To defend is to disparage

September 22, 2008 at 8:31 am 5 comments

I read Kierkegaard’s Sickness Unto Death a couple weeks ago. I’m here to tell you, that guy is abstruse in the extreme! But it was a worthwhile read.

A comment on one of the [relatively minor] points of the book:

It is certain and true that the first one to come up with the idea of defending Christianity in Christendom is de facto a Judas No. 2: he, too, betrays with a kiss, except that his treason is the treason of stupidity. To defend something something is always to disparage it.

This rings true. The times in my life when I have been most anxious to defend Christianity are the times when my faith was weakest and my experience of Christianity least potent.

On the flip side, the Christians I know who are most secure and vibrant in their faith are the ones least defensive. They simply live what they believe, and feel no need to defend themselves (or, for that matter, hit anyone over the head with their views). Frankly, the mere sense of security that they emanate–genuine, authentic security that comes from a genuine, authentic experience–is way more powerful than any defensive posture.

Unfortunately, I get the impression that quite a few Christians are insecure about their faith, and easily feel on the defensive if ever anyone asks about their beliefs. Anyone else sense the same thing?

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Michael Goetz  |  September 24, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Well said… I might borrow for this weeks sermon.

    Reply
  • 2. Andrej  |  September 30, 2008 at 10:12 am

    We see the same thing amongst individuals who are very much against a particular sin only to have an acute problem of committing that exact sin. In both circumstances, it could be ones conscience working on relieving the split of inconsistancy. You say it well that “genuine, authentic security that comes from a genuine, authentic experience — is waymore powerful than any defensive posture.” It also seems like people experience the phenomena not necessarily because of a split in their way of thinking, but perhaps coming to terms with what they know to be consistantly true, but are struggling.

    Reply
  • 3. Charles Churchill  |  October 27, 2008 at 10:47 am

    I think Kierkegaard is either out of context or is dead, flat wrong. One need only think of all the things that God has made that are fantastic and powerful things that must be defended by the words and actions of men: love, liberty, purity, and I would say the gospel as well.

    If God had made the world without us as part of it, then the gospel would take care of itself (or it would appear that way to us), but we and it are both “in the mix” as it were. We are a very real part of the method by which God defends and propagates his message. To try to separate us from it is at best naivete and at worst, rebellion and heresy (a re-imagining of the world to suit ourselves). The only time that I can think of where to defend is to disparage is “answern not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like him”.

    Reply
  • 4. Jamie  |  October 27, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    Charles: Perhaps I should clarify. Yes, we “defend” love, liberty, the gospel, etc. by our words and actions, but there is a difference between defending something and having a defensive posture. It’s the latter that is harmful, in my opinion.

    Reply
  • 5. Charles Churchill  |  October 28, 2008 at 11:00 am

    I actually didn’t have a problem with what you wrote. There is certainly a ring of truth to the desperate attempt at defense being offputting. It’s Kierkegaard that makes me wonder. Maybe the quote is too short to give his real take on it, but it seems to be wrong.

    Thanks for posting. I’ve missed reading your blog.

    Reply

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Profile

profile.jpgI am working on my M.A. in Religion at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Besides having a big interest in theology, history, ethics, and the deep stuff of life, I am also very fond of Mediterranean food, snow, and the color red.

Email me: jamie.kiley@gmail.com

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