A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar

The End of Reason: Thinking about Faith with Kierkegaard

August 11, 2021 Randy Knie, Kyle Whitaker Season 2 Episode 2
A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar
The End of Reason: Thinking about Faith with Kierkegaard
Show Notes Transcript

Kyle and Randy discuss faith, reason, existentialism, and what it means to be a Christian with a little help from 19th century philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. We touch on all sorts of fun things, like why being American has nothing to do with being Christian, why being religious isn't the same thing as being Christian, why approaching faith with your brain first is probably not Christian either, and much more. There's something here to offend everyone, we promise.

The beer we sample in this episode is Pilsner Urquell. The book Kyle recommends at the end is The Essential Kierkegaard. For more on Kyle's thoughts on the relation between faith and belief, see here.

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/apastorandaphilosopher)

NOTE: This transcript is for the unedited video version of this conversation, so what you see here will not match the audio-only podcast version exactly. For the video version, see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9GfSecvvr4&t=5s

[Music]

00:03

Welcome friends to another episode of a pastor

00:05

and a philosopher walk into a bar

00:08

we're always excited to share this time

00:10

with you and chat and just bring you

00:12

into our heads and our world in our

00:14

conversations and today literally is

00:16

going to be just bringing you into a

00:18

conversation that kyle and i had and we

00:20

stopped and said wait a minute we need

00:21

to share this with our friends

00:23

yeah

00:24

clearly that happened yeah yeah a couple

00:26

days ago we were talking and kyle talked

00:28

about how

00:29

kierkegaard talked about the end of

00:31

reason

00:32

where is the beginning of faith is that

00:34

about what you say kyle yeah more or

00:36

less we're going to unpack that here in

00:37

a few minutes but yeah

00:39

and how my view of faith has changed

00:40

over the years to become gradually

00:42

closer to his even though i resisted it

00:44

at every turn so

00:46

yeah we thought you know this is

00:47

something we should put on the podcast i

00:49

think it's going to be fun i'm excited

00:50

about it i'm also excited about what

00:51

we're drinking i don't know how many

00:53

other people are going to be excited

00:54

about we're drinking but i don't really

00:55

care

00:56

when we started this podcast i was

00:58

mocked fairly openly by some people for

01:01

being a lover of pilsners but i'm not

01:03

just a lover of any kind of pilsner i'm

01:05

the lover of european pilsners and

01:08

there's something about european

01:09

pilsners that can't be duplicated no

01:12

matter how hard americans try i've never

01:14

met it and for this episode we have a

01:16

great friend of ours his name is chris

01:18

johnson he

01:20

brews beer he

01:22

makes whiskey don't tell anyone are we

01:24

supposed to tell people that it's uh

01:26

allegedly yes allegedly so chris welcome

01:29

to a pastor and philosopher walking to a

01:31

bar thank you you guys are so pretty

01:34

all right i can see where this is going

01:35

to go

01:37

all right so this is pilsner kel this is

01:39

i think probably the best representative

01:40

of european pilsners it's got the right

01:42

amount of hops it's got it's clear crisp

01:45

it's funky

01:46

let's try it

01:50

and we're drinking it out of a super

01:52

tall pilsner glass for those of you who

01:53

can't see it's actually quite pretty

01:56

yep there it is

01:58

chris why don't you tell us something

02:00

about pilsners

02:02

so as far as uh pilsners go

02:05

um czech var is actually

02:08

and pilsner cal is

02:11

touted as one of the most original of

02:13

the styles of pilsner

02:16

it is a lager so that means that it is

02:18

fermented

02:19

in lower temperatures with a specific

02:21

yeast that is a lager yeast

02:25

the

02:27

bitterness of this is

02:29

not harsh not like an ipa it's fairly

02:32

mild to match the malt profile

02:36

and this particular beer

02:40

i believe is known for having a

02:42

particular

02:43

style of

02:46

boiling the

02:47

wort

02:49

multiple times so as to get a particular

02:52

caramelization is that right

02:54

out of the

02:56

beer

02:57

this could be completely um bs

03:00

but that's what i'm saying for now

03:06

uh you know what i don't hate it which

03:07

for pilsner is really saying something

03:09

um i expected it to have no flavor

03:11

whatsoever

03:13

uh and there is some so

03:14

i think it's already better than i

03:16

expected yeah that's the thing about

03:18

american pilsners and lagers in general

03:20

i think is that uh

03:22

they're almost nothing to them it's like

03:24

drinking brown water yeah if you drink

03:26

this compared to any american pilsner a

03:28

budweiser or mildly light or whatever

03:31

it's going to be completely different

03:33

well the interesting thing is for me

03:34

there's there have been microbreweries

03:37

craft breweries who've tried to

03:38

replicate european pilsners and i've had

03:40

a bunch of them because i'm like it has

03:42

to be able to be duplicated i haven't

03:44

had one yeah never why is that for years

03:47

you know as a home brewer i tried for at

03:49

least three to five years to try to

03:51

replicate what i loved you know european

03:53

couldn't do it couldn't do it what do

03:55

you think it is that keeps them distinct

03:57

i don't know if i knew i would

04:00

knew it obviously no other americans do

04:02

either because because these aren't aged

04:04

in any way there's nothing about the

04:05

terroir or the water available in

04:07

certain places that would make a

04:08

difference it could be the process it

04:11

could be a lot of things but i haven't

04:12

gotten close weird yep i will say

04:15

they're very pretty to look at they have

04:16

the bubbles that just continue it's like

04:18

champagne you're never gonna get in a

04:19

nail

04:21

so you don't hate it huh i don't hate it

04:22

all right good i feel like you i wish i

04:25

did i wish i could say

04:26

that it was terrible and you have no

04:28

taste but it's actually pretty good

04:31

so kyle as we've been talking about our

04:33

faith journey and um particularly yours

04:36

intermingled with your philosophical

04:40

i was gonna say indoctrination

04:43

hopefully the opposite of that

04:46

um we'll find out we'll find out but

04:49

you were speaking of kierkegaard's

04:52

studies on the end of faith in the

04:53

beginning of reason and the marriage of

04:55

faith and reason and how that works

04:57

and

04:58

i want to hear more about that so i'm

05:00

just going to basically play host

05:02

ask you some questions let you talk and

05:04

um maybe just kind of how this started

05:05

anyway right i guess so chillin talking

05:08

after one of our recording sessions yeah

05:10

yeah let's just have a conversation so

05:12

um

05:13

faith and reason is one of those huge

05:15

topics in philosophy of religion like

05:17

there's probably encyclopedia entries on

05:19

it if you go to some philosophy

05:20

encyclopedia it's just one of the main

05:22

things that you learn about when you

05:24

start studying that

05:26

so it's super old and everybody that's

05:27

anybody in the history of philosophy has

05:29

had something to say about it

05:31

my own journey on this issue started as

05:34

an undergrad i guess when i was super

05:36

into apologetics this is something you

05:38

and i have talked about before

05:40

and so i thought it was really important

05:41

to defend the faith right i thought

05:43

there were a lot of people out there who

05:44

