Strangers and Pilgrims

Season 1 – Death of the Prophet Joseph Smith

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Joseph Smith as the Knight of Faith

I look at the prophet Joseph Smith as a Knight of Faith.  Kierkegaard came up with the phrase a "Knight of Faith" in his book Fear and Trembling.  Fear and Trembling is a small little book in which Kierkegaard looks at Abraham offering his son Isaac as a sacrifice from multiple different angles.

Kierkegaard refers to Abraham as a Knight of Faith, and explains that he believes a Knight of Faith is really the only type of thing worth really pursuing and understanding and marveling at.

In talking about his search for a Knight of Faith, Kierkegaard said:

People commonly travel around the world to see rivers and mountains, new stars, birds of rare plumage, queerly deformed fishes, ridiculous breeds of men–they abandon themselves to the bestial stupor which gapes at existence, and they think they have seen something. This does not interest me. But if I knew where there was such a knight of faith, I would make a pilgrimage to him on foot, for this prodigy interests me absolutely. I would not let go of him for an instant, every moment I would watch to see how he managed to make the movements, I would regard myself as secured for life, and would divide my time between looking at him and practicing the exercises myself, and thus would spend all my time admiring him. As was said, I have not found any such person, but I can well think him.

I think, if you look at what Kierkegaard defines as a Knight of Faith, you could easily apply it to Joseph Smith.  For example, in Fear and Trembling, Kierkegaard says:

By faith Abraham went out from the land of his fathers and became a sojourner in the land of promise. He left one thing behind, took one thing with him: he left his earthly understanding behind and took faith with him–otherwise he would not have wandered forth but would have thought this unreasonable.

Abraham became a sojourner.  He left his earthly understanding behind and walked by faith.  That reminds me of Joseph Smith.  That reminds me of someone who is a stranger and a pilgrim. 

And, even that phrase that Kierkegaard uses -- or that Kierkegaard's translator uses, "became a sojourner in the land of promise," comes from Hebrews 11 where the author of that book refers to Abraham as a Stranger and a Pilgrim.  I think of a Knight of Faith and of a Stranger and Pilgrim as two interchangeable phrases for the same idea. 

So, I think, in my own way.  Trying to tell the story of the prophet Joseph Smith is my trying to make a pilgrimage to Joseph the same way that Kierkegaard would make a pilgrimage to Abraham.