​Communion and the remission of sin: a Kierkegaardian account

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Abstract

In this paper, I argue that by drawing comparisons between Søren Kierkegaard’s discussion of Communion in his Discourses at Communion on Fridays and the account of sin presented in the pseudonymous The Sickness Unto Death, we can address a problem discussed in contemporary philosophy of religion. This problem, as Terence Cuneo describes it, is just how the seemingly mundane acts involved in the practice of the Eucharist can play a role in the remission of sin. I argue that by expanding Kierkegaard’s discussion of sin in the Discourses at Communion on Fridays with reference to the account of sin presented in The Sickness Unto Death, we can provide a response to Cuneo’s problem. According to this Kierkegaardian response, what prevents a person from being united to God in this life is not a lack of God’s forgiveness, but rather, a weakness and fragmentedness of the human will. Not only does the practice of Communion bring about an awareness of one’s willed distance from God, but it also strengthens the will in such a way that one draws closer to Christ. Thus, by drawing together these seemingly distinct areas of Kierkegaard’s writings, I will show that we can begin to explain how the ordinary actions involved in the Eucharist can release human beings from the grip of sin.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-166
JournalParticipatio
Volume5
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2020

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