SKC Project Seminar: Andrzej Słowikowski

Andrzej Słowikowski

The Dialectic of Christian Politics – the Kierkegaard-Maritain Model

Kierkegaard and Maritain are thinkers hailing from two different Christian traditions that are connected by their existential attitude towards Christianity. Both of them recognize a fundamental distinction between the Christian ideal that every human being should strive for and the existence of Christianity in the shape of Christendom. Though both of them claim that the Christian ideal is apolitical, they maintain that the presence of Christianity as Christendom in the temporal world has important political meaning. Both of them, moreover, claim that this transcendent Christian ideal cannot be transposed directly into the life of the human community in immanence, as this transposition threatens to produce serious distortions in social life. The only thing therefore that the Christian ideal may do in the universal-human world is to inspire sociopolitical life; it may be indirectly present in this world in the form of a hidden force (incognito) that enhances the process by which the common good is fulfilled in temporality but not in the form of concrete political manifestos that make use of religious ideas. Such a hidden or subtle presence of the Christian ideal in sociopolitical life should of course have great significance for the possibility of individuals to spiritually develop themselves and fulfill this ideal in their personal lives. All of these elements indicate the dialectical way in which Christianity exists in the political life of a community. This dialectic is in line with the Christian conception of the human being as a being who is both born for eternal life and existing in temporality; a being who is sentenced to live continuously between these two dimensions of reality. The deliberations of both Kierkegaard and Maritain on this subject matter show that a healthy political life should at the same time be saturated by the Christian ideas while not being a place where Christianity is preached. A balance is required here, one which does not disturb the spiritual development of individuals on their personal path to God. This kind of Christian existence in the sociopolitical life of a community can be called the Kierkegaard-Maritain model. The detailed explication of this model will be the subject of my paper.