Kierkegaard... a sample... enjoy!

(Dave Kenny) #1

Hello Connect family. As announced in a previous thread, I have begun my studies on 19th century author/philosopher/theologian Soren Kierkegaard. I have thoroughly enjoyed the devotional nature of much of his writings so far, and I thought I would share a sample with you. Enjoy! (sorry for the length…)

The Purity of Heart is to Will Only One Thing…

Father in heaven! What is a man without Thee! What is all that he knows, vast accumulation though it be, but a chipped fragment if he does not know Thee! What is all his striving, could it even encompass a world, but a half-finished work if he does not know Thee: Thee the One, who art one thing and who art all! So may Thou give to the intellect, wisdom to comprehend that one thing; to the heart, sincerity to receive this understanding; to the will, purity that wills only one thing. In prosperity may Thou grant perseverance to will one thing; amid distractions, collectedness to will one thing; in suffering, patience to will one thing. Oh, Thou that giveth both the beginning and the completion, may Thou early, at the dawn of day, give to the young man the resolution to will one thing. As the day wanes, may Thou give to the old man a renewed remembrance of his first resolution, that the first may be like the last, the last like the first, in possession of a life that has willed only one thing.

Alas, but this has indeed not come to pass. Something has come in between. The separation of sin lies in between. Each day, and day after day something is being placed in between: delay, blockage, interruption, delusion, corruption. So in this time of repentance may Thou give the courage once again to will one thing. True, it is an interruption of our ordinary tasks; we do lay down our work as though it were a day of rest, when the penitent is alone before Thee in self-accusation. This is indeed an interruption. But it is an interruption that searches back into its very beginnings that it might bind up anew that which sin has separated, that in its grief it might atone for lost time, that in its anxiety it might bring to completion that which lies before it.

Oh, Thou that givest both the beginning and the completion, give Thou victory in the day of need so that what neither a man’s burning wish nor his determined resolution may attain to, may be granted unto him in the sorrowing of repentance: to will only one thing. “Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you, cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded!” (James 4:8). For commitment to the Good is a whole-souled decision, and a man cannot by the craft and the flattery of his tongue lay hold of God while his heart is far away. No, for since God is spirit and truth, a man can only draw near to Him by sincerity, by willing to be holy, a: He is holy (I Peter 1-16) by purity of heart.

Purity of heart: it is a figure of speech that compares the heart to the sea, and why just to this? Simply for the reason that the depth of the sea determines its purity, and its purity determines its transparency. Since the sea is pure only when it is deep, and is transparent only when it is pure, as soon as it is impure it is no longer deep but only surface water, and as soon as it is only surface water it is not transparent. When, on the contrary, it is deeply and transparently pure, then it is all of one consistency, no matter how long one looks at it; then its purity is this constancy in depth and transparency. On this account we compare the heart with the sea, because the purity of the sea lies in its constancy of depth and transparency. No storm may perturb it; no sudden gust of wind may stir its surface, no drowsy fog may sprawl out over it; no doubtful movement may stir within it; no swift-moving cloud may darken it: rather it must lie calm, transparent to its depths.

And today if you should see it so, you would be drawn upwards by contemplating the purity of the sea. If you saw it every day, then you would declare that it is forever pure — like the heart of that man who wills but one thing. As the sea, when it lies calm and deeply transparent, yearns for heaven, so may the pure heart, when it is calm and deeply transparent, yearn for the Good. As the sea is made pure by yearning for heaven alone; so may the heart become pure by yearning only for the Good. As the sea mirrors the elevation of heaven in its pure depths, so may the heart when it is calm and deeply transparent mirror the divine elevation of the Good in its pure depths."

(Carson Weitnauer) #2

I think it is really important that this is not written as disinterested philosophy, but as a prayer. It is the direct address to our Father in heaven that alone can inspire such thinking and such a life. The only way to have purity of heart is to live in the fear of the Lord - that is, to see, to feel, to experience God directly.

Listening to Dr. Crawford Loritts on this yesterday, in a message entitled Awestruck, was very clarifying. Apart from the revelation of God before our inner being, as we humble ourselves in his presence, there is no hope to will one thing.

Discipleship apart from God is an inherently double-minded task. On the one hand, you are seeking to do the Lord’s will. On the other hand, you are seeking to do that by the power of your own will! It is an impossible tension that leads either to self-deception and hypocrisy or discouragement and abandonment of the task. Only by being drawn into God’s presence, by his grace, and personally encountering him, may we be sustained in wholehearted obedience.

(Dave Kenny) #3

Thats a beautiful response @CarsonWeitnauer. It feels as if you have read a little Kierkegaard yourself when you say:

Discipleship apart from God is an inherently double-minded task. On the one hand, you are seeking to do the Lord’s will. On the other hand, you are seeking to do that by the power of your own will! It is an impossible tension that leads either to self-deception and hypocrisy or discouragement and abandonment of the task

I loved the sermon that you attached to this thread, and I hope that many take the time to enjoy it also.

Interestingly, you commented on needing to be drawn into God’s presence and personally encountering him in order to even be able to “will one thing”… In Kierkegaards books, he comes to a similar conclusion as he builds a robust defence for the “office of confession” (to put it in his words).

He refers to remorse and repentance as God’s great emissaries to humanity that drive us directly into the presence of God… an activity that is captured by confession.

There are likely too many thoughts at once in this post… but his writing has been edifying (for me)!