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Thou Who Hast First Loved Us

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This short prayer is from a book that I’m reading called “The Prayers of Kierkegaard”.  Kierkegaard has long been one of my favorite philosophers and theologians. My prayer is that through Kierkegaard’s words your soul might be stirred and your affections might be set on the one who has (in each and every moment) first loved us.

Thou who first loved us, O God, alas! We speak of it in terms of history as if Thou has loved us first but a single time, rather than that without ceasing Thou hast loved us first many times and everyday and our whole life through. When we wake up in the morning and turn our soul toward Thee–Thou art the first–Thou hast loved us first; if I rise at dawn and at the same second turn my soul toward Thee in prayer, Thou art there ahead of me, Thou hast loved me first. When I withdraw from the distractions of the day and turn my soul in thought toward Thee, Thou art the first and thus forever. And yet, we always speak ungratefully as if Thou has loved us first only once.

-Soren Kierkegaard

11 thoughts on “Thou Who Hast First Loved Us

  1. Almost sounds like a psalm.

    • I agree with you Peter. The American composer Samuel Barber also agreed and put some of Kierkegaard’s prayers to music. I believe the piece is called, quite appropriately, “The Prayers of Kierkegaard”. Thanks for stopping by. I checked out your site very quickly before leaving for work today. I’ll have to stop by again when I have more time. It looks very interesting.

  2. So yeah man I think I got you in a corner now cuz U R always quoting this guy right? So I asked my friend about kieeerkiggaurd because I don’t really get philosophy very much and he says that keerkegaird doesnt believe in truth and all and that if he does then its that every prson can decide their own truth which is what I always say 2 U and then U pull that Jedi mind trick on me and make me think that Im wrong and that I really believe what U say but now what I’m sayin is that now I must have pulled it on U cuz now U R quoting some guy who says the same thin I do so looks like IM the Jedi maseter now~ yeah!

    • Hey Anthro, I think this is a common misunderstanding of Kierkegaard’s use of the word “subjectivity”. When Kierkegaard talks about “Truth as Subjectivity” he does not have in mind the same sense of the word that the Existentialists would later attribute to it. What Kierkegaard is saying is that truth must affect you on a subjective level or it isn’t anything more than a propositional observation. Objectivity is free from any personal feelings or beliefs- that is, it does not relate back to the subject (you) but considers only the object (whatever is being considered). Subjectivity on the other hand is just the opposite. Subjective judgements relate the subject (you) back to your personal feelings and beliefs. Another way to look at it is that objectivity doesn’t affect you in anyway; It’s just a simple stating of the facts (grass is green). Subjectivity absolutely affects you (grass feels good under bare feet). A close reading of Kierkegaard leaves no room for the claim against him that he does not believe in absolute objective truth. In fact, you would have to virtually ignore a vast majority of his writing to come to that conclusion. SK believed that objective truth exists and that it exists particularly within the Christian revelation of God. What he is addressing is not the ontological existence of truth, but our relation to that truth. Take the claim that God came into the world, suffered, died and was resurrected from the dead. Suppose this was proven by science to have happened without a shadow of a doubt. Believing those facts alone is not enough to save because it is, at that point,objective. It is only when you act upon the claim that God came suffered, died and rose that the truth becomes subjective (affects the individual). At that point (the point of action) faith is activated and the truth claim becomes true to you. Now whether or not you believe those claims about God does not affect the ontological truth of the claim- only the existential truth (or the truth as applied to the individual). Devoid of subjectivity truth is only a propositional set of facts. Once it is apprehended subjectively it becomes infused with life because it compels you to act upon it.

  3. Good stuff.

    • Thanks Fred. I agree. Kierkegaard has long been one of my favorites. I’d be interested to hear your point of view on SK’s subjectivity as truth since you have a good understanding of philosophy. I think evangelicalism has missed a jewel by writing him off, although there are some who appreciate him more than others. Is the fear that they will come too close to relativism? Perhaps they don’t want to come too close to anything that will force them to chose between their doctrine and practice? It’s much easier to believe that faith is simply giving intellectual assent to a doctrine rather than seeing faith as a matter of volition. Perhaps this is also why they don’t want to come too close to Bonhoeffer as well. I don’t know.

  4. I’m no expert on Kierkegaard, but I appreciate two of his central theses. The first, that reason can take you only so far. Belief is not the refuge of a failed rational pursuit but its “logical” end. The second is his extraordinary discussion of the implications of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Kierkegaard dares to set God above human concepts of morality, something rarely done even in modern thinking. I love that. For Kierkegaard, God simply cannot be measured by human categories but must be taken on His own terms. This both humbles the human who comes to God and transfigures him by an experiential knowledge not available through any human channels or thought. Some of this is also captured in the journals of Jonathan Edwards who wrote of his encounters with the living Christ while riding alone in the woods.

    Again, good stuff, my friend. You need to write more.

    • The story of Abraham and Isaac always troubled me until I read Fear and Trembling. Kierkegaard introduced me to a God who is relational rather than propositional; a God who values a broken and contrite heart over the legality of law keeping. I agree with you 100%.

      I’ll have to check out the journals of Edwards. I just finished a book not too long ago on Edwards by George Marsden. Actually it was an audio book lent to me by a friend. I enjoyed hearing about Edwards and his struggles with what it means to be truly saved. It sparked an interest in me and I’ve been fascinated by Puritanism ever since.

      I try to write when I can but it takes so much time. I enjoy it. If for no other reason it forces me to think through issues which I otherwise wouldn’t take the time to think through. You’re quite the writer yourself! I’ve been impressed.

  5. Anonymous

    Hi! thanks for finding me…even though I’ve been gone since May. Trying to make it back. Thank you for your gracious and encouraging words. I appreciate it so much. Glad to meet you and look forward to reading your blog and getting to know you better. ~peace, Jeanne. I love S.K. so much, too!!!

    • Jeanne, Thanks for getting back to me. I enjoyed reading your blog. The artist in you comes out in your writing. Thanks for letting me copy and paste the text of this prayer from your blog to mine. I was feeling lazy and wasn’t up to typing it out! I’m praying for your health. What a glorious hope we have- we are all promised healing. A few will be blessed with healing on this side of heaven… but in the end we are all renewed. Our God is worthy of praise!

  6. Bro I think U just did the jedi mind trick on me again. @Fred your blog is 2 funny! I sure I’m not getting the deep stuff but the funny parts and cracks at God are funny. That and I like the guy nun with the gun. Ive never seen a guy nun B4. Seen a nun with a gun in a movie but never a guy nun with a gun. Hilarius!

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