If I understand the great Christian existentialist, Soren Kierkegaard correctly, he said, in his book, Either/Or, that the essence of the relationship between a human being and God, that grants security and frames the nature of eternal salvation, is in truly assimilating this one point: “Against God, we are always in the wrong.” I am not going to present his long, logical, but laborious steps in arriving at this position, because, unlike me, most people do not like reading so many words that merely make one concise point, but I do hope to put it in plain language that at least I can better understand.
Kierkegaard, in making his point, in no way dismisses or reduces the importance of the atonement of Christ. He was, to the end, a devout believer in Christ, though absolutely disgusted with the Church of his age as he perceived it. He is the one who gave us the wonderful metaphor for faith in Christ when he pointed out that reason, such as that of St. Anselm and St. Aquinas, will only take us so far in accepting God, and that when we have gone as far as reason will take us, we must “take a leap of faith.” Far from disparaging our need of a Savior, he was stating that until we realize we are completely unable to save ourselves, we do not have a saving relationship with God. He was a firm supporter of the New Testament concept, “by faith (in Christ) we are saved.”
Nevertheless, Kierkegaard, in analyzing the dynamics involved in Salvation, says it is of no importance or relevance for us to hold the position that in relation to us, “God is always in the right.” He says that is an obvious statement that says nothing about one’s dependence upon God for salvation. We must realize, and embrace the truth that, in relation to God “we are always in the wrong.” There is a subtle, but extremely important distinction, between those two descriptions of our stance toward God. We may set a code of rules, aim for total righteousness, do what we can to always do right, but that is not enough. Kierkegaard considers it obvious that there are no circumstances that can be imagined in which a human being can become holy, in the sense that God is holy. As we present ourselves to God, “we are in the wrong.” Apart from that stance, there is no salvation.
Why? I believe Kierkegaard was saying that, as long as we believe we may be able to save ourselves by following rules, doing right and, as he says, “doing what one can,” we do not really believe we need God. This was, partially at least, the sin of Satan that got him cast out of Heaven (Luke 10:18). His sin was to presume that he could take God’s place. In essence, God was not necessary in Satan’s mind.
Hubris is the phonetic spelling of the original, Greek word that refers to extreme pride and unrealistically positive evaluation of one’s competence and importance. It is not difficult to find examples of human hubris. All one needs to do is look to Hollywood, political leaders, and yes, certain celebrity preachers. A human being who is truly charismatic may be a powerful force for good. But a human being with that kind of charisma mixed with hubris, is a mortal example of the Satan who fell from Heaven, whose goal is to lead the human race to destruction. The most famous 20th century example of such a man is Adolph Hitler. Just as the New Testament describes Antichrist as a wolf who comes in sheep’s clothing, sociopathic leaders like Hitler present themselves, at first, as saviors.
We are living in dangerous times. Throughout human history, men of great charisma, but with personalities defined by extreme hubris, have arisen on a relatively regular schedule, to present themselves as saviors. They follow a similar pattern. First, they convince their countrymen, then a large portion of the world, that they offer great solutions to the problems of common humanity. Then, step by step, gradually, like the proverbial frog in the slowly heating pot of water, they take humanity to the depths of degradation and despair. I fear (not saying I’m sure, but I fear) that we are living in a time that is ripe for such a leader to arise.
It has been around 80 years since Hitler began laying the groundwork for his ascension to power. As you study the national and international scene today, do you see men of hubris stirring the coals of the bonfires of Hitler’s vanities? Do you see and hear individuals in the public arena promising easy solutions to complex problems? Do you hear promises being made of miraculous resolutions to intractable dilemmas without any description (or even hint) of a plan for actually accomplishing fulfillment of their guarantees? Have you heard voices who want to be elected, use language that stirs you into thinking that certain other groups in our society are the enemy, and must be ostracized or eradicated? Are there charismatic speakers on the public scene telling you that the productive, right, good, smart thing for America to do is to go to war somewhere–that then your problems will be solved and your life will be better? These have always been the voices of human hubris. They are the voices of individuals who believe they can unseat God.
How can we protect ourselves against those individuals who believe they can unseat God, at least in this Earthly plane? I think we must remember, that “against God, we are always in the wrong.” If we put our faith in some human being who is promising to solve our problems in negative, destructive, selfish, greedy, hateful ways, we are playing into the hands of brilliant human hubris. That has never worked out well in the past. It will not work out well for us in the present or the future. No one who uses Hitler’s manipulative promises is a real Savior.
Nobody ever makes it to the point of actually running for the office of President of the United States who does not have some element of egotism. It requires a tremendous ego to withstand the constant scrutiny of the public and the barrage of daggers thrown from critics, competitors and actual enemies who want to unseat such persons. But there is a desperate, crucial difference between the good leader with a huge ego, and a flawed leader full of hubris. The latter types have consistently led their duped followers to ignominious decline, if not destruction.
If you are a sincere believer in God, remember the wisdom of Kierkegaard. The moment we believe we have a Savior other than God, we have no savior at all; least of all a selfish human savior.
I hope you will consider sampling and buying my novel, The Hiroshima Agenda, which you will find by clicking: www.amazon.com/dp/B00XXCVODO Thank you.