Universal Religious Awakenings Versus A Christian Awakening

Unlike most people, then, Adler had been 'deeply moved' and 'shaken in his inmost being' by being 'fetched home by a higher power' and 'tossed out into extreme mortal danger' over '70,000 fathoms of water' (BA 104, 108, 112). As Kierkegaard sees it, however, to be deeply moved in this manner is not equivalent to having a Christian awakening, as pagans and Jews, for example, are also capable of being deeply moved by something higher or abstract such as the eternal or an idea. Thus 'not every outpouring of religious emotion is a Christian outpouring' nor does one 'become a Christian by being religiously moved by something higher' (113). In contrast to an immanent or more universal religious awakening, in which one's self-identity remains intact and one is shaken in such a way as merely to wake up and become oneself, a Christian awakening lies in the sphere of transcendence; that is, it takes place via a relation to the eternal in time outside oneself through which one becomes a qualitatively different person (114). In order for a Christian awakening to occur, therefore, a specifically

Christian emotion (Grebethed),26 in which one is 'in the stricter sense deeply moved by the essentially Christian', as well as a firm and definite conceptual language within which to express it are required, both of which, in Kierkegaard's judgement, were in short supply in the present age (114-15).

According to Kierkegaard, the fundamental defect in Adler was that he did not take time to understand himself in what had happened to him and was not adequately schooled in the basic Christian conceptual language in order to be able to determine whether he had had a revelation, a Christian awakening, or a more universal religious awakening (BA 111, 115, 117-18). Adler thus confused his more universal religious awakening with a Christian awakening and erroneously expressed it in terms of the Christian concept of revelation. As Kierkegaard puts it, 'he confuses the subjective with the objective, his altered subjective state with an external event, the dawning of light upon him with the coming into existence of something new outside him, the falling of the veil from his eyes with his having had a revelation (117). As Kierkegaard understands it, a revelation is an objective qualification that is not identical to or an element in subjectivity itself but constitutes a new, transcendent, paradoxical point of departure that cannot be mediated or explained away by reflection (117-18, 120). While Adler bore a personal responsibility for not acquiring a rigorous, fundamental education in Christian concepts in order to be able to express his religious emotion in the appropriate language, Kierkegaard faults theological training in Christendom in general and Hegelian philosophy in particular for initiating him into 'the total confusion of the essentially Christian' (114, 116). Not only does Hegelian philosophy espouse 'the immediate identity ofsubject-object', whereby the Christian concept ofrevelation is explained away and volatilized in the subjectivity of the human race, it also lacks an ethics inasmuch as it is oriented toward explaining the world-historical movement of the past rather than occupying itself with the future, which is the medium of ethics (120, 129). 'Only ethics can place a living person in the proper position', Kierkegaard declares, for 'it says: the main thing is to strive, to work, to act, and if one has taken a wrong direction of reflection, then above all to come back from it' (131).

26 'Emotion' as used here connotes the deep inward enthusiasm or feeling 'of a specific qualitative kind' within which Christian subjectivity comes into existence, while passion (Lidenskab) and pathos (Pathos), the terms associated with subjectivity in the Postscript, give expression respectively to one's underlying subjective concern for eternal happiness and the heightened negative forms of subjectivity (resignation, suffering, guilt, sin consciousness) through which one is related to and transformed by the eternal (BA 112-14; CUP i. 387-94). On religious emotion in Kierkegaard, see also Kangas (2008), Roberts (1997), and Gouwens (1996: 76-80).

Like Johannes Climacus, then, Kierkegaard calls individuals of the modern age back to ethical self-concern and underscores the need for the appropriate subjective passion and emotion as well as conceptual clarity concerning the essentially Christian qualifications for thinking and expressing oneself Christianly in an existential mode. Keeping that in mind, let us turn now to some basic Christian concepts which Kierkegaard sought to clarify for the sake of enabling a Christian awakening and upbuilding of the single individual to occur.

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