Works of Love - Love is the Fulfilling of the Law - part 1

A summary of Works of Love - I make no claim to hold to anything written below, I'm only processing what I have read so for.  I hope to write a couple blogs on my thoughts on the book soon though. 

Kierkegaard starts this chapter by discussing "promises".  A promise is not an honourable act because it is not an act at all, it is something that is in place of an act, it is a delayed act, but not itself an act.  And it is certainly not anything good - it remains neutral until it is (un)fulfilled, then the act (or lack thereof) is judged.  Therefore, Kierkegaard stresses that we should make no promises, we should simply act.

He then discusses the parable of the Father with the disobedient sons.  One son says he will not do as he is asked (and does it anyways) and the other says he will do what he is asked (and doesn't do it).  Kierkegaard insists that the son who says no is in a much better position than the son who says yes.  Not because he chose to do what was asked of him, but because he made no attempt to deceive his father, while the "yes" son was deceiving his father and not doing the work promised.  Therefore the "no" son is more likely to see his fault since he is more truthful.


Someone asks: "Is it Wrong"

Someone found my blog, recently, by searching Google for: "as a christian is it wrong to watch ..."

Blogger only shows my a short line and cut it off there, so I can't see the rest of the search.  I was tempted to answer the question as it stands, but I don't think that it's the right question; as even this partial question is a set up for failure.  I have found that asking "right/wrong" questions about ambiguous areas often creates a sense of self-righteousness and aloofness.

There is always the best of intentions to please God, and it may not happen right away, but eventually standards will come into contact with other standards and judgement will have to be passed.  If the question has only been framed in terms of right & wrong then anyone who does partake (when you do not), is wrong.  I came across this in Bible College all the time, some would triumphantly proclaim that they didn't (and others shouldn't) watch this or that.  And it was almost never just about them.

Better questions would be ones that steer away from this mindset, but also avoid the "Everything is permissible" thinking, such as:

  • Why am I watching this?
  • Where does this sit on the quadrant?
  • How will this program effect my relationship with God?
  • What does this tell me about life, culture, faith, & God?
  • How can I relate to some of the characters? Why do the characters act is certain ways?
  • What does it say about sin and the fallenness of mankind?

None of these questions ask if watching is right or wrong, and none of them will inform you as to what to watch, but they will reshape how you watch.  Also, there will be tell-tale signs (when answering these questions) that a program is not worth watching, I'll trust that's easy enough to work out.

After answering those (and other) questions, you are now in the position to talk about and critique what you've seen, it ceases to be entertainment in a strict sense and becomes something that you can learn from and grow from.  It stops becoming "mindless".


Works of Love - *You* Shall Love Your Neighbour - part 2

Below is a continuation of both a chapter and a series.  This is merely summaries of the chapter - I have tried to keep my opinion out. See the first part of this chapter here.

Of course, Kierkegaard is not naive, and in the second part of the chapter he quickly highlights that leaving temporal distinctions untouched is never going to be a popular decision.  He calls it a double danger since one throws off his "rightful" circle and tries to be part of every circle.  This will not make anyone happy.  It is thought that one must exist for oneself (and ones circle) not for everyone.

Next Kierkegaard discusses one of the distinctions in the world, and their corrupted state: insignificance.  According to Kierkegaard, "corrupted insignificant" people (for Kierkegaard, everyone is corrupted to some degree or another) see anyone who is more powerful as an enemy.  However, since these people are more powerful, the insignificant do nothing about it and keep the status quo while complaining about their insignificance.  Using force or breaking away would only disadvantage the insignificant even more and so the they use the powerful while rejecting them out of envy.  They are guilty of covetousness.


Human Value, Imago Dei & Kierkegaard

The one thing that Kierkegaard really pushes in Works of Love, that we have lost sight of today, is what "equality", for humans, actually means.  So many today think that equality is a levelling out of social class, privilege, and income.  Kierkegaard does not view equality in this way at all.

In fact, he is against the levelling out of distinctions.  In part, I think it is because he is against any sort of Platonic ideal of what it means to be human.  He is not seeking of a way for man to become cookie-cutter shapes (or Forms), all exactly the same, but that man would understand what it means to be human and what it means to treat others as humans (love your neighbour).  Although Kierkegaard does not use the phrase, there is a strong sense that he is implying that humans carry the imago dei (Image of God), this is what makes humans, universally human, equally human.  This is our equality.  Since we all carries the imago dei, we are all to love one another.

This imago dei gives equality without status, wealth, or privilege.  It does not require an earthly levelling of the playing field, people are intrinsically valuable and worthy of love.  Neighbourly love then would be meaningless if there were no distinctions, since it is love, despite our differences. This is what makes Christian love, love of neighbour, so great.

Today our culture has lost sight of any sort of imago dei.  Do not be fooled by thinking that this still has a (small) hold on secular culture because people still want to help the homeless, the third world, and the sick.  A lot of people help the homeless, sick, and third world because they view value as ability, health and wealth.  They help, not because people are intrinsically valuable, but because they are adding value to people's lives.  For Kierkegaard, this is selfish-love because the giver feels a superiority over the one whom the gift imparts a higher 'status'.  No one is higher or lower for Kierkegaard (or any Christian), we are all equal.


Works of Love - *You* Shall Love Your Neighbour - part 1

Continuing my overview of Kierkegaard's challenging work on Christian love.  My goal is to reflect what Kierkegaard says, not what I think on the subject.

Despite not showing preference, one is not to stop loving their beloved, since to do so would be contradictory as the neighbour is everyone.  Only the preferential should be taken out of love, not the love itself.  The more preferentially one loves, the further from neighbourly love one gets.  Man's kinship is to God, and since God is love and man is to be in God's likeness, man must love as God loves - without prejudice and without distinction.

Therefore, the highest love is neighbourly love.  Friends and lovers die and leave, their love is lost, but neighbourly love is such that it can never die, it can never be lost or leave and it can always be found, because everyone is a neighbour, and you shall love them.  If love was meant only that which was extraordinary, then God would be unable to love since for Him the extraordinary does not exist.  Therefore Christian love, neighbourly love, is the most perfect love.