Repentance, Kierkegaard, and Absolutes

I just came across some very insightful material on receiving God absolutely in Either/Or II by Soren Kierkegaard.

He essentially argues that God is absolute, but if we don’t respond to him absolutely, we make our relationship with him finite.  The danger in this is that we don’t have an eternal connection with him, and therefore presumably become one of those that say “Lord, Lord,” but in turn hear “I never knew you (Matthew 7.21a).” 

Kierkegaard goes on to say that the only absolute response is repentance.  Repentance is all out ownership of our failures.  Ownership of failures to such an extent that we claim no rights or merits by the occasional hints of goodness we chance upon.

“Only when I choose myself as guilty do I absolutely choose myself.” 216-217

“All love in comparison with repentance is but children’s babbling.” 218

The Biblical accounts very much affirm repentance as our starting point with God.  John the Baptist, the one who was prophesied to “prepare the way for the Lord” (Isaiah 40:3), does so with a baptism of repentance.  Jesus, in similar fashion, inaugurates his ministry with the foundational message, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is near.”

Repentance positions you to receive Jesus absolutely because it leaves with nothing of yourself.

Lack of repentance, at the core is doubt.  It is doubt because we don’t think we’re bad enough to fully need him.  Doubt is rest because it allows us to not join the movement.  Touch it, but don’t get swallowed by it.  For this reason, we never fully follow Jesus until we fully repent.


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