Quite recently, a dear friend of mine posted the above article to social media. I like the article for its stance in the world of philosophy, or perhaps for its recognition of Kierkegaard’s stance. I hope you’ll read it before going further on in my response below.
Whereas Nietzsche saw the absurdity and futility of life as due to a probability of God’s being dead, Kierkegaard saw them rather as signals to trust God… as in a “leap of faith” that only a courageous Knight of Faith can take.
I choose Kierkegaard’s worldview, because—as the author of the article states—it meshes so well with Christianity. And, though the author of this article asserts Kierkegaard’s existentialism does not necessitate Christianity, I would say Kierkegaard’s conception of God is directly drawn from Christianity… [and so was Nietzsche’s, though Nietzsche did not have a full grasp of the concept, seeing Infinitude cannot expire].
In answer to the article, I would like to recommend what is the litmus in determining who is a Knight of Faith vs. who is a mere Lunatic…. Meekness/Existential Contentment in Devotion (i.e. the trusting willingness to be acted upon—for good or for paradoxical evil—by God).
A Knight is not a Ronin, because a Knight has an ordaining and commissioning Lord. And a good Knight is at peace with his/her directives, even the silent ones, come what may to his/her own person. This is not to say there are no tests of that meekness, but rather, all the more. It is not Zen or passivity but an act of repeating leaps and remaining in the leaps taken, regardless of personal cost, in light of the One for Whom (Or to Whom) the leap is taken. A Knight of Faith is marked by a sustained, selfless loyalty or devotion to the Person and will of their Lord, especially when said directive does not appear to benefit the Knight or result in the Knight’s immediate personal advantage. That willingness and ability to suffer well is meekness. It says, “If I can trust God enough to obey Him, then I can trust Him with the consequences.”
Why are Knights so marked by meekness? They know this mortal existence is not all there is to human existence (supernatural events now and afterlife later) and that their sacrifice will receive its own reward at the Hand of the one who directs their loyalty. Why is the Knight loyally meek—so willingly under directive? …because the Lord has already given the Knight a quality of life that can only be explained as “eternal” (transcending, freeing from mere mortality and innate mortal flaw). The Knight experiences this quality of life now in only part, in whelms of love, in foretastes of the Divine Presence, in incremental transformational degrees, in observing coherence of truths received to reality… all of which emboldens faith more. The experiences of some are less than others, but the pattern is some Revelation to all, more to those who follow what they have been given.
I know what some may say in reply. “But what about God’s directing Abraham to kill his son, etc.?” The article’s author notes Abraham for “carrying on past ethical concerns,” or being (per Nietzsche) “beyond good and evil.” Yet, that is an immature understanding of the Hebrew text, as it presents itself. First, Abraham was promised a son by his God. Abraham’s God waited until physical ability had long expired. He then was miraculously acted upon to bear a son, having mixed the promise with trust. The son of promise was born by a miracle (i.e. supernatural event). Abraham was thereby assured His God was the Author of Life; and according to Hebrews 11:19, Abraham was also convinced His God could raise Isaac from the dead. [Also, Isaac was of age to believe this himself and to willingly lay himself down on the altar]. The command to kill his miracle son was a test of faith… an opportunity to continue in “the leap of faith,” and so, demonstrate he is “the friend of God”… seeing God showed Abraham a revelatory type of what God would do to His own Son, Jesus—the true Son of Promise…. And circumcising was also symbol of that promise, directed by God until He (Jesus) arrived, not something Abraham “came up with.” So, Abraham’s conception of God surpasses even that of Kierkegaard, and this makes Abraham the “Father of our Faith.”
Mary also was miraculously acted upon by her God and was told she would join the ranks of the prophets’ blessing, due to the level of suffering she would endure. Her response was meekness to this mix of news of “Messiah carrier to be held in utter contempt.” Yet, she bows and agrees. Meekness. Jacob, Abraham’s grandson stated, “few and evil have been my days” and then said, “…the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, ….” Moses was called the meekest man on the earth by Jesus. Jōb writes, “even though he slays me, still I will trust in Him.” John the Baptist was lauded by Jesus as the greatest among mankind for proclaiming Jesus as Messiah, though it cost him his head in a dark and doubt-instilling prison. Jesus Himself in the Garden said, “nevertheless, not my will but yours,” before laboring to the cross. Paul the Apostle writes, “…I have learned in whatever state I am to therewith be content.” That is to say, ‘whatever God allows to happen to me, I will be meek.” I think you see recurrence of the litmus mark; and Kierkegaard is correct by saying Knights of Faith may be unknown to the popular eye, because meekness does not flaunt itself, as popular culture often does. Meekness is the twin of humility, one introverted, the other extroverted.
That leads me to say Nietzsche’s Ubermensch is actually the antithesis to Kierkegaard’s Knight of Faith. Why? An Ubermensch (as exemplified by the Nazis) sees hardship and potential personal threat, and responds with a desire to exalt self, to conquer and to subjugate the threat according to their own might and will of self-preservation… to become superior or to demonstrate superiority. As Ubermensch, the Nazis were Ronin, because they viewed God as dead and acted like it. A Knight of Faith sees the same hardship and potential personal threat, and he/she responds by looking to the directive of God & committing one’s self to God who judges rightly, not by taking matters into one’s own self-will.
Whereas Nietzsche prescribed the Ubermensch in answer for the status quo of human existence, Kierkegaard prescribes a Knight of Faith. And, the Knight of Faith is marked by meekness—a trait that can only be exercised by one who acknowledges both that God ever lives, and that, He superintends one’s life and can turn the regrets and evils (perceived and actual) into blessing and transcendent perspective, if not here then in the realm of eternity (see these articles). This was also the conclusion of Solomon, who directly influenced Kierkegaard, as someone who has read his Confessions would know. That good power of God to redeem what we regret and what evil befalls us evokes leaps of faith from even the most hardened cynic. C.S. Lewis also understood the concept of meekness, when he writes of Aslan the Lion in The Horse and His Boy, “Please, … “you’re so beautiful. You may eat me if you like. I’d sooner be eaten by you than fed by anyone else.”
Ooh, [as a side] if you haven’t yet… do watch King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. It has a great underlying postulate: how God uses the evil of others and even the devil himself to “make us”… and so, at the end of our mortal life, be able to bless the devil and (despite him and us) fulfill our destiny for God.
How does one become a Knight of Faith? First, acknowledge your Lord and Your Creator (God) through Jesus—a leap of faith. Then, live out meek and trusting allegiance to Him.