wanted to attack it and we're asking all

05:46

these hard questions and i thought there

05:47

was lots of christians who like were

05:49

desperate for answers

05:51

and particularly lots of unchurched

05:53

people who were desperate for i later

05:54

came to realize those that's largely a

05:56

myth right there aren't that many people

05:58

out there care about that stuff

06:00

unless you're like a 20-something white

06:01

kid and like that's exactly the only

06:03

person who's interested in that in my

06:05

world more or less yeah but it took me

06:07

several years to figure that out so my

06:09

initial thinking musings i guess on

06:11

faith and reason were that they were

06:13

almost the same thing

06:15

that i wanted to make faith super

06:16

rational

06:18

and i was really concerned

06:20

with critiques of christianity as being

06:23

irrational in fact just totally

06:26

coincidentally today you know how

06:27

facebook sometimes shows you what you

06:29

posted you know this on this day

06:31

about my kids

06:33

yeah well it showed me today on this day

06:34

10 years ago you posted this blog post

06:37

and so i followed the link just to see

06:38

what i'd said

06:40

and was reminded of how into this stuff

06:42

i used to be and how you know i used to

06:45

talk about faith as

06:47

almost this

06:48

proof-oriented evidential forensic thing

06:52

to counter what i thought the atheists

06:53

were saying which some of them were

06:55

saying right they were saying things

06:57

like

06:58

look faith is just believing in

07:01

contradiction to the evidence or or

07:03

believing entirely without evidence

07:05

that's the point of faith if you listen

07:07

to people like sam harris or richard

07:09

dawkins or whatever

07:11

i later came to see that you ought not

07:13

to form your theological beliefs in

07:15

response to people like sam harris and

07:17

richard dawkins but

07:19

at the time that's what i was doing and

07:20

so i i knew that faith couldn't be what

07:22

they said it was it couldn't be this

07:24

anti-evidential thing where you only

07:26

believe a thing if you have no good

07:28

reason for it or you have good reason

07:30

against it and you believe it anyway

07:31

that can't be what faith is if it is i'm

07:33

out right because i'm sure a person that

07:35

has a brain so

07:37

so i was trying to make it really like

07:39

evidential it's it's this thing that

07:41

you have good reason to believe god is a

07:43

certain way and then you step out in

07:47

faith meaning

07:49

you

07:49

do a thing based on

07:52

your evidence based on the belief that

07:54

you have that god is that way

07:56

i later let go of that i don't think

07:58

faith is evidential anymore a huge

08:00

reason for that is kierkegaard who

08:03

says it's an entirely different sort of

08:04

thing which which we can get into but

08:06

along the way i had occasion to think a

08:08

lot and write quite a bit about faith

08:10

and how it's related to belief or maybe

08:13

how it's not related to belief and

08:15

so we can talk however much you want

08:17

about any of that stuff um

08:19

if you're interested in what

08:21

current philosophers are saying about

08:23

faith i'm happy to fill you in on that

08:26

how it's related to belief how it's

08:28

related to other attitudes like trust or

08:30

yeah or whatever well let me let me ask

08:32

this this is probably going to break our

08:33

outline but you're smart enough to go

08:36

with the flow

08:37

i've heard a lot about kierkegaard and

08:40

have heard quotes from kierkegaard but

08:42

what would kierkegaard have to say as

08:45

maybe a thesis statement to this

08:46

conversation

08:48

ooh that's interesting he would be

08:50

against thesis statements i think

08:54

um yeah uh faith is subjective

08:58

okay is is one i suppose if we're gonna

09:02

pluck out uh a statement

09:04

that's pithier than it sounds that

09:07

that's that's one of them faith is

09:08

subjective meaning it's not objective

09:11

meaning it's not the sort of thing that

09:13

can be understood in evidential terms or

09:16

in argumentative terms

09:18

or in really cognitive terms at all

09:20

if i'm setting out to understand with my

09:24

reason

09:25

my relationship to god then i'm already

09:27

not

09:28

aimed at faith yeah which he would say

09:30

some people might be challenged by that

09:31

idea to me that just sounds obvious i

09:34

sure was challenged by it i mean

09:36

it's interesting that you think it's

09:37

obvious um i certainly didn't and i

09:40

don't think most people do when they

09:42

first encounter it

09:44

to say that faith is subjective and not

09:47

objective is to say that trying to

09:51

understand cognitively what god is like

09:54

trying to understand theology in the

09:56

mode that theology is typically written

09:58

and intended

09:59

trying to understand

10:01

um

10:03

whether there are any

10:05

objective reasons to believe that

10:07

christianity is true

10:09

if you're interested in more on truth go

10:11

listen to our episode on that

10:13

those questions just don't come up for a

10:16

sincere christian according to

10:17

kierkegaard and in so far as they do

10:20

come up and in so far as those are your

10:22

focus

10:23

you're not acting as a christian

10:26

kierkegaard said it's something

10:28

fundamentally other than that which

10:29

leads

10:30

a lot of people to charge him with being

10:32

a

10:33

fideist which means someone who thinks

10:35

that faith is what those atheists

10:37

thought

10:38

something that is

10:39

fundamentally contrary to reason which

10:41

means you have to

10:43

shut off your brain

10:45

to be a christian i don't think that's

10:46

the right way to interpret him i think

10:48

he's saying something richer and more

10:49

interesting than that but

10:51

so you can see how people get there so

10:53

he's saying though if you do try to make

10:55

your faith concrete and objective

10:57

empirical provable you're actually

10:59

playing into the atheist hands yeah

11:01

you're playing into their hand but he

11:02

doesn't care about that because he

11:04

doesn't care about the whole apologetic

11:05

effort at all here's where he's coming

11:07

from and hopefully this will at home for

11:09

a lot of our listeners i think

11:11

so kierkegaard was writing in denmark

11:15

in 19th century denmark

11:18

where the state religion is christianity

11:21

so

11:22

much like the contemporary united states

11:26

if you're born in the country you kind

11:28

of assume the religion of you know the

11:31

people that you're around

11:33

in the united states it's something like

11:34

what 70 of americans report being

11:37

christians or something like that

11:39

i don't know what it was in denmark at

11:40

the time but probably similar if not

11:42

higher yeah and so kierkegaard is

11:45

encountering all these people who think

11:47

that because they're danish they're

11:49

christian and so if you ask them are you

11:51

a christian that's of course i was born

11:52

here yeah

11:54

much like you might encounter you know

11:56

in america and you ask them you know

11:57

what what's your religious background

11:59

i'll tell you the the church they grew

12:00

up in and

12:01

uh say something that

12:04

identifies them with a particular

12:05

community and think that that answers

12:07

the question right and so kierkegaard

12:09

was very concerned with what it took to

12:12

actually become a christian to actually

12:14

be one i like this um and and not just

12:17

to be a member of a group

12:19

right that that sort of objectively

12:21

identifies with a

12:23

religious history or something

12:25

but to actually be a follower of christ

12:28

to actually be someone

12:30

who

12:32

embodies the teachings of christ who

12:34

takes on the character of christ

