Kierkegaard on the State

by Kim on September 19, 2008

Imagine this. Suppose that a coachman sees an absolutely and utterly faultless five-year-old horse, an ideal horse, snorting and as full of vigor as any he has seen, and he says, “Well, I cannot bid on this horse, nor can I afford it, and even if I could it is quite unsuitable for my use.” But after a dozen years, when that remarkable horse is spavined and spoiled, etc., the coachman says, “Now I can bid on it, now I can pay for it, and now I can make enough use of it, from what is left in it, so that I can properly see my way to spending a little for its upkeep.”
It is the same with the state and Christianity. Of the radical Christianity which entered into the world, every state is obliged to say, “I cannot buy this religion; not only that, but I will say: God and Father, save me from buying this religion. It would surely be to our ruin.” But when after a few centuries Christianity had become spavined and decrepit and on its last legs, spoiled and muddle-headed, then the State said, “See, now I can bid on it; and smart as I am I can see very well that I can use it and profit from it enough so that I can properly see my way to spending a little to polish it up.”

The state thinks it prudent to accommodate Christ’s teaching in order to tranquilize people and thus be better able to control them. The state never accommodates Christianity in its truth (as salt in character); it rather has it up to a point, which we “Christians” are also happy to have.

From Soren Kierkegaard’s Journals and Papers

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