Liked by 1 person

  5. “Faith is a courageous movement into uncertainty, motivated by trust. Conversely, it is only by venturing into uncertainty that it is possible for your trust to grow. Faith is not uncertainty, but it is how uncertainty is overcome. Faith is a good and pure gift from God that is given to to those who venture out over 70,000 fathoms where only God can reach them. It is only by reaching out, that God reaches down to touch us. This is the paradox of faith: it is only by going out like Peter over the uncertainty of the sea, keeping our eyes on Christ, that the assurance of Faith is given.”
    I can’t agree more.

    The problem, for me, in reading modern attempts to understand these old Bible stories is that ontological and psychological categories are used to interpret the internal psychic of what the characters are going thru. Kierkegaard’s use of Hegelian categories like “subjective”, “objective certainty” , etc. are all part of that philosophical
    enlightenment way of explaining things. The more I try to use these categories the further away from these ancient biblical actors I feel. Abraham’s era was not a time when the meaning of events were the mastery of the self – aware subject ( Descartes ). Subjectivity, like for K, was not the primary standard for a ‘reality check”.

    Any psychological characterization of what Abe or Isaac may have been thinking ( internal introspection) is imaginative psychological guesswork. I could be wrong here. I know the theological interpretations of the story. But Abe was not aware of the future events that would color his “agonizing” march up the mountain. And I am sure that the resurrected Christ, when he was giving bible lessons at Emmaus used this story as prophetic self – revelation.

    I’m not saying that there are no faith lessons to be realized in these ancient stories ( specifically this sacrifice story). Of Course, there are. But I am becoming less convinced that this language of modern psychological introspection is going to help understand what K referred to as the “movements of faith”. With all due respect to Jordan Peterson. I think the overall effect of his biblical lectures was to give younger audiences a fresh contemporary interpretation of old stories that help define a deeper truth and relevance to contemporary life. That is more than most have done, and worthy of good.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. “Unbridled”

    What I like about Kierkegaard’s subjective move is that it really gets to the heart of the issue. The issue has never been “Do you rationally accept the proposition that Jesus is Lord,” the issue has always been: Will you bend the knee? Its been so helpful for me to get beyond the modernist questions of “objective truth” and actually get to what the REAL Issue is. Do I really BELIEVE this? Do I really ACT like it? Do I really TRUST God? This most recent post is me recognizing how terrifying those questions really are.

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    1. I admire your use of the thought of Kierkegaard to challenge yourself on the truth and actuality of your faith in Jesus and the Godhead. I was too young to appreciate K when I was reading him. I think I was just too suspicious of his split up life. His writings were just too incongruous with the way he lived his life ( that went for Nietzsche too ). Maybe it was his destiny to have developed such a cramped and restrictive life so that his writings would have some universal significance?

      As you mention somewhere, I think, faith is a gift. Now, to me, this is something that is thought provoking. Can I increase my faith thru my own efforts? I don’t know. Taking risks seems to be part of this faith journey. Making mistakes seem to be the reality check to any false pride a believer may develop along the way. The opening pages of “Sickness unto Death” shows K’s genius for showing the spiritual paralyses that results from the urge to justify ourselves b4 God. My question is are these questions too terrifying to take to God in prayer, because I think K shows how paradoxical and self – conflicting these questions are when we try to reason our way through them. You either come to a negative self – evaluation or a positive one, and both lead to pride. As K shows many times.

      Of course, you Justin, now K better than most. So I have to ask: Is K the desperate and unhappy warrior that he seems to be when I have read him?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmmm, I’m surprised that you see a split life in Kierkegaard, I might be less familiar with his life than you are (I’ve only read Stephen Backhouse’s Biography of him) but I actually both admire Kierekgaard’s life and think it was consistent with his work. 🙂 That said, let me quickly throw this in, I do tend to think intellectuals have a harder time being good Christians than non intellectuals, they tend to spend more time in their head, thinking about what they should be doing.

        A few notes on Kierekgaard’s life. What about his broken engagement of Regina which he saw as a Abraham like sacrifice to God? To me, this signifies that Kierkegaard made the kind of movement of faith I describe here, he gave up what was of highest value and hoped to receive her back. There is something about that kind of renouncement of earthly joy which makes Kierkegaard’s life an absurdity if Christianity isn’t true. What better proof is there for God than that kind of a life?

        What about Kierkegaard’s later “Attack upon Christendom”? Where he took the leap to take on the established church and denounce the ways it was no longer acting in a Christlike manner? There is something inspiring to me about the way Kierkegaard put himself out there, and decided that he could no longer not speak the truth. Its sort of a radical acting out of Peterson’s maxim “tell the truth or at least don’t lie.”

        Finally, I am also inspired by Kierkegaard’s love for the particular. That he could spend his life in the place where he grew up and be content with his lot there. That he loved the particular individuals he encountered in the Copanhagen streets everyday and took daily “people baths” to talk with regular people, from all walks of life on the street. Associating with people that most intellectuals would find beneath them. There is something Christlike about that.

