Praying with Kierkegaard

O Lord Jesus Christ, there is so much to drag us back: empty pursuits, trivial pleasures, unworthy cares. There is so much to frighten us away: a pride too cowardly to submit to being helped, cowardly apprehensiveness which evades danger to its own destruction, anguish for sin which shuns holy cleansing as disease shuns medicine. But Thou art stronger than all these, so draw Thou us now more strongly to Thee. We call Thee our Saviour and Redeemer, since Thou didst come to earth to redeem us from the servitude under which we were bound or had bound ourselves, and to save the lost. This is Thy work, which Thou didst complete, and which Thou wilt continue to complete unto the end of the world; for since Thou Thyself hast said it, therefore Thou wilt do it–lifted up from the earth Thou wilt draw all unto Thee.

– Kierkegaard

 

I hope to spend some time this week exploring Kierkegaard’s thoughts regarding being drawn to Christ, which he sets in antithesis to being enticed by Christ.

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  1. Kierkegaard sounds a little mixed up to me ….. not sure how God can answer this prayer?

    But Thou art stronger than all these, so draw Thou us now more strongly to Thee……… intrigued as to the concept of Jesus a) drawing us “more” strongly than he has already drawn us – is he suggesting Jesus didn’t quite use all his “drawing” power when he first drew us to him? Doing half a job doesn’t sound like the Jesus I know and love and find in the bible!!

    . This is Thy work, which Thou didst complete, and which Thou wilt continue to complete…….. again – bit confusing for poor Jesus to try and answer this prayer – can see Jesus scratching his head thinking – well I either completed it or I didn’t – not sure I can continue to complete something I have already completed!!!!!

    lifted up from the earth Thou wilt draw all unto Thee – hmmm not sure that Jesus in this passage was talking about drawing all “men” unto him – (which quite clearly didn’t happen as there are loads of men who haven’t been drawn because we have free will. Actually looking at the context of the section, what Jesus is talking about and the verse before and after (John 12 v 31 and 33) what Jesus seems to be talking about is drawing all Judgement to himself hence fitting with his comment about what type of death (the sacrificial lamb) as opposed to drawing all men – cause that just doesn’t make sense of verse 33?

    What do you out there think?

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    • Drawing us “more” strongly than he has already drawn us – This may not mean that God is drawing us more strongly, but rather and we are more aware of his almighty power therefore when we realise that once again we need to recommit our lives to Christ we are more powerfully drawn because we know more of Christ and the power, love, grace, that he gives us.

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  2. Nathan no gravatar February 28, 2011 — 6:29 pm

    Please block this women! Time to take away some of her ‘free will’! *Waits to be moderated* Biscuit!!!!

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    • I would prefer it if your comments were relevant AND edifying.

      🙂

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      • Nathan no gravatar February 28, 2011 — 10:59 pm

        lol, this was meant for your moderating amusement, I didn’t think you’d actually publish it! *grits his teeth and gets ready for the consequences*
        Who said biscuits weren’t edifying anyway?
        I need to stop writing cheques that my patience with liberals can’t cash!

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  3. Jesus taught his disciples (and indeed the church) to pray, saying ‘Our father in heaven hallowed be your name, your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as in heaven.’ Are we to say that God doesn’t do his will? Yet it is the prayer given from the lips of Jesus!

    From reading the bible one could conclude that we do not need to pray, for we are told that God’s will is sure to come about (Isaiah 55:10-11). One could also assume that the burden of the will of God rests on our shoulders (2 Chronicles 7:14), it is our labour in prayer which brings change.

    I say all this to state that Christian spirituality is no simple matter, but there is the hand of God in circumstances which are outside of our control and there is God’s hand directing us when we have control.

    Kierkegaard’s prayer reminds me somewhat of the man who spoke to him, crying out in Mark 9:24 “I Believe! Help my unbelief!”

    He affirms a truth about Christ, that he is stronger than the temptations and trials of life, and he prays to Jesus for deliverance, that they might be drawn to him. We’ve heard a similar prayer when Jesus said “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”

    To be pedantic about the matter, could it be that it is God at work which brings to make such a prayer? Surly a person will not ask God to draw him unless God has somehow created that desire within him? Of course Kierkegaard is not suggesting that Jesus half drew him to himself. He is asking for God’s continued and renewing action in his life.

