Abraham Kuyper.

Encyclopedia of sacred theology : its principles ... online

. (page 18 of 64)
Online LibraryAbraham KuyperEncyclopedia of sacred theology : its principles ... → online text (page 18 of 64)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

or in regenerate human nature. Let no one think, there-
fore, that Christian science, if we may so call the science
which takes palingenesis as its point of departure, will all
at once lead its investigators to entirely like and harmonious
results. This is impossible, because with the regenerate
also, the differences of subjective disposition, of manner of
life, and of the age in which one lives, remain the same ;
and because Christian science would be no science, if it did
not go through a process by which it advanced from less to
more, and if it were not free in its investigation, with the
exception of being bound by its point of departure. That
which the prosecutor of Christian science takes as his point
of departure is to him as little a result of science as to the
naturalist; but he, as well as the naturalist, must obtain
his results of science by investigation and demonstration.

Only let it be remembered, that not every subjective repre-
sentation which announces itself as scientific is a link in the

Chap. Ill] § 50. THE PROCESS OF SCIENCE 179

process of the development of science. The subjective ele-
ment certainly bears on one side a necessary character, but
also one which, all too often, is merely accidental or even
sinful. In the spirit of humanity is a multiformity from
which, for the sake of the full harmony, no single element
can be spared; but there is also a false subjectivism which,
instead of causing single tones to vibrate for the sake of
the full accord, disturbs the accord by discord. To over-
come this false subjectivism, and to silence these discords,
is by no means the least important part of the task of science.
However much this false subjectivism may exert itself in
the domain of Christian science, as well as in that of natural-
istic science, yet we may assert that with Christian science
this parasite does not reach an equal development of strength.
Palingenesis takes away from the human spirit much on
which otherwise this parasite feeds, and the enlightening,
which develops itself from regeneration, applies a saving
bridle to this false subjectivism. But this parasite will
never be wanting from the domain of Christian science,
simply because palingenesis does not absolutely remove the
after-workings of unregenerated nature. Hence it is also
the calling of Christian science to resist this false subjectiv-
ism, but only by scientific combat.

As far, on the other hand, as this subjective element is of
necessity connected with the multiformity of all human life,
the differences born from this will reveal themselves in Chris-
tian science more strongly rather than more weakly, because
palingenesis allows these subjective differences to fully assert
themselves, and does not, like naturalism, kill them. From
the earliest ages of the Christian religion, therefore, these an-
titheses in the domain of Christian science, and the tendencies
born from them, have ever assumed a much firmer and more
concrete form, especially where they ran parallel with the
ecclesiastical distinctions. But in the realm of Christian
science it will never do for these several tendencies to point
to the ecclesiastical basis of operation, as the source from
which they obtained their greater permanency. Every ten-
dency is bound scientifically to defend its assertions in the


face of those of other tendencies. One may even say that
this scientific labor maintains the spiritual communion be-
tween those who are ecclesiastically separated and estranged
from each other. And if this is objected to by the state-
ment that the prosecutors of this science often assume the
position over against one another, that they only possess
truth in its absolute form, the threefold remark is in place:
First, that in their realm the students of naturalistic science
often do the same thing; that with them also one school
often stands over against the other with the pretence of
publishing absolute truth. Secondly, that we must dis-
tinguish between what the student of Christian science
professes as a church-member, and what he offers as the
result of his scientific investigation. But, in the third
place also, that idealism in science demands that every man
of conviction shall firmly believe that, provided their devel-
opment be normal, every other investigator must reach the
same result as he. He who shrinks from this cannot affirm
that he holds the result of his own investigation as true;
he becomes a sceptic. He who in his own conception has
not stepped out from his subjectivity in order to grasp the
eternally true, has no conviction. And though it be entirely
true that history plainly teaches, that the ripest and noblest
conviction has never escaped the one-sidedness of one's own
subjectivity, the inextinguishable impulse of our human
nature never denies itself, but sees truth in that which it
has grasped for itself as truth.

Hence the result we reach is, that the effort which reveals
itself in our nature to obtain a scientific knowledge of the
cosmos by investigation and demonstration, is ever bound
to the premises in our nature from whicli this eft'ort starts
out. That for this reason this effort leads to a common
practice of science, as far as these premises remain equal,
but must divide itself as soon as the fork is reached where
the change effected in these premises by palingenesis begins
to influence the investigation. That for this part of the
investigation, therefore, two kinds of scientific study run
parallel, one which is, and one which is not, governed by


the fact of palingenesis. That they who study science under
the influence of palingenesis, as well as they who leave it
out of account, can only hold for true what rests on their
own premises, and thus can appreciate each other's study
only in a formal manner. That with Christian, as well as
with naturalistic science, that only stands scientifically sure
which, going out from its own premises, each has obtained
as the result of scientific research. That consequently, in
both studies of science, all sorts of antitheses, tendencies,
and schools will reveal themselves, and that by this process
alone science on both sides advances. And finally, that
because the influence of the subjective element, occasioned
by a difference of disposition, manner of life, spiritual
tendency, and age, makes itself felt with both, every in-
vestigator deems his own result of science true in the
broadest sense ; thereby going out from the conviction that,
provided he carries on his investigation well, every normal
investigator will attain a like result with himself.

