A Few ?s on Climacus

The relationship between Climacus’ Fragments and Postscript is unsurprisingly surprising and complex.  For example, Climacus treats Part One of Postscript as the proper (promised) sequel to Fragments, while he treats Part Two as “a renewed attempt on the same lines” but not as the proper sequel.  I suppose this must be one reason why the speculative side of the objective problem (in Part One) is treated in such a brief, comparatively off-hand manner–it had really been done already in Fragments.  The historical side is what was not done there.  Right?

The argument for the ignoratio elenchi of historical inquiry into Holy Scripture (to help or hurt belief in faith) puzzles  me.  The general form of the argument is perfectly clear:  Assume that historical inquiry has culminated in a set of the happiest results any theologian could wish.  Still, that assumption does not aid the believer in faith.  Assume that historical inquiry has culminated in a set of the unhappiest results any theologian could have dreaded.  Still, that assumption does not harm the believer in faith.  The believer is untouched by either assumption since only if he were an unbelieving believer (in other words, someone who has turned Christianity into something objective) would he be bolstered by or vulnerable to these assumptions about objective results.  Conclusion:  historical inquiry into Holy Scripture is beside the point for the believer in faith; it can neither aid nor harm the believer in faith.  But here’s a question about the detail of the argument.  How far into the content of Holy Scripture do the assumptions penetrate?  The happy results supposed to be of this sort: These books and no others belong to the canon; these books are authentic; these books are complete; the authors of these books are trustworthy; these books are logically consistent.  The unhappy results are the denials of the happy results.  So–is the following among the happy results?

Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding feast.

Or is the result supposed to be like this?

A  trustworthy author wrote, in an authentic, integral, and canonical book that Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding feast.

I take this last to be such that it is not supposed to allow the detachment of ‘Jesus turned water into wine’ from it.  (The prefix is not like ‘It is true that’.)  –Maybe another way of putting my worry is to ask just about the trustworthy happy-result:  If the authors are trustworthy, does that mean that they are accurately reporting events or does it mean that they are sincerely reporting them?  The first putative happy result looks like something that would be believed in faith; the second not.  I lean toward the second.  –One other reason this is so tricky is that the first putative happy result looks like it is open to an objective/subjective ambiguity; it can be believed in faith or objectively believed (or so it seems to me).  But if that is true, why can’t the first putative happy result be an actual happy result, assuming it is objectively believed (as it would be, given that it is to be an objective result)?  Gah.  Help.  (Thanks to my students, Greg and Megan, for pushing me on this worry.)

2 responses

  1. I haven’t read the Postscript yet, but this is what I understand from the Fragments.

    Kierkegaard makes a distinction between faith and Faith.

    The first type of faith is when you believe something without any immediate sensation or cognition on your part. For example, suppose you were a contemporary of the disciples, and you weren’t present when Jesus turned water into wine, but you believed it when others told you of it.

    This type of faith would be affected by a historical inquiry, and people with only this “faith” are not disciples, because even their “faith” were limited to the temporal realm of existence, and does not reach the eternal God.

    The second type, Faith, is when you believe that God has become man, i.e., the eternal God has come into existence as man. Only God Himself can bear witness to this. This Faith, is rooted in God and authored by Him, and therefore it cannot be destroyed by the things in the temporal realm. It is also why the contemporary disciples do not have any advantage over the later generations, because the passing of time has no effect on the nature and power of Faith.

    Hope this helps.

    • Thanks for this. I agree with it for the most part, although I worry a bit about the details of the second and third paragraph. I have a recent paper on discipleship in Fragments you might find of interest. It is linked on my CV page. –I’ll try to get back to this when I get home.

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