Publication Date

Spring 2006


School of Religion


Mid-nineteenth century Denmark was a center of Lutheran Christianity characterized by dry, passionless, ritualism. All citizens were member of the state church, and thus considered Christian, but the churches themselves did not proclaim the Gospel in a way commensurate with their namesake, Martin Luther. Into this spiritual wasteland stepped Soren Kierkegaard. An outspoken critic of the Danish Church, Kierkegaard sought to proclaim the true Christianity to the people of Denmark. Generally, Kierkegaard's writings reflect the central theological tenets of the refol1ner himself, but many places in his writing appear to reflect some sort of synergistic position with regards to salvation. On the one hand, he admits that humans can do nothing towards salvation, but on the other that a committed act of the will is necessary in one's relation to God. The goal of this paper is to show that Kierkegaard affirmed a legitimate personal freedom with regard to salvation. It will also be shown that his affim1ation of this freedom does not mean that he thought man could cooperate with God to effect salvation (synergism). These goals will be achieved through an examination of the relevant material in the works of Kierkegaard. Properly understood, those passages in the published works which appear to affirm synergism really affirm no such position. It is not until 1852, after the published corpus, that Kierkegaard begins to affirm synergism.