Abraham Kuyper.

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its rank among the sciences. In no case may Theology
begin with renouncing its own self-respect. And those
theologians who are evidently guilty of this, and who, being-
more or less ashamed of Theology, have tried, by borrowing
the scientific brevet, to put it forth in ncAv forms, have been
punished for their cowardice. For the non-theological science



lias compelled them to cut out the heart of Theology, and to
transform it into a department of study which shall lit into the
framework of naturalistic science. Hence we definitely de-
clare that our defence of the scientific character of Theology
has nothing in common with this questionable effort. No
Calvinist takes part in the renunciation of our character as
theologians. And now to the point.

When treating of the historical development of the facul-
ties it was shown that the general organism of science allows
itself to be analyzed into its parts along plain and clearly
discernible lines. Thinking man distinguishes in himself
first between that which relates to his inner or psychical^
and outward or somatical, existence. He distinguishes in
the second place between his own personal existence and his
social life ivith others, as far as this is not governed by the
personal existence of the individuals. And in the third place
he distinguishes between Jiuman life and the life of nature.
This division comes of itself, is unsought, sees itself justi-
fied by the history of the faculties, and is in entire agree-
ment with the needs of practical life. Now the question is
whether, along with these four, there remains yet a fifth inde-
pendent part or organ in the organism of science. And the
answer lies at hand, that a final distinction still remains,
even the distinction between man ayid his Grod. Thus
in the complete object of science Ave have four antitheses
and five independent parts: (1) God and his creation;

(2) in that creation the rest of creation and man; (3) in
man first the distinction between his material and spiritual
existence, and, again, (4) the antithesis between unity and
multiplicity. Or, if j^ou please, five independent and yet
organically connected objects present themselves to think-
ing man, viz. : (1) his God, (2) his psychical existence,

(3) his somatical existence, (4) his existence as a member
of humanity, and (5) nature outside of man. This divi-
sion corresponds fully to the Theological faculty (object:
God), the Philological (the human soul, -^/^i^X^), the Medical
(the human body, o-w/^ia), the Juridical (the legal relation-
ships among men), and Natural Philosophy (the cosmos out-


side of man). And this analysis of the entire organism into
five parts causes the organic relation among the parts, at
least in the case of the four faculties already outlined, to
be clearly discerned, as well in the object itself as in the
reflection of it in the subject, and develops the subdivisions
organically in each of the four parts.

Nothing is gained, on the other hand, by the notion that
Theology has religious feeling, subjective religion, the phe-
nomena of piety, etc., for its object, and that for this rea-
son it is not to be taken as Theology, but as the Science of
Religion. It is impossible in an organic sense to coordinate
man's psychical existence, man's somatical existence, man
as subdivision of humanity, and nature outside of man, and
then, as a fifth wheel to the wagon, man's religious feeling.
For this religious feeling belongs to man's psychic existence,
and the study of it as such tends to investigate the object
man. Hence the religious feeling cannot be an indepen-
dent part in the object to be investigated, distinguished
from the other coordinated parts by an essential difference.
This religious feeling is ver}^ important, and it is certainly
right to investigate this phenomenon in the life of man
and of humanity; but this religious life is coordinate with
his ethical, sesthetical, and intellectual life ; and hence be-
longs to his psychical existence. In this way these studies
come of themselves under the Philological faculty, and can
never occasion the rise of a separate faculty of Theology.

One objection only can be raised. From the view-point
of the Trichotomists it can be asserted that man does not
consist of body and soul^ but of hody^ soul, and spirit, and that
it is therefore entirely rational, by the side of a faculty for
the bod}'- and a faculty for the soul, to place a third faculty',
which has the spirit (jrvev^ia) of man for its object, and that
this should be the Theological. Thus next to a Somatology
and a Psychology, there should also be a Pneumatology as
"Dritte im Bunde." This objection, however, cannot stand.
The organism of science cannot be analyzed, or, if you please,
divided, according to the measure of a distinction accepted
only by a single school, but disputed by other schools, and