12:36

who can look forward to the kinds of um

12:43

we'll pause

12:46

thanks chris you can actually do that

12:48

yeah we'll have to go back yep that was

12:50

good my name is chris johnson i'm here

12:52

to say i am the hot rocking baby in the

12:54

usa yo

12:56

peace out

13:02

nice

13:06

okay

13:08

so kierkegaard is really concerned with

13:10

uh trying to find a way

13:13

to convince

13:15

or to reveal

13:17

to his fellow danes

13:19

that they're not christians when they

13:21

think they are so at one point he

13:23

describes his project as

13:25

introducing christianity to christendom

13:29

so you you it's like reverse evangelism

13:32

i like it

13:34

most christians are i like this a lot on

13:37

making the rest of the world christian

13:38

kierkegaard thinks well

13:40

how can we do that if we're not and and

13:42

we're not even asking the question

13:44

whether we are and when you do ask the

13:45

question

13:47

you're you're likely and you can even

13:49

get somebody to take it seriously you're

13:50

likely to get some kind of objective

13:52

reply

13:54

here are the evidences here are all the

13:56

reasons that can be understood in a kind

13:58

of objective way that i am a christian

14:00

right look at uh the

14:03

place i go on the weekends look at where

14:05

i give my money look at my habits of

14:08

reading this book look at the kinds of

14:10

friends i have look at the causes i

14:12

support look at the kinds of things i

14:14

don't do with my genitals

14:16

you know all the things here right look

14:18

look at look at my ethical life

14:20

or look at my look at my aesthetic life

14:22

look at the kinds of art that i imbibe

14:25

and the kinds that i resist and

14:27

look at who i hang out with and who i

14:28

don't these are all these sorts of

14:30

objective reasons and kierkegaard thinks

14:32

they're all completely irrelevant

14:34

because

14:36

because god doesn't need to exist for

14:38

any of those things to be true okay uh

14:40

there's there's no real relationship

14:41

with christ implied by any of those

14:43

things and so kierkegaard thinks

14:45

if that's your orientation to christ

14:47

then you're missing it entirely you're

14:49

just not a christian and he was totally

14:51

fine with pointing that out but he did

14:54

it in a really interesting way he did it

14:56

in an indirect way

14:59

so this is one of the challenging things

15:00

about reading kierkegaard is that

15:03

he doesn't just come out and say a thing

15:06

very very rarely does he do that

15:09

he writes under pseudonyms

15:11

so you know he'll write a really long

15:14

book

15:15

under one name

15:16

saying

15:17

something

15:18

to in great detail like a thousand pages

15:20

or arguing this point

15:22

and then he'll write another equally

15:24

long book under a different name arguing

15:25

the opposite

15:28

and

15:28

in some places he'll claim that okay

15:30

that author is a christian that author

15:32

is not

15:33

and that author's trying to be whatever

15:35

and so he writes anonymously very little

15:38

of his work is under his own name and

15:40

part of the purpose of that was to

15:43

lead people to the conclusions that he

15:45

wanted them to draw which is that

15:47

they're not in fact christians more

15:49

often than not rather than trying to

15:51

argue directly because he didn't think

15:53

that would work people people are very

15:55

rarely convinced by direct argumentation

15:58

if they're going to change their minds

16:00

about anything

16:01

and screw their minds if they're going

16:03

to change their existential orientation

16:06

it's going to be because

16:07

they

16:08

uh thought through something on their

16:10

own came to see

16:12

that their values were one thing when

16:14

they should be a different thing and

16:16

they felt like the decision was theirs

16:18

how do you get people to do that

16:19

super difficult he thought the only way

16:21

to do it is indirectly you have to kind

16:24

of

16:25

lead them down a path

16:27

demonstrate for them or help them

16:29

demonstrate to themselves that something

16:30

is the case yep

16:32

so did the

16:34

kierkegaard do go to great labors and

16:37

write thousands of pages to prove people

16:39

aren't christians or what a christian

16:41

should be did he do that because he was

16:43

passionate about

16:45

the the pure form of christianity that

16:46

found in the gospels or did he do that

16:48

because he found uh so many people

16:50

around him in denmark hypocritical did

16:52

he do that because he was dedicated to

16:54

something or another like why why go

16:56

through such great pains to show his

16:58

fellow countrymen you're not actually

16:59

christians yeah that's a good question i

17:01

think probably all the above i'm not an

17:03

expert on kierkegaard or the history of

17:05

that i know that

17:07

he was influenced by the hegelian

17:09

philosophical tradition and he wanted to

17:10

kind of respond to that and

17:13

he was strongly influenced by the

17:15

um

17:16

you know political nature of

17:17

christianity at the time in denmark and

17:19

wanted to respond to that at the end of

17:21

the day i think he was just a sincere

17:23

lutheran

17:24

he thought that

17:26

you could have a relationship with this

17:28

person jesus

17:30

and that faith was a gift of god

17:34

and that

17:35

you're you know saved by grace and

17:37

that's a gift of god

17:39

and that what you

17:41

believe and what you can prove

17:44

and what you can explain

17:46

that these are all secondary and they

17:48

can become idolatrous i mean i think the

17:49

guy was just really trying to understand

17:51

what it means to love god

17:53

and to love other people

17:56

from from a place where you know

17:58

from a place of grace i suppose yes

18:00

so let's let's dive into this

18:03

question or idea of kierkegaard's

18:05

notion of there is an end to reason and

18:08

that's kind of where faith begins i know

18:10

i'm i'm butchering it as an amateur but

18:12

um

18:12

i think that's right yeah

18:14

he has i think he has a more expansive

18:16

notion of reason than has become popular

18:18

in the last i don't know century or so

18:20

within philosophy

18:23

and not just philosophy than economics

18:25

and other fields too

18:26

i think he thinks of reason in a broader

18:28

sense but

18:30

he definitely thinks that there's a

18:31

limit to

18:33

um

18:35

what your cognitive capacities can get

18:38

you to as far as

18:40

justifying a decision

18:42

which is unique for a philosopher i want

18:44

to say it's not unique but it's it was

18:46

unusual in the time and it i mean it

18:48

kind of spawned a tradition so he's

18:51

he's known as one of the fathers of

18:53

existentialism which i think we've

18:55

mentioned before

18:56

interestingly probably the only famous

18:58

theistic existentialist

19:01

all the later ones kind of rejected that

19:03

part of his thought and held on to some

19:05

other parts what does it mean to be an

19:06

existentialist

19:07

uh okay so that's a huge question so

19:10

um

19:11

the basic the real like sort of cut and

19:13

dry quick answer is that

19:16

it means to focus on

19:18

questions that are live to actually

19:21

existing people okay

19:23

uh prior to sort of metaphysical or more

19:25

traditional questions so

19:27

uh kierkegaard thought for example

19:30

that

19:31

to be a christian which is kind of his

19:33

orienting concept he wants to understand

19:35

what it means to be a christian he wants

19:37

to understand what it means for for god

19:38

to be a human like these very basic

19:40

christian ideas

19:42

uh the

19:44

the live questions

19:46

for

19:47

a christian

19:48

he thinks are

19:50

how can i

19:52

as just a normal human person with all

