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Reformers, Philosophers, Kierkegaard and the Akedah Yitzakh


Reformers, Philosophers, Kierkegaard and the Akedah Yitzakh

Professor Victor A. Shepherd

Tyndale University College & Seminary


I: — Whether or not philosophy and theology are deemed irreconcilable appears to depend on where one stands in the theological spectrum.  The Papal encyclical, Fides Et Ratio, promulgated by the late John Paul II on 14 September 1998 , stated unambiguously the relationship between philosophy and theology that John Paul himself upheld and expected others in his denomination to uphold as well.  As a student of the Magisterial Reformation, on the other hand, I am aware that the Reformers regarded philosophy – by which they frequently meant Mediaeval scholasticism – as an encroachment upon theology that denied the gospel’s inherent integrity, militancy and efficacy.

Martin Luther, for instance, voiced this notion as nascent Reformer. In early autumn 1517 (perhaps earlier even than his putative nailing of the Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Schlosskirche in Wittenberg on 31st October 1517 ) he published the ninety-seven theses of his Disputation Against Scholastic Theology. The anti-scholastic, anti-philosophic tone is unmistakable.  Discussing the understanding of the human will that mediaeval philosophers typically advanced, Luther writes “We are not masters of our actions, from beginning to end, but servants.  This in opposition to the philosophers.” [1]   The Disputation is replete with similar references. Consider the following. “Virtually the entire Ethics of Aristotle is the worst enemy of grace.  This in opposition to the scholastics.”[2]   “It is an error to say that no man can become a theologian without Aristotle. This in opposition to common opinion.”[3]         “The whole Aristotle is to theology as darkness is to light.   This in opposition to the scholastics.”[4]   Lest we think that Luther has targeted Aristotle only, we should hear Luther on someone in the tradition of Plato.   “It would have been far better for the church if Porphyry (233-303) … had not been born for the use of theologians.”[5]         (“Better…if [he] …had not been born” points unambiguously to the biblical reference to Judas; Porphyry is no less spiritually treacherous, with his philosophically compromised theology, than the one Christian tradition deems arch-traitor.  Philosophy is no little threat to faith in the gospel.)   Luther concludes his 1517 Disputation, “In these statements we wanted to say and believe we have said nothing that is not in agreement with the Catholic church and the teachers of the church.”[6]

Soon Luther rendered more specific his objection to philosophy as he developed his Theologia Crucis or “Theology of the Cross” in the years that remained to him.  Since Luther wrote no systematic theology, his Theologia Crucis is found in no single place but rather recrudesces in fragments throughout his work.[7]

Luther developed his Theologia Crucis in opposition to a Theologia Gloriae in its many forms. One form of it was the attempt at reading the truth and nature of God off the face of world-occurrence, off the face of history.         Another form was the attempt at arguing for the truth and nature of God from nature. Another form, perhaps more subtle, was the church’s triumphalistic self-promotion (which is to say, the church’s persecution of others) inasmuch as the church confused its triumphalism with the triumph or victory of the crucified one, the church having forgotten that the crucified one is raised crucified, with wounds still gaping.  When the church confuses its triumphalism with the victory of its Lord who suffers still, the resurrection ceases to be the effectiveness of the cross; instead the resurrection becomes the supersession of the cross, matched by the church’s superiority to its crossbearing.         While this distortion was a matter of ecclesiology, Luther insisted that ecclesiology is a predicate of Christology, and a distorted ecclesiology could therefore be traced to a Christology warped by philosophy.

All of which brings us to the last form of Theologia Gloriae, the identification of God with metaphysical speculation.   Here Luther has two principal objections in mind.

One objection is his insistence that the Holy One of Israel is qualitatively distinct from the God of the philosophers: being, being-itself, “ground of being”, etc.   The living God is to be understood not as the ens realissimum of the philosophers, the static “that which is”, but rather in terms of the dynamic personalism of the Hebrew bible: God is He who acts. (Thomas Aquinas’ reading of Exodus 3:14, where Moses asks for God’s ‘name’ and God replies “I shall be who I shall be”; Aquinas’ reading of this text as declaring the aseity or self-existence of God the Reformers found utterly wide of the mark and an instance of philosophical corruption.)

The second objection is Luther’s insistence that the God who acts is not the only actor; Satan acts too.  God, however, defines himself at the cross, and only at the cross. For this reason Luther maintained that apart from the cross God is indistinguishable from the devil.[8]

On account of its espousal of metaphysics, philosophy remains wedded to the Theologia Gloriae.  Metaphysical speculation never terminates in the God who humbles himself in the manger and humiliates himself at the cross.         Philosophy forever remains an aspect of that ‘wisdom of the world’ that the gospel has inverted.

