St. Mugg's Wrestling Prophets, Part II: The Weird Little Dane
"One of the oddest prophets ever."
This is how the late Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990) begins his short portrait of Soren Kierkegaard. And it is an apt beginning to a strange but wonderful tale.
Which we'll get to in a moment.
Today, as I promised last month, we are returning to A Third Testament— Malcolm Muggeridge's little book celebrating the lives of six "wrestling prophets" (or "sinner saints") from Christian history. If you are not familiar with this insightful British journalist and Christian apologist, I encourage you to look back at the earlier newsletter of which this is a continuation. There you will find a few suggestions and links for a quick internet study of the man's life and thought.
While of course a creation of its time (the early 1970s) and of the curmudgeonly nature of its author, this book does wonderfully what it sets out to do. It shows God's grace at work in His church through seven flawed, struggling, but nevertheless faithful and obedient people. These are Augustine, William Blake, Soren Kierkegaard, Blaise Pascal, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Of all of these odd characters—and each one of them certainly had his oddities—Muggeridge singles out Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) as the oddest.
Kierkegaard's father, a wealthy man with a reputation for "wide reading and intellectual attainments" "as a poor shepherd boy … had cursed God for the hardness and frustration of his life and had, in consequence, suffered ever after from a sense of having sinned." He passed on to his son a sense of melancholy with the state of the world and with himself.
When in later years three of Kierkegaard's sisters, two of his brothers, and his mother died in quick succession, the introspective Dane ...