19:56

the kinds of desires i have and all the

19:57

weaknesses and frailties i have

20:00

how can i do that impossible thing

20:03

of being like jesus that he thinks is

20:06

the live question

20:08

that you should ask as a as a religious

20:10

person

20:11

and you should ignore

20:14

or

20:15

maybe even be a little hostile to

20:17

the kinds of questions that often get

20:19

discussed in

20:21

scholastic theology or in you know

20:23

mainstream philosophy of religion

20:25

you know what is the trinity like or

20:28

uh what does it mean for jesus to have a

20:30

dual nature can you lose your faith yeah

20:33

you know what is predestination let's

20:34

work that out

20:36

um or you know in the in his own

20:38

lutheran tradition there'd be many

20:40

examples of that sort of thing too but

20:41

what's solo scripture or what's whatever

20:45

these are

20:47

these are cognitive questions that might

20:48

be interesting

20:50

maybe we can get to the bottom of them

20:51

maybe we can't

20:53

but they're not

20:54

the essence of christianity yeah and if

20:56

you get bogged down in them it's really

20:59

easy to ignore the essence of

21:01

christianity it's even worse than that

21:02

it's really easy to think you've gotten

21:04

the essence of christianity because

21:06

you've been able to explicate those

21:08

other questions

21:09

and for kierkegaard it's just

21:11

it's just not what it's about it's about

21:13

can you make this decision

21:16

decisions lead to action

21:19

so

21:20

to be a christian means

21:22

you've decided to

21:25

make christ your lord

21:28

right to follow him to try to become

21:30

christ-like to accept the gift of grace

21:32

despite your own sinfulness

21:35

i mean he's like any lutheran big on the

21:37

idea of sin

21:39

and so

21:40

yeah whether or not you can understand

21:42

that or explain it or argue for it or

21:43

justified or whatever

21:45

just irrelevant it might actually get in

21:47

the way

21:48

and so

21:49

he wants to again kind of indirectly

21:52

lead people into the realization that

21:54

all the things that they were kind of

21:56

leaning on

21:57

to

21:58

make them feel like good qualified

22:01

christians religious people whatever

22:05

that those were always vacuous and

22:06

probably misleading

22:09

this is fun i'm

22:11

again i've heard like little shadows and

22:13

hints of kierkegaardian philosophy and

22:17

dare say theology but i haven't known

22:19

anything about what he actually thought

22:21

but i just know this resonates with my

22:23

experience of i've had way too many

22:25

conversations as a pastor about people

22:27

asking can you lose your faith or is the

22:29

bible inerrant or what does it mean to

22:31

you know all these things and i i've

22:33

gotten to a point where i just want to

22:35

i hope you're not listening if you've

22:36

asked me those questions before but i

22:38

want to just say it doesn't matter like

22:40

those questions don't matter well so

22:43

they they might not matter they probably

22:45

don't matter for most people right they

22:47

i don't think he would say they couldn't

22:49

matter like if there are things that

22:51

really do come from like your being and

22:54

they keep you up at night and they're

22:55

keeping you from embracing christ

22:56

whatever but how often does that yeah no

22:59

i mean mostly we're just trying to win

23:00

in our argument or you know but here's

23:02

what matters

23:04

how do i act like jesus how do i

23:06

manifest the incarnation the life of

23:07

christ in my life in my world and my

23:09

neighborhood

23:10

those are the things that matter there

23:11

is a little bit i think there's

23:13

something in kierkegaard to make

23:14

everyone uncomfortable including you and

23:16

me i'm sure so

23:18

there are things we've complained about

23:19

in evangelicalism before that are

23:22

there's a kernel of them within

23:23

kierkegaard's thoughts so

23:25

the idea that

23:27

uh you want ought to have a personal

23:29

relationship with jesus

23:30

that there ought to be some kind of

23:32

conversion experience

23:34

he likes that were you he he likes the

23:37

idea that christianity is an individual

23:40

relation to an infinite being i agree so

23:44

so

23:45

if we can borrow the idea from martin

23:48

buber i don't know if you've ever read

23:49

boo

23:50

that the relationship to god is always

23:53

second person

23:55

it's never a relationship to an idea

23:57

it's never a relationship to a community

23:59

it's never

24:00

um you know we it or anything like that

24:03

it's always i thou that's boober's

24:05

phrase so my relationship to god is very

24:07

much like my relationship to you

24:09

randy and not the idea of randy right

24:12

now

24:13

not somebody's ideas about randy but but

24:15

you the person

24:17

and all the complexity and whatever that

24:20

goes into that relationship

24:22

faith for kierkegaard is a second person

24:24

relation to god

24:26

because god is a person

24:27

jesus you know

24:29

and you can be in a relationship with

24:30

that person and

24:32

you don't have to understand

24:35

the relationship that you're in to be in

24:37

it

24:37

you don't have to be able to explain it

24:39

to anyone else

24:41

in fact if you're if you're default in

24:43

understanding the relationship is your

24:45

ability to explain it to someone else

24:46

you probably don't have a very good

24:47

relationship

24:48

right if i if i think of my love for my

24:51

wife in terms of all the good qualities

24:53

about her or my ability to

24:55

justify my living with her to someone

24:57

else probably don't have a great

24:59

relationship with my wife that's a weird

25:01

orientation so

25:02

so did kierkegaard frustrate a lot of

25:05

his contemporaries he sure did and i'm

25:07

talking philosophers yeah yeah for a

25:09

long time and even today he's

25:11

kind of relegated to

25:13

the margins like not a lot of people

25:15

study him directly people are interested

25:17

in for his historical influence more

25:19

than anything else the existentialists

25:21

that followed him mostly were atheists

25:23

and really didn't understand him and so

25:24

took the parts that they liked from his

25:26

pseudonyms and chucked the rest of it

25:29

didn't read his own thought his journals

25:31

or anything like that certainly weren't

25:32

interested in his christianity so

25:34

yeah he's been largely misunderstood and

25:37

ignored unfortunately okay so you

25:40

mentioned this um word fetism is that it

25:43

yeah

25:44

yeah just tell me tell us about that

25:46

yeah that the word faith right fetus and

25:49

latin's faith okay um so it's this idea

25:51

and it's one of those pejorative terms

25:54

nobody ever uses it for themselves like

25:55

nobody says hey i'm a fetish it's like

25:58

you

25:59

you accuse someone else of being it

26:02

when they seem to be irrational

26:04

so there are several thinkers

26:06

kierkegaard being prominent among them

26:07

who have suggested that luther as well

26:09

who have suggested things that

26:11

sounded to other people as though they

26:14

were shutting their brains down okay and

26:16

so

26:17

admitting that the evidence points in

26:18

the other direction but faith is the

26:21

kind of stubborn refusal to admit where

26:23

the evidence points i don't think that's

26:26

what kierkegaard is saying i don't think

26:28

most of the people accused of being

26:29

fetus are actually saying that that

26:31

would be a kind of cognitive suicide

26:33

yeah

26:34

but he is saying faith is

26:37

more than what your reason can do

26:40

faith is something that kind of begins

26:43

when your reason has reached its limits

26:45

faith is something that

26:48

is

26:49

in its in its practice

26:51

