Josh Brage

Christian Existentialism
January 11, 2007, 1:40 pm
Filed under: Philosophical, Walk with God

This is a good article by a woman named Ellen McFall. This article goes over some basics about Existentialism. However, this section on Kierkegaard was very strong and I related to a lot of what this author says is his philosophy. (I think she does a good job synopsizing.)
Thanks to Jami for this article.

Christian Existentialists

Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), perhaps the best-known Christian existentialist, argued that God had not died but that he had merely been displaced by the Church hierarchy of the day. For Kierkegaard, it was the hypocrisy and bureaucracy of established religion that kept mankind from experiencing the wholeness that can only result from union with God. Like other existentialists, Kierkegaard esteemed the individual, urging man to follow his own path to a personal relationship with God.

The path to God, Kierkegaard advised, was revealed in the day-to-day hardships and sufferings of life that were transformed through faith into opportunities for spiritual growth. Modern man, he chided, wanted to “fraternize with God” but didn’t want a deeper relationship, especially if it required sacrifice. Christianity offered solutions to the trials of life, but it was only through an authentic relationship with Christ that these answers would be revealed.

Kierkegaard agreed that man was free not to choose God, but cautions that this choice would result in the “sickness unto death” that is despair. For Kierkegaard, despair is nothing less than an act of defiance-the final decision “not to will to be.” He even warns that anyone who is not conscious of himself as a spiritual being, regardless of his accomplishments, is ultimately in despair.

For Christian existentialists, feelings of angst and emptiness are not an ending, but a beginning. Gabriel Marcel (1889-1973) believed that the experience of despair could become “the prelude for an authentic hope that far transcends mere naive optimism.” Like other writers of the time, he believed that industrialization had reduced man to a set of interchangeable “functions” and had robbed him of his individual soul. But for Marcel, the answer was not to curse the emptiness of the Heavens but to view our time on earth as a lifetime search for truth. He inferred from man’s innate need for meaning that he was created specially to commune with God, and it was only through this avenue that he could ever hope to find wholeness.


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