Consider the discussion of power, including omnipotence.  At the cross God not only acts most characteristically (he loves to the uttermost, love exhausting his nature); at the cross God also acts most effectively (he reconciles a wayward world to himself.)   To say that the cross, therefore, is God’s mightiest work is to say that the cross alone determines the meaning of “almighty” or “omnipotent.” Since power is the capacity to achieve purpose, God acts “almightily” when he overcomes all impediments to the fulfilment of his purpose, and does so precisely where, from a human standpoint, he cannot do anything.  God’s power can never be understood by means of an argument that begins with finite, creaturely power and concludes with infinite, divine power. No philosophical argument for God – let alone for God’s omnipotence – terminates in the God-forsakenness of a bedraggled Jew (someone the world loves to hate) executed at a city garbage dump.  Luther has spoken.

What about John Calvin? Calvin, to say the least, is cautious concerning the theologian’s deployment of philosophy. In the course of expounding the doctrine of the Trinity he writes laconically, “Here, indeed, if anywhere in the secret mysteries of Scripture, we ought to play the philosopher soberly and with great moderation…..For how can the human mind measure off the measureless essence of God according to its own little measure….Indeed, how can the mind by its own leading come to search out God’s essence…?”[9]   More characteristically, however, Calvin speaks critically of the “Sophists”, scholastic writers whose hybrid theology has accommodated philosophy so as to distort the biblical message.   In this regard, when Calvin discusses the will of God (which for him is the will of God made manifest in Jesus Christ), Calvin contrasts this with “that absolute will of which the Sophists babble.”[10]

Not every philosophical predecessor is equally evil, however.  Calvin thought more highly of the “Schoolmen”, the older, more notable mediaeval thinkers, than he did of theological opponents temporally proximate to him. In his assessment of the distinction between operative grace and co-operative grace, for instance, Calvin writes “how far I disagree with the sounder Schoolmen [note that regardless of how sound these thinkers may be, Calvin still finds ample scope for disagreement] I differ with the more recent Sophists to an even greater extent, as they are farther removed from antiquity.”[11]   He has in mind here principally Ockham and Biel .

Regardless of Calvin’s approach to philosophy, and particularly Aristotle, the fact is that Scholastic theology never disappeared in the Reformation era. Alongside the Humanist flowering, which flowering had no little effect on most Magisterial Reformers (here we need only recall that Calvin’s first published work was a commentary on Seneca’s De Misericordia), Scholastic theology thrived in the “old church” even as Reformers denounced it. It was soon to thrive in the “new church” too as both Lutheran and Reformed Orthodoxy soon wrote theology in a scholastic mode.  It triumphed in the work of Jacob Arminius, the Remonstrant in whom philosophy looms much larger than his followers appear to appreciate. Indeed it is no exaggeration to say that Arminius is chiefly a philosopher whose Thomistic theology (Aquinas is the most frequently quoted thinker in Arminius’ work) happens to use a Protestant vocabulary.  And of course the English Puritans returned to a use of philosophy that was more than merely illustrative.  Jonathan Edwards, New-World Puritan theologian, remained the ablest philosopher in America until the advent of Charles Sanders Peirce.

Over the centuries the relationship between philosophy and theology has varied in the details of the respective disciplines, even as the disciplines sometimes appeared to wed each other, at other times act as necessary foil to each other (and therefore still need each other.) If theology announced itself divorced from philosophy, the divorce appeared not to last.



In Hegel there occurred what may be regarded as one of philosophy’s larger-scale “takeover bids” of theology; namely, Hegel’s notion of the Absolute or Mind or Spirit.  Ultimate reality is Spirit, but such Spirit is not an exclusive or monistic claim to reality. Neither is Spirit that God of scripture whose Being is utterly distinct ontically from the being of the world, Creator and creation being linked only by grace. Spirit is not that God whose infinite self-transcendence is categorically distinct from the self-transcendence of philosophical thought.

