“With God all things are possible” – Luther and Kierkegaard on the relation between immutability, necessity and possibility

  • 1 VID Specialized University, Misjonsmarka 12, 4024 Stavanger, Norway
Knut Alfsvåg

Summary

If God is eternal, he is immutable and his relationship with the world is without change. Luther and Kierkegaard agree that this is the case, but disagree whether the idea of necessity adequately captures God’s relationship with the world. Luther inherits the idea of necessity from the Scholastics, but rejects their distinction between absolute and conditional necessity. We can only trust God’s promises if there from God’s point of view are no contingencies. For Kierkegaard, the idea of necessity is determined by Kant’s understanding of reality as experience limited by what is possible according to the criteria of rationality. Kierkegaard finds this understanding insufficient, as it excludes the possibility of the infinite. In spite of differences of terminology caused by the differing contexts they had to address, there is thus a significant parallel between Luther and Kierkegaard in that they both criticize their contemporaries for having a deficient understanding of divine difference.

Purchase article
Get instant unlimited access to the article.
$42.00
Log in
Already have access? Please log in.


Journal + Issues

The journal examines the exciting dialogue between Lutheran-Reformed theology and philosophy in the broadest sense, seeks to keep open a breadth of responsible thought in the controversial issue of contemporary theology, and offers a variety of ways to formulate questions. Through its international editorial board, it guarantees an exchange of theological research in German and English.

Search