        So in many ways, I find Kierkegaard’s life inspiring.

        Can you increase faith on your own? I think its always a cooperative venture. We need to step out of the boat, into the water for us to receive the gift of being able to walk on water. Its not faith if we try to do everything alone and its not faith either if we assume we can sit back and get shipped to heaven. I guess I honestly don’t know what faith- Trust- would mean, if it doesn’t mean venturing out, leaping, going beyond your place of comfort. As Peterson said in his conversation with Bishop Barron, Faith is an adventure.
        Maybe feeling the urge to justify ourselves before God is also a lack of faith. That is again, motivated by fear.

        That’s as good a objection to Kierkegaard as any, I think. I often wonder how to square Kierkegaard’s melancholy with Christian joy. 🙂 I just looked up “Kierkegaard and Joy” and came up with this:

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Nick,

    Oh! You bringing in the Garden of Eden is such an interesting way to think of this.

    I wouldn’t say that the “polyanish Christians” (as we are now calling them) have never left the garden, though there is an interesting sense in which what you say is true. And that is a interesting rabbit hole to go down, but let me lay out a more theological approach.
    Part of the story is the Angel guarding the garden, meaning we cannot return to the garden. You’re sort of asking, is the point of the cross and resurrection that we can now return to the garden? Here are some unfinished and uninformed thoughts. I think we go BEYOND the garden, to where we were always destined to go. The fruit Adam and Eve took was not something intrinsically bad, as in, their sin wasn’t that they partook of something evil, rather, they partook of something BEFORE they should have received it. Thus, the snake says “you will become like God,” well, isn’t that the Christian hope? “God became man that man could become God.” Maybe you can do something with all of this.

    One of the things that Kierkegaard does, and this comes up in F&T, is sort of level the playing field. He says that in the realm of the material, there are rich and poor, educated and uneducated, but in the realm of the spirit, all are equal. So, in this realm, the educated and the uneducated are both engaged in the same adventure of faith. Niether is really in the Garden of Eden, both struggle and strive and work out their salvation in fear and trembling.
    There is also this theme of New Creation, that in Jesus life and Resurrection, a new world has been born. We are moving towards something new, towards the destiny creation has always been headed to.

    The difference between where we are going as Christians and where Adam and Eve tried to go by taking the fruit (you can see similar dynamics in the tower of babel story) is that God comes down to us and together we climb up instead of we trying to climb up to take His place.

    I realize I didn’t answer anything you said directly, but these scattered thoughts hopefully give you some stuff to chew on. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hello Julian

    It isn’t my intention to burden you with my jibber jabber on the importance of K to Christian thinking ( and I do think he is very relevant, for true.) . I assure you, you know Infinitely more about the K than I ever will. I wish I had more time for him. But I’m not certain how just leaving town on Regina, no explanation, no goodbye, constitutes a sacrifice on the same level as Abraham’s? Maybe I’m wrong about his abandonment of her? In what sense did he ever “get her back”? Anyway, I don’t judge K, but I don’t see his life, in a practical sense, as a venturing out. That doesn’t mean I think he was not a Christian; I certainly do think he was.

    The category ” before God” is where K seemed to shine for me. His endless knots of dialectical dead ends that we end up trying to justify ourselves, our actions, our projects is what makes K a formidable challenge. I am more interested in what he found so troubling and objectionable about Hegel. And that consideration has recently brought me right back to the Garden of Eden; and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; and the root system of this tree that fed the fruit. 🙂 I am looking forward to Dr. Peterson’s next project on providing some kind of commentary on Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil. Enjoy your 4th of July. I will have to bring my dogs inside the house. They are frightened by loud BANGS !

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  9. ” I think the question is: Do we “impose” a structure onto reality (subjective), or. . . Do we “discover” a structure within reality (objective) ?” [Christopher Knuffke] – found this comment on PvK’s latest video and thought of you.

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      1. I recently read “The Doctor and the Soul” by Dr Viktor E Frankl and he had this to say about our topic – “… the distinction mountaineers make between subjective and objective dangers. For the mountaineer it is not discreditable to succumb to objective perils (such as a falling rock), while it is considered shameful to be halted by a subjective failure (such as faulty equipment, lack of skill, or inadequate climbing experience).” … a very practical and reality based distinction I think.

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      2. I found this confirmation for your statement that the “objective” can only be known “subjectively” – “Spiritual knowing is often called wisdom, and must be distinguished from merely having correct information or knowledge.
        In other words, God (and uniquely the Trinity) cannot be known as we know any other object—such as a machine, an objective idea, or a tree—which we are able to “objectify.” We look at objects, and we judge them from a distance through our normal intelligence, parsing out their varying parts, separating this from that, presuming that to understand the parts is always to be able to understand the whole. But divine things can never be objectified in this way; they can only be “subjectified” by becoming one with them! When neither yourself nor the other is treated as a mere object, but both rest in an I-Thou of mutual admiration, you have spiritual knowing.39 Some of us call this contemplative knowing. ” [ Richard Rohr]


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