“And what does all this mean?” It means that each individual in quiet inwardness before God is to humble himself under what it means in the strictest sense to be a Christian, is to confess honestly before God where he is so that he still might worthily accept the grace that is offered to every imperfect person – that is, to everyone. p.67
At the conclusion of The Halt is a short synopsis entitled, The Moral. It is here, and with the above cited first sentence, that one can clearly see Kierkegaard’s existentialism.
Kierkegaard’s focus is entirely on the personal (existential) perspective of knowledge. Whereas the normative focuses on the standards (criterion) of knowledge and the situational focuses on the object of knowledge (what it is we are trying to know), the existential focuses on the person (the knower). For Kierkegaard, the concern is not with the criterion for truth or the object of truth, but with the person seeking truth. This is very different from Hegelian philosophy which is normative driven.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was passionate about creating dialectical systems that encompass all of knowledge. He wanted to develop tidy systems, based on generalities, that eventually lead to concreteness. Kierkegaard, however, was opposed to such thought. The knowledge of the individual, according to Kierkegaard, cannot be captured by scientific (objective) study. Merely presenting facts will not translate into knowledge unless the person has the capacity to make sense of those facts.
So, for Kierkegaard, these kinds of questions would be more commonly asked: How does one become a Christian within the realm of Christendom? What does authentic Christianity look like? What is true faith in contrast to mere allegiance to Christianity? How is a person related to God? What is the relationship between faith and passion. This is why Practice in Christianity is written with an emphasis in individualism.
Kierkegaard never denies objective truth in his writing. He is not a relativist or irrationalist. He writes from the perspective of a Christian who is deeply concerned about the condition of the state church (Danish Lutheran) because he does not see a genuine connection with Christ. It is this concern that makes Practice in Christianity a very clear read (which was not my impression when I started the work).
In the above quote, we see Kierkegaard’s interest in a Christianity that is a true relationship with Christ and not merely a church association based on appeal to tradition. Notice how he appeals to people to consider what it means to be a Christian. He calls on people to confess before God so that grace may be received. Kierkegaard, in the midst of his angst with the ecclesiastical establishment, strikes a sincere evangelistic tone.