January 14th, 2010

Kierkegaard:
The destruction of Jerusalem

Posted in Death, Reading by ed

He weeps over Jerusalem.

And yet the city was still standing in its glory, and the temple still held its head high, higher than any structure in the world.

And Christ Himself says, “If thou hadst known in this thy day the things which are for thy good!” But to this he adds, “Now they are hid from thine eyes.” In God’s eternal counsel its destruction is determined, and salvation is hid from the eyes of its inhabitants.

Was the generation then living more wicked than the foregoing generations to which it owed its life?

Was the whole nation corrupt, was there none righteous in Jerusalem, not a single one who could check God’s wrath?

No, its destruction was determined. In vain the besieged city looked in anguish for a way out, the army of the enemy crushed it in its mighty embrace, and no one escaped, and heaven remained shut and sent forth no angel except the angel of death which brandished its sword over the city.

Is this the jealousy of God, that He visits the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation, in such a way that He does not punish the fathers but the children?

What answer should we make? Should we say:

“There have elapsed now nearly two thousand years since those days. Such a horror the world never saw before and never again will see. We thank God that we live in peace and security, that the scream of anguish from those days reaches us only very faintly. We will hope and believe that our days and those of our children may pass in quietness, unaffected by the storms of existence. We do not feel strong enough to reflect upon such things, but we are ready to thank God that we are not subject to such trials.”

Can anything be imagined more cowardly and more disconsolate than such talk?

Is then the inexplicable explained by saying that it has occurred only once in the world?

Or is not this the inexplicable, that it did occur?

And has not this fact, the fact that it did occur, the power to make everything inexplicable, even the most explicable events?

If once it occurred in the world that man’s lot was essentially different from what it ordinarily is, what assurance is there that this will not recur?

What assurance that this is not the true thing, and what ordinarily occurs is the untrue?

Or is the true proved to be such by the fact that it most often occurs?

And does not that really often occur which those ages witnessed?

Is it not what we all of us in so many ways have experienced, that what occurs on a great scale is experienced also in a minor degree?

“Think ye,” said Christ, “that those Galileans whose blood Pilate commanded to be shed were sinners above all the Galileans because they suffered these things?” It was a providential dispensation, you will say, not a punishment.

But the destruction of Jerusalem was a punishment, and it fell with equal severity upon the innocent and the guilty …

EITHER/OR – The Ultimatum

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