Thursday, September 23, 2010

Søren Kierkegaard and Faith Development 1/3

Alan Hirsch facebooked some interesting information regarding Søren Kierkegaard and faith development from a forthcoming book authored by Hirsch and Frost tentatively called "The Faith of Leap: A Theology of Adventure and Risk and the Implications for Discipleship, Mission, Leadership, and the Church"

"One of the ways Søren Kierkegaard articulated how we move to true maturity is what is known as ‘the three stages’: the aesthetic, ethical, and the religious stage.

Firstly there is the Aesthetic Stage:

Here the individual lives in what Kierkegaard calls ‘immediacy.’ "At this level one lives within almost entirely devoted to the pursuit of pleasure (what he calls ‘the prisoner of the happy moment’). Life here is profoundly unreflective and lived in conformity with the expectations of the ‘crowd.’ For the person in this stage, the highest goal is self-satisfaction, even at the cost of living an authentic, consistent life. But the end result is that people made in the image of God cannot endure such shallowness and it leads to despair. What Kierkegaard calls ‘the staling of existence.’ Most people never make it beyond this stage and live lives of quiet desperation. We are the most over-entertained, most affluent, most indulged generation of all time, and yet we have the highest depression and suicide statistics among the young. This indicates something significant. Boredom is the end result of living on the surface of life…of failing to go deeper."

It is interesting to think of this self absorbed state of thinking in terms of pre-critical faith. A selfish approach to worship and mission that shows inhospitality to any opinion beyond self. Discipleship can be marked by great levels of pro activity but for who, whose needs are being met? Positions of theology shaped by the narrowness of tribal conformity mean any move towards a more critical appreciation of faith is difficult, the fear of the judgement of others makes any attempt to dig deeper probably more trouble than it is worth. To live with a suppressed desperation of faith where easy answers to big questions require placing ones mind into neutral for some becomes faith numbing, for others it spells an end to a faith journey as dogma rather than spirituality pushes them out of the door. However, as much as I find it difficult to understand and to equate it with the fullness of life that is our promise, there are those that find contentment here.

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