can be inconsistent with the practice of

26:54

your reason because reason would then be

26:55

trying to

26:56

kind of fill a space that it's not

26:58

qualified for

27:00

if i'm if i'm trying to to be a

27:02

christian to follow christ by thinking

27:04

about stuff real hard

27:07

then then i'm probably less likely to

27:10

actually be able to act in faith

27:12

because it's just not what it was kind

27:14

of cut out for but he wasn't advocating

27:15

for a brainless no

27:18

no i don't think so there's debate about

27:20

that in kierkegaard scholarship but i

27:21

come down firmly on the side that no

27:23

he he would i think in my mind align

27:25

with people like william james who is an

27:27

american philosopher who says look

27:29

there's

27:30

reason can take you pretty far

27:33

and and if you ever have

27:36

say evidence that points in one

27:37

direction you should follow that

27:40

but there are many questions that are

27:41

live questions meaning they're important

27:43

to people and they're momentous

27:45

questions meaning

27:47

um

27:48

they're the kind of questions where you

27:49

have to make a decision on them and you

27:52

can't delay

27:53

they keep you up at night yeah they're

27:55

important

27:56

to almost everybody and you can't just

27:58

put them off to put them off is to make

28:00

a decision and one of those questions is

28:03

religion or god's existence am i going

28:05

to live in accordance with you know the

28:07

plan of a higher being or not

28:09

and james says look when it comes to

28:10

those kinds of questions often the

28:12

evidence is indecisive

28:14

so we can do our best to look into it

28:16

but it's it's not actually going to

28:18

compel us in one direction or not that's

28:19

not the way to go about it

28:21

yeah even if you wanted to

28:23

if you're if you're intellectually

28:25

honest you're going to get to a place

28:26

where you realize

28:27

wow those really smart people over there

28:29

in that other religion or those really

28:30

smart atheists over there they have just

28:32

as much reason for their views i have

28:34

for mine and so

28:35

i'm either going to suspend judgment or

28:37

i'm going to make a decision and this is

28:39

a forced choice i can't suspend judgment

28:41

because that is making a decision so um

28:44

i would put kierkegaard in the camp that

28:46

says that's where faith begins okay when

28:48

you have that kind of

28:50

um

28:51

that kind of equilibrium evidential

28:54

situation and so then i'm saying okay

28:58

i don't know for sure

29:01

i also don't have strong evidence to the

29:03

contrary

29:05

and i have to do something

29:07

am i going to open myself up to the

29:08

possibility that there's a person out

29:11

there that wants to be in communion with

29:12

me

29:14

and i can even that's not quite enough

29:16

though so kierkegaard says even once

29:18

i've come to that point

29:20

and i've recognized that

29:22

the next step beyond my reason

29:24

is going to be required for me to

29:26

understand this religion thing

29:28

understanding kind of a loose sense

29:30

right a non-cognitive sense

29:32

that's still not quite yet faith because

29:36

i can approach religion aesthetically

29:39

i can approach it as

29:41

an artist would

29:42

approach it right i can build fancy

29:44

cathedrals

29:46

full of all kinds of wonderful art and i

29:48

can go through these elaborate

29:49

liturgical routines and i can be totally

29:52

fulfilled by that for 80 years and die

29:55

and never approach faith or i can

29:58

approach it ethically

29:59

i can

30:00

i can take it to be

30:02

sort of a program for

30:04

improving the world

30:06

like concretely

30:08

and i can give my money to certain

30:10

charities and i can spend my time in

30:11

service of orphans and i can whatever

30:14

and i'm still not approaching faith in

30:16

those modes so kierkegaard is famous for

30:18

his kind of three-tier

30:21

stages i guess

30:23

when we talked with brian mclaren he

30:25

mentioned kierkegaard and his book as

30:26

having sort of a stage view of existence

30:29

you start in the aesthetic

30:31

you move to the ethical because you

30:33

realize there's something more important

30:34

than how beautiful things are

30:37

and some people then move to faith and

30:39

many don't and so for some of his

30:41

pseudonyms they end in either the

30:43

aesthetic stage or or the ethical stuff

30:46

after like a thousand pages they're

30:47

still just stuck in the ethical and they

30:49

never get beyond it because they

30:50

recognize in order to get beyond it i'm

30:53

gonna have to

30:55

accept

30:56

some gift that's completely external to

30:58

me

30:59

and step out of my own categories

31:01

aesthetic or ethical categories and i'm

31:04

either unable or unwilling to do that so

31:06

kierkegaard thinks when faith starts

31:08

it's a decision

31:10

to

31:11

receive

31:13

grace

31:14

rather than to be what he calls offended

31:18

because there's an offense to the

31:20

christian idea

31:21

that

31:22

the infinite could become finite it's

31:25

offensive to your reason because it

31:27

seems like a contradiction

31:28

it's offensive to your ethical sense

31:31

because then god could command a thing

31:33

that you don't understand

31:34

it might be offensive to your aesthetic

31:37

sense

31:38

so once you've understood christianity

31:40

kierkegaard says you're confronted

31:42

with something offensive

31:44

you either take offense and the result

31:46

of that he thinks is despair

31:49

or you embrace it and you step out in

31:51

faith take the leap some people some

31:54

people know him for that phrase the leap

31:56

of faith he doesn't mean a leap into the

31:58

abyss with like

32:00

you know nothing to stand on he just

32:03

means you're sort of venturing beyond

32:06

any of those senses that people normally

32:08

operate in now that's interesting

32:09

because i never

32:10

have looked at the incarnation

32:13

and take an offen have taken offense to

32:15

it

32:16

maybe this is because i grew up in the

32:17

christian faith and am used to it but

32:20

for me the incarnation was one of the

32:21

most beautiful things about our faith

32:23

tradition sure and i think he would

32:25

agree with that um he might also say

32:28

yeah if what you love about it is its

32:30

beauty then you've missed it

32:33

or if that's the mode that you primarily

32:35

approach it and then that's probably not

32:36

faith

32:37

um

32:39

it's offensive in a few ways it's

32:42

it's offensive to reason in the sense

32:44

that

32:46

god simply couldn't be not god i could

32:48

see that you know well

32:51

that's a whole nother thing because

32:52

whether jesus was not god you know yeah

32:55

yeah i mean this the idea that like the

32:57

creator of all that is is somehow now

32:59

part of all that is he wrote a few books

33:02

trying to like make sense of that and

33:03

failing this is one of the indirect

33:05

things he likes to do he'll take the

33:06

posture of someone who's sincerely

33:08

trying to understand a christian

33:09

doctrine

33:10

and

33:11

make attempt after attempt after attempt

33:13

to understand it and fail every time and

33:15

then that's the end of the book

33:17

that sounds wonderful yeah yeah so he

33:20

has his most famous book is probably

33:21

fear and trembling which is this guy

33:25

who's not a christian or a jew trying to

33:28

understand abraham and how abraham could

33:30

be the father of faith and

33:32

how what it means for the clearest

33:35

expression of faith to be your

33:36

willingness to kill your son

33:38

and so this person tries and tries and

33:40

tries and fails and fails and fails

33:43

and never really comes to understand

33:44

faith because you can't understand it

