Tomáš Halík thinks Søren Kierkegaard is a crucial figure for seeing Christianity with a fresh gaze in our age of unbelief.
Søren Kierkegaard, whom I regard as the first real prophet of the new path of faith — of faith as the courage to live in parados — used to stress that in faith, people stand before God as individuals. In his own loneliness, Kierkegaard experienced the paradox of which Jesus spoke: God is like the shepherd who left behind ninety-nine sheep and went off in search of ‘the one that was lost.’ Maybe today also God will tend to go after the ‘lost sheep,’ talk to their hearts, and carry them on His shoulders, accomplishing something out of their experience of ‘being lost and found again’ that he could not achieve with the ninety-nine percent that never wandered, that is, those people who believe themselves to be in good health and therefore have no real need of him — the doctor. (197)
Kierkegaard may be an individualist, but limit-case individualism for Kierkegaard is demonic. Loneliness may have given Kierkegaard insight, but he knew the brink of absolute loneliness too well to celebrate it. His reflections in The Concept of Anxiety (1844) about how individuals, through language and liturgy, can avoid the “self-inclosing reserve”.
How should dialogue with unbelievers start? The hiddenness of God can be axiomatic for both Christians and atheists. It is the first principle of Halík’s deep theology. From the non-appearance of the gods, Kierkegaard conjectures that the-god-who-loves does not overwhelm us with His presence, but awaits our free response of love. God reveals Himself as the Absolute Paradox, the god-man, so that even the concept of God cannot appear to us clearly, in the way that we might solve a mathematical equation or detect a hidden variable.
Kierkegaard, whom I regard as the first philosopher of the new evangelization avant la lettre, offers us a fresh gaze at Christianity. His pseudonym, Johannes Climacus, accuses himself in Philosophical Fragments (1844):
You are like a man who in the afternoon exhibited a ram for a fee that in the forenoon anyone could see free of charge, grazing in a pasture. (21)
Climacus dresses up Christianity as an elaborate philosophical thought-project, opposing Socrates to the Hegelians and dipping into modal metaphysics. The Incarnation is presented to us in philosophical simplicity, even if it takes more intellectual labor to read through Kierkegaard’s tortured prose: “the fee”. Kierkegaard insists on the need to emphasize the hiddenness of God, which is the theme of Halík’s “deep theology”. It is a good place for the new evangelization to start.