§ 51. Both Sciences Universal

The proposition, that in virtue of the fact of palingenesis
a science develops itself by the side of the naturalistic^
which, though formally allied to it, is differently disposed,
and therefore different in its conclusions, and stands over
against it as Christian science, must not be understood in a
specifically theological, but in an absolutely universal sense.
The difference between the two is not merely apparent in
theological science, but in all the sciences, in so far as
the fact of palingenesis governs the whole subject in all in-
vestigations, and hence also, the result of all these investi-
gations as far as their data are not absolutely material. To
support this proposition, however, two things must still be
shown : first, that in both cases science is taken in the sense
of universal-human validity ; and, secondly, that palingenesis
is not merely a subjective psychical, but a universal phenom-
enon, Avhich involves both the investigating subject and the
cosmos. Inasmuch, however, as we are writing a theological
encyclopedia, we do not proceed here to the exposition of this.


but reserve it for treatment under the development of the con-
ception of Theology. At this point, therefore, a simple sug-
gestion suffices. Concerning the first, the universally valid
character is inseparable from all science ; not in the sense that
every individual agrees with you, but that the subject of your
science is, and ever will be, the universal human conscious-
ness. Well, then, the palingenesis, which does not operate
within single persons atomistically, but organically upon our
race, will produce this result : that the tree of humanity, our
race, humanity as a whole, and thus also the universal human
consciousness^ shall be glorified and sanctified in the " body of
Christ." He who remains outside of this till the end, /a?Zs
aivay from humanity. Up to the time of this final solution,
however, neither the naturalistic nor the Christian science
have any universally compulsive character outside of their
own sphere. We encounter one another in open conflict, and
a universally compulsory science, that shall be compulsory
upon all men, is inconceivable. And concerning the second
point, let the provisional remark suffice, that there is not
merely a palingenesis of the human soul, but also a palin-
genesis of the bod}^ and of the cosmos. This accounts for
the central character of the Resurrection of Christ, and for
the far-reaching significance of the restoration of the cosmos,
which in Matthew xix. 28 is indicated by this very word of



§ 52. Orgmiic Divisioyi of Scientific Study

Before we can find a provisional answer, in tlie closing
chapter of this division, to the question, whether Theology
is or is not a necessary and an integral part of the organism
of science, this organism itself must be somewhat closely ex-
amined. Only when the anatomy of this organism is known,
can it be seen of what parts it consists, and whether among
these parts a science in the spirit of what we call Theology
occupies a place of its own. Of course, in the framing
of this conclusion we must start out with a definition of
Theology, which cannot be explained until the following
division ; but for the sake of clearness in the process of the
argument, this hypothetical demonstration is here indispen-

As far as the organism of science itself is concerned, we have
purposely chosen as the title of this section the expression: The
organic division of scientific study. If the organic division
of science itself is viewed, apart from its relation to practice,
nothing is obtained but an abstraction, which lies entirely
outside of history and reality ; and the question whether
Theology is a science in this scientific organism can never
be answered. For Theology is an historic-concrete com-
plex, which, if brought over into the retort of abstractions,
would at once slip through our fingers and volatilize.

As regards the organic character of science, three data
must be taken into account : (1) the organic relation among
the several parts of the object of science ; (2) the organic
relation among the different capacities of the subject and the
data which lead to the knowledge of the object ; and (3) tlie
organic relation which in consequence of (1) and (2) must



appear in the result of the scientific task. The object exists
organically ; the subject itself exists organically and stands
organically related to the object; and consequently this
organic character must be found again, as soon as the knowl-
edge of the object has been attained by the subject with
sufficient completeness and accuracy. The unity of tliese
three reveals itself historically in the scientific task, which
did not begin by making these distinctions clear for itself,
but had its rise in the instinctive faith in this mutual rela-
tionship. The stimulus to undertake this scientific study is
not given by an Academy of Sciences, but by our innate
inclination to investigate. As a child breaks his toys and
cuts them into pieces, in order to find out what they are
and how they are constructed ; or, as outside of liis play-
hour he overwhelms you with questions ; thus is man
prompted by a natural impulse to investigate the cosmos.
And, though with adults also this desire after knowledge
may consist too largely of a playful inquiry, the needs
of life add a nobler seriousness to this playful investiga-
tion and by it rule and continuity are imparted to the sci-
entific task. If the practical need of physicians, lawyers,
ministers of the Word, Academic professors, etc., did not
continually press its claims, the very existence of universities
would at once be jeopardized. If these w^ere abolished, and
with them the avenues to success were closed against those
who desire to devote their lives to scientific pursuits, a small
group only of competent persons would be able to allow
itself the luxury of this pursuit. And if the number of sci-
entists should thus be reduced, the study of science would
likewise suffer from the gradual disappearance of the whole
apparatus which is now at its service in libraries, labora-
tories, observatories, etc. The vifae non seolae is true also
in the sense that only life gives the school its susceptibility
to life.

