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Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing by Sören Kierkegaard

Sören Kierkegaard is one of the towering Christian existential thinkers of the mid-nineteenth century. While his literary style was experimental, his writings call for Christian morality; a defense of faith and religion. Among his many books are Training in Christianity, Sickness Unto Death, and Fear and Trembling. This book was first published by Harper in 1938. It was translated from the Danish and contains an introductory essay by Douglas V. Steere. Prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Willie Brock.

Translatorís Introduction by Douglas V. Steere
A helpful summary of Kierketaard's basic positions, written by an outstanding scholar of his work. Douglass Steere was Professor of philosophy at Haverford College.

A woman doing needlework on an altar cloth does not want the work admired or criticized, but rather that the intent of the work is that it be seen for its higher purpose. Kierkegaard desires his writing receive the same attention.

Chapter 1: Introduction: Man and the Eternal
In relation to the eternal, a man ages neither in the sense of time nor in the sense of an accumulation of past events. There is something eternal in a man, and the eternal must be able to exist and to be grasped within every change.

Chapter 2: Remorse, Repentance, Confession: Eternityís Emissaries to Man
Remorse is a guide that calls out to the wanderer that he should take care. In confession one becomes at one with himself.

Chapter 3: Barriers to Willing One Thing: Variety and Great Moments Are Not One Thing
To will one thing can only mean to will the good, because every other object is not a unity. The will that only wills that another object, therefore, must become double-minded.

Chapter 4: Barriers to Willing One Thing: The Reward-Disease
If a man can will one thing, then he must will the Good, for the Good alone is one.

Chapter 5: Barriers to willing One Thing: Willing Out of Fear of Punishment
If a man wills only the Good out of fear of being punished he does not will one thing. Such a man is double-minded.

Chapter 6:Barriers to Willing One Thing: Egocentric Service of the Good
If a man wills the Good and wills its victory out of self-centered willfulness he does not will one thing. He is double-minded.

Chapter 7: Barriers to Willing One Thing: Commitment to a Certain Degree
The person who only wills the Good up to a certain degree is double-minded.

Chapter 8: The Price of Willing Our Thing: Commitment, Loyalty, Readiness to Suffer All
If a man wills the good in truth, then he must be willing to do all for the good or be willing to suffer all for the good.

Chapter 9: The Price of Willing One Thing: The Exposure of Evasions
The one who wills the Good puts cleverness to an inward use in order to prevent all evasions, and thereby to help him enter into and persist in the commitment.

Chapter 10: The Price of Willing One Thing: An Examination of the Extreme Case of an Incurable Sufferer
The man who wills the Good in truth must be willing to suffer all for the Good.

Chapter 11: The Price of Willing One Thing: The Suffererís Use of Cleverness to Expose Evasion
The sufferer who wills the Good sincerely, uses this cleverness to cut off evasions and hence to launch himself into the commitment and to escape the disillusionments of choosing the temporal way.

Chapter 12: What Then Must I Do? The Listenerís Role in a Devotional Address
Kierkegaard asks the reader: "What kind of life do you live, do you will only one thing, and what is this one thing?

Chapter 13: What Then Must I Do? Live as an "Individual"
The author asks the reader: Do you live in such a way that you are conscious of being an individual?

Chapter 14: What Then Must I Do? Occupation and Vocation: Mean: and End
It is not whether your work is great or mean, whether you are a king or only a laborer, nor earning a great deal of money or gaining power, prestige or fame. What is important is whether your occupation is great or mean. Do you dare think of your occupation it as a responsibility for eternity?

Chapter 15: Conclusion: Man and the Eternal
Only the individual can truthfully will the Good. For he is in touch with the demand that calls for purity of heart by willing only one thing.

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