finding no echo in tlie universal human sense. With all
the Reformed we reject the Trichotomy, at least in so far as
it assumes three substances in man. We are Dichotomists.
Even if the distinction between soul and spirit (^^jrvxv and
TTvevfi.a') were able to maintain itself to a certain extent,
body, soul, and spirit could never be coordinated. But the
antithesis should be between hoili/ and soul, and within
that soul the distinction between the psychical and the
pneumatical should be sought. Even they who speak of a
faculty of the Science of Religion are well aware that nothing
can be done with the pneuma as such, wherefore they have
thrown themselves upon religion, as being a very compli-
cated expression of life and rich in phenomenal life. The
pneumatical per se would not be capable of investigation to
any considerable extent. Hence along this way there is no
possibility of pointing out a proper ground in the object of
general science for a science of Theology, and there can be
no question of a Theological faculty. Both are possible only
when you come to the antithesis of self-conscious man and
Jus God, so that you find the object of your faculty 7iot in
religion, but in God.

But even this by itself will not suffice. Not so much
because it will not answer to coordinate God with the
incorporeal, with the soul, the body politic, or fiature. For
the distinction could well be made between the creator and
creation, in the creation between 77ian and nature, and in
man between his body and soid. This would be no logical
error. But the difficulty is, that in science, as taken in
this chapter, man is the thinking subject, and not God;
tliat this thinking subject as such must stand above the
object of science, and must be able to investigate it, and
to grasp it with his understanding. And this he is well
able to do with nature, with our body, soul, and body politic,
but not with God, taken as an object of our human science.
Thinking man, taken as subject over against God as object, is
a logical contradiction in terms. It remains an incontestable
truth (1 Cor. ii. 11) that "the things of God none knoweth,
save the Spirit of God." Man himself would stand before


US a closed mystery, if we were not man ourselves and thus
able from ourselves to form our conclusions as to others.
"For who among men knoweth the things of a man, save
the spirit of the man, which is in him?" With man, ac-
cordingly, his phenomenal manifestation may always serve
us; observation is possible; and the multiplicity of objects,
through comparison, may bring you to some clue. But
with God taken as object, all this forsakes us. In the most
absolute sense. He is univocus. From yourself (at least so
long as He has not Himself revealed to you the creation
after His image) you can conclude nothing concerning
Him; neither can you see or hear or perceive Him in any
conceivable way. For which reason it is entirely logical
that the naturalistic tendency in science has not hesitated
to cancel Theology, and that the Free University at Brus-
sels, and after her more than one university in America,
have opened no faculty, or "Department," as it is called in
America, for Theolog3^ We can also understand that the
Theologians who have broken with Special Revelation have
refused to walk any longer in the old paths, have abandoned
God (6 ^eo?) as object of science, and have declared: We
can investigate religion, but not Grod. And no fault could
have been found with this, had they faced the consequence
of this metamorphosis of the object, and after the demoli-
tion of the Theological faculty transferred their study of
religion to the Philological facult}'.

Something very different presents itself, on the other
hand, when the old definition is readopted, that the science
of Theology finds its object of investigation m the revealed,
ectypal knoiviedge of God; which definition we hold our-
selves, but which can be explained only in the following
chapter. It is enough here to recall that, according to
this representation, God alone knows Himself ("archetypal
knowledge of God," cognito Dei archetypa), and that there
is no created being that can know aught of Him, except
He himself reveals something from His self-knowledge and
self-consciousness in a form that falls within the compre-
hension of the creature ("ectypal knowledge of God," cog-


