A couple of years ago I had not even heard of Soren Kierkegaard.  And then I was able to present a paper at the 2010 SMPT conference and heard his name mentioned dozens of times.  So I put him on my reading list.  I recently bought ‘The Essential Kierkegaard‘ and I have read about a third of it in random chunks.  I would like to spit out some of my first impressions.

In some ways, I think many Mormons would dig Kierkegaard.  His ‘Fear and Trembling’ provides many insights into the command to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.  The ideals of obedience and sacrifice would appeal to many Latter-Day Saints.  It would also interest many Mormons to read Kierkegaard’s attack on Christianity.  Kierkegaard makes pretty bold claims of apostasy including a lack of apostolic authority, corrupt doctrine, and an easy salvation.  Since Mormonism’s restoration claims rest on just such an apostacy, they would value an independent, similar claim from such a respected philosopher/theologian.

In other ways, I think many Mormons would not like Kierkegaard very much.  At times he is a bit of a downer.  He speaks of the human/Christian condition as being one of lowliness.  This life is supposed to be difficult, and filled with anxiety.  His views are a far cry from ‘men are that they might have joy’.  I also doubt that he would go along with an embodied, non-absolute God either.

I admire Kierkegaard’s thoughts and talents.  He is a very poetic writer, with an enjoyable wit and style.  But I prefer a more positive view of life and mankind.  I will read a few more of his essays, but will not likely read the entire book.


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