In attempting to disentangle the essentially Christian from its various counterfeit expressions, confusions, and accommodations in church and society, Kierkegaard understood his task as a writer to be that of providing a corrective to the established order. Like a skilled cook, he sought to add 'a little dash of cinnamon' to the mix in order to give it 'a specific taste' (JP i. 709). In his view, the task of the corrective is to 'study the weak sides of the established order scrupulously and penetratingly and then one-sidedly present the opposite—with expert one-sidedness' (JP vi. 6467, cf. 6693). Thus he warily observes that 'it is an unhappy mistake if the person who is used to introduce the corrective becomes impatient and wants to make the corrective normative for the others, an attempt which will confuse everything' (JP i. 709). That is what happened with Luther's corrective, he contends, for by being made the norm or sum total of Christianity for later generations it has produced 'the most refined kind of secularism and paganism'—the exact opposite of the original corrective (JP i. 711). It was never Kierkegaard's intention, therefore, to set forth a normative theology for his age or ours. In providing the missing ingredient, namely the demanding, rigorous side of Christianity that had been so sorely abolished and forgotten in his own time, Kierkegaard's legacy as a corrective hopefully will be to enable us and future generations to think Christianly with a more balanced and existentially oriented understanding of what Christianity is and how to become a Christian in the context of our own existential situations and times.
Was this article helpful?