Imaging Nothing: Kierkegaard and the Imago Dei

Peter Kline

When considering what makes the human being uniquely human, or how it “images God” within the created order, Søren Kierkegaard does not turn to Genesis 1:27, the privileged passage of the Western theological tradition. He turns instead to Matthew 6, a passage in which the reader is instructed to “consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air.” In several rounds of “upbuilding discourses” on this passage, Kierkegaard develops an “apophatic” approach to the imago Dei. The imaging of God that the human being is called to enact does not consist in any self-possessed capability, nor does it set the human being at the top of a hierarchically ordered creation. Rather, the human being images God only when it “becomes nothing” through an unconditional affirmation of existence that lets go of the need to posit a “tomorrow.”