The ideal representation that science would still be able to
flourish when practised merely for its own sake, rests upon
self-deception. This is best observed in the case of those
special sciences whose study is not immediately born from


the practical need of life, and whose development in conse-
quence has been so greatly retarded. If there were no
logic in this practical need of life, and if it were not con-
nected with the organic motive of science itself, this de-
pendence of the school upon life would be most fatal, and
would obstruct the smooth progress of scientific investiga-
tion. This, however, is not so. The practical need of life
is born from the relation in which the subject stands to the
object, and from the necessary way in which the subject
(humanity) develops itself organically from itself. It must
be conceded that the claims which this practical need causes
to be felt, are not always considered in the accurate order of
succession, and that only after several fits and starts do they
assume a more normal character ; but the result also shows
that science has made all these fluctuations with them, and
only when the practical need of life has begun to express itself
in clearer language, and, consequently, with clearer self-con-
sciousness, has it assumed a more normal character. This
would certainly have proved a difficulty, if the slow ripen-
ing of this clear insight into the claims of practical need
were bound to any other law than that which governs the
development of science itself ; but it has created no disturb-
ance, since both the development of these practical needs and
the development of science have been governed by the self-
same power, i.e. by the actual mode of existence and or-
ganic relation of object and subject. Every encj'clopedical
division of the sciences, which aims to be something more
than a specimen of mental gymnastics, will therefore in the
main always proceed from the practical division given histori-
cally in the academical faculties. Not as though this division
were simply to be copied ; for this division, which has already
been modified so often, is alwaj^s susceptible of further modi-
fication; but these future modifications also will not abstractly
regulate themselves according to the demands of your scheme,
but will be permanently governed by the demands of prac-
tical need ; and only vv^hen your schematic insight has modi-
fied the form in which the practical need of life asserts itself,
will this insight, through the medium of practical life, be


able to influence effectually the process of discriminating the

But while criticism of the division of scientific study, as it
is controlled by that of the faculties, is in every way lawful
and obligatory, Encyclopedic science is nevertheless bound
to set out from this historic division. It is not to dissect an
imaginary organism of science, but it must take as its start-
ing-point the body of science as it actually and historically
presents itself ; it must trace the thought which has deter-
mined the course of this study; and, reinforced with this lead-
ing thought, it must critically examine that which actually is.
Encyclopedia is no speculative, but a positive, science ; it
finds the object of its investigation in the actually given
development of science. As long as this object had not
sufficiently developed, the very thought of Encyclopedic
science could not suggest itself. Its study only begins when
the study of the sciences has acquired some form of perma-
nency. Since historically Theology has called into life a
faculty of its own and has presented itself in this faculty as
a complex of studies ; and since it is our exclusive aim to
answer the question whether Theology takes a place of its
own in the organism of the sciences ; it would be futile to
sketch the organism of science in the abstract. For in the
case both of ourselves and of our opponents this sketch would
of necessity be controlled by the sympathy or antipathy
which each fosters for Theology. Hence that Ave may have
ground beneath our feet, we should not lose ourselves in
speculative abstractions, but must start out from the historic
course which, under the influence of the practical needs of
life, has been pursued by the study of the sciences.

Practically, now, we see that the theological faculty was
the first to attain a more fixed form. Alongside of it, and fol-
lowing immediately in its wake, is the jui-idical faculty. Isext
to these two is the slow growth of the medical, as a third
independent faculty. The so-called philosophical faculty
finds its precursors in the Artistse ^ ; but it is a slow process
by which these surmount the purely propaedeutic character

