16 January 2009

Kierkegaard: Three Ways to Live

I have heard both my brothers mention their appreciation of Soren Kierkegaard, but I have never read much of him myself until dipping into him a bit this week. I was fascinated to discover (in research sparked by a commenter) that C. S. Lewis and F. B. Meyer were not the only ones to talk about three ways of living rather than just two (good and bad, obedient and disobedient, moral and immoral). Kierkegaard, too, spoke in similar categorization:

- the aesthetic: living selfishly for one's own pleasure
- the ethical: living begrudgingly in accord with some external moral norm
- the religious: living in the glad abandon of faith in God

Kierkegaard uses the word "religious" in precisely the opposite way others use it (Schlatter, Tournier, Lloyd-Jones, Keller), but conceptually he seems to have been putting his finger on the same insight into authentic gospel living.

I found Clare Carlisle's Kierkegaard: A Guide for the Perplexed (the title of which immediately indicated it was for me) helpful in laying these three ways out, especially pp. 77-83.

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