The Bible As The Secure Stronghold Of Faith

If the Bible is to be regarded as 'the secure stronghold' that is supposed to establish the truth of Christianity, then from a historical point of view it is important to acquire 'the greatest possible reliability' concerning the authenticity, trustworthiness, and inspiration of the Holy Scriptures by means of philology or historical-critical scholarship (CUP i. 24). While Climacus professes to have great respect for philology, which in his view is a 'wholly legitimate' form of scholarship, he nevertheless detects a certain dubiousness in its efforts inasmuch as it assumes that faith or eternal happiness can be built on the basis of its historical findings, which are never final and always subject to revision (25-6). Climacus thus maintains that historical-critical biblical scholarship does not bring us a single step closer to faith but results instead in the loss of that which is the very condition of faith, namely an 'infinite, personal, impassioned interestedness' in one's eternal happiness (26). In relying on biblical criticism, the enquiring subject gets stuck, as it were, in a parenthesis, held in suspense and led to postpone the passionate decision of faith until the final results are in, which are never forthcoming (26-9, 33-4). Modern biblical scholarship thus makes the mistake of confusing faith with knowledge or rational certainty, whereas for Climacus faith is rooted in uncertainty, for 'if passion is taken away, faith no longer exists, and certainty and passion do not hitch up as a team' (29).


Abandoning the written word of the Bible as the secure stronghold of faith and taking recourse in the 'Living Word' of the church, its creed, and sacraments, the Grundtvigian movement seeks to establish the historical originality and continuity of the Apostles' Creed as the objective foundation offaith (CUP i. 34-46). In Climacus's judgement, however, this historical expedition is just as approximate and subject to sceptical attack as biblical scholarship, 'for with regard to historical issues it is of course impossible to reach an objective decision of such a nature that no doubt would be able to insinuate itself' (42). Thus, while Climacus finds merit in the Grundtvigians' emphasis on the present rather than the past and in their zealous passion for eternal happiness, in his view they are nevertheless comic-tragic figures in that their passion is comically incongruous with their objectivity and tragically staked on an approximation rather than certainty (43).

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