Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On the Equality of Christian Love

Kierkegaard's comments (in regard to the necessity of loving one's neighbor) on how the Christian view of the neighbor is everyone without distinction in contrast to the World's view.

"Well-intentioned worldliness remains piously, if you will, convinced that there must be one temporal condition, one earthly dissimilarity -found by means of calculations and surveys or in whatever other way -that is equality. If this condition became the only one for all people, then similarity would have been brought about. For one thing, however, this cannot be accomplished, and, for another, the similarity of all by having in common the same temporal dissimilarity is still by no means Christian equality. Worldly similarity, if it were possible, is not Christian equality. Moreover, to bring about worldly similarity perfectly is an impossibility. Well-intentioned worldliness actually admits this itself. It rejoices when it succeeds in making temporal conditions the same for more and more people, but it acknowledges itself that its struggle is a pious wish, that it has taken on a prodigious task, that its prospects are remote -if it rightly be understood itself, it would perceive that this will never be achieved in temporality, that even if this struggle is continued for centuries, it will never attain the goal.

Christianity, in contrast, aided by the shortcut of eternity, is immediately at the goal: it allows all the dissimilarities to stand but teaches the equality of eternity. It teaches that everyone is to lift himself above earthly dissimilarity. Notice carefully how equably it speaks. It does not say that it is the lowly person who is to lift himself up while the powerful person should perhaps climb down from his loftiness -ah, no, that kind of talk is not equable; and the similarity that is brought about by the powerful person's climbing down and the lowly person's climbing up is not Christian equality -but worldly similarity. No, even if it is the one who stands at the very top, even if it is the king, he is to lift himself up above the difference of loftiness, and the beggar is to lift himself up above the difference of lowliness. Christianity allows all the dissimilarities of earthly life to stand, but this equality in lifting oneself up above the dissimilarities of earthly life is contained in the commandment, in loving the neighbor.
- Soren, Kierkegaard, "You Shall Love the Neighbor," in Works of Love, First Series ed. Edward V. Hong and Edna H. Hong (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995).

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