A Proof of the Truth of Christianity
This proof is that many times its most zealous enemies have become its most zealous defenders. With philosophers and others like them the opposite often happens, that the closest adherent becomes an enemy and falls away. The double relationship in Christianity is the very thing that demonstrates its absolute truth, the fact that it goads just as intensely as it attracts. Kierkegaard’s Journals VIA 109
Let us suppose that someone asked Christianity, “Is it also certain, then, that I have faith?” Soren Kierkegaard, Works of Love 1847 p. 377
There is a faith that is like death when it swoons, but then – in death, in the decision of death, there is won a faith that does not disappoint; is not regr4etted, does not die. It grasps the eternal and holds it fast; through this faith, underneath the pain of the wish, in the decision the suffering one is with the good.
For there is a love that flares up and is forgotten; there is a love that unites and separates; there is a love until death, but then – in death, in the decision of death, there is born a love that does not flare up, does not equivocate, is not until death, but on the other side of death it abides – in this love, underneath the pain of the wish, in the decision the suffering one abides with the good. Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, March 13, 1847 by Soren Kierkegaard, copyright 1993 by Howard Hong, Princeton University Press p. 101
Is having faith a work of love? What about forgiving someone? Is that a work of love? Martin Luther wrote about works of love in his 95 thesis: “Papal indulgences must be preached with caution, lest people erroneously think that they are preferable to other good works of love. … Because love grows by works of love, man thereby becomes better. Man does not, however, become better by means of indulgences but is merely freed from penalties.” (41, 44)
How do you know if you possess faith or not?
If one person went to another and said to him, “I have often heard faith extolled as the most glorious good: I feel though that I do not have it; the confusion of my life, the distractions of my mind, my many cares, and so much else disturbs me, but this I know, that I have but one wish, one single wish, that I might share in this faith”– (Two Upbuilding Discourses May 16, 1843 (Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses, Soren Kierkegaard 1843-1844 Copyright 1990 by Howard V. Hong Princeton University Press p. 11)
Let us suppose that someone asked Christianity, “Is it also certain, then, that I have faith?” Christianity would answer, “Be it done for you as you believe.” Or what would Christ have thought if, instead of coming to him believing, the centurion had come to him secretly in order to find out if he had faith! “Be it done for you as you believe.”-that is, it is eternally certain that it will be done for you as you believe. Christianity guarantees you that, but whether you, precisely you, have faith certainly does not belong to Christianity’s doctrine and proclamation, so that it should declare to you that you have faith. Then when the fearful concerns arise that you perhaps do not have faith, Christianity, unchanged, repeats, “Be it done for you as you believe.” How rigorous! From the story of the centurion, you find out that he had faith; this actually does not pertain to you at all. Then you find out something essentially Christian, that it was done for him as he believed-but you, after all, are not the centurion. Works of Love by Soren Kierkegaard September 29, 1847 Hong translation p. 377-378
We might not be able to give faith to another but we certainly can give forgiveness to another. But it is a work to forgive.
But God is also to sublimely transcendent to play the childish game of the good God with a cowardly and slack human being. It is eternally certain that it will be done for you as you believe; the certitude of faith, or the certitude that you, yes, you, have faith, you must at every moment gain with God’s help, that is, not in any external manner.
You must have God’s help to believe that you are saved by Baptism; you must have God’s help to believe that in the Lord’s Supper you receive the gracious forgiveness of your sins.it is true that the pronouncement of the forgiveness of sins is pronounced also to you, but the pastor does not have the right to say to you that you have faith, and yet it is pronounced to you only if you believe. Be it done for you as you believe. Works of Love p. 378-380
But a person deludes himself into thinking that he himself for his part relates himself to God and on the other hand with regard to another person he relates himself only to the other person rather than that in everything he relates himself to God. Therefore, to accuse another person before God is to accuse oneself, like for like. In your opinion, God should, so to speak, take your side, God and you together should turn against your enemy, against the one who did you wrong. But this is a misunderstanding. God looks impartially at all and is wholly and completely what you want to make him only in part.
If you address him in his capacity as judge-yes, it is leniency on his part that he warns you to desist, because he is well aware of the consequences for you, how rigorous it will become for you; but if you refuse to listen, if you address him in his capacity as judge, it does not help that you mean he is supposed to judge someone else, because you yourself have made him into your judge-that is, he judges you also. But if you do not engage in accusing someone before God or in making God into a judge, then God is the gracious God. Works of Love p. 380-381
What excuse can a person have for not having faith or for not forgiving your neighbor? What excuse is there for not being our best self?
Everyone who when before himself is not more ashamed than he is before all others will, if he is placed in a difficult position and is sorely tried in life, end up becoming a slave of people in one way or another. What is it to be more ashamed before others than before oneself but to be more ashamed of seeming than being? Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, March 13, 1847 by Soren Kierkegaard, copyright 1993 by Howard Hong, Princeton University Press p. 53
But when it is a duty to love, then no test is needed and no insulting foolhardiness of wanting to test, then love is higher than any test; it has already more than stood the test in the same sense as faith “more than conquers.” Testing is always related to possibility; it is always possible that what is being tested would not stand the test. Therefore, if someone wanted to test whether he has faith, or try to attain faith, this really means he will prevent himself from attaining faith; he will bring himself into the restlessness of craving where faith is never won, for “You shall believe.” Works of Love, p. 33 Hong romans 8.37