33:46

from the outside

33:47

something i talked about in one of our

33:48

deeper dives

33:49

so

33:51

so it's offensive in that sense um there

33:54

are things that christianity commits you

33:56

to that are offensive

33:58

in a to my ethical sensibilities i have

34:01

an idea of the way i think the world

34:02

should be

34:03

and i want to say that that's consistent

34:05

with

34:06

the character of god

34:10

but i can't

34:11

i can't fully justify that i can't fully

34:14

argue for that because god's also beyond

34:15

my categories

34:18

so there are various ways that it it

34:19

becomes offensive but

34:21

mostly it's because it's kind of outside

34:23

my control i think at least this how i

34:25

interpret him

34:27

for kierkegaard there's like

34:28

he takes really seriously this idea that

34:31

faith is a gift

34:33

it's not something you can get to on

34:34

your own

34:35

it's something that is given to you from

34:37

the outside and that can only kind of be

34:39

understood

34:41

and practiced from the inside

34:43

so that's something you can it's not

34:44

something you can get to on your own you

34:46

would say that's interesting yeah

34:47

because that's

34:49

that flies in the face of a lot of

34:50

modern

34:51

protestantism at least that says

34:54

faith is my choice it's the badge that i

34:56

get to put on that says that i'm

34:57

justified by faith and i was given grace

34:59

you know all that which might just be a

35:00

misunderstanding of those protestant

35:02

thinkers i mean i think kierkegaard is

35:04

pretty orthodox on that idea

35:06

that yeah

35:08

faith is a gift of god you're dead in

35:10

your sin there's no way you could have

35:12

achieved it on your own

35:13

your job is to accept it or not accept

35:15

it i think that's

35:17

pretty consi at least with lutheranism

35:18

it's pretty consistent

35:21

yeah so

35:23

it's

35:24

he he says a lot of things that should

35:25

upset a lot of people

35:27

depending on

35:29

where you come from it's kind of an

35:30

equal opportunity offense that you get

35:32

from him like he thinks that

35:34

um

35:36

faith isn't primarily about belief

35:38

because belief is cognitive

35:40

right which is somewhere i eventually

35:41

got to kind of independently and then

35:43

read kierkegaard and thought oh okay

35:46

i i was not the first to think that this

35:48

was you know hundreds of years old this

35:50

idea belief could just be irrelevant it

35:53

could actually get in the way of faith

35:55

maybe it's even possible to disbelieve

35:57

and have faith i've argued for that

35:58

personally um

36:01

well i i think that it's if faith is

36:03

more um a relation to a person

36:07

a sort of decision

36:09

that one makes

36:10

an action procedure you commit yourself

36:12

to certain practices to a way of life to

36:14

living

36:15

in a loving orientation towards people

36:18

i think all that's consistent with

36:20

disbelief and doctrines

36:22

or even in the existence of god

36:24

so you know i've argued what do you mean

36:26

consistent with

36:28

it can happen simultaneously okay but

36:30

you're not saying that like

36:31

it makes more sense to disbelieve in god

36:34

following the way of christ no but i am

36:35

saying the belief isn't necessary and it

36:37

isn't the proper part of the faith

36:39

actually that would be my claim

36:41

which is pretty unusual pretty

36:42

unorthodox historically

36:44

that faith is a gift and that anything

36:47

that's

36:48

any orientation towards it that's not

36:50

approaching it as a gift that you didn't

36:52

earn that you didn't get to on your own

36:54

they didn't understand that's just

36:56

ethics or aesthetics or something like

36:57

that it's something that any atheist

36:59

could do

37:00

um

37:02

that

37:03

faith is non-objective we talked about

37:05

that that you know trying to understand

37:07

christianity by like figuring out the

37:09

science and the metaphysics of the

37:10

resurrection or did the resurrection

37:12

happen historically that that's

37:14

fundamentally a wrong orientation

37:17

um

37:19

this one is something that should really

37:20

bother americans that being from a

37:22

christian country

37:24

is no help at all

37:26

to being a christian that in fact

37:27

there's no such thing as a christian

37:28

country because the only sort of thing

37:30

that could be a christian is a person an

37:32

individual person and that

37:35

you're much more likely to

37:37

fail to be a christian if you come from

37:39

a christian country because you're less

37:40

likely to see that

37:42

uh he has a really interesting story

37:44

uh where he he loves metaphors and

37:47

analogies and things and they're often

37:49

very creative and

37:51

he talks about you know somebody from a

37:53

christian country and somebody from a

37:55

pagan country and one prays in truth and

37:57

one prays in falsehood meaning thinking

37:59

that they're you know praying to the

38:01

correct god

38:03

because they're from this place or

38:04

whatever

38:05

um but arguing that the pagan who prays

38:08

in truth is actually the one with faith

38:10

and the other one is that's a familiar

38:11

idea to many of us

38:14

and that

38:16

faith is not religion

38:19

or as he calls it religiousness

38:22

it's not

38:24

just practices it's not just liturgy

38:27

it's not just beliefs as we said

38:30

it's

38:32

yeah i don't know it's it's something

38:34

that can't be explained objectively it's

38:36

it's a

38:37

a personal subjective relation

38:40

to christ

38:42

that will then entail lots of actions

38:44

right and it will entail love and

38:46

whatnot but

38:48

yeah because if it's just religiousness

38:50

again you don't need god for that

38:52

it kind of comes back to that yep um so

38:56

yeah any the people who are kind of fond

38:58

of condescending to the spiritual not

39:02

religious crowd

39:03

which i've encountered a few times

39:06

from like theological types that i've

39:08

known

39:10

they'll you know roll their eyes and say

39:11

oh god christianity is a religion get

39:13

over it

39:14

what does it even mean to be spiritual

39:16

but not religious

39:18

but a more compassionate take and i

39:20

think a more guardian take

39:22

is that there's a deep truth there

39:24

that to be christian is

39:27

in many ways distinct from being

39:29

religious

39:31

one can be religious to whatever degree

39:33

you want and never approach christian

39:35

faith

39:37

yep

39:38

i find this

39:39

super helpful in just thinking about the

39:42

christian world that we live in which

39:45

i mean kierkegaard

39:47

did and would i think probably could

39:50

critique the crap out of it but this

39:52

this notion that it's harder to be a

39:54

christian in a christian nation in a

39:56

quote-unquote christian nation

39:58

is

39:59

so good and it's so gospel-centric where

40:01

you see jesus

40:02

speaking to the religious elite and

40:06

calling them whitewashed tombs and

40:09

you know i mean just

40:10

scathing

40:12

critiques and then looking at not even

40:14

just the religious leaders because we

40:15

like to hammer on the pharisees the

40:17

sadducees the the

40:18

gatekeepers but then he looks at the the

40:21

jewish people and calls them children of

40:23

the devil and they're like are you

40:25

kidding me we're children of abraham and

40:26

he's like doesn't matter what your

40:28

lineage is

40:29

you're clearly a child of the devil

40:32

jesus

40:33

kierkegaard is channeling that inner

40:35

jesus right there right yeah this goes

40:37

back to something nick said in our

40:38

previous episode like when you read

40:41

jesus

40:42

you you get a sense

40:45

like just reading the gospels the sort

40:46

of red text so to speak or even the sort

