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En christelig psychologisk Udvikling til Opbyggelse og Opvækkelse

The Sickness Unto Death:
A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening

By Anticlimacus [Søren Kierkegaard]

Herr! gieb uns blöde Augen für Dinge, die nichts taugen, und Augen voller Klarheit in alle deine Wahrheit.

Lord! Give us weak eyes for things of no account, and eyes of full clarity in all your truth.

(Bishop Albertini)



In a Christian context, everything, yes everything, should serve to edify. The kind of scholarship that is not in the last resort edifying is for that very reason un-Christian. An account of anything Christian must be like a physician's lecture beside the sick bed; even if only those skilled in the medical arts should understand it, it should never be forgotten where it is being given. It is just this relation to life of whatever is Christian (contrasted with a scholarly remoteness), or this, the ethical side of Christianity, that edifies; and an account of this sort, whatever rigour it may possess, is quite different, even in kind, from the 'disinterested' scientific approach whose superior heroism is so far from being heroism in a Christian sense it is a form of inhuman curiosity. Christian heroism -- and indeed one perhaps sees little enough of that -- is to risk unreservedly being oneself, an individual human being . . . .


I wish it to be known once and for all that in this entire work, as the title indicates, despair is to be understood as the sickness, not the remedy.




In human terms death is the last thing of all, and in human terms hope exists only so long as there is life; but to Christian eyes death is by no means the last thing of all, just another minor event in that which is all, an eternal life.


Such is the relationship between the natural man and the Christian; it is like that between a child and an adult. . . . It is something like the pagan's relationship to God; not only does he not know the true God, but, as if that weren't enough, he worships an idol as God.


Part One: The Sickness unto Death is Despair

A. That Despair is the Sickness unto Death


Despair is a sickness of the spirit, of the self, and so can have three forms: being unconscious in despair of having a self (inauthentic despair), not wanting in despair to be oneself, and wanting in despair to be oneself

The human being is spirit. But what is spirit? Spirit is the self. But what is the self? The self is a relation that relates itself to itself or is the relation's relating itself to itself in the relation; the self is not the relation but is the relation's relating itself to itself. A human being is a synthesis of the infinite and the finite, of the temporal and the eternal, of freedom and necessity -- in short, a synthesis. A synthesis is a relation between two terms. Considered in this way a human being is not yet a self.


Part Two: Despair is Sin


B. The Continuation of Sin

Being in a state of sin is always a new sin; or as it may be, and in the following will be, more precisely expressed: being in a state of sin is the new sin, it is the sin.



The Sin of despairing over one's sin

Sin is despair; the intensification is the new sin of despairing over one's sin.



The Sin of abandoning Christianity
modo ponend, of declaring it to be untruth

This is a sin against the Holy Spirit.* Here the self is at the height of despair; it not only throws all of Christianity aside, but makes it out to be lies and falsehood -- what a stupendously despairing conception such a self must have of itself!


The final form of offence is the one we are discussing, the positive form. It declares Christianity to be untruth and a lie. It denies Christ (that he existed and that he is the one he claimed to be) either Docetically or rationalistically, so that either Christ does not become a particular human being, but only appears to be so, or he becomes only a particular human being. Thus, either Docetically he becomes poesy, mythology, which makes no claim on actuality, or rationalistically he becomes an actuality that makes no claim to be divine. Of course, this denial of Christ is, as the paradox implies in turn, the denial of everything Christian: sin, the forgiveness of sins, etc.

This form of offence is sin against the Holy Spirit. As the Jews said of Christ, that he casts out devils with the help of the devil,** so this offence makes Christ into an invention of the devil.

This way of being offended is the highest intensification of sin, which one usually overlooks because one does not make the opposition, in a Christian way, between Sin and Faith.

On the other hand, that opposition has been effective throughout this work, which laid down straight away [in Part One. A.A] the formula for that state in which there is no despair at all: in relating itself to itself and in wanting to be itself, the self is grounded transparently in the power which establishes it; which formula in turn, as has been frequently remarked, is the definition of sin.

~ finis ~

St Mark 3:27-38

[Jesus Christ:] "No man can enter into the house of a strong man and rob him of his goods, unless he first bind the strong man, and then shall he plunder his house. Amen I say to you, that all sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and the blasphemies wherewith they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, shall never have forgiveness, but shall be guilty of an everlasting sin." He said this because they [the Pharisees] said: He [Jesus] hath an unclean spirit.

St Luke 12:8-10

[Jesus Christ:] "And I say to you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God. But he that shall deny me before men, shall be denied before the angels of God. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but to him that shall blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven."

St Matthew 12:22-45

Then was offered to him one possessed with a devil, blind and dumb: and he healed him, so that he spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed, and said: "Is not this the son of David?" But the Pharisees hearing it, said: "This man casteth not out the devils but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils."

And Jesus knowing their thoughts, said to them: "Every kingdom divided against itself shall be made desolate: and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.

"And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself: how then shall his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I by the Spirit of God cast out devils, then is the kingdom of God come upon you. Or how can any one enter into the house of the strong, and rifle his goods, unless he first bind the strong? and then he will rifle his house. He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.

"Therefore I say to you: Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but the blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come. Either make the tree good and its fruit good: or make the tree evil, and its fruit evil. For by the fruit the tree is known.

"O generation of vipers, how can you speak good things, whereas you are evil? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of a good treasure bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of an evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

"But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying: "Master we would see a sign from thee."

Who answering said to them:

"An evil and adulterous generation seeketh a sign: and a sign shall not be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. For as Jonas was in the whale's belly three days and three nights: so shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.

"The men of Ninive shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they did penance at the preaching of Jonas. And behold a greater than Jonas here. The queen of the south shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold a greater than Solomon here.

"And when an unclean spirit is gone out of a man he walketh through dry places seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith: I will return into my house from whence I came out. And coming he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then he goeth, and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is made worse than the first. So shall it be also to this wicked generation."

St John 3:11-21:

[Jesus Christ:] "Amen, amen I say to thee, that we speak what we know, and we testify what we have seen, and you receive not our testimony. If I have spoken to you earthly things, and you believe not; how will you believe, if I shall speak to you heavenly things? And no man hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him, may not perish; but may have life everlasting."

For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting. For God sent not his Son into the world, to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by him. He that believeth in him is not judged. But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

And this is the judgment: because the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their works were evil. For every one that doth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, that his works may not be reproved. But he that doth truth, cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, because they are done in God.

But I Don't Wanna Believe In The Bible

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