Volume 90, Issue 4, October 2013
Kierkegaard on Rationality
Kierkegaard on Authority, Obedience, and the Modern Approach to Religion
Throughout his works Kierkegaard repeatedly claims that the modern age has subverted authentic Christianity. While interpretations of Kierkegaard’s critique of the modern approach to religion abound, they generally agree that the critique is based on various conceptual distinctions regarding the limits of human reason, the epistemological differences between subjective and objective truth, or the (irrational?) nature of religious faith. Very little attention, however, has been paid to the prominent role authority plays in the critique or to the fact that according to Kierkegaard it is disobedience to authority, and not any conceptual confusion, that is the primary fault of the flawed modern approach. This paper argues that Kierkegaard’s most fundamental indictment of the modern approach to religion is its disobedience to the authority of the Christian command. Given this, the paper then examines what, for Kierkegaard, is the basis on which a person should choose to submit to an alleged religious authority.