40:49

of extra canonical sayings of jesus

40:51

things like you getting the gospel of

40:53

thomas

40:54

like christianity's really hard

40:57

following jesus's heart and he doesn't

40:58

try to make it easier for anybody

41:01

more often than not

41:03

he he counters their thinking that it's

41:05

easy or that it can be accomplished in a

41:07

religious liturgical way

41:09

with making it impossible it you know

41:12

it's easier for a rich person to go

41:14

through the i have a needle than to make

41:15

it to the king of heaven or unless

41:17

you've eaten of my flesh and drink of my

41:19

blood you cannot be my disciples

41:21

everyone leaves and then he looks at his

41:22

disciples and say hey everyone else left

41:24

are you going to go too yeah he almost

41:25

says it in like a

41:27

yeah he's not super sad about it kind of

41:29

way yeah at least you know not surprised

41:31

i mean yeah yeah because because in many

41:34

in many ways in many senses the

41:35

reasonable thing to do is leave

41:38

when you realize what it costs

41:40

when you realize that the evidence is

41:41

indecisive

41:43

why why would you

41:44

put

41:45

all of your effort and all of that

41:47

expense and all of that sacrifice into

41:49

something that you can't be sure of

41:52

it makes sense to leave

41:54

and kierkegaard is in many ways

41:55

following that tradition of making

41:57

christianity harder for people

42:00

his evangelism is like

42:02

it's like the worst kind as far as like

42:05

success and church building right yep

42:07

it's uh

42:09

yeah you're gonna have to sacrifice

42:11

everything for this thing that you can't

42:12

understand

42:14

and it might not pay off in the end and

42:16

hopefully i'd like to want to sign on

42:18

right

42:19

i think the people who might have a hard

42:21

time with this might be some of the

42:23

pastors who who

42:25

may or may not listen but i'd like to

42:26

think most of us would just agree with

42:29

that on a fundamental level like we've

42:31

made christianity too easy like we've

42:33

taken the edge off of christianity we've

42:36

we've made christianity into a pop

42:37

culture sort of thing that is is a

42:40

bracelet i wear and uh you know a

42:44

pop culture basically instead of this

42:48

radical way

42:49

of living in the way of love instead of

42:51

this subversive

42:53

way that says i cannot give my

42:55

allegiance to the empire that i live in

42:57

because my allegiance belongs 100 to

42:59

christ in his kingdom these are things

43:01

that are just it's just if you're

43:03

reading the bible

43:04

it's clear there's just no arguing that

43:06

this is what it means to follow jesus

43:08

we've just made it so easy and simple

43:11

and palatable to follow jesus you sign

43:13

on the dotted line then you're good to

43:14

go and he'll give you everything you

43:15

want

43:17

i think most of us listening resonate

43:19

with us like yeah this is the way of

43:21

jesus it makes sense and i i'd like to

43:24

inspire i'd like to be inspired to live

43:26

more in this way rather than this

43:28

civil religion that i've been given yeah

43:31

yeah i hope you're right about that i i

43:33

wonder what kierkegaard would think if

43:34

he were alive today and able to sort of

43:36

see the current state of the american

43:38

church if he would be encouraged by

43:41

the you know millennials in ginza years

43:43

and whatever who seem i think a little

43:46

dissatisfied with that kind of um i

43:50

don't want to say organized religion i

43:51

hate that phrase as though you know

43:53

organization is a bad thing but like

43:55

they definitely seem dissatisfied with

43:58

the kind of easy christianity where it's

44:00

just a social club and you can

44:03

sign up or not sign up and you can do

44:04

certain things and you know be a member

44:06

and it really only affects the way you

44:08

vote or something like that yeah um

44:11

i think they want more

44:13

or they don't want anything that seems

44:15

to be the case that's my question i've

44:16

been obsessed for the last several years

44:18

of you know the numbers are trending

44:20

very obviously down for the church

44:23

people who say they're nuns they're

44:25

they're no religious affiliation

44:28

it's plummeting right now or going up

44:30

i'm sorry and the people who are

44:33

affiliated with

44:35

traditional christianity evangelicalism

44:37

you know whatever

44:39

that's plummeting and i want to know how

44:42

to get those nuns i want to know how to

44:44

how to show them that

44:46

jesus doesn't look like the church does

44:47

in america in many ways but i wonder

44:51

would those with those millennials and

44:53

nuns who are walking away from the

44:55

church church in droves

44:57

are they attracted to the way of jesus

44:58

genuinely like if you show them a real

45:01

picture of the gospel if you show them

45:03

who jesus really is and what the

45:05

incarnation is at its roots will they be

45:09

interested in that enough to say yes to

45:11

it i'm going to give my life to that or

45:13

is our has our culture come to this

45:15

point where we just love deconstructing

45:17

so much that the thought of actually

45:19

having a foundation of some sort sounds

45:21

offensive

45:25

yeah i just i'm i don't know that

45:28

anybody that likes the idea of a

45:30

foundation

45:32

is gonna find it

45:34

in

45:35

a sort of kierkegaardian form of

45:37

christianity

45:39

like foundation brings to mind a thing

45:41

that you can stand on that it's firm

45:43

that's unshakable you can be sure about

45:46

that never really changes

45:48

and that's just not what people are like

45:50

and if god is a person

45:52

than being in relationship with a person

45:54

why would why would you expect it to

45:56

have the nature of a foundation

45:58

so i'm just kind of riffing on something

46:00

you said that i'm not sure exactly how

46:01

you intended it but

46:02

i really do think there's a possibility

46:05

for offense for everybody

46:07

in kierkegaard's version of christianity

46:09

whatever you're looking for

46:11

god is probably not that

46:14

and that's kind of scary

46:16

that at the essen you know the core of

46:18

christianity is

46:20

really

46:21

something beyond what you have fathomed

46:24

yeah and probably what you're able to

46:25

fathom so like every time we grab a

46:27

thing that we really like and we say ah

46:29

this is it

46:30

i fathomed it isn't that beautiful isn't

46:32

that good

46:33

now we can present that to the world

46:35

that'll fix the problem of people not

46:36

wanting it

46:38

whatever we've grabbed isn't god yeah

46:40

yeah and that's where i want to say i

46:41

don't want to come off as saying you

46:43

know the more you talk kyle the more i

46:44

think that means kicker guard would be

46:46

great friends um but what i do i i am

46:49

resonating with what you're saying what

46:51

kierkegaard brought

46:52

um

46:54

oh man i lost my train of thought i want

46:55

to start over again what were you just

46:57

talking about

46:58

i think the last thing i said was

47:00

whatever the thing you let you get like

47:01

oh yeah yeah i wanted to talk about

47:02

mystery

47:04

okay

47:05

so i don't want to get to this place

47:06

where i feel like i'm i'm constructing

47:08

this world where randy nine sir and

47:10

kierkegaard are best friends right but i

47:12

am resonating a lot with what you're

47:14

bringing that kierkegaard brought

47:16

and

47:17

when you're talking in this fashion it

47:19

makes me

47:20

it makes me think of this thing that

47:22

i've been fascinated with for the last

47:24

couple of years

47:26

as i got into my 40s which is just this

47:28

idea of mystery that

47:31

all of our language that we use to talk

47:33

about god we've talked about this art is

