Page:Selections from the writings of Kierkegaard.djvu/220

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218 University of Texas Bulletin

IF WE ARE REALLY CHRISTIANS — THEN WHAT IS GOD? (No. II, 8)

If it is not so — that all we mean bj^ being "Christians" is a delusion — that all this machinery, with a State Church and thousands of spiritual-worldly councillors of chancery, etc., is a stupendous delusion which will not be of the least help to us in the life everlasting but, on the contrary, will be turned into an accusation against us — if this is not so; for if it is, then let us, for the sake of life everlasting, get rid of it, the sooner the better —

if it is not so, and if what we understand by being a Christian really is to be a Christian : then what is God in Heaven ?

He is the most ridiculous being that ever existed. His Word is the most ridiculous book which has ever appeared ; for to move heaven and earth, as He does in his Word, and to threaten with hell and everlasting damnation — in order to obtain as His result what we understand by being Chris- tians (and our assumption was that we a r e true Chris- tians) — well, now, has anything so ridiculous ever been seen before? Imagine that a fellow with a loaded pistol in his hand held up a person and said to him, "I shall shoot you"; or imagine, what is still more terrible, that he said, "I shall seize you and torture you to death in the most hor- rible manner, if" — now watch, here's the point — "if you do not render your life here on earth as profitable and as en- joyable as you can": would not that be utterly ridiculous? For to obtain that effect it certainly is not necessary to threaten one with a loaded pistol and the most painful tor- ture; in fact, it is possible that neither the loaded pistol nor the most painful torture would be able to deter him from making his life as comfortable as he can. And the same is true when, by fear of eternal punishment (terrible threat!), and by hope of eternal salvation, He wishes to bring about — well, to make us what we a r e (for what we call Christian is, as we have seen, really being Chris- tian), to make us — well, to make us what we are; that is, make men live as they please ; for to abstain from com- mitting crimes is nothing but common prudence!