Contemporaneity with Christ

In his journals Kierkegaard states that 'before there can even be any question about having faith, there must be the situation. And this situation must be brought about by an existential step on the part of the individual... The requirement is that you must venture out, out into water 70,000 fathoms deep. This is the situation' (JP ii. 1142). As Johannes Climacus sees it, the situation that results in either the happy passion of faith or the unhappy passion of offence is occasioned by an encounter of the understanding with the absolute paradox, which came into existence in a decisive moment of time, thereby providing a historical point of departure for the eternal happiness of both contemporary and later followers of Christ. The immediate contemporary and the follower 'at second hand' thus stand essentially in the same situation of contemporaneity with this 'absolute fact', which is different from all other historical facts in that relations to it are not apportioned by time (PF 67, 91-100). This means that genuine contemporaneity is determined not by immediate historical contemporaneity with the absolute paradox but by receiving the condition of faith from the god in the encounter of the understanding with the absolute paradox. If the understanding comes to an understanding with the absolute paradox, that is, comes to understand that it is the absolute paradox and thus steps aside, allowing the absolute paradox to give itself, the condition in which this occurs is faith, which must be provided by the absolute paradox itself since the individual is not already in possession of the condition. The follower thus owes everything to the absolute paradox, even the condition of faith, which according to Climacus is just as paradoxical and miraculous as the absolute paradox itself, inasmuch as the condition for eternal happiness is now given in time through a relation to the eternal in time rather than immanently in human consciousness itself.

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