Christendom and Counterfeit Christianity

By Soren Kierkegaard

 

  • Gold and silver I do not have, but I give you what I have; stand up and walk,” said Peter. Later on the clergy were saying: Gold and silver we have – but we have nothing to give.
  • One would think that the omnipotence of money would run aground on the rock of Christianity, which proclaimed that a rich man would have difficulty entering the kingdom of God. Yes, so it was originally, but then the ordained hired-servants, the money changers of Christianity, got hold of things, and Christianity was improved practically and it triumphantly spread over kingdoms and countries.
  • Once upon a time learning to read was a rigorous matter; it took a lot of hard work. But eventually the theory was devised that everything ought to be enjoyable. So the practice of having a little party after each hour of reading was introduced, and the A B C’s were decked out with pictures, etc. Ultimately that hour was also dropped, and the A B C’s became simply a picture book. But still people went on talking about learning to read, even though the children did not learn to read at all. Learning to read was now understood to mean eating cookies and looking at pictures, which became an even more pleasant experience just because it was called “learning to read.” So also with the transformation of Christianity in Christendom, except that here (which is not the case in the illustration) “the teacher” (i.e. preacher) is also interested in this transformation, it suits him best of all.
  • No one can be the truth; only the God-man is the truth. Then comes the next: the ones whose lives express what they proclaim. These are witnesses to the truth. Then come those who disclose what truth is and what it demands but admit that their lives do not express it, but to that extent still are striving. There it ends. Now comes the sophistry. First of all come those who teach the truth but do not live it. Then come those who even alter the truth, its requirement, cut it down, make omissions – in order that their lives can correspond to the requirement. These are the real deceivers.
  • Christianity has been made so much into a consolation that people have completely forgotten that it is first and foremost a demand.
  • We humans have ingeniously turned God into a humbug. We talk about the fact that God is love, that we love God (who does not love God, what “Christian” does not love God, etc.) and even rely on him, and yet we refuse to see that our relationship to him is purely and simply a natural egotism, the kind of love which consists of loving oneself. We try to get this loving God’s assistance, but only to lead a right cozy, enjoyably religious life.
  • Think of a father. There is something he wishes his child to do (the child knows what it is); so the father has a plan: I will come up with something that will really please my child and give it to him. Then, I am sure, he will love me in return. The father believes that his child will now do what he asks. But the child takes his father’s gift and does not do what he wills. Oh, the child thanks him again and again and exclaims: “He is such an affectionate father”; but he continues to get his own way.
  • And so it is with us Christians in relationship to God. Because God is love, we turn to him for help but then go our own way. Although we dance before him and clap our hands and blow the horn and with tears in our eyes exclaim, “God is love!” we go on our merry way doing what it is that we want.
  • In so-called Christianity we have made Christmas into a great festival. This is quite false, and it was not at all so in the Early Church.childishness for Christianity – what with all our sickly sentimentality, our candy canes, and our manger scenes. Instead of remaining conscious of being in conflict that marks a life of true faith, we Christians have made ourselves a home and settled down in a comfortable and cozy existence. No wonder Christmas has become little more than a beautiful holiday.
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