Hegel maintains that it is possible, by means of philosophical thought, to rise to the Absolute Standpoint where the distinction between subject and object is overcome and the thinker becomes one with cosmic Mind, which Mind is nothing other than self-thinking thought, or Mind thinking itself. Mind thinking itself, it must be remembered, is not some sort of flight into solipsism or fantasy, let alone the self-referential world of the deranged. Mind thinking itself is the philosopher’s ascent to that standpoint, that of the Absolute or the Idea or God, in which all the dichotomies of the universe are acknowledged to be non-imaginary yet are overcome in a higher synthesis. Since philosophy aims at a rational apprehension of reality as a whole (and in Hegel’s opinion, his own philosophy has succeeded at this), evil, and that aspect of evil which is sin, have to be seen as aspects of or stages on the way towards that mediation which overcomes the ontic distance between God and humankind.  (In other words, evil has been denatured as evil; radical evil – evil for the sake of evil, evil subserving no good whatsoever, rendered inherently impossible.) The God of biblical faith who utterly transcends the creation is manifestly penultimately “God”, since such a deity is necessarily limited by what it precludes.  According to Hegel, then, God is most profoundly that which gathers up in a higher ontic unity what has heretofore been regarded as ontically distinct. In connection with this notion Hegel speaks of two forms of the infinite, one adequate and the other inadequate.   The inadequate infinite is simply the non-finite.         If the infinite is defined as the non-finite, however, then the infinite is limited by what it is not, and to this extent is not infinite at all. Then the adequate infinite must be that infinite which includes both the finite and the infinite.

Where has this development been illustrated?   (Note that the question is not “Where has this occurred?”)   It has been illustrated in the Incarnation, where the God who up to that time had been viewed as transcendent only – albeit infinite – is now acknowledged to include precisely what it had previously excluded. The infinite, in short, is the sum of infinite plus finite.

Who needs the illustration? Hegel maintains that Christianity is the pictorial representation of truth helpful for those who cannot, or to date have not, risen philosophically to the Absolute Standpoint. Hegel intends no disparagement. At the same time, what is depicted as biblically substantive – Incarnation, atonement, resurrection, Spirit-suffusion – are philosophically less than ultimate.    They remain pictorial representations of a reality that has moved beyond them even as it includes them.




Kierkegaard objects. He denies that there can ever be mediation of Hegel’s sort between God and humankind. He denies that the Absolute’s knowledge of itself and humankind’s knowledge of the Absolute are two aspects of the same reality.   He denies that the creature (if such a word is still appropriate) can rise by means of philosophical thought to the standpoint of the Absolute so as to render human self-consciousness ultimately the same as God’s self-consciousness. He insists that there is an “infinite qualitative distinction” between God and humankind that cannot be overcome.  The God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob is never to be confused with Hegel’s Spirit or Absolute.  We may encounter the God who forever remains GOD, but we are never ontically “one with” that God.

Whereas Hegel insists that “The Truth is the Whole”, Kierkegaard maintains that “Truth is subjectivity.”  This assertion, of course, has nothing to do with subjectivism or make-believe or even post-modernism’s denial of truth.         “Truth is subjectivity” means that the real is the relational. Whereas Hegel had insisted “The Real is the rational and the rational is the real” (presupposing his own carefully delineated sense of “rational”), Kierkegaard anticipates Martin Buber’s notion that the real is the “between”; the real is the existent’s encounter with, engagement with, the God who infinitely transcends us yet who accommodates himself to us and therefore whom we may meet and know.

To exist, insists Kierkegaard, is qualitatively different from to think – however pregnant Hegel’s notion of thinking may be and regardless of what it may include. For this reason, Kierkegaard does not hesitate to say “Existence cannot be thought.” Rejecting the “thought experiments” of metaphysicians as the approach to truth, Kierkegaard insists that the real is apprehended only by means of a commitment that forsakes all earthly securities and “leaps” in faith at incalculable risk.

The paradigm of such commitment is Kierkegaard’s “knight of faith”, Abraham of old; and the story concerning Abraham that overwhelms Kierkegaard is the Akedah, the “binding” of Isaac as Abraham offers up his son, his only son, in obedience to God’s command.

Abraham and Isaac

Abraham, the prototype of the person of faith, has been promised spiritual descendants as numerous as the sand on the seashore.  If the promise is to be fulfilled, two conditions must be met: Abraham must persevere in faith (or else he cannot be the foreparent of descendants-in-faith), and Isaac must survive (or else there will no descendants-in-faith.)   The dilemma is plain: If Abraham obeys God and offers up his son, then God’s promise is null and void, since Isaac has not survived; on the other hand, if Abraham second-guesses (i.e., disobeys) God and preserves Isaac, then God’s promise is null and void, since Abraham’s disobedience exemplifies unfaith.