    Similarly with the next point. The work of the cross was finished. Yet we are unfinished. There is some mystery in this. We would be universalists if we claimed that Christ’s work on the cross had banished all the sin under which we are bound. That is clearly not the case. The truth is Christians still deal with sin, daily, yet the promise of the cross is the finished work. Kierkegaard is actually praying in a way very consistent with Christian liturgy over the years, that is is state a truth about God and making a request based upon it.

    And the point about Jesus drawing all men to him is a very interesting one I am going to explore this week. It is Kierkegaards position that Jesus draws all to himself, and upon meeting Jesus a person is either offended or believes. He doesn’t suppose that everyone who meets Jesus believes, but that everyone comes to a point of decision. That is the choice between finding the whole idea absurd, ridiculous and dismissing it as foolishness or believing and following. The only certain thing is that a person will meet Jesus.

    It is in being drawn to Jesus that the truth of a person is revealed – whether they believe or are offended.

    Jesus certainly doesn’t suggest in John 12:31-32 that he is drawing all judgement to himself. He states that his work a) defeats the devil and b) draws people to himself.

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  4. Nathan – I forgive you.

    Ian – I am intrigued that you suggest Nathan’s comments should be edifying and yet you felt no compulsion to explain to Ben that his blasphemy of our Lord Jesus Christ on a previous blog was not edifying.

    “Jesus certainly doesn’t suggest….”? you know this how? Were you there. At least I was wasn’t trying to insert words that don’t exist in the greek (man) and trying honestly to understand what Jesus was saying by using the words it is reported he said and not words he didn’t say. He had no problem saying man – as we see in verse 47 so why if he meant man would he not have said man in verse 32

    As for the rest of your explanation – as we have already established – we have a gross difference of opinion as to who we currently are in Christ (victors or still in bondage) so there seems little point in going through old ground.

    Interesting point on temptation – have you ever considered that we can’t be tempted by what we don’t think (or consider) and as we are instructed to take captive every thought – then the solution to the fact that we keep on sinning is just to obey the instruction isn’t it?

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  5. Why should I hold Ben to a standard that he doesn’t believe in? I’d rather he was honest. Am I really going to tell a non believer how to behave?

    Yes, I do know. I know because the text suggests nothing of the sort. No other translation has rendered the phrase as such and there is no good reason to change it. The notion of lifting up the Son of Man appears elsewhere in John’s Gospel. In John 3:14 we are reminded of the story where people were saved by looking upon the serpent. John 8:28 tells us this will be on account of his obedience to God.

    If Jesus, God’s Son, agonised for his life in the Garden of Gethsemeny, why in the world should Christians expect any different? Jesus was the victor, through a great battle. It’s our battle too.

    The solution to our sins is that we stop thinking about it?

    Does that not strike you as absurd?

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    • Of course you aren’t required to hold Ben to a standard he doesn’t believe in – but surely on your own web site you are not obliged to promote his standard especially if it is derogatory about the saviour who died for us? What if a young christian in your church reads your blog and assumes you support Ben’s viewpoint about Jesus because you don’t seem to be offended about his reference to your Lord and Saviour. As you know at school – I accepted and understood that people used the name of God and Jesus as profanity all the time – I just asked for respect that they didn’t do it in front of me because Jesus is my best friend and I don’t like hearing bad stuff about my best friend.

      John 12 – But the text doesn’t support the word man? so why put it in. You haven’t explained why the text supports the word man when it doesn’t exist in the text? You haven’t justified the text at all – you have just tried to use other illustrations (which don’t fit the point) to prove a point that can’t be proved because the word man doesn’t exist in the text in the first place?

      The other references you make don’t fit this context. the serpent was lifted up and people chose to look on or or not. Surely if Jesus was drawing all – and he achieved his aim then all would be saved? He drew all sin to himself – and yes I agree the Holy Spirit works in us to bring us to God but this wasn’t the context of this text and doesn’t fit. Also although the Holy Spirit draws (note Holy Spirit’s job to draw – not Jesus’ – Jesus job to deal with sin) – but we have a choice. This isn’t a reflection of the HOly Spirit not drawing enough but the fact that God has chosen to work within his own self-imposed boundaries of giving us free will.

      If you believe it means Jesus draws ALL men – then presumably you disagree with John Calvin when he says Jesus only died for the elect – therefore not for ALL men therefore didn’t draw ALL men ……..

