Kierkegaard began to write again in 1847. His first work in this period was Edifying Discourses in Diverse Spirits which was made up of three parts. It included Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing, What we Learn from the Lilies in the Field and from the Birds in the Air, and The Gospel of Sufferings. These questions are asked, What does it mean to be a single individual who wants to do the good? What does it mean to be a human being? What does it mean to follow Christ? He now moves from "upbuilding (Edifying) discourses" to "Christian discourses", however, he still maintains that these are not "sermons". A sermon is about struggle with oneself about the tasks life offers one and about repentance for not completing the tasks. Later, in 1849, he wrote devotional discourses.
Is it really hopelessness to reject the task because it is too heavy; is it really hopelessness almost to collapse under the burden because it is so heavy; is it really hopelessness to give up hope out of fear of the task? Oh no, but this is hopelessness: to will with all one’s might-but there is no task. Thus, only if there is nothing to do and if the person who says it were without guilt before God-for if he is guilty, there is indeed always something to do-only if there is nothing to do and this is understood to mean that there is no task, only then is there hopelessness. Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Hong p. 277
While the Savior of the world sighs, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me," the repentant robber humbly understands, but still also as a relief, that it is not God who has abandoned him, but it is he who has abandoned God, and, repenting, he says to the one crucified with him: Remember me when you come into your kingdom. It is a heavy human suffering to reach for God’s mercy in the anxiety of death and with belated repentance at the moment of despicable death, but yet the repentant robber finds relief when he compares his suffering with the superhuman suffering of being abandoned by God. To be abandoned by God, that indeed means to be without a task. It means to be deprived of the final task that every human being always has, the task of patience, the task that has its ground in God’s not having abandoned the sufferer. Hence Christ’s suffering is superhuman and his patience superhuman, so that no human being can grasp either the one or the other. Although it is beneficial that we speak quite humanly of Christ’s suffering, if we speak of it merely as if he were the human being who has suffered the most, it is blasphemy, because although his suffering is human, it is also superhuman, and there is an eternal chasmic abyss between his suffering and the human being’s. Søren Kierkegaard, 1847 Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Hong p.280
Works of Love followed these discourses on (September 29, 1847). Both books were authored under his own name. It was written under the themes "Love covers a multitude of sins" and "Love builds up." (1 Peter 4:8 and 1 Corinthians 8:1) Kierkegaard believed that "all human speech, even divine speech of Holy Scripture, about the spiritual is essentially metaphorical speech". "To build up" is a metaphorical expression. One can never be all human or all spirit, one must be both.
When it is said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” this contains what is presupposed, that every person loves himself. Thus, Christianity which by no means begins, as do those high flying thinkers, without presuppositions, nor with a flattering presupposition, presupposes this. Dare we then deny that it is as Christianity presupposes? But on the other hand, it is possible for anyone to misunderstand Christianity, as if it were its intention to teach what worldly sagacity unanimously-alas, and yet contentiously-teaches, “that everyone is closest to himself.” Is it possible for anyone to misunderstand this, as if it were Christianity’s intention to proclaim self-love as a prescriptive right? Indeed on the contrary, it is Christianity’s intention to wrest self-love away from us human beings. Soren Kierkegaard Works of Love, Hong p. 17
All human speech, even the divine speech of Holy Scripture, about the spiritual is essentially metaphorical [overfot, carried over] speech. And this is quite in order or in the order of things and of existence, since a human being, even if from the moment of birth his is a spirit, still does not become conscious of himself as a spirit until later and thus has sensately-psychically acted out a certain part of his life prior to this. But this first portion is not to be cast aside when the spirit awakens any more than the awakening of the spirit in contrast to the sensate-physical announces itself in a sensate-physical way. On the contrary, the first portion is taken over –[overtage] by the spirit and, used in this way, is thus made the basis –it becomes the metaphorical. Therefore, the spiritual person and the sensate person say the same thing; yet there is an infinite difference, since the latter has no intimation of the secret of the metaphorical words although he is using the same words, but not in their metaphorical sense.
There is a world of difference between the two; the one has made the transition or let himself be carried over to the other side, while the other remains on this side; yet they have the connection that both are using the same words. The person in whom the spirit has awakened does not as a consequence abandon the visible-world. Although conscious of himself as spirit, he continues to remain in the visible world and to be visible to the senses, in the same way he also remains in the language, except that his language is the metaphorical language!
