QUESTION: Christian Existentialism - Is it compatible? What is the Christian worldview toward Existentialism?
Secular existentialism is a philosophical movement that is gaining an ever increasing popularity in the American society and to a degree has slowly crept its way into some liberal circles of Christianity. But the worldview of traditional Christianity is that it is not compatible. Here are some reasons why.
Existentialism is a 20th century movement viewed by Christianity as the antithesis of faith in God because the philosophy asserts that God nor absolute truth exist.
Existentialism believes in the total autonomy of a person from a world and life view apart from a God of sovereign authority, whereas Christianity acknowledges the existence of an all knowing, all powerful, and all present personal Creator who revealed Himself for the purpose of giving human life meaning.
Existentialism states that the world is absurd, and there is no hope. Christianity states that the world is absurd, and it is a wonder there is hope.
Existentialism is opposed to rationalism and traditional Christianity is not.
Existentialism asserts that man is free from imposed moral values. Traditional Christianity believes in God’s transcendent universal moral values.
Existentialism asserts that each person is their own authority concerning truth. Traditional Christianity insists that God is the absolute final authority over His creation and all things.
Existentialism believes that existence precedes essence. Traditional Christianity believes that a person’s essence is predestined from God and precedes existence.
Religious existentialism on the other hand is a philosophy of its own that is not compatible with either secular existentialism, nor traditional Christianity. There is a wide variety of forms of existential religion with differing doctrinal beliefs. Kierkegaard and later Karl Barth are sited for attempting to make theology, particularly the Christian faith, compatible with existentialism.
Its premise is that a person must submit themselves totally to God without reasoning -- that is, true absolute faith must be void of philosophy or intellect. Religious existentialism then states such things as:
A person is autonomous and is fully free to make choices and fully responsible for them
Rational grounds for theology and divine revelation do not exist
True faith transcends rationalism and God’s commandments
The true God is not the God of philosophers or of rationalism
The destruction of wars throughout human history proves there cannot be rational understanding of God or humanity
A Christian must personally resolve within self the content of faith from being a myth or mystery to being realty or truth before they will allow an understanding and acceptance of salvation
It is impossible to discover personal Being and faith through rational reasoning.