A friend recently asked me to comment on something he read in The Sickness Unto Death written by philosopher Søren Kierkegaard under the pseudonym Anti-Climacus. In the quotation, Kierkegaard seems to attack the discipline of apologetics—that is, defense of the Christian faith. Here’s what he says:

One sees now…how extraordinarily stupid it is to defend Christianity, how little knowledge of men this betrays, and how truly, even though it be unconsciously, it is working in collusion with the enemy, by making of Christianity a miserable something or another which in the end has to be rescued by a defense. Therefore, it is certain and true that he who first invented the notion of defending Christianity in Christendom is de facto Judas No. 2; he also betrays with a kiss, only his treachery is that of stupidity. To defend anything is always to discredit it. Let a man have a storehouse full of gold, let him be willing to dispense every dollar to the poor, but let him besides that be stupid enough to begin this benevolent undertaking with a defense in which he advances three reasons to prove that it is justifiable—and people will be almost inclined to doubt whether he is doing any good. But now for Christianity! Yea, he who defends it has never believed in it. If he believes, then the enthusiasm of faith is…not defense, no, it is attack and victory.

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