of God Is Living and Active – Hebrews 4:12.
to Silence the Scriptures
The witty and devout Soren
Kierkegaard (a Danish theologian and religious writer who lived between
1813-1855) is sometimes difficult to spot in his "thick" philosophical
writings. The following is a condensed excerpt from the chapter "Kill the
Today's mass of Bible interpreters have damaged,
more than they have helped, our understanding of the Bible. In reading
the scholars, it has become necessary to do as one does at a play where
a profusion of spectators and spotlights prevent, as it were, our enjoyment
of the play itself, and instead we are treated to little incidents. To
see the play, one has to overlook them, if possible, or enter by a way
that has not been blocked. The commentator has indeed become a most hazardous
Of course, the commentators are not the only ones
at fault. God wants to force each one of us out again into the essential,
back to a childlike beginning. But being naked before God in this way,
this we do not want at all. We all prefer the commentaries. So with each
passing generation we grow more and more spiritless.
The current emphasis on getting back to the Bible
has, sadly, created religiosity out of learning and literalistic chicanery
– a sheer diversion. Tragically this kind of knowledge has gradually trickled
down to the masses so that no one can read the Bible simply anymore. All
our Bible learning has become nothing but a fortress of excuses and escapes.
When it comes to existence, to obedience, there
is always something else we have to first take care of. We live under the
illusion that we must first have the interpretation right or the belief
in perfect form before we can begin to live – that is, we never get around
to doing what the Word says.
The church has long needed a prophet who in fear
and trembling had the courage to forbid people to read the Bible. I am
tempted, therefore, to make the following proposal. Let us collect all
the Bibles and bring them out to an open place or up on a mountain and
then, while we all kneel, let someone talk to God in this manner: "Take
this book back again. We Christians, such as we are, are not fit to involve
ourselves with such a thing: it only makes us proud and unhappy. We are
not ready for it."
I open the New Testament and read, "If you want
to be perfect, then sell all your goods and give to the poor and come follow
me." Good God, if we were to actually do this, all the capitalists, the
office-holders, and the entrepreneurs, the whole society in fact, would
be almost beggars! We would be sunk if it were not for Christian scholarship!
Praise be to everyone who works to consolidate the reputation of Christian
scholarship, which helps restrain the New Testament, this confounded book
which would one, two, three, run us all down if it got loose (that is,
if Christian scholarship did not restrain it).
It is true that we Protestants go to great efforts
so that every person can have the Bible – even in their own tongue. Ah,
but what efforts we take to impress upon everyone that it can be understood
only through Christian scholarship! This is our current situation.
What I have tried to show here is easily stated:
I have wanted to make people aware and admit that I find the New Testament
very easy to understand, but thus far I have found it tremendously difficult
to act literally upon what it so plainly says. I perhaps could take another
direction and invent a new kind of scholarship, bringing forth yet one
more commentary, but I am much more satisfied with what I have done – made
a confession about myself.
Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard, Chapter 56, Killing the Commentators!
edited by Charles E. Moore, Plough
Publishing, Used with permission.]
See related articles:
Unity of the Scriptures, An introduction by Don Schwager
In All the Scriptures, by Dr. John Yocum
to Read the Bible, by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware
Authority of Scripture, by Steve Clark
Scriptures Are One Book in Christ, quotes from early church fathers
Scripture As God's Word, by J.I. Packer
the Bible It Is God Who Is Speaking to Us, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Can Understand the Bible, by Peter Kreeft
Versus Informational Reading of the Scriptures, by M. Robert Mulholland
to Silence the Scriptures, by Soren Kierkegaard
the Scriptures with the Early Church Fathers, by Don Schwager
Study Course, by Don Schwager