me, a sinner

by Andrea Elizabeth

I’ve finished the 131 pages of the text of The Sickness Unto Death, A Christian psychological exposition for upbuilding and awakening by Soren Kierkegaard, edited and translated by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong, and am a little sad. Reading, since getting married and having children, has become mostly a tedious process for me, yet I was able to get to the point of losing track of turning pages a couple of times. And I never ceased to be delighted with the content of ever-unfolding, deeper, dare I say, revelation.

Amidst mixed feelings about his dialectical relationship with the Danish Lutheran Church of his day, I very much value his insights into a person’s individual relationship before God. I hope he would not have had the same criticisms of the Orthodox Church and its clergy if it had been available to him.

The last section on the two natures of Christ being distinguished from our one nature also gives me food for thought. He criticizes Christians who relate too closely to Christ on account of his human nature. It seems he thinks they are presumptuous and pantheistic in thinking there is no difference between Jesus and them. But the difference that he dwells on, after saying some very wonderful things about God, is that humans are sinners while God in Christ is not. To him to be human is to be a sinner. Since he says this with utmost humility and affection, instead of accusing him of believing in total depravity, which I really don’t think he does based on how he affirms that we are in God’s image still and still have the capacity to be “spirit”, I’ll take his words as helpfully explaining the last part of the Jesus Prayer that I have struggled with because it is the only statement of our identity, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” It has felt oppressive to me on occasion, but after reading this book, I no longer feel that way.

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