Dialectic of Salvation in Solidarity

  • Anselm Kyongsuk Min
Part of the Claremont Studies in the Philosophy of Religion book series (CSPR)


After Kant’s critique of historical, revealed religion in the name of rational morality, and after Kierkegaard’s dialectical interpretation of Christian existence in its radical breach with immanence, it is difficult to imagine two thinkers more unlike and more antithetical. The idea of God, forbidden any transcendent and constitutive use in the determination of the content of religion and allowed only an eschatological function as a postulate of morality in Kant, is given a fully transcendent and constitutive application in the determination of Christian existence in Kierkegaard. Through the traditional doctrines of creation and redemption, incarnation and revelation, sin and grace, God provides not only an eschatological hope but also concrete guidelines in history. The ethical life, autonomous in Kant, is fully subsumed into Christian existence in Kierkegaard, receiving not only the content but also the incentive from Christian religiosity. Categorical, unconditional respect is due to God, not finite human beings. One must maintain an absolute relation only with the absolute end and only a relative relation with relative ends. Human autonomy is both content and form, agency and norm of Kantian religion, the radically Other remains the ultimate dialectical determinant of Kierkegaardian existence in its totality.


Human Dignity Human Existence Categorical Imperative Political Praxis Divine Command 
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  1. 1.
    Immanuel Kant, The Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, trans. Lewis White Beck (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1959), pp. 67–8.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    A fine recent book describing this dialectic and analysing its implications for religion and theology is Robert J. Schreiter, The New Catholicity: Theology between the Global and the Local (New York: Orbis, 1997).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Søren Kierkegaard, Training in Christianity, trans. Walter Lowrie (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1941), p. 39.Google Scholar
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    Immanuel Kant, The Metaphysical Elements of Justice, trans. John Ladd (New York: Macmillan, 1965; Library of Liberal Arts), p. 34.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p. 79.Google Scholar
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    For a defensive exposition of what I think is Kierkegaard’s moralistic, apolitical politics, see Merold Westphal, Kierkegaard’s Critique of Reason and Society (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1987), pp. 29–42.Google Scholar
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    See further my Dialectic of Salvation: Issues in Theology of Liberation (Albany: SUNY Press, 1989), pp. 104–16.Google Scholar
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    See my Dialectic of Salvation, pp. 79–116; Jon Sobrino, Jesus in Latin America (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1987), pp. 19–29. The critical theology of Helmut Peukert extends the transcendental approach and asks how solidarity with the victims of the past is possible and argues that such solidarity is possible only on condition of the possibility of resurrection. See his Science, Action, and Fundamental Theology: Toward a Theology of Communicative Action, trans. James Bohman (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1986), pp. 163–245. For correlation of this approach with Kant’s approach to God as a postulate of practical reason, see Thomas A. McCarthy, ‘Philosophical Foundations of Political Theology: Kant, Peukert, and the Frankfurt School’, in Leroy S. Rouner (ed.), Civil Religion and Political Theology (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1986), pp. 23–40.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

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  • Anselm Kyongsuk Min

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