, , , ,


Kierkegaard’s chapter, The Halt, begins with a curious way of defining Christ’s existence. He distinguishes between Christ’s abasement and glory. The way I interpret Kierkegaard’s thought here is what I would refer to as Christ’s states of humiliation and exaltation. Perhaps this is merely a semantic difference from Kierkegaard, but he draws a very sharp line between these two states. Though I concur with Kierkegaard with respect to this distinction, I am not as rigid in keeping them separated from each other. I find that Christ’s humiliation and exaltation are keenly reflective of each other. For example, even in his state of abasement Christ showed evidence of his transfigured glory (Matthew 17; Mark9; Luke 9) and in his glory he bears the marks of his abasement (Luke 24:40). The wounds in his hands testify to the reality of his personhood and chastisement for our healing (Isaiah 53:5).

Kierkegaard takes a very strong position that when Christ issues the call to come to him all who are weary and heavy-laden, he does so not in his glorified state but in his state of abasement. While I agree that Christ uttered those words during his humiliation, I am not as willing to maintain that Christ’s glory is irrelevant (or perhaps better stated nonexistent) to the invitation. For example, I find it difficult to read John 14 and not see the implications of Christ’s glory as he maintains his union with the Father.

He does not want to be judged humanly by the results of his life, that is, he is and wants to be the sign of offense and the object of faith; to judge him according to the results of his life is blasphemy. As God, his life, that he lived and has lived, is infinitely more decisive than all the results of it in history. p. 23-24

The above quote is a bit nebulous to me for a few reasons. First, I am not precisely certain how Kierkegaard defines “judged” and I do not believe I have that authority toward Christ (the way I define that term to mean). In this way, I agree that it is blasphemous to judge Christ. Second, he seems to dichotomize Christ’s life from the rest of history. My concern here is if Christ did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it, then how can we not look to his earthly life as both the satisfaction of divine wrath and the gauge by which we understand the rest of history?

The inviter. Who is the inviter? Jesus Christ. Which Jesus Christ, the Jesus Christ who sits in glory at the Father’s right hand? No. From glory he has not spoken a word. So, then, it is Jesus Christ in his abasement, in the situation of abasement, who has spoken these words. p. 24

Is he, then, not in glory now? Yes, of course, this the Christian believes. But it was in the condition of abasement that he spoke those words; he did not speak them from glory. Nothing can be known about his coming again in glory; that can only be believed in the strictest sense. But one cannot become a believer except by coming to him in his state of abasement, to him, the sign of offense and the object of faith. p. 24

I appreciate Kierkegaard’s passion for Christ’s abasement, but I think the lines he draws are extremely rigid. Most systematic theologians I have read and studied certainly distinguish between the two states of Christ, but they do not maintain that those states are mutually exclusive.

In summary, I remain favorable to Kierkegaard though I sense this unresolved angst in his writing.