But the metaphorical words are of course not brand-new words but are the already given words. Just as the spirit is invisible, so also is its language a secret, and the secret lies in its using the same words as the child and the simpleminded person but using them metaphorically, whereby the spirit denies the sensate or sensate-physical way. The difference is by no means a noticeable difference. For this reason we rightfully regard it as a sign of false spirituality to parade a noticeable difference-which is merely sensate, whereas the spirit’s manner is the metaphor’s quiet, whispering secret – for the person who has ears to hear. Soren Kierkegaard, Works of Love, 1847, Hong 1995 p. 209-210
Love builds up by presupposing that love is present. Have you not experienced this yourself, my listener? If anyone has ever spoken to you in such a way or treated in in such a way that you really felt built up, this was because you very vividly perceived how he presupposed love to be in you. Wisdom is a being-for-itself quality; power, talent, knowledge, etc. are likewise being-for-itself qualities. To be wise does not mean to presuppose that others are wise; on the contrary, it may be very wise and true if the truly wise person assumes that far from all people are wise. But love is not a being-for-itself quality but a quality by which or in which you are for others. Loving means to presuppose love in others. Soren Kierkegaard Works of Love, Hong p. 222-224
Later, in the same book, Kierkegaard deals with the question of sin and forgiveness. He uses the same text he used earlier in Three Upbuilding Discourses, 1843 Love hides a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8). He asks if "one who tells his neighbors faults hides or increases the multitude of sins".
But the one who takes away the consciousness of sin and gives the consciousness of forgiveness instead-he indeed takes away the heavy burden and gives the light one in its place. Soren Kierkegaard, 1847 Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Hong p. 246
The one who loves sees the sin he forgives, but he believes that forgiveness takes it away. This cannot be seen, whereas the sin can indeed be seen; on the other hand, if the sin did not exist to be seen, it could not be forgiven either. Just as one by faith believes the unseen into what is seen, so the one who loves by forgiveness believes away what is seen. Both are faith. Blessed is the believer, he believes what he cannot see; blessed is the one who loves, he believes away that which he indeed can see! Who can believe this? The one who loves can do it. But why is forgiveness so rare? Is it not because faith in the power of forgiveness is so meager and so rare? Soren Kierkegaard, Works of Love, 1847 Hong p. 289-295
In 1848 he published Christian Discourses under his own name and The Crisis and a Crisis in the Life of an Actress under the pseudonym Inter et Inter. Christian Discourses deals the same theme as The Concept of Anxiety, angst. The text is the Gospel of Matthew 6 verses 24-34. This was the same passage he had used in his What We Learn From the Lilies in the Field and From the Birds of the Air of 1847. He wrote:
A man who but rarely, and then only cursorily, concerns himself with his relationship to God, hardly thinks or dreams that he has so closely to do with God, or that God is so close to him, that there exists a reciprocal relationship between him and God, the stronger a man is, the weaker God is, the weaker a man is, the stronger God is in him. Every one who assumes that a God exists naturally thinks of Him as the strongest, as He eternally is, being the Almighty who creates out of nothing, and for whom all the creation is as nothing; but such a man hardly thinks of the possibility of a reciprocal relationship. And yet for God, the infinitely strongest, there is an obstacle; He has posited it Himself, yea, He has lovingly, with incomprehensible love posited it Himself; for He posited it and posits it every time a man comes into existence, when He in His love makes to be something directly in apposition to Himself. Oh, marvelous omnipotence of love! A man cannot bear that his ‘creations’ should be directly in apposition to Himself, and so he speaks of them in a tone of disparagement as his ‘creations’. But God who creates out of nothing, who almightily takes from nothing and says, ‘Be’, lovingly adjoins, ‘Be something even in apposition to me.’ Marvellous love, even His omnipotence is under the sway of love! Soren Kierkegaard, Christian Discourses, 1848 Lowrie 1940, 1961 p. 132
Kierkegaard tried to explain his prolific use of pseudonyms again in The Point of View of My Work as an Author, his autobiographical explanation for his writing style. The book was finished in 1848, but not published until after his death by his brother Christian Peter Kierkegaard. Walter Lowrie mentioned Kierkegaard's "profound religious experience of Holy Week 1848" as a turning point from "indirect communication" to "direct communication" regarding Christianity. However, Kierkegaard stated that he was a religious author throughout all of his writings and that his aim was to discuss "the problem ‘of becoming a Christian’, with a direct polemic against the monstrous illusion we call Christendom." He expressed the illusion this way in his 1848 "Christian Address", Thoughts Which Wound From Behind – for Edification.
