God Has No Cause (Kierkegaard)

There are those who talk about God’s cause, and about wanting to serve that cause. This is all very fine, but how, exactly, is this to be interpreted? The common view thinks that God has a cause in the human sense of the word, that he is some kind of advocate, interested in having his cause win and therefore eager to help the person who would serve his cause, and so forth.

If we follow this line of thinking God becomes a minor character who arrives at the embarrassing dilemma of needing human beings. No, no! God has no cause, is no advocate in this sense. For God everything is infinitely nothing. Any second he wills it, everything, including all opposition to his cause, becomes nothing. Wanting to serve God’s cause can never mean the same thing as coming to his aid. No, to serve God’s cause is to face examination.

If someone wants to serve his cause, it is not God who loses his balance and sublimity; no, he fixes his attention upon this volunteer – observantly – and sees how he conducts himself, whether he has integrity and resolve.

Because God is not interested in temporal causes, because he is infinitely the conquering Lord, precisely for that reason he examines. He is quite able to accomplish his will alone. This is why the more one is involved with God the more rigorous everything becomes.

sk2eyesIt is out of God’s infinite love that he involves himself with every human being. The very fact that God permits evil people to thrive in this world is a mark of his infinite majesty. Do you not understand this frightful punishment, that God overlooks them? God’s punishment is upon those he chooses to have nothing more to do with. And yet he always accomplishes what he wills.

We usually think that when we honestly want to serve God’s cause, God will also help us along. Well, how? In a material way? By a successful outcome, prosperity, earthly advantage, or the like? But in that case everything gets turned around and it no longer remains God’s cause but a finite endeavor. Besides, maybe I am only a cunning fellow, who really does not want to serve God but in a deceptive, pious way to cheat God to my advantage. Perhaps I even think that God is in a bind and is made happy as soon as someone volunteers to serve his cause. Utter nonsense and blasphemy!

No, God is spirit – and our task is to be transformed into spirit. But spirit is absolutely opposed to being related to God by way of temporal benefits. Such is God’s sublimity – and yet this is the infinite love of God! Yes, infinite love, so infinite that God desires to involve himself with every human being, with every weak, foolish, carnal heart who tries to make him into a nice uncle, a really fine grandfather whom we can make good use of. God is infinite love and for this reason has no cause. He will not suddenly overpower a person and demand that he instantly become spirit. If that were the case we would all perish. No, he handles each person gently. His is a long operation, an upbringing in love.

Yes, there are times when one gasps and God strengthens with material blessings. But there is one thing God requires unconditionally at every moment – integrity – that one does not reverse the relationship and try to prove his relationship to God or the truth of his cause by good fortune, prosperity, and the like. God wants us to understand that material blessings are a concession to our weakness and very likely something he will withdraw at some later date to help us make true progress, not in some finite endeavor but in passing the examination.


Soren Kierkegaard, Journals and Papers I, 104–106 “Copyright 2007 by Plough Publishing House. Used with permission.”


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