Monday, July 25

Preach Christianity by Living It

Another excerpt from Kierkegaard's journals, in this one he imagines an event that takes place one Sunday on the finest church in Denmark. (Towards the end of his life Kierkegaard spent alot of time writing against the national Lutheran church, for he believed what it taught was not the Christianity presented in the New Testament):


A theologian, but not yet appointed. He has worked very hard for a number of years and attained some measure of fame, which will definitely ensure that everyone will rush to hear him preach in church, particularly all the high-ups.

He lets it be known that he is going to preach and selects the finest, most splendid church in the capital.

Everyone is in church, including the king and queen.

He mounts the pulpit, offers a prayer, and then reads his text, which is about Christ chasing the money-lenders from the temple. Immediately afterwards he begins like this:

'Let the word be spoken, the word I have to say in this world, and for which I have prepared myself all my life. Let that word now be spoken: To preach Christianity in surroundings like these is not Christianity, be they ever so Christian, it is not Christianity; Christianity can be preached only by its being realized in the lives we live. And I hereby transform this house into actual life. I am now in your power, I, just one man, but now I will speak—and then it is real life. I will speak of it being possible to preach Christianity only by living it.'

Attack on the whole smart church and smart congregation. Christ was not a smartly turned-out man who, in a smartly decorated church, preached to a smartly turned-out gathering that truth suffers—it was an actual fact that he was spat upon.

Uproar throughout the church. The cry goes out: Down with him, throw him out! But the preacher rises and speaks out in a voice of thunder which drowns out all the clamour: You see, now it is right, now I am preaching Christianity; had my intention been suspected I would have been prevented from mounting the pulpit here, or else you would all have stayed at home. But now I stand here, I am now speaking and I make you responsible before God; you must hear me out, I am speaking the truth.

Now, there you have an awakening!

I think the idea that you 'preach Christianity by living it' is a logical implication for what I was arguing for last Friday (that our Christianity is expressed to others existentially). With evangelism, it is not just better to express Christ’s power existentially rather than verbally (i.e. with preaching), but the only way to correctly share Christianity to others.

A common objection to ‘evangelizing in silence’ is that "people can not come to Christ through our works, if we never preach to them about Jesus Christ they won't know what they're accepting". This was very true for the early church; after Jesus was crucified they spread the gospel throughout the Gentiles primarily through proclamations and exclamations of Christ and what he did (as told in the book of Acts). The reason they did this was because the word ‘Jesus’ was alien to the non-Jewish community, the apostles needed to tell the gentiles who Christ was.

Today, however, the name of 'Jesus Christ' is known to everyone but the most isolated. The idea that "Jesus Christ is Lord" has been heard by all through the incessant preaching of Christians. I believe the reason that Christianity/Christ has become so stagnated is because the concept of Christ has been turned into a dogmatic statement.

Intellectually, the maxim that Jesus Christ is Lord is not justified. Historical inquiry can only go so far as to admit that Christ lived, died, and claimed that he was the Christ. Philosophically there is no evidence to suggest that the jump from "Jesus Christ claimed he was God" to "Jesus Christ is God" is a rational one. So naturally when Christendom turned this proclamation concerning Christ into a doctrine that new believers have to accept for admittance into the church, atheistic rationalism spread and the church begun its decline.

For the disciples and other early followers of Christ, however, to be a Christian meant a radical existential discipleship to Jesus. Christ made such a spiritual impact on them that they became 'born again'. Their existence completely changed into something fulfilling and transcendent, which Paul dubbed as 'the new man'. It is from this change that they exclaimed to each other, "Jesus Christ truly is the Lord!” They did not come to this conclusion from intellectual evidence or dogmatic preaching, which is what modern preachers try to get people to do; they came to it from the amazing change Christ made in them.

Thus, Christ is never effectively shown in creeds or doctrines or preaching, He is shown as the true Lord by honest Christians. Peter wrote in his first epistle that we should "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you." Christians are supposed to evangelize by showing the radical work that Christ has done in our spirits, not by telling friends truth statements (such as Christ's divinity) that means nothing to their rationalistic way of thinking. Christ's divinity is only shown to others through men like St. Francis of Assisi, not through the work of apologists or preachers.

We preach Christianity by living it...


Anonymous eddie said...


We do the Gospel lip-service for the most part, perhaps because men are so in love with their own voices. I rather like the idea of living it instead. We had a bumper sticker at some point that said:

Don't tell me you are a Christian, show me.


2:45 PM  
Blogger Lookathrill said...

I do not wholly disagree with you. Let me first say that the power is not in our actions OR our words but rather in the working of the Holy Spirit of God.
Secondly, There is no question that you should live out your faith. But I believe that it needs to be preached with words. No one comes to the realization that Christ is Lord if you give them a ride home or invite them over for coffee. They come to the realization that Christ is Lord because they hear the message and believe, as the Holy Spirit works in their lives. Romans 10:17 states that "Faith comes from hearing and hearing through the WORD of Christ" (emphasis added). Granted, many people in the world have heard of Jesus but MANY people do not have an accurate perception of the Gospel. They do not know that you are saved by faith alone through Christ alone. I exhort you not only to live the gospel but to preach the gospel with words. I think Assisi's quote is offtrack simply because it is ALWAYS necessary to use words to explain that people are sinners and need salvation through Christ who died for them.

11:43 AM  
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11:36 AM  

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