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The God-Relationship:A Kierkegaardian Account of the Christian Spiritual Life

Cockayne, Joshua Luke (2016) The God-Relationship:A Kierkegaardian Account of the Christian Spiritual Life. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

By drawing on the writings of Søren Kierkegaard, I address the question of what it is to live in relationship with God. In answering this question, it is important to recognise that God, as he is described in the Christian tradition, is a personal God. For this reason, the account of the Christian spiritual life I outline is described as a life of coming to know God personally, rather than as a life of coming to know about God by learning about him. As I argue, a minimal condition for knowing God personally in this way is that an individual has a second-person experience of God. However, one of the barriers which prevents relationship with God from occurring in this life is that the human will is defective in such a way that human beings cannot will to be in union with God. Because of this problem, human beings cannot live in union with God in this life. And so, in order to allow for the possibility of union with God in the life to come, the human will must be repaired; consequently, one of the key tasks of the spiritual life is this task of repairing a person’s will by re-orienting it so that union with God is possible. Since a person cannot be in union with God in this life, it is important to give an account of what it is to be in relationship with God in the spiritual life. I present this relationship in terms of being in union with Christ which I describe, drawing from Kierkegaard, in terms of ‘being contemporary with Christ’. To be contemporary with Christ, as I explain it, is to experience what psychologists call ‘shared-attention’ with Christ; one way of experiencing Christ in this way, I argue, is by a person’s engagement in spiritual practices. It is by stressing the importance of this concept of contemporaneity with Christ that we can see how an individual engages in the task of re-orientating their will. The reason for this, is that the experience of Christ’s presence allows a human being to imitate Christ and thereby heal the damage caused by sin. Finally, I argue, even in experiences of God’s absence, a person can develop a deeper relationship with God. In withdrawing his presence from individuals, God allows for a kind of weaning process to occur in which persons develop a more independent, and eventually deeper God-relationship. �

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Philosophy (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.698328
Depositing User: Mr Joshua Luke Cockayne
Date Deposited: 22 Nov 2016 14:21
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2018 15:21
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/15565

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