Just One Thesis

Meanwhile, Kierkegaard calls upon ordinary Christians, who have been led to believe that everything is as it should be, to cease participating in 'the public divine service as it now is' because it is 'a forgery, a falsification' of the Christianity of the New Testament (TM 73-4). By refusing to participate in public worship, they will thus have one less 'great guilt' to account for, namely 'making a fool of God by calling something New Testament Christianity that is not New Testament Christianity' (73-4). Whereas Luther posted ninety-five theses in his effort to reform the Roman Catholic Church, Kierkegaard contends that the point had been reached in Protestantism, especially in Denmark, where there was only one thesis: 'The Christianity of the New Testament does not exist at all' (39; cf. 519-20; JP vi. 6842, 6943, 6947). What official Christianity called Christianity was not true Christianity but a hypocritical 'playing at Christianity' that removed all the dangers from being a Christian (TM 6, 32, 119, 133, 168, 178). The only difference between the established church and a theatre, as Kierkegaard sees it, is that 'the theatre honorably and honestly acknowledges being what it is' whereas the church is 'a theatre that in every way dishonestly seeks to conceal what it is' (221). In like manner, he also distinguishes between the atheist (presumably Feuerbach)21 and official Christianity by suggesting that 'the atheist is an honest man who directly teaches that Christianity is fiction, poetry', whereas 'official Christianity is a falsification that solemnly assures that Christianity is something else entirely, solemnly declaims against atheism, and by means of this covers up that it is itself making Christianity into poetry and abolishing the imitation of Christ' (129). In a journal entry dating from 1849 Kierkegaard even claims Feuerbach as an ally in his defence of Christianity against Christendom, stating that 'it is wrong of established Christendom to say that Feuerbach is attacking Christianity; it is not true, he is attacking the Christians by demonstrating that their lives do not correspond to the teachings of Christianity' (JP vi. 6523).

At this late stage Kierkegaard's attack extends to almost every aspect of the established church and social life in Christendom, including baptism, confirmation, marriage, and family life. Whereas earlier he was prepared to accept infant baptism and confirmation nominally as anticipations ofthe possibility of becoming a Christian, now they are regarded as nonsensical inventions, with confirmation constituting 'far more extreme nonsense than infant Baptism' because it 'claims to supply what was lacking in infant Baptism: an actual personality who is able consciously to take over a promise pertaining to the decision of an eternal happiness'—as if a boy of 15 were mature enough to make that decision (TM 244; cf. JP i. 602; iii. 3101)! No, in Kierkegaard's view confirmation is 'a glorious invention' that makes sense only if one assumes that the purpose of divine worship is to make a fool of God and that the ceremony is primarily intended to provide a pleasant occasion for family festivities (TM 243). As for marriage, which in Kierkegaard's earlier works, both pseudonymous and signed, is seen as the very embodiment of the ethical and spiritually sanctified by being consciously related to God (cf. EO ii. 302; SLW 87-184; TDIO 43-68; WL 112-13, 137-45), Kierkegaard now reminds his readers that celibacy is recommended by Christianity (cf. 1 Corinthians 7: 1, 7-8), whereas marriage, although not forbidden, is a concession to human lust that is displeasing to God (TM 245-8). Thus pastors should not take part in weddings at all, as these ceremonies are made 'as criminal as possible' by clerical participation and pronouncements that marriage is well pleasing to God (247). Alluding to a legendary blacksmith associated with performing weddings at a famous place for elopements in Scotland, Kierkegaard suggests instead that 'it is preferable to be married by a blacksmith' (247). Christian family

21 Cf. Feuerbach (1989: pp. xvi-xxi and passim).

life and the upbringing of children are also now seen as being based on a falsehood, inasmuch as 'Christianly it is anything but the greatest good deed to give a child life' and 'anything but pleasing to God that one engages in begetting children' because of the sinfulness and wickedness of the world into which they would be born and the misery of life awaiting both those who are saved and those who are damned (250-1).

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