In short, Abraham’s obedience and his disobedience nullify the promise alike. What is he to do? Abraham decides to stake everything on obeying God’s command, trusting God to fulfill God’s promise in ways that Abraham cannot foresee or even imagine.   He will obey God even though such obedience, from a human perspective, ensures the non-fulfillment of the promise.

Precisely at the moment of the knife’s descent God forbids the dreaded act. God’s unaffected awareness and candid acknowledgement, “Now I know that you fear God” ( 22:12 ), dovetails exactly with Abraham’s utter surprise at the provision of the ram. Abraham’s surprise is no more feigned than his intent to obey God at any cost.   Both dimensions must be underscored: it is true simultaneously that Abraham never doubts that “God will provide” (or else he has abandoned faith’s trust in the promise-fulfilling God) and that he is genuinely astounded at the appearance of the ram (or else the trial of faith was no trial at all, trial presupposing the inability to foresee in any way how promise can be fulfilled when faith must heed a command that guarantees cancellation of the promise.)


Kierkegaard and Hegel

Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling targets Hegel unambiguously.   Hegel’s understanding of religion, of course, includes his understanding of faith. And since philosophy “goes further” than religion, philosophy necessarily goes further than faith – only, says Kierkegaard, to turn wine into water.[12]

Philosophy, meanwhile, is not aware that it denatures faith, for philosophy insists that it comprehends faith even as it supersedes faith. In all of this, says Kierkegaard, theology is seemingly unaware that its mandate is theos, God. The result is that theology, or what’s left of it, “sits all rouged and powdered in the window and courts its favours, offers its charms to philosophy.”[13]    Theology has prostituted itself to philosophy while preening itself on an intellectual sophistication superior to the crudeness of Abraham and Isaac. After all, “it is supposed to be difficult to understand Hegel, but to understand Abraham is a small matter.”[14]   With mordant irony Kierkegaard turns the vocabulary of “further” back upon his opponent: overwhelmed at Abraham, Kierkegaard glories in the fact that in 130 years the patriarch “got no further than faith.”[15]   While “got no further” waggishly suggests that Abraham was stalled, Kierkegaard knows that Abraham, not the philosophical speculators, had alone moved ahead to existence.         Existence cannot be gained or entered upon by means of the “thought experiments” of the metaphysicians, but only as the detachment of “worldly understanding” is left behind in favour of radical commitment.[16]

The radical commitment is to God; not the “God” of philosophical constructs but the One who summons every would-be believer to Abraham trial. Such trial consists in enduring, in utter anguish, the contradiction between promise and command. This contradiction is nothing less than “absurd.”   As faith paradoxically embraces the absurd (in all of this the “this-worldliness” of Isaac and promised blessing must be kept in mind), faith is vindicated and confirmed not in an ethereal eternal but in the temporal. By way of reminder of the link between the absurd and the temporal Kierkegaard adds, “Only he who draws the knife gets Isaac.”[17]

Needless to say the loneliness of Abraham (and therefore of any believer) is his inability to make any of this understandable to even one other human being. Since no one can foster the understanding requisite for faith, no believer can help someone else into faith: “either the single individual himself becomes the knight of faith by accepting the paradox or he never becomes one.”[18]

In light of philosophy’s non-comprehension of all that Kierkegaard has said, together with the human horror that surrounds the particular absurdity pertaining to Isaac, he does not hesitate to say that not only is Abraham’s life the most paradoxical that can be thought; it is so paradoxical that it cannot be thought.[19]   Still, the foregoing must never be regarded as unique to Abraham.   He is prototype, to be sure, but as such is always to be imitated by those who have never settled for the cheap edition of him that the church is forever trying to sell. He remains the “guiding star that saves the anguished.”[20]

Kierkegaard’s point is that Hegel’s category of self-consciousness, even a self-consciousness that is one with an eternal self-consciousness is still only consciousness; it is not yet existence.  Faith alone embraces existence, and does so only by means of a “leap.” Such a radical commitment is always a qualitative transition that nothing can precipitate or effect incrementally.

The single individual knows that we can be saved only as faith, itself a paradox, grasps the absurd.   Such faith is forever the antithesis of the detachment of philosophy and forever the antithesis of the immediacy of the heart’s spontaneous inclination.[21]   Such faith is always the paradox of existence.

In light of all that has been said concerning the absurd, paradox, leap, existence – together with the fact that the single individual can be neither understood nor admired – Kierkegaard is correct when he contends that the believer is finally a witness, not a teacher.[22]    A teacher, after all, teaches what others with the requisite philosophical equipment can understand.   A witness, on the other hand, attests precisely what is found in common with nothing else. Existence, contra Hegel, is indeed “beyond” all philosophical thought-experiments.