Oh, in the customary course of life there is so much to lull a man to sleep, to teach him to say, ‘Peace and no danger.’ It is for this cause we go into the house of God, to be awakened out of sleep and to be riven away from the enchantments. But then again when there is so much in the house of God to lull us! Even that which in itself is arousing, such as thoughts, reflections, ideas, can by custom and monotony lose all their significance, just as a spring can lose the resilience which makes it what it is. So, then (to approach nearer to the subject of this discourse), it is right, reasonable, and a plain duty, to invite men, over and over again, to come to the house of the Lord, to summon them to it. But one may become so accustomed to hearing this invitation that one may lose all sense of its significance, so that at last one steps away and it ends with the invitation preaching the church empty. Or one may become so accustomed to hearing this invitation that it develops false ideas in those that come, makes us self-important in our own thoughts, that we are not as they who remain away, makes us self-satisfied, secure, because it envelops us in a delusion, as though, since we are so urgently invited, God were in need of us, as though it were not we who in fear and trembling should reflect what He may require of us, as though it were not we who should sincerely thank God that He will have dealings with us, that He will suffer and permit us to approach Him, suffer that we presume to believe that He cares for us, that without being ashamed He will be known as one who is called our God and our Farther. So concerning this matter let us for once talk differently, in talking of these words of the preacher: Keep thy foot when thou goes to the house of the Lord. (Ecclesiastes 5:1) Soren Kierkegaard, Thoughts Which Wound From Behind – for Edification, Christian Address, Copenhagen 1848 , Lowrie translation1961 p. 173 -174
He wrote three discourses under his own name and one pseudonymous book in 1849. He wrote The Lily in the Field and the Bird of the Air. Three Devotional Discourses, Three Discourses at the Communion on Fridays and Two Ethical-Religious Essays. The first thing any child finds in life is the external world of nature. This is where God placed his natural teachers. He's been writing about confession and now openly writes about Holy Communion which is generally preceded by confession. This he began with the confessions of the esthete and the ethicist in Either/Or and the highest good peace in the discourse of that same book. His goal has always been to help people become religious but specifically Christian religious. He summed his position up earlier in his book, The Point of View of My Work as an Author, but this book was not published until 1859.
In a Christian sense simplicity is not the point of departure from which one goes on to become interesting, witty, profound, poet, philosopher, &c. No, the very contrary. Here is where one begins (with the interesting, &c.) and becomes simpler and simpler, attaining simplicity. This, in ‘Christendom’ is the Christian movement: one does not reflect oneself into Christianity; but one reflects oneself out of something else and becomes, more and more simply, a Christian.
I have never fought in such a way as to say: I am the true Christian, others are not Christians. No, my contention has been this: I know what Christianity is, my imperfection as a Christian I myself fully recognize-but I know what Christianity is. And to get this properly recognized must be, I should think, to every man’s interest, whether he be a Christian or not, whether his intention is to accept Christianity or to reject it. But I have attacked no one as not being a Christian, I have condemned no one. And I myself have from the first clearly asserted, again and again repeated, that I am ‘without authority’. Soren Kierkegaard, The Point of View of My Work as an Author Lowrie, 144, 153-155
The Second edition of Either/Or was published early in 1849. Later that year he published The Sickness Unto Death, under the pseudonym Anti-Climacus. He's against Johannes Climacus who kept writing books about trying to understand Christianity. Here he says, "Let others admire and praise the person who pretends to comprehend Christianity. I regard it as a plain ethical task – perhaps requiring not a little self-denial in these speculative times, when all ‘the others’ are busy with comprehending-to admit that one is neither able nor supposed to comprehend it." Sickness unto death was a familiar phrase in Kierkegaard's earlier writings. This sickness is despair and for Kierkegaard despair is a sin. Despair is the impossibility of possibility. Kierkegaard writes:
When a person who has been addicted to some sin or other but over a considerable period has now successfully resisted the temptation-when this person has a relapse and succumbs again to the temptation, then the depression that ensues is by no means always sorrow over the sin. It can be something quite different; it might also, for that matter, be resentment of divine governance, as if it were the latter that had let him fall into temptation and should not have been so hard on him, seeing that until now he had for so long successfully resisted the temptation.Such a person protests, perhaps in even stronger terms, how this relapse tortures and torments him, how it brings him to despair: he sways, 'I will never forgive myself.' He never forgives himself-but suppose God would forgive him; then he might well have the goodness to forgive himself. The Sickness Unto Death, by Anti-Climacus, Edited by Soren Kierkegaard, Copyright 1849 Translation with an Introduction and notes by Alastair Hannay 1989 p. 144
In Practice in Christianity, Sep 25, 1850, his last pseudonymous work, he stated, "In this book, originating in the year 1848, the requirement for being a Christian is forced up by the pseudonymous authors to a supreme ideality." This work was called Training in Christianity when Walter Lowrie translated it in 1941.
