Kierkegaard on preaching

by Kim on June 27, 2010

“To preach from the pulpit means to bring charges against oneself.”

“A speech expert is just as suitable for proclaiming Christianity as a deaf-mute for being a musician.”

“The greatest possible error arises when we reduce the clergy to teachers. Imagine that the police, instead of acting, began to teach about thievery.”

“The reason why preachers are so eager to preach in a chock-full church is that if they were to say what they have to say in an empty room they would become anxious and afraid, for they would notice that it pertains to themselves.”

“In the maginficent cathedral the honorable and Right Reverend Geheime-General-Ober-Hof-Pradikant, the elect favorite of the fashionable world, appears before an elect company and preaches with emotion upon the text he himself elected: ‘God has chosen the base things of this world, and the things that are despised’ - and nobody laughs.”

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1

dh 06.28.10 at 4:33 pm

“To preach from the pulpit means to bring charges against oneself.”

Well we know what Jesus says about preaching and it appears to be opposite of what this paassage from Kierkegaard says: “How can they hear in whom they have not heard? and How can they hear without a preacher?” It seems that relaying the truth in love to the people so they can accept Salvation and learn what it means to live for Christ for life and Godliness is what the purpose of the pastor is.

I guess indirectly it is “charge against oneself” as a pastor in that the pastor must be humble and pastors are human andto be truly effective need to “practice what they preach” but that is much different than the line “charges against oneself” that Kierke’ says here.

Kierki’ says this ““The greatest possible error arises when we reduce the clergy to teachers. Imagine that the police, instead of acting, began to teach about thievery.” but why does the Apostle Paul refer to Pastors and Pastor/Teachers? It seems to me to be a pastor implies that they are teachers as well.

Kierki says ““The reason why preachers are so eager to preach in a chock-full church is that if they were to say what they have to say in an empty room they would become anxious and afraid, for they would notice that it pertains to themselves.”
This only applies to pasotrs who don’t practice what they preach. If they practice what they preach then there would be no fear or anxiety for the pastor preaching or when the pastor is alone. Convicion of sin is a good thing and just because one is anxious or fearful at the sight of conviction doesn’t diminish the fact that sin is sin. “The Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.”

It seems Kierki isn’t even reading any of the Epistles before writing. Reading solely one part of Scripture without the context of the whole does a diservice to God’s Word. If he read about the Spiritual gifts and callings from the Epistles then he would realize that for a pstor to be a pastor one must have the giftings and be called. Not all leity hve the gifting or calling of pastor/teacher so to say otherwise again attempts to diminish the truth.

2

Tony Buglass 06.29.10 at 10:24 am

DH - The first clue is probably in reading what Kierkegaard actually wrote, not what you’re reading into it. “To REDUCE the clergy to teachers” means to make preachers ONLY teachers; as you point out, teaching is only one of the gifts of ministry. As to “bringing charges against oneself” - are you a preacher? If you preach, do you stand separate from the people and look down on them, or do you stand with them, proclaiming the gospel as one of them? Have you never been convicted by the very words you speak?

One of the best definitions of evangelism I ever read applies just as much to preaching, I reckon: “One beggar telling other beggars where to find bread.”

The second clue is to read Kierkegaard in his context, in 19th C Denmark. He grew up in an affluent home, and worshipped in the very formal atmosphere of Danish Lutheranism, in which he saw the dangers of which he spoke. Your church might not be afflicted by the same problems of the Danish state church of that time, in which case be grateful. Nevertheless, it is usually instructive to see whether here may not be parallel or similar issues, to which Kierkegaard’s words may be addressed.

3

dh 06.29.10 at 3:47 pm

Tony, thanks for the clarification. Can you see how based on his writing how rational it is to come to the conclusions from his writings?

To answer your questions from your previous reply: No, I’m not a preacher but I believe one day I will be one when I retire from the business world (sorry for being too personal but your a fine chap ad when a person is nice I open up :) ), I agree pastors need to have an attitude of standing with the congregation. However, for a pastor to be effective the pastor needs to be a Believer and when some of the congregation are not Believers then to say the pastor is “one of them” for entire congregation is a misnomer. Yes, I have felt convicted by the words I speak but that conviction doesn’t prevent me from stating the truth of what God’s Word says regarding subjects. Pastors therefore shouldn’t be “afraid or anxious”. I still stand by this: “If they practice what they preach then there would be no fear or anxiety for the pastor preaching or when the pastor is alone. Convicion of sin is a good thing and just because one is anxious or fearful at the sight of conviction doesn’t diminish the fact that sin is sin.”

You mention this quote: “One beggar telling other beggars where to find bread.” I would rephrase it: “One EX-beggar telling other beggars and EX-beggars where to find bread.”

Thanks so much for the history and background of Kierki. While I appreciate him it is only to a point. Kieki in the extreme doesn’t seem to align with Scripture but if one doesn’t take his views in the extreme one can be consistent with it.

4

Rick O'Donnell 07.01.10 at 12:08 am

DH, Even we “Ex-beggars” are still quite certainly beggars, as any pastor, preacher or illuminator of the Gospel must needs know. We are no more separate form the unwashed sinner than Jesus is from us.
Read Kierkegaard—in context. He was a brilliant writer, and a sinner as are we all.

5

dh 07.01.10 at 3:17 am

Rick while I agree with what you say, it is to a point. “He that has the Son has life. He that has not the Son has not life.” or “If you confess Me before Me I will confess you before My Father in heaven. If you deny Me before men I will deny you before My Father in heaven.” (both words of Jesus) So you see by one owns choice an unwashed sinner can be seperate from God and therefore is different that a washed sinner.

Rick, what begging as an ex-beggar must we do with regard to our relationship with God? I feel I don’t have to “beg God for anything because I know that if I humble myself before Him that He will answer. Thinking this discussion further I guess prayer in whatever form might in a small way be “begging” but if we have Faith to believe that God answers our prayers then that Faith seems to diminish the “begging” attitude. That is not to say when we asked Christ into our hearts that one could say strongly that some form of “begging” occurred. It just seems that the context of what Scripture says that if we ask anything within the will of God that He hears us seems to be the opposite of begging.

Rick, I ‘m enjoying this discussion. I guess the difference is an unwashed sinner is a sinner that hasn’t been saved by Grace whereas a Believer is an ex-beggars who has been saved by Grace. An ex-beggar therefore can no longer be looked at as a beggar even though we had that attitude when we invited Him into our heart at conversion (for those who have done that).

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