A Reprise

And yet it appears philosophy will always be necessary – at least if theological impasses are to be dealt with.         One such impasse was the Christological dispute between Arius and Athanasius in the Fourth Century. In his understanding of Jesus Christ Arius had managed to combine the worst of two heresies, Ebionitism and Docetism.         While his Christology never hesitated to speak of Jesus as the Son of God, his “Son of God” was a tertium quid, something that was neither divine nor human.  For if the Son of God is less than God in any sense, then the Son is not God. And if the Son of God is more than human, then neither is the Son human.

When Athanasius attempted to rebut Arius he realized that both he and Arius were using the same biblical expression, “Son of God,” but were ascribing antithetical meanings to it.  Athanasius insisted that nothing less than the gospel was at stake here. While Arius insisted that the Son was homoiousios with the Father – of similar substance, Athanasius insisted that Son and Father were homoousios – of the same or identical substance.   The difference between homoousios and homoiousios is an iota, the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet (in Greek it lacks even a dot), and subscript as well. (How much hangs on such a distinction is indicated in English by the difference between asking someone to run your business and asking her to ruin it.) Athanasius understood that if the crucial difference between him and Arius was to be identified, he would have to resort to non-biblical, philosophical language. Homoousios is not a biblical word.  Athanasius defended his use of it by insisting that it exuded the spirit of scripture; in other words, homoousios locates the meanings of biblical words and the realities to which they point.[23]

What did Athanasius do for the church through his deployment of a non-biblical, philosophical expression?         No less a figure than Karl Barth maintained that the Athanasian homoousios was the most significant theological statement since the apostles.

It is not difficult to multiply instances where philosophical concepts and vocabulary are crucial in theological articulation.  Despite Calvin’s protestations against the divagations of schoolmen and sophists whose Aristotelian encroachment upon theology Calvin finds objectionable, Calvin resorts to Aristotle in expounding his understanding of justification.[24]  Concerning Romans 3:24, “[All who believe] … are justified by his [God’s] grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (RSV) Calvin maintains this verse to be “perhaps the most remarkable place in the whole of Scripture for explaining and magnifying the force of this righteousness.”[25]   Here Calvin writes, “He [Paul] shows that the mercy of God is the efficient cause; that Christ, with his blood, is the material; that the formal, or instrumental, is faith conceived from the Word; and the final is the glory of the divine righteousness and goodness.”[26] Elsewhere Calvin readily acknowledges philosophy as servant of Christian understanding: “…we see that there was good ground for the distinction which the schoolmen made between necessity, secundum quid, and necessity absolute, also between the necessity of consequent and of consequence.”[27]

In none of the above is it suggested that the substance of philosophy determines the substance of theology.         It is to say, however, that theology appears to need philosophy – or at least to find it highly useful – to deploy philosophical concepts in theological exposition.

Karl Barth makes this point in his exposition of the doctrine of the Trinity. Barth regards as short-sighted those who are impatient with the doctrine on the grounds that it appears to rely for its articulation on the philosophy current at the time of the Council of Nicaea (ca. 325.) Barth acknowledges the

…indisputable connexion of the dogma [of the Trinity] with the philosophy of the age.  By proving philosophical involvement we can reject the confessions and theology of any age and school, and we can do his more effectively the less we see the beam in our own eye.  For linguistically theologians have always depended on some philosophy and linguistically they always will.  But instead of getting Pharisaically (sic) indignant about this and consigning whole periods to the limbo of a philosophy that is supposed to deny the gospel – simply because our own philosophy is different – it is better to stick strictly to the one question what the theologians of the earlier period were really trying to say in the vocabulary of their philosophy.[28]

Theology cannot be articulated apart from philosophical concepts and vocabulary. At the same time, the content of philosophy and theology are not identical.  Therefore theology must adapt its proper content to the forms of discourse in its immediate environment.  If theology fails to adapt then it speaks to no one, however rich its content may be. On the other hand, if in seeking to adapt, theology adopts the substance described by the forms of discourse in its immediate environment, it will find that however well it communicates it has nothing to say, theology now being able to do no more than reflect the world back to the world.

The line between “adapt” and “adopt” is finer than a hair and harder than diamond. In truth, most of the time Christian witness finds itself now on one side of the line and then on the other, trusting that on balance it tiptoes down the boundary. The option that theology never has is to “play it safe” and make no effort at adapting for fear of adopting, for to “play it safe” is to guarantee the disappearance of witness.

