Sermon Preached at Trinity Church, 1844 (Kierkegaard)
Soren Kierkegaard preached a sermon on February 24, 1844 at Trinitatis Kirke, 1844 (Trinity Church) These quotes are taken from the book Johannes Climacus Or, De Omnibus Dubitandum Est And A Sermon, by Soren Kierkegaard as translated by Thomas Henry Croxall in 1958. (pages 157-173)
- 1 Corinthians 2: 6-9
- We discuss “wisdom” with those that are mature; only it is not the wisdom of the world or of the dethroned Powers who rule this world. It is the mysterious Wisdom of God that we discuss, that hidden wisdom which God decreed from all eternity, for our glory. None of the Powers of this world understands it (if they had, they would never have crucified the Lord of Glory). No, as it is written, “What no eye has ever seen, What no ear has ever heard,” What never originated in the mind of man, “God has prepared for those that love him”.
- if the Church were puffed up with the confidence that it could quite comfortably attain what the Apostles, as wholly surrendered men, had had to strive for day and night without seeing any other reward than that of being as it were the dregs of society and reaping the ingratitude of the Church', then he is furious for a moment, reminding them that he, who has been caught up into the third heaven, works out his salvation with fear and trembling. But it was only in love that he acted thus, his only desire being to win men not to himself but to the truth. He inflamed nobody; and in all the vicissitudes of a long life, he found no occasion to arouse unhealthy passions among the faithful.
- p. 160
- Let us, therefore, turn the word upon ourselves, and let everyone individually take to himself what he hears, not asking what message St. Paul’s teaching has for the world, but what is our own personal relationship to this heavenly wisdom. For if it were indeed the most pitiable of all things if what was to the Jews a stumbling block, to the Greeks foolishness, to St. Paul a power of God unto salvation — if this had become to anyone but an empty sound on the Apostle’s lips, and a noisy speech in his mouth, to the effect that this heavenly wisdom is to the Jews a stumbling-block and to the Greeks foolishness! It would be as pitiable, would it not, as if a man knew about that “mystery of godliness” of which St. Paul speaks in another place, saying that “God was manifest in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached among the nations, believed on throughout the world, but did not know whether he himself had believed it.
- p. 164
- Let us not make the marvelous too natural; for then perhaps that which we are speaking of is no longer the marvelous, and what we are saying is not what we think we are saying. Two divergences were mentioned, offense and scoffing; for the marvelous, when it is not a man’s salvation either tempts him in defiant cowardice to lose himself and be offended, or in cowardly defiance to assert himself by scoffing. For if he require a sign, and the marvelous is not the sign of human audacity but of divine condescension, then he is offended, as Peter was. And if he seeks after wisdom, then he laughs as Sarah laughed when the promise was announced to her.
- p. 165
- Have you seen the marvel, my hearer, and by what means? Was it with the help of that beautiful power in the soul which consoles and rejoices the childlike element in us, that beautiful power which calls forth the figure our longing craves for, beloved figure of memory, something more than a deceiving presence from bygone days-but also alarms us by the images of horror produced by fear and suspicion? Certainly this power can do a great deal. But what it produces is after all your own creation, even though when produced it becomes effective through the power you gave it. And what this power produces must in one way and another be visible to the earthly eye. But the object of faith, cannot be seen by the earthly eye, and, therefore, cannot show itself in the pictures produced by imagination.. ... . And even if such a figure were to appear, it cannot calm the strife because everything that the imagination creates is unit without context.
- p. 166