nitio Dei ectypa). Had this revelation, now, taken place in
the form of complete analysis and synthesis, it would satisfy
at once the most rigorous claims of our scientific wants, and
would simply have to be inserted into the result of our other
scientific work; just as in an historical sketch of an event,
in which you yourself have played an important r81e, you
simply insert and embody without further examination that
which you yourself have planned and achieved, because you
know your personal part in a way which does not provoke
a closer investigation. Such, however, is not the character
of this revelation, for it presents itself in such a form that
all sorts of data are given, from which you are obliged
to frame the result. Understood in this way, the com-
plex of all that belongs to this revelation forms an object
which, in its starting-point and end, is a unit (einheit-
lich) ; which invites investigation ; and which by scientific
effort must be transposed into a form that shall satisfy the
claims of our human consciousness. Suppose that still more
Egyptological discoveries were to be made, and, what is not
impossible, that a number of inscriptions and communica-
tions were brought to light concerning a thus far lesser
known Pharaoh ; that monuments of his activity were un-
earthed; and that you were supplied with all sorts of
letters, statistics, and records of his reign; all these dis-
coveries would invite and enable you scientifically to ex-
plain the historical phenomenon of this prince. Then,
however, the object of your investigation would still be
Pharaoh himself, and not the knowledge of his person,
simply because all these monuments and documents were
not erected and written by him for the sake of giving you
a specially intended representation of his person. But now
imagine the other case. Supj)0se that an Eastern despot
had purposed to hand down to succeeding generations, a
particular representation of his person and work, which
did not correspond to reality, and to this end had prepared
numerous monuments and documents; then from these his
real figure in history could not be known, but only that
representation of himself which he had intended. And the


object of your investigation would not be that despot him-
self, but "the knowledge of his person," such as he had
purposed to hand down to posterity. And this is the case
here. God has not unintentionally left behind Him traces
of His works and revelations of His thoughts in monuments
and documents, from which we are to search out who God is.
But purposely, and fully conscious of what He was doing,
the Lord our God has imparted a knowledge of His Being-
such as He desired that this knowledge should be. And
He has done this in such a way that this revelation does not
contain His absolute image, but conveys this knowledge in
that particular form which alone can be of service to you.
What we supposed in the case of the Asiatic despot to have
sprung from the desire to have a different image of himself
outlive him from that which he had exhibited in reality,
takes place here by means of the third term of comparison
(tertium comparationis). The image which is purposely ex-
hibited here is different from the real Being, simply because
it is only in that definite form, " according to the measure of
man" (pro mensura hominis), that it can be taken up by us.
We are therefore fully authorized to say that that which
presents itself to us in these monuments and documents is
not the knowledge of the real Being of God, which we are
to search out from them, but, on the contrary, that in these
monuments and documents lies an image of God, drawn by
Himself, such as He desires us to receive. Hence, when
we investigate these monuments and documents, the object
which we search out is not the Divine Being, but that
ectijpal knoivledge of Grod, which is posited in them by God
Himself, and which corresponds entirely to the character of
our human nature and our human consciousness. The in-
vestigation of those monuments and documents, and the
search after the ectypal knowledge of God contained there- \
in, is a scientific task in an equally rigorous sense as, in the
supposed case, the historic expounding of the image of such
a Pharaoh or Asiatic despot.

We admit, of course, that in this section it is only an
hypothesis that the Lord our God has placed such monu-


ments and documents at our disposal, that He has purposely
hid in them an image of Himself, and that it is possible for
us to obtain this ectypal knowledge from them. We only
wanted to render it apparent, that with this hypothesis the
necessity arises for a peculiar scientific work which does not
indeed have God for its object, — a thing which cannot be,
— but His ectypal knowledge; provided there exists a defi-
nite circle of phenomena from which, by investigation, this
object can be known. And if, later on, it can be shown that
what is here put as hypothesis is true, then in this way we
have certainly found a Theology whose calling it is to do a
scientific work, and which as such has a place in the organ-
ism of science. For this hypothesis itself implies that the
phenomena from which this knowledge must be drawn, and
this knowledge itself, must organically cohere with the ob-
ject as well as with the subject of science : with the object,
because these phenomena are given in the cosmos and in
history; and with the subject, since it is only as ectypal
that this knowledge corresponds to the measure of man.
And this being so, the founding of a proper faculty for this
scientific investigation is justified of itself. The object,
indeed, which is sought in these phenomena cannot be
brought under either of the four other heads. The phe-
nomena which must be investigated form an entirely pe-
culiar group. And the object itself is of such eminent
importance, that not only the needs of practical life, but
the incomplete character of all other science, alike render
the study of Theology necessary.

One more objection, however, must be met. It might,
indeed, be said that in § 38 of this volume we designate
the cosmos as the only object of science ; that except we fall
into Pantheism, God does not belong to the cosmos, but that
as the ground of all being and cause of the cosmos, He must
be sought outside of it; that hence He does not belