Excerpts on faith from Provocations, a collection of the spiritual writings of Kierkegaard.
By faith Abraham went out from the land of his fathers and became a sojourner in the land of promise. He left one thing behind, and took one thing with him. He left his earthly understanding behind and took faith with him. Otherwise he would have never gone forth.
When a rich man goes driving at night with lights on his carriage, he sees a small area better than the poor man who drives in the dark – but he does not see the stars. The lights prevent that. It is the same with all intellectual understanding. It sees well close at hand but takes away the infinite outlook.
In teaching a child to walk you get in front of the child and turn towards it. You do not walk alongside the child but are the goal toward which the child is to walk. Even though you stand so far away that you cannot reach the child, you stretch out your arms and motion with them as if you already embraced the child, although there is still some distance between you and the child. That much solicitude you have, but more solicitous you cannot be, for then the child does not learn to walk. So it is with Christ. Christ gets in front of us, does not walk beside his disciples, but is himself the goal toward which we are to strive while we are learning to walk alone. There he stands at the goal, turning toward us and stretching out his arms – just as a mother does.
The widow who put three pennies in the temple treasury box performed a miracle just like the miracle of the five loaves and three fish; her three pennies were transformed into abundance.
You can either employ all your acumen to show the unreasonableness of a miracle and then on that basis (that it is unreasonable) conclude that it is no miracle – but would it be a miracle if it were reasonable? – or you can employ all your profundity and acumen to understand the miracle, to make it understandable, and then conclude that it is a miracle because it is understandable – but then it is indeed no miracle. No, let miracle be what it is: an object of faith.
Faith simply means that what I am seeking is not here, and for that very reason I believe it. Faith expressly signifies the deep, strong, blessed restlessness that drives the believer so that he cannot settle down at rest in this world. He who has settled down has ceased to be a believer, because a believer cannot sit still – a believer travels forward in faith.
One person can do much for another, but he cannot give him faith.
What is the eternal power in a human being? It is faith. What is the expectancy of faith? Victory – or, as Scripture teaches, that all things work together for good for those who love God. Faith is an expectancy of the future that expects victory. Faith conquers the future. The believer, therefore, is finished with the future before he begins with the present, and this victory can only make him stronger for the present work.
What modern philosophy and theology understand by faith is really what is called having an opinion, or what in everyday language we call “to believe.” Christianity is thus made into a teaching. Then the next stage is to “comprehend” this teaching, and this philosophy and theology are supposed to do. All this would be entirely proper if Christianity were a teaching. But it’s not. Faith is related to the God-man, not a doctrine.
In relation to Christ, there is only one time, the present. Eighteen hundred years makes absolutely no difference; they neither change Christ nor reveal who he was, for who he is is revealed only to faith.
Now it’s your turn: Do you agree with Kierkegaard? What is the place of faith and reason in the life of a believer? Leave us a comment with your thoughts.