Kierkegaard knew as much. While remaining an unrelenting foe of philosophy’s disdain for Abraham who, unfortunately, “got no further than faith,” Kierkegaard concludes his criticism of Hegel and Hegel’s “Absolute” by conscripting Hegel as Kierkegaard tells the reader that Abraham – everywhere the prototype of philosophy-defying faith – is lost unless “…the single individual as the single individual stands in an absolute relation to the absolute.”[29]

Since it appears philosophy will always be essential to theology, is the difference between philosophy and theology an irreconcilable difference? In some respects there may continue to be an irreconcilable difference.         Years ago my chief philosophical mentor, Emil Fackenheim, commented to me that radical evil, evil for the sake of evil, evil enacted for no other reason than perverse delight in evil, is precisely that surd over which metaphysics finally stumbles – “surd”, in mathematical parlance, being that which can never be made to fit an expression that is mathematically elegant.

At the same time, within the realm of truth or reality that theology acknowledges, might there be room for philosophy in the form of a re-formulated natural theology? Within this realm cannot philosophy argue from the creaturely order to its “silent cry” for a sufficient reason?   This is not a philosophical attempt at supplanting, for instance, redemption as the content of revelation.   But it is to argue, from within the realm established by revelation; it is to argue philosophically that the truth of theology is not inherently philosophically impossible.[30]

In this light Hans Urs von Balthasar, in discussing the relation between philosophy and faith, appears to grasp the challenge that has convened this colloquium when he writes

…Ought one not … to say that the Christian, as proclaimer of God’s glory … takes upon himself – whether he wants to or not – the burden of metaphysics?[31]


Victor A. Shepherd  March 2007



[1]Thesis #39, “Disputation Against Scholastic Theology”, Timothy F.  Lull, ed.; Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1989) p.15. Luther’s point is that humans can never be more than mere servants of their will, since their will, coram Deo, is governed either by sin or by Christ-in-his-righteousness.

[2]op. cit., #41, p.16.

[3]op. cit., #43, p.16.

[4]op.cit., #50, p.16. By “whole Aristotle” Luther means not only Aristotle’s metaphysical writings but also Aristotle’s scientific writings, newly uncovered in the burgeoning scientific exploration in the Sixteenth Century, and just as newly exposed as false by telescope-aided astronomers.

[5]op. cit., #52, p.17.

[6]op. cit., p.20.

[7]See, e.g., Walter von Loewenich, Luther’s Theology of the Cross; Herbert J.A.Bouman, transl.( Minneapolis : Fortress, 1976, passim.

[8]cf. Gerhard O. Forde, The Captivation of the Will, ( Grand Rapids : Eerdmans, 2005)p.45.

[9]Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ( Philadelphia : The Westminster Press, 1960. J.T. McNeill, ed.; F.L. Battles, transl.) 1.13.21.

[10]op.cit., 1.16.7.

[11]op.cit., 2.2.6.

[12] Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling, Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong, transls. and eds.; (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983) p.37.

[13] Kierkegaard, 32.

[14] Kierkegaard, 32.

[15] Kierkegaard, 23.

[16] When Kierkegaard speaks of faith’s leaving worldly understanding behind he is not advocating irrationality as such.   See C. Stephen Evans, Faith Beyond Reason: A Kierkegaardian Account, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998) chapters 6 and 7.

[17] Kierkegaard, 27.

[18] Kierkegaard, 71.

[19] Kierkegaard, 56.

[20] Kierkegaard, 53, 21.

[21] Kierkegaard, 47.

[22] Kierkegaard, 80.

[23]See T.F. Torrance, The Trinitarian Faith, (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1988) p.128,129.

[24]We might note that Calvin published his Commentary on Romans in 1540. Between 1532 and 1542 at least thirty-five commentaries on Romans were published, including many by Roman Catholic exegetes who disagreed with the Reformers’ reading of that epistle which Protestants cherish above all others.

[25]T.H.L. Parker, Commentaries on Romans: 1532-1542. (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1986) p.198.

[26]op.cit., p.197.

[27]Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Henry Beveridge, transl. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953).

[28]Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, G.W. Bromiley, transl., (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1975) I,1, p.378.

[29]Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling, p.120.

[30]See Thomas F. Torrance, Karl Barth: Biblical and Evangelical Theologian, (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1990) chapter 5.

[31] Hans Urs von Balthasar, My Work in Retrospect, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993)p.85.