Christ is the truth in the sense that to be the truth is the only true explanation of what truth is. Therefore one can ask an apostle, one can ask a Christian, "What is truth?" and in answer to the question the apostle and the Christian will point to Christ and say: Look at him, learn from him, he was the truth. This means that truth in the sense in which Christ is the truth is not a sum of statements, not a definition etc., but a life. The being of truth is not the direct redoubling of being in relation to thinking, which gives only thought-being, safeguards thinking only against being a brain-figment that is not, guarantees validity to thinking, that what is thought is-that is, has validity. No, the being of truth is the redoubling of truth within yourself, within me, within him, that your life, my life, his life is approximately the being of the truth in the striving for it, just as the truth was in Christ a life, for he was the truth. And therefore, Christianly understood, truth is obviously not to know the truth but to be the truth. Søren Kierkegaard, Practice in Christianity, Hong p. 205 (1850)
He now pointedly referred to the acting single individual in his next three publications; For Self-Examination, Two Discourses at the Communion on Fridays, and in 1852 Judge for Yourselves!. Judge for Yourselves! was published posthumously in 1876.
Kierkegaard began his 1843 book Either/Or with a question: "Are passions, then, the pagans of the soul? Reason alone baptized?" He didn't want to devote himself to Thought or Speculation like Hegel did. Faith, hope, love, peace, patience, joy, self-control, vanity, kindness, humility, courage, cowardliness, pride, deceit, and selfishness. These are the inner passions that Thought knows little about. Hegel begins the process of education with Thought but Kierkegaard thinks we could begin with passion, or a balance between the two, a balance between Goethe and Hegel. He was against endless reflection with no passion involved. But at the same time he did not want to draw more attention to the external display of passion but the internal (hidden) passion of the single individual. Kierkegaard clarified this intention in his Journals.
Schelling put Nature first and Hegel put Reason first but Kierkegaard put the human being first and the choice first in his writings. He makes an argument against Nature here and points out that most single individuals begin life as spectators of the visible world and work toward knowledge of the invisible world.
Is it a perfection on the part on the part of the bird that in hard times it sits and dies of hunger and knows of nothing at all to do, that, dazed, it lets itself fall to the ground and dies? Usually we do not talk this way. When a sailor lies down in the boat and lets matters take their course in the storm and knows nothing to do, we do not speak of his perfection. But when a doughty sailor knows how to steer, when he works against the storm with ingenuity, with strength, and with perseverance, when he works himself out of the danger, we admire him. Søren Kierkegaard, Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, 1847, Hong p. 198Seek Ye First God’s Kingdom And His Righteousness Matthew 6:33
Suppose that it were not one man who traveled from Jericho to Jerusalem, but there were two, and both of them were assaulted by robbers and maimed, and no traveler passed by. Suppose, then, that one of them did nothing but moan, while the other forgot and surmounted his own suffering in order to speak comfortingly, friendly words or, what involved great pain, dragged himself to some water in order to fetch the other a refreshing drink. Or suppose that they were both bereft of speech, but one of them in his silent prayer sighed to God also for the other-was he then not merciful? If someone has cut off my hands, then I cannot play the zither, and if someone has cut off my feet, then I cannot dance, and if I lie crippled on the shore, then I cannot throw myself into the sea in order to rescue another person’s life, and if I myself am lying with a broken arm or leg, then I cannot plunge into the flames to save another’s life-but I can still be merciful. I have often pondered how a painter might portray mercifulness, but I have decided that it cannot be done. As soon as a painter is to do it, it becomes dubious whether it is mercifulness or it is something else.
- Soren Kierkegaard, Works of Love, Hong 1995 p. 324
But what does this mean, what have I to do, or what sort of effort is it that can be said to seek or pursue the kingdom of God? Shall I try to get a job suitable to my talents and powers in order thereby to exert an influence? No, thou shalt first seek God’s kingdom. Shall I then give all my fortune to the poor? No, thou shalt first seek God’s kingdom. Shall I then go out to proclaim this teaching to the world? No, thou shalt first seek God’s kingdom. But then in a certain sense it is nothing I shall do. Yes, certainly, in a certain it is nothing, thou shalt in the deepest sense make thyself nothing, become nothing before God, learn to keep silent; in this silence is the beginning, which is, first to seek God’s kingdom. In this wise, a godly wise, one gets to the beginning by going, in a sense, backwards. The beginning is not that with which one begins, but at which one arrives at the beginning backwards. The beginning is this art of becoming silent; for to be silent, as nature is, is not an art. It is man’s superiority over the beasts to be able to speak; but in relation to God it can easily become the ruin of man who is able to speak that he is too willing to speak. God is love, man is (as one says to a child) a silly little thing, even so far as his own wellbeing is concerned. Only in much fear and trembling can a man walk with God; in much fear and trembling. But to talk in much fear and trembling is difficult for as a sense of dread causes the bodily voice to fail; so also does much fear and trembling render the voice mute in silence. This the true man of prayer knows well, and he who was not the true man of prayer learned precisely this by praying.
