Chapter

Undefined New Things: Church and State

Stephen Backhouse

in Kierkegaard's Critique of Christian Nationalism

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199604722
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729324 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199604722.003.0007

Series: Oxford Theological Monographs

Undefined New Things: Church and State

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Kierkegaard's attack on Christendom has been described as an attempt to introduce an ‘undefined new thing’ in its place. The chapter considers the positive contributions that Kierkegaard brings to Church and state. With reference to the work of Matuštík and the concept of Øieblikket, we see how a Kierkegaardian ‘postnational identity’ commends itself to the present age. The analysis is extended to contemporary civic contexts (such as the USA), demonstrating how good patriots do not necessarily make good citizens. The critique also has ecclesiological implications. Here, the Church is understood as a neighbourhood and not a congregation. Like all neighbourhoods, the Church must be ‘something undefined’ if it is to avoid following the idolatrous route of the nation. Kierkegaard's theological project is thus also a political project relevant to all Christian cultures that are tempted to confuse their Christian identity with a national one.

Keywords: Kierkegaard; Matuštík; Øieblikket; patriotism; citizenship; ecclesiology; Christian nationalism; Christendom

Chapter.  13854 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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