The Orthodox Rod Dreher, who quoted Bonhoeffer in an essay on Christians separating themselves from the world, quotes another Lutheran, Søren Kierkegaard. In his Attack upon “Christendom”, his devastating critique of the Danish state church and “cultural Christianity,” Kierkegaard argues that inherent to the faith is “a relationship of opposition” to the world. He also makes the point that the final apostasy will not be when everybody renounces Christianity but when everybody claims to be a Christian.
From Søren Kierkegaard, Attack upon “Christendom”:
In the New Testament the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ, represents the situation thus: The way that leads to life is straight, the gate narrow—few be they who find it!
—now, on the contrary, to speak only of Denmark, we are all Christians, the way is as broad as it possibly can be, the broadest in Denmark, since it is the way in which we all are walking, besides being in all respects as convenient, as comfortable, as possible; and the gate is as wide as it possibly can be, wider surely a gate cannot be than that through which we all are going en masse.
Ergo the New Testament is no longer truth.
All honor to the human race (p. 115)!
. . . . . . . . . .
The Christianity of the New Testament rests upon the assumption that the Christian is in a relationship of opposition, that to be a Christian is to believe in God, to love Him, in a relationship of opposition. While according to the Christianity of the New Testament the Christian has all the effort, the conflict, the anguish, which is connected with doing what is required, dying from the world, hating oneself, etc., he has at the same time to suffer from the relationship of opposition to other men, which the New Testament speaks of again and again: to be hated by others, to be persecuted, to suffer for the doctrine, etc.
In “Christendom” we are all Christians—therefore the relationship of opposition drops out. In this meaningless sense they have got all men made into Christians, and got everything Christian—and then (under the name of Christianity) we live a life of paganism. They have not ventured defiantly, openly, to revolt against Christianity; no, hypocritically and knavishly they have done away with it by falsifying the definition of what it is to be a Christian. It is of this I say that it is: (1) a criminal case, (2) that it is playing Christianity, (3) taking God for a fool.
. . . . . . . . . .
The apostasy from Christianity will not come about openly by everybody renouncing Christianity; no, but slyly, cunningly, knavishly, by everybody assuming the name of
being Christian, thinking that in this way all were most securely secured against … Christianity, the Christianity of the New Testament, which people are afraid of, and
therefore industrial priests have invented under the name of Christianity a sweetmeat which has a delicious taste, for which men hand out money with delight.
Kierkegaard was arguably not the most orthodox of theologians, but he certainly scores some hits here. Does his notion of a “relationship of opposition” neglect or express the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms? Do we need to hear this as the culture goes farther and farther away from Christianity?