chapter  20
15 Pages

Coming to an Understanding with the Paradox

WithMark A. Wrathall

In this chapter, I offer an account of Kierkegaard’s response to ‘Climacus’ Puzzle,’ which challenges us to come to terms with the apparent incoherence of Christianity, given the contradictory nature of core Christian beliefs. I review and dismiss responses to the puzzle that attempt to dissolve the contradiction, or to take the puzzle as demonstrating that Kierkegaard’s utterances about Christian faith were nonsense. Instead, I argue, the point of the puzzle is to teach us to distinguish between faith and belief. I conclude that Kierkegaard embraces the incoherence of Christian belief because he holds an adoxalist view of faith—that is, he believes that faith is antithetical to belief, indeed, that faith draws its strength from the failure of beliefs to give us an appropriate existential stance for hearing and responding to the world