[Søren] Kierkegaard left [Walker] Percy with two distinctions he would employ for the rest of his life. One was the distinction between two mdoes of knowledge: that of science, which deals with types and generalities, and that of religious faith, which deals with the individual whose salvation is at stake.
The other distinction was a broader one between ways of knowing, which Kierkegaard defined most memorably in an essay called “Of the Difference Between a Genius and an Apostle.” Percy summarized the argument: Kierkegaard says that a genius is a man who arrives at truth like a scientist or a philosopher or a thinker… He can arrive at a truth anywhere, anytime, anyplace, whereas an apostle has heard the news of something that has happened, and he has the authority to tell somebody who hasn’t heard the news what the news is.”
The news, in Kierkegaard’s view, is the Christian message; for him the genius is inferior to the apostle, whose knowledge bears most strongly on the individual life.
In the long term Kierkegaard’s essay made Percy want to be a Christian and an apostle.(142-143)
Paul Elie, The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage (2003)
n., one of a group made up especially of the twelve disciples chosen by Jesus to preach the gospel.
[Old English apostol, from Church Latin apostolus, from Greek apostolos, messenger, from αποστελλειν, to send forth]
n., a person of extraordinary intellect and talent
[Middle English, guardian spirit, from Latin gignere, to beget]