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Kierkegaard on Human Spirituality


C. Stephen Evans (Baylor University) gives an overview of Kierkegaard’s understanding of spirituality. Kierkegaard clearly thinks that humans are created as “spirits” and thus that authentic human existence is a spiritual mode of existence. But what does that mean? Surprisingly, given Kierkegaard’s reputation as an “individualist,” human spiritual existence turns out to be entirely a function of the relationships that define the self. A generic form of human spirituality is possible for humans by virtue of God’s relation to all humans through conscience. However, Christian spirituality is made possible when we relate to God through Christ, a relation made possible by the Spirit of God. Spirituality turns out to be not a static quality but a normative ideal, and the last section of the paper discusses those psychological factors, both individual and cultural/historical, that inhibit or foster genuine spirituality, both in its generic and specifically Christian forms.