Kierkegaard on Protestantism

One of my brighter students recently charged the Apostle Paul with ‘self-congratulatory arrogance’. It reminded me of Kierkegaard’s biting words about the form that Protestantism is taking, and perhaps increasingly so:

‘Protestantism is the crudest and most brutal plebeianism. People will not hear of there being any difference of quality between an apostle, a witness to the truth and oneself, in spite of the fact that one’s existence is completely different from theirs, as different as eating from being eaten’. – Søren Kierkegaard, The Journals of Kierkegaard (ed. Alexander Dru; New York: Harper & Brothers, 1959), 245.

I wonder what the Dane would say if he spent a week or so with the average Protestant church today? Ouch! The fundamental issue, of course, is that of authority, coupled with a noxious and mendacious understanding of creaturely freedom. There can be no true freedom where there is no true authority. Where the latter is lost, the former disappears. So O’Donovan reminds us, ‘To be under authority is to be freer than to be independent’. – Oliver O’Donovan, The Ways of Judgment, 132.

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