47:34

metaphorical yeah

47:36

pretty all of it you can say and

47:39

that shouldn't be so scary if god really

47:41

is the creator of the cosmos if you just

47:43

do a little bit of research in quantum

47:45

physics and you know the

47:47

astronomy and the origins of the

47:48

universe you'll you'll quickly find that

47:50

like if if god really did make all that

47:53

then it's

47:54

really hard for me to grab get a handle

47:56

on that god we have to make room for

47:57

mystery in our experience and that

47:59

sounds like maybe kierkegaard's going

48:01

down that

48:02

that that line or that thinking of

48:04

mystery being more important than we

48:06

think it is yeah maybe um again not an

48:09

expert so i don't know what his specific

48:10

thoughts on mystery are but

48:12

i do think that from inside

48:15

the orientation of faith

48:18

it's not scary it's probably exciting

48:21

because you know that at bottom the

48:23

world is loving

48:25

and probably necessary right

48:28

what do you mean

48:29

mystery is necessary to have a real

48:31

faith journey sure yeah and you're kind

48:32

of comfortable with your own limitations

48:34

god's limitlessness and you know

48:36

whatever

48:38

from outside

48:39

that orientation of faith so outside the

48:42

gift of grace

48:44

you know objectively looking in on it

48:45

trying to understand i think it's

48:46

terrifying

48:48

mystery is

48:50

is

48:52

by definition

48:54

something beyond all of the things that

48:56

could give me comfort

48:58

so which

49:00

which in your saying knowledge equals

49:03

comfort

49:04

i'm i'm saying the things that

49:06

do in fact comfort me and just in my

49:09

experience so trying to think of this

49:10

like an existentialist would right what

49:12

in fact makes me feel comforted in my

49:14

life the answer to me maybe you're

49:17

different

49:18

is either

49:21

someone loves me

49:23

and

49:24

i trust that that will continue

49:27

or

49:29

i've understood a thing and i know it to

49:30

be safe

49:32

or maybe i know it to be exciting

49:34

doesn't have to be safe right because

49:35

sometimes challenge is good sometimes

49:37

risk is good that's part of life that we

49:38

want

49:40

but i i know that there's like a limit

49:43

to the risk such that it will be to my

49:45

benefit in the long run those are the

49:47

things that give me comfort and if

49:48

something falls outside of those

49:50

categories

49:51

it's not

49:53

not actually possible for me to be

49:54

comforted about that thing this is why i

49:56

disagree with plato when he said that

49:58

death is uh a good thing hmm

50:02

or or at least that we ought not to fear

50:04

it because we don't know anything about

50:05

it

50:06

i think it's perfectly reasonable to

50:07

fear a thing you don't know anything

50:08

about yeah

50:10

for the reason that you don't know

50:11

anything about it and if god is by

50:13

definition beyond my knowledge

50:16

then

50:17

yeah if i don't have the orientation of

50:19

faith then the mystery is terrifying and

50:22

the mystery as you say is necessary

50:25

the kicker is i i can't give myself the

50:28

orientation of faith sure i can either

50:30

accept it or not and i think kierkegaard

50:32

would say it's extended equally to

50:33

everybody yep

50:34

so that's parts of choice yeah

50:36

i would the reason that for me mystery

50:39

and embracing mystery has been a freeing

50:42

experience and a comforting experience

50:44

actually is because i felt i feel like

50:46

i've spent a majority of my christian

50:48

life

50:50

trying to prove things like we started

50:52

out this

50:52

this episode talking about i i felt like

50:55

it was my job and i didn't even think of

50:57

myself in his apartment as a as an

50:59

apologist i just thought of myself as a

51:01

good christian who's trying to prove his

51:02

faith and having a good answer ready in

51:04

season

51:05

um yeah and so i i got to the end of

51:09

that in many ways like i realized that i

51:11

can't prove everything and i realized

51:12

that i don't have an answer for

51:14

everything and that's a crippling

51:15

terrifying reality to get to to look in

51:18

the face and say i don't know or if i'm

51:21

going to continue this i'm going to have

51:22

to fake it i'm going to fake that i know

51:24

that's that was my experience for a long

51:26

time and when i just realized that i

51:29

don't have to fake it

51:31

because i don't have to know because

51:33

it's actually impossible for me to know

51:35

this is what faith is all about and

51:37

there's so so like the vast majority

51:40

that's real about god

51:41

i have no clue about

51:43

because

51:44

god's god the divine

51:47

reality the the ground of being in my

51:50

knowledge of the divine being if if it's

51:53

real if god's real is so limited and so

51:57

that's actually been a comforting

51:58

reality for me that i don't have to have

52:00

the answers when my kids ask me these

52:02

really really hard questions that i feel

52:04

like i need to go take more bible

52:06

courses on to answer

52:08

it actually frees me and it gives them a

52:12

certain amount of freedom and

52:14

beauty to say

52:15

daddy said daddy's the pastor who

52:17

preaches for 40 minutes every sunday and

52:19

he thinks he looks like he's got all the

52:21

answers and he just told me he doesn't

52:23

know

52:24

that for me is a comforting place to

52:26

live in even though it's mess it's chock

52:29

full of uncertainty

52:31

i think these are things that we need to

52:32

get more comfortable with

52:34

yeah agreed

52:36

i'm reminded of something i want to say

52:38

it was julian of norwich said i'm going

52:40

to not get the quote right but

52:43

someone who if ever there was a paragon

52:45

of christian faith probably she was

52:49

and

52:50

yeah some something along the lines of

52:51

after one of her visions

52:53

like the idea that

52:56

the truth of the matter is none of us

52:57

ever had anything to worry about

53:00

like you know god

53:02

in his infinite love has been behind the

53:04

whole thing

53:06

and you can only kind of see that from

53:08

the inside and it's only a comforting

53:09

idea from the inside

53:11

um

53:13

but i hope hopefully seeing it from the

53:16

inside i i find it an extremely

53:18

comforting idea and

53:19

a very hopeful idea

53:21

um

53:23

it makes me wonder what kierkegaard

53:25

would have

53:26

said if he had lived to see

53:28

the

53:30

pentecostal um

53:32

movement you know the sort of global

53:35

spirit revival thing that happened

53:38

around early 10th century just after he

53:40

died i guess um

53:43

because in many ways i think that's

53:44

really resonant with

53:46

the kinds of things that he was was

53:47

focused on

53:49

an experience driven faith

53:51

that centers

53:54

love and um

53:57

yeah communal unity and experience over

54:01

doctrinal understanding or liturgy or

54:03

anything like that

54:04

um but he was a good lutheran boy too so

54:07

i'm not really sure what he would have

54:08

thought of that yeah yeah interesting

54:12

well listeners we bless you to

54:15

embrace the actual way of jesus not the

54:17

way of the american jesus we bless you

54:19

to

54:20

say i don't know and come to the end of

54:23

your reason and

54:24

find the beginning of faith and uh

54:27

we bless you to find all of

54:29

kierkegaard's

54:30

pseudonomic

54:32

manuscripts and and wrestle with them

54:34

good luck with that if any if anybody

54:36

wants to start with kierkegaard there's

54:37

a

54:38

good collection edited by

54:40

howard and edna hong

54:42

i think it's called the essential

54:43

character guard it's not a short book

54:45

it's not an easy book but it's the place

54:47

to start

54:51

[Music]