Overcoming the Inauthentic Self

by Max Andrews

Rudolf Bultmann and the authentic self came out of response to Martin Heidegger. Heidegger thought that one must choose to become authentic–human nature is inauthentic. You’re split from your own self-hood, but the self calls the self back to itself and to wholeness and integration.  Hence, there are two “me’s.” We can heed that call through philosophical analysis and become authentically whole. Bultmann says,  “No you can’t, because we are in sin.” Bultmann connects Heidegger’s view of human being with the biblical view of humanity and the human situation. Sin is not inauthenticity itself but the choice (entscheidung, decision) not to heed the call to freedom and selfhood. In contrast to Heidegger, the I of the human being, which has fallen into inauthentic they cannot get itself back no matter how hard it tries.  The human being (da sein) may hear the call without realizing the way back (I know I’m not who I ought to be but I don’t know where or how to get there.) The fallen self must be redeemed or given itself back by another. Philosophical discourse can only analyze but it cannot show the way back to reconciliation (or salvation)—contra Heidegger.

How can the I come back to itself into authenticity out from its fallenness? The transition from seeking to establish worldly security, which is bondage to no need for worldly security; rather, my desire is to live totally unto God.  It must be given as a gift. God gives the gift (call of the gospel) whereby a person can come out of bondage and can now become an authentic self. Kerygma (KER-igma), there is the power to overcome inauthenticity, estrangement, and the ability to obey God (Gospel call)

God is wholly other, no points of contact with us.  God is, but we cannot know him objectively. God is hidden and thus neither God or his actions are open to verification. We can never rightly speak of God as object or in any general way. This world is a closed system of cause and effect, we can never find God of empirical processes. There are no breaks in the links of causation, thus no miracles. There’s an infinite qualitative difference between God and the world which makes it impossible for God to objectively act in the world. Paradoxically, the hidden God reaches down to finite humanity and reaches himself. In Jesus, God reveals himself in relation to the human being Jesus. In the kerygma, God also reveals himself.  In the telling about Jesus, God confronts existing human beings with himself and demands decision to become authentic


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