Faith and The Object of Faith

The object of faith, understood Christianly, is not a doctrine, for then the relation is merely intellectual. Neither is the object of faith a teacher who has a doctrine, for when a teacher has a doctrine, then the doctrine is more important than the teacher. The object of faith is the actuality and authority of the teacher; that the teacher actually is. Therefore faith’s answer is absolutely either yes or no. Faith’s posture is not in relation to a teaching, whether it is true or not, but is the answer to the question about a fact: Do you accept as fact that he, the Teacher, actually exists? Please note that the answer to this is a matter of infinite concern. Of course, if the object of faith is only a human being, then the whole thing is a sham. But this is not the case for Christians. The object of Christian faith is God’s historical existence, that is, that God at a certain point in time existed as an individual human being…Faith, therefore, and the object of faith is not a lesson for slow learners in the sphere of knowledge, an asylum for the ignorant. Faith exists in a sphere of its own. The immediate identifying mark of every misunderstanding of Christianity is that faith is changed into a belief and drawn into the range of intellectuality – a matter of understanding, of knowledge. Infinite interestedness in the actuality and authority of the Teacher, absolute commitment, becoming Christian – that is the sole passion and object of faith. (Soren Kierkegaard, Provocations, PDF edition, pages 65-66)

Kierkegaard seems to be warning us to not turn our encounters with Jesus into an intellectual exercise. Jesus is not a doctrine. Don’t mistake the indwelling of the incarnated Word with the cult surrounding him; Christianity. One is not the other. We have faith in a person, not a process. Having faith in faith, the bible, your church, the pope, a creed, anything other than the Person, is not faith, but idolatry which always, always leads to legalism and defeat. The only way evangelism will ever be successful (and I’m no fan of evangelism) is if we throw away our bibles, reform our lives, and preach a person not a step-by-step process to heaven.

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