- Søren Kierkegaard, Christian Discourses, 1848 Lowrie 1940, 1961 p. 322
Nikolai Berdyaev makes a related argument against reason in his 1945 book The Divine and the Human.
Attack upon the State Church and death
Kierkegaard's final years were taken up with a sustained, outright attack on the Church of Denmark by means of newspaper articles published in The Fatherland (Fædrelandet) and a series of self-published pamphlets called The Moment (Øjeblikket), also translated as "The Instant". These pamphlets are now included in Kierkegaard's Attack Upon Christendom The Instant, was translated into German as well as other European languages in 1861 and again in 1896.
Kierkegaard first moved to action after Professor (soon bishop) Hans Lassen Martensen gave a speech in church in which he called the recently deceased Bishop Jacob Peter Mynster a "truth-witness, one of the authentic truth-witnesses." Kierkegaard explained, in his first article, that Mynster's death permitted him—at last—to be frank about his opinions. He later wrote that all his former output had been "preparations" for this attack, postponed for years waiting for two preconditions: 1) both his father and bishop Mynster should be dead before the attack and 2) he should himself have acquired a name as a famous theologic writer. Kierkegaard's father had been Mynster's close friend, but Søren had long come to see that Mynster's conception of Christianity was mistaken, demanding too little of its adherents. Kierkegaard strongly objected to the portrayal of Mynster as a 'truth-witness'.
Kierkegaard described the hope the witness to the truth has in 1847.
When the concepts are shaken in an upheaval that is more terrible than an earthquake, when the truth is hated and its witness persecuted-what then? Must the witness submit to the world? Yes. But does that mean all is lost? No, on the contrary. We remain convinced of this, and thus no proof is needed, for if it is not so, then such a person is not a witness to the truth either. Therefore we are reassured that even in the last moments such a person has retained a youthful recollection of what the youth expected, and he therefore has examined himself and his relationship before God to see whether the defect could lie in him, whether it was not possible for it to become, as the youth had expected, something he perhaps now desired most for the sake of the world-namely, that truth has the victory and good has its reward in the world. Woe to the one who presumptuously, precipitously, and impetuously brings the horror of confusion into more peaceable situations; but woe, also, to the one who, if it was necessary, did not have the bold confidence to turn everything around the second time when it was turned around the first time! Søren Kierkegaard, Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits, Hong p. 330
Before the tenth issue of his periodical The Moment could be published, Kierkegaard collapsed on the street. He stayed in the hospital for over a month and refused communion. At that time he regarded pastors as mere political officials, a niche in society who was clearly not representative of the divine. He said to Emil Boesen, a friend since childhood who kept a record of his conversations with Kierkegaard, that his life had been one of immense suffering, which may have seemed like vanity to others, but he did not think it so.
Kierkegaard died in Frederik's Hospital after over a month, possibly from complications from a fall he had taken from a tree in his youth. He was interred in the Assistens Kirkegård in the Nørrebro section of Copenhagen. At Kierkegaard's funeral, his nephew Henrik Lund caused a disturbance by protesting Kierkegaard's burial by the official church. Lund maintained that Kierkegaard would never have approved, had he been alive, as he had broken from and denounced the institution. Lund was later fined for his disruption of a funeral.
Kierkegaard's pamphlets and polemical books, including The Moment, criticized several aspects of church formalities and politics. According to Kierkegaard, the idea of congregations keeps individuals as children since Christians are disinclined from taking the initiative to take responsibility for their own relation to God. He stressed that "Christianity is the individual, here, the single individual." Furthermore, since the Church was controlled by the State, Kierkegaard believed the State's bureaucratic mission was to increase membership and oversee the welfare of its members. More members would mean more power for the clergymen: a corrupt ideal. This mission would seem at odds with Christianity's true doctrine, which, to Kierkegaard, is to stress the importance of the individual, not the whole. Thus, the state-church political structure is offensive and detrimental to individuals, since anyone can become "Christian" without knowing what it means to be Christian. It is also detrimental to the religion itself since it reduces Christianity to a mere fashionable tradition adhered to by unbelieving "believers", a "herd mentality" of the population, so to speak. Kierkegaard always stressed the importance of the conscience and the use of it.