The Role of the Will in Faith

Faith is also not an act of the will, since for Climacus the condition of faith is given by the god or absolute paradox in a personal encounter (PF 62). But this does not mean that the will is totally inoperative in faith, for

15 Leibniz (1965: 11, 13); Lessing(2005: 85); Hume (1988: 71-83).

16 See also Pedersen (1980).

17 Cf. Hegel (1984-7: i. 347); Martensen (2004: 597-8; 1997: 78-9).

that would negate human freedom. On the contrary, once the condition is given, the will plays an important, even decisive, role in the life of faith for both Climacus and Anti-Climacus (PF 63; cf. PC 186).18 While faith is a gift, it is not something imposed against our wills but must be either received in faith or rejected in offence through a resolution of the will. The reception of faith takes place in what Climacus in the Postscript calls 'the leap', which is 'the category of decision' that carries the individual across the 'ugly broad ditch' between the historical and the eternal (CUP 1: 98-9). As Anti-Climacus expresses it: 'Faith is a choice, certainly not direct reception—and the recipient is the one who is disclosed, whether he will believe or be offended' (PC 141). Regardless of whether one chooses to believe or to be offended, however, one cannot avoid the possibility of offence, which is the 'crossroad' at which one turns either to offence or to faith. One may choose not to be offended, but 'one never comes to faith except from the possibility of offense' (81).

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