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Kierkegaard's Critique of Christian Nationalism$
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Stephen Backhouse

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199604722

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199604722.001.0001

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H. L. Martensen

H. L. Martensen

(p.34) 2 H. L. Martensen
Kierkegaard's Critique of Christian Nationalism

Stephen Backhouse

Oxford University Press

The role of the state and the place of the nation in Christian thought forms the backbone of Bishop Hans Lassen Martensen's speculative system. The chapter examines the issue as it appears in Martensen's ‘ethical’ works, most notably the Outline to a System of Morals and Social Ethics. Martensen was concerned to elaborate a theology that ‘goes beyond’ Hegel's extreme universalism, yet retains Hegelian speculation about progression and historical development. Martensen viewed with basic approval the phenomenon of established cultural religion, considering ‘Christendom’ to be the highest expression of Christianity. The chapter considers three ‘pillars’ which support Martensen's vision of the state; underlying philosophical assumptions about the nature of history, ethics and personality that come to their fulfilment in the defence of Christian civilization. Martensen's theology of national identity thus amounts to a defence of the very Christendom against which Kierkegaard was so opposed.

Keywords:   Martensen, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Outline to a System of Morals, Social Ethics, Christendom, history, ethics, personality

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