1 Artistee was the name of the teachers of classic languages.


which their study bore at first. The facultas lltteraria,
either in or out of connection with the faculty of natural
philosophy, only gradually takes its place by the side of the
above-named three. Clergymen, lawyers and physicians
were everywhere needed, while a man of letters and a natu-
ral philosoplier could find a place only in a few schools.
To every one hundred young men, who studied in the first
three faculties, there were scarcely five who found their
career in the study of literature or natural philosophy.
And for this reason the first three faculties were for a long
time the principal faculties, and the study of the Artistse
and Ph3^sicists were mere auxiliaries to them. Propaideutics
was the all-important interest, and not the independent
study of Letters or of Natural Philosophy. From this
it must also be explained, that at so many universities
the study of Letters and of Natural Philosophy has always
been combined in the same faculty. In Holland the un-
tenability of this union has long since been recognized, and
the Literary and Natural Philosophy faculties have each
been allowed a separate existence; and the fact that else-
where they still remain together is simply the result of the
common proppedeutic character which was deemed to con-
stitute their reason for being. The practical needs of life to
broaden the knowledge of nature have for more than a century
caused the independent character of the natural sciences con-
vincingly to appear, and this very detachment of the study
of natural philosophy has quickened the literary studies to
a sense of their own independence. The difference of method
especially, between the two kinds of sciences, was too pro-
nounced to allow the auxiliary character of literary studies to
be maintained. This last process of the emancipation of the
literary faculty, however, is still so imperfect, that no com-
mon opinion has yet been obtained on the unity of matter,
or, if you please, on the real object of this group of sciences.
The philological, historical and philosophical studies still
seek their organic unity. But in any case it seems an
accepted fact, that the cyclus of studies will run its round
in the circle of these five faculties. Although tliere seems


to be a disposition abroad to let the Theological faculty be-
come extinct, or to supersede it by a faculty of Philosophy,
no serious desire is perceived to enlarge the number of
faculties beyond the five, and it is scarcely conceivable that
tlie practical needs of life will ever warrant tlie increase
of this number. Neither the smaller or larger number of
departments, nor the lesser or greater number of professors,
but only the combination of studies demanded by a practical
education, decides in the end the number and the division
of the faculties.

MeanAvhile it is by no means asserted that the prosecution
of science, and in connection with it the university life,
should aim exclusively at a practical education. On the con-
trary, the pursuit of science for its own sake is the ideal
which must never be abandoned. We merely emphasize that
the way to this ideal does not lead through sky and clouds,
but through practical life. A science which loses itself in
speculation and in abstraction never reaches its ideal, but
ends in disaster ; and the high ideal of science will be the
more nearly realized in proportion as the thirst after and the
need of this ideal shall express themselves more strongly in
human life, so that the practical need of it shall be stimulated
by life. As the transition from unconscious into conscious life
advances, the impulse born of society increases of itself to
account for every element and every relation, and, thanks
to this impulse, the prosecution of science for its own sake
carries the day.

In connection with this it is noteworthy that the three
originally principal faculties were born of the necessity of
Avarding off evil. This is seen in the strongest light in the
case of the medical faculty, which still exhibits this negative
character in name, and partly even in practice. It is not
called the somatic faculty, to express the fact that the human
b(xly is the object of its study ; nor the hygienic faculty, to
express the fact that health is the object of its choice; but
the medical., by which name the diseased bod}" alone is desig-
nated as its real object. This accords with the attention
which man bestows in real life upon his body. As long as


one is well and feels no indisposition, he does not inquire
into the location and the action of the organs in his body ;
and only when one feels pain and becomes ill does the pains-
taking care for the body begin. Alike observation applies
to the juridical faculty. If there were no evil in the world
there would be no public authority, and it is only for the
sake of evil that the authority is instituted, that the judge
pronounces judgment, and that the making of laws is de-
manded. Not for the sake of the study of law as such,
but for the sake of rendering a well-ordered human in-
tercourse possible in the midst of a sinful society, did
jurisprudence undertake its work ; and the juridical faculty
came into being for the education of men who, as states-
men and judges, are leaders of public life. This also applies
to the theological faculty, though not in so absolute a sense.
Because it was found that salvation for the sinner, and a
spiritual safeguard against the fatal effects of wickedness,
were indispensable, both law and gospel were demanded.
The purpose was medical^ but in the Theological faculty it
was psychic, as it was somatic in the so-called Medical fac-
ulty. For though it must be acknowledged that originally
the aim of the Theological faculty was not exclusively soteri-
ological, but that on the contrary it also tried to foster theti-
cally the knowledge of God, yet the call for an educated
clergy, and the concomitant prosperity of this facult}^ are
due in the first place to the fact that men were needed
everywhere who would be able to act as physicians against
sin and its results. Hence it is actually the struggle ao-ainst
evil in the body, in society, and in the soul which has cre-
ated the impulse for these three groups of sciences, the need
of men to combat this evil, and consequently the necessity
for the rise of these three faculties. All three bear orio-i-
nally a militant character. This cannot be said of the Artistic,
nor of the faculties of Literature and Natural Philosophy

Online LibraryAbraham KuyperEncyclopedia of sacred theology : its principles ... → online text (page 18 of 64)