      I totally agree about the battle – but what is the battle against? Persecution for doing the will of God not struggling with our own inadequacies.

      I did not say the solution to our sins (that was Jesus) I said the solution to stop sinning (entirely different) is not to think about it – far from being absurd I think you will find this an entirely supported biblical principle – James 1 v 4 – (lust being desire and desire being what we conceive (imagine, think about) in our heart. Hebrews 11 v 15 (if they had thought about returning – they would have done – then they would not have achieved God’s plan for them) Genesis 3 v 6 (Eve saw and considered before she ate) Jesus temptations by satan all designed to get him to consider (think about, lust after) what was being offered to him, David – bathsheeba – he look on her and started thinking (lusting, considering) what he could do with her, Israelites – didn’t just out of the blue say I know lets build a golden calf – that came from a thought process. Of course ALL the sin we commit comes first from a thought process – as we think in our heart so we shall be – out of the heart Mat 15 v 19 Mark 7 v 21, I could keep going for ever but think I have proved the point adequately. And the answer most definitely is to take captive all our thoughts and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds – if that wasn’t the answer then why did God tell us to do that? Just for fun?

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      • Jesus doesn’t need me to stick up for him.

        John 12: It might not support the word ‘man’ but many other translations render it ‘people’. I was using similar instances when Jesus says essentially the same thing. That repetition indicates a theme, and the differences establish the meaning of that theme.

        Does drawing mean saving? Kierkegaard thinks not. His view is to say that Jesus draws all to himself, and then they are confronted with him in his entirety and they must decide whether to have faith or to be offended.

        So you believe we continue in the faith by our own efforts?

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  6. Of course Jesus doesn’t need you to stick up for him – but we are either for Jesus or against Jesus – where do you stand – were you offended at Ben’s words?

    You say other translations render “it” people – no – the point is – there is no “it” to translate. The word “all” is in the greek text but NOT the word man or people or any other such word. Where are these other incidences that support this?

    καγὼ kagō 2504 P-1NS-C and i
    ἐὰν ean 1437 COND if
    ὑψωθῶ upsōthō 5312 V-APS-1S I am lifted up
    ἐκ ek 1537 PREP from
    τῆς tēs 3588 T-GSF the
    γῆς gēs 1093 N-GSF earth
    πάντας pantas 3956 A-APM all
    ἑλκύσω elkusō 1670 V-FAI-1S I will draw
    πρὸς pros 4314 PREP unto
    ἐμαυτόν emauton 1683 F-1ASM myself

    No I did not say we continue in our faith by our own efforts. Christianity isn’t difficult in our own efforts – its impossible. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit can we continue in the faith BUT – how we continue in the faith using this power is what we are talking about – do we through the power of the Holy Spirit follow the instructions of the bible – like taking captive every thought – and renewing our mind so that we sin less – or do we sit like couch potatoes expecting God to give us more than the all sufficient grace he’s already given us?

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  7. btw – the fact that the greek starts with ….. and if – clearly shows that it is a continuation from the previous verse which is talking about judgement not about people.

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  8. Beverly:

    “What if a young christian in your church reads your blog and assumes you support Ben’s viewpoint about Jesus because you don’t seem to be offended about his reference to your Lord and Saviour.”

    I don’t think a visitor (Christian or non-Christian) to this blog is in ANY danger of thinking Ian, or indeed anyone else who comments here, ‘supports’ my viewpoint. They’d have to be illiterate to come to that conclusion… and if they were illiterate they probably wouldn’t be reading a blog.

    Your beef is that somehow you get castigated, while I just get disagreed with, yes? Consider why that could be, and do read back over your own words and those of others in past comments sections. I think you should see the reasons why- after all, they’ve been pointed out before now.

    I don’t see the problem you have; if your god exists, he doesn’t need censors – won’t he get the last laugh? 😉

    Ian:

    Good post, and nice clarifications in these comments r.e. the biblical sources of Kierkegaard’s ideas. I feel I shall be referring to these same explanations in other times if I’m trying to get the context of his theological arguments. Not the most essential for my purposes perhaps, (that’s my fault for being a metaphysical naturalist!) but very enlightening on the subtle bits.

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  9. The Greek for all found in the verse above is an masculine plural form, whereas judgement (κρισις) is a feminine singular noun. The word for all does have a feminine form, if Jesus was meaning ‘all judgement’ all would appear in this form – πασας

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