Søren Kierkegaard’s Judgement on Martin Luther and Lutheranism

  • Antoni Szwed Pedagogical University of Cracow, Department of Philosophy and Sociology
Keywords: Christianity; ethical demands; Luther; Lutheranism


What did Søren Kierkegaard think on Martin Luther? In some cases he treated to the German reformer positively, but simultaneously very often severily criticized him. Generally speaking, relationship of Journals author to Martin Luther was complicated and ambiguous. Kierkegaard strived to the amendment of contemporary Danish Lutheranism, which was burdened by Luther’s doctrinal errors, and also deteriorated by later generations of Lutherans. Danish thinker accused Luther of considerable reducing of ethical Christian demands by means of moral act values depreciation, abolition of clergyman celibacy and dissolution of monastery life, rejection of ascetic practices like voluntary poverty, fastings, renunces and intensive contemplative life, connection of religious doctrine and cult with real politics. It was main reason for secularization of contemporary to Kierkegaard Danish Christianity.

Over the course of time with Kierkegaard the immanent criticism of Lutheranism turned into some kind of external one. Luther’s doctrine was not sufficient for him. He disclosed essential lacks. Hence in spite of clear declarations of remaining at the national faith, he leaned more and more towards Catholicism. Kierkegaard discovered, Protestantism was only “corrective remedy” to Catholicism, but from the beginning the its existence was dependent on the Catholic Church. Hence, Danish thinker was rather protagonist to shape contemporary Protestantism according to catholic patterns than to reform Catholicism according to protestant rules.

The main aim of his article is to indicate the whole estimation range of the Luther and Lutheranism, we find in Søren Kierkegaard’s Journals. Furthermore, we do not decide anything about theological rightness or unjustness of Danish thinker criticism directed to German reformer Martin Luther.


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