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The Extremity of Faith

By Soren Kierkegaard

      If I were summoned to such an extraordinary royal progress as that to the mountain in Moriah I know very well what I would have done. I would not have been coward enough to stay at home, nor would I have rested on the way or dawdled, or forgotten the knife to create some delay; I am fairly certain I would have been there on the dot, with everything arranged. . . But I also know what else I would have done. The moment I mounted the horse I would have said to myself: "Now everything is lost, God demands Isaac, I sacrifice him, and with him all my joy--yet God is love and for me continues to be so." Perhaps someone or other in our time would be foolish enough, envious enough of the great, to want to suppose, and have me suppose, that had I actually done this I would have done something even greater than Abraham, for wouldn't my immense resignation be far more idealistic and poetic than Abraham's narrow-mindedness? And yet this is the greatest falsehood, for my immense resignation would be a substitute for faith. The fact that I made the movement resolutely might demonstrate my courage humanly speaking, that I loved him with all my soul is a precondition without which the whole affair becomes an act of wickedness, and yet I would not have loved as Abraham loved. . . . Abraham had faith. His faith was not that he should be happy sometime in the hereafter, but that he should find blessed happiness here in this world. He believed on the strength of the absurd, for all human calculation had long been suspended. Had it not been thus with Abraham he may well have loved God, but he would not have had faith; for he who loves God without faith reflects on himself, while the person who loves God reflects on God. At this extremity stands Abraham. the last stage he LOSES SIGHT OF IS INFINITE RESIGNATION. He really does go further and comes TO faith. For the movement of faith must be made continually on the strength of the absurd, though in such a way, be it noted, that one does not lose finitude but gains it all of a piece. The knights of infinite resignation are readily recognizable, their gait is gliding, bold. But those who wear the jewel of faith can easily disappoint. . . and yet the whole earthly form he presents is a new creation on the strength of the absurd. He resigned everything infinitely, and then took everything back on the strength of the absurd.

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