Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing Themes
by Søren Kierkegaard

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Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing Themes


Kierkegaard's sermon insists that goodness is inherent in all people, and that all life paths point towards Good (though some routes are a lot more complicated than others). Kierkegaard is so insistent that all people contain inherent good that he doesn't believe that anyone can truly be bad; he refers to these people instead as "double-minded," which means they are torn between their inherent goodness and the temptations of earthly pleasures. Kierkegaard doesn't necessarily believe that the inherent Good is easy to find, though. He believes that many people push away this goodness actively, and that many others are misled.

Earthly Existence Compared to Eternity

Kierkegaard sees that sometimes people might point themselves toward things that are not good because they are mistaken, or because they are ambivalent and simply desire earthly pleasures instead. For this second group, he invokes the age-old reminders that riches, social standing, and pleasurable moments and memories can't be taken with someone when they die. He urges that people recognize the consistency of Good, and that it, like nothing else, will still be of value to them in eternity.

Mob Mentality Complicating the Path Toward Goodness

Desires for riches and pleasures are driven directly by social pressure that people should want these things. Kierkegaard feels that, without these pressures, people would be less double-minded; he implores people to create the time and space necessary to think as individuals. He also offers a reminder that judgment will not be passed not upon groups but upon individuals.

Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Kierkegaard’s sermon reminds us that, if one is to draw near to God, one must do so by sincerely willing to be holy even as God is holy. He makes the following main points: Only persons who will the Good can be said to will one thing. If one is to be sincere in willing the Good, one’s will must be stripped of the entanglements of self-interest. A person who wills the Good in sincerity must be willing to do all or to suffer all for the Good. Finally, one wills the Good by obeying the voice of conscience, which speaks in time with the authority of eternity.