American Academy of Religion

In the Twilight of Christendom: Hegel vs. Kierkegaard on Faith and History by Stephen
Review by: Mark C. Taylor
Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 42, No. 3 (Sep., 1974), pp. 572-573
Published by: Oxford University Press
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Crites recognizes the difficulties of the project. Brown thinks. Kierkegaard regards the historical mediation This content downloaded from 202. it is also a book about religion and the relation of religion to culture. how can Rieff have both the ivory tower unspoiled by contemporary vagaries. in his later works. 1972. I have said that it is a flawed argument in favor of what cannot be. rendered possible the most complete realization of the human spirit ." Put in its most basic form. and prudently decides not to attempt a comprehensive summary of the positions of Hegel and of Kierkegaard. As always maddeningly paradoxical.41.93 on Thu. that it is an angry sermon by a beleaguered high priest of academe. By STEPHENCRITES. Despite the extraordinary significance of the work of Hegel and of Kierkegaard for twentieth-century European and American philosophy and theology. some enraged. But we must not fail to take it in utter earnest. He organizes his study around a theme that brings into sharp relief their most significant theological and philosophical differences. Crites considers Hegel's and Kierkegaard's "divergent reactions to the religio-cultural phenomenon of Christendom. Hegel holds that Christianity makes an essential contribution to the development of human consciousness toward spirit. Crites maintains that while Hegel's exploration of the positivity of the Christian religion in his Early Theological Writings leads him to a generally negative evaluation of Christianity. and. regardless of specialty. and contemporary vagrants unspoiled by any humane learning at the same time? And Freud: can Freud be both the messianic liberator from ignorant superstitition and at once the perverse father to the barbaric therapeutic? Much more could be said.75. University of Montana WILLIAM C. for me Rieff illuminates our conceptual anarchy. MT: American Academy of Religion.10. no. Crites' outstanding monograph is a major contribution to our understanding of this important part of our intellectual heritage. O. 77-188905. may be the Nietzschean madness redeeming Fellow Teachers. Fellow Teachers well bears our time and considered response. 109 pages. somehow a cross between Nietzsche and de Maistre. some perhaps chastened. Scholars of religion. 2). Kierkegaardon Faith and History (American Academy of Religion Studies in Religion. and more particularly Lutheran Protestantism. in description and in evaluation of Philip Rieff's book. SHEPHERD In the Twilight of Christendom:Hegel vs. will be edified by Rieff's rebuke. L.C. $2. Kierkegaard's analysis of the significance of Christendom is considerably more negative. No. The absence of insightful analyses of the encounter between Kierkegaard and Hegel is not accidental.Speculative Philosophy. Speculative Philosophy brings to conceptual clarity the truth that was anticipated by the Christian religion and that gradually emerged throughout the history of Christendom. Rieff remains an indispensable philosopher of where we are: while the quite real danger in increasing it is ever there. the English-speaking world has produced surprisingly little responsible scholarship devoted to these two nineteenth-century titans. on a different level. Rather than regarding the development of Christendom as the process in which the truth implicit in the incarnation is gradually mediated until it is rationally apprehended in nineteenth-century German philosophy. It is addressed to those of us in the university. 15 Jan 2015 06:48:08 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF RELIGION 572 as N. But under some cover terms. When Hegel employs his mature hermeneutical principle of interpreting the beginnings of a movement (in this case of Christianity) in light of its result. it becomes apparent that Christianity. Missoula. The complexity of the works of these two authors makes the task of comparing their arguments forbidding.

MARK C." one remains alienated from his actual world. but the passionate strife to realize radically new possibilities. Hegel maintains that "rational insight is the reconciliation with the actual world that enables a spiritual being 'to enjoy the present. The distance between these two perspectives seems as wide as Lessing's "ugly ditch. His analysis is clear. It also involves the relation between the believer and his surrounding world. and exceptionally penetrating." For Hegel. the profound differences between Hegel and Kierkegaard become evident.93 on Thu. But the problem of faith and history is not limited to the relation between subjective faith and its historical object." For Kierkegaard. it becomes apparent that Hegel's and Kierkegaard's different understandings of the relation between faith and history condition their reactions to Christendom. Crites' awareness of the importance of the issues at stake in the Hegel-Kierkegaard debate not only makes his study of historical interest. . while Kierkegaard "resolves" the issue of relation between faith and its historical object by "overleaping" the 1800 years of Christendom in the effort to become contemporary with the God-Man. or straining in anticipation of a future beyond any possible historical present. but should seek a direct encounter with the absolutely paradoxical claim of Jesus to be God. "The passion of faith is a self-transcendence. Kierkegaard is the poet of the unhappy consciousness.' to 'liberate' and 'find itself' in the present. "dreaming of peace in a purely ideal world." For Kierkegaard." Crites' work ranks as one of the most significant contributions to Hegel and to Kierkegaard scholarship in recent years. Moreover. "the religious lies decisively beyond ." At this point. Both thinkers seek to resolve Lessing's problem of the relation between accidental truths of history and necessary truths of reason. Crites contends that Kierkegaard's analysis of the incarnation and his view of the dynamics of individual selfhood cannot be understood apart from one another. only the faithful life of a Christian is the realization of authentic human existence.41.573 REVIEWS of Christianity to be detrimental to the formation of Christian faith. Only in such a situation does the possibility of faith emerge. a solid grounding in Hegel's and Kierkegaard's work is required to perceive the full significance of the argument of the essay. Therefore to become liberated from historicity is to fail to attain authenticity. When stated in these terms. whose poetry is an expression of his continued self-alienation." Hegel's goal is to overcome opposition within oneself and alienation from one's world by living comprehendingly in the present. ethical obligation "is itself a primary focus of true religious meaning. Hegel "solves" the problem of Christian revelation through the historical mediation of Christendom. but renders it extremely valuable for contemporary theological and philosophical reflection. any ethico-social relationship. Crites argues that "the philosophical issue between Hegel and Kierkegaard concerns the relation of subjectivity to historical time. 15 Jan 2015 06:48:08 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . TAYLOR Williams College This content downloaded from 202. or placing trust in a transcendent other. As the foregoing remarks suggest. . accurate." Apart from this "rational insight. this apparent liberation from historicity is a fall into aesthetic spiritlessness or selflessness. Kierkegaard holds that the movement toward authentic selfhood immerses one ever more deeply in the tensions and ambiguities of temporality. For Hegel. The goal of the individual is not the happy reconciliation to actuality. Selfhood is inherently temporal. As Crites develops his argument. It reflects its relation to the transcendent God by its transformation of the believer. At some points. the problem of faith and history becomes the problem of faith and ethics. Again Hegel and Kierkegaard differ significantly. A Christian should not seek the rational comprehension of the historically mediated "idea" implicit in the incarnation.10.