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Participation in Grace: Kierkegaard's Corrective to Luther

Watts, Daniel (2022) 'Participation in Grace: Kierkegaard's Corrective to Luther.' Studies in Christian Ethics, 35 (4). pp. 765-785. ISSN 0953-9468

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I offer an interpretation of Kierkegaard’s corrective to Luther as targeting not merely certain tendencies within cultural Lutheranism but Luther’s very conception of what it means to be receptive to grace. On this interpretation, while Kierkegaard affirms that salvation is by grace alone, and through faith alone, he thinks that Luther errs when he conceives of receptivity to grace as a state in relation to which the believer is merely passive, the object of divine action. Instead, in Kierkegaard’s view, receptivity to grace involves a distinctive, middle-voiced, form of human agency in which the believer learns to acknowledge her need for grace. In this view, it belongs to grace to draw agents, as agents, into participation in a process of transformation. I show how his substantive corrective to Luther puts Kierkegaard in proximity to the spirituality of the Philokalia and the thought of the so-called Neptic Fathers. With reference also to his insistence of the irreducible importance of the participant’s perspective, I further draw out from Kierkegaard an explanation of why the temptation may arise to misinterpret Lutheran soteriology as a form of theological determinism.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Kierkegaard; Grace; Luther; Patience; Agency; Freedom; Neptic; Faith
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities
Faculty of Humanities > Philosophy and Art History, School of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2022 10:36
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2022 17:25

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