Christian Existentialism

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Tillich claimed that religion provides one with the strength ‘to be’. The hopes and passions of religion, that are ultra-rational, give society hope to conquer despair. Existentialism isn’t so atheistic that it wears itself out showing that God doesn’t exist. Rather it declares that even if God did exist, that would change nothing…His existence is not the bone of contention (Sartre, 1943). Christian existentialism is not compatible with traditional Christianity. Christendom has basically organized religion in which somebody loses himself in a group mentality. For Kierkegaard, religion is a personal event, not a community affair. I do not believe that these philosophies can strengthen the Christian faith in today’s world. Existentialism tends to attract those people that think no one else understands them. It gives them the idea that it’s alright and even encouraged to be alone and isolated from others. It takes people away from any sense of social belonging. This is so different from Christianity which encourages believers to gather together and praise God in a church setting. Kierkegaard contends that somebody should submit themselves totally to God without reasoning, yet traditional Christianity encourages us to know more about our God and his purpose for our lives here on earth. Therefore our choices must be in line with God’s plan for us. …Existentialism states that the world is absurd, and there is no hope. Christianity states that the world is absurd, and it is a wonder there is hope. Pessimism had gripped intellectual Europeans ever since the turn of the century. How could anyone pretend that the human race was governed by reason that advances in science and technology were for the greater good when humans were not only capable of genocide but had the ability to annihilate themselves (Ingelhart, 1988). For French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, the only certainty in the world was death. However, Christianity states that the world is wicked but humans should look forward to a time in the near future when a new earth system will take over where there will only be peace and happiness. Existentialism is opposed to rationalism and traditional Christianity is not. The destruction of wars throughout human history proves that there can’t be a rational understanding of God or humanity. Existentialism asserts that man is free from imposed moral values. Traditional Christianity believes in God’s transcendent universal moral values. Existentialism asserts that each person is their own authority concerning truth. Traditional Christianity insists that God is the absolute final authority over His creation and all things. Kierkegaard had argued that Christians must live in a state of anguish caused by their own freedom of choice. They must first confront the fundamental Christian paradox, the assertion that the external infinite, transcendent God became incarnated as a temporal finite being, Jesus. To believe this requires a leap of faith… but, according to Christian existentialism, if the individual Christian can never really ‘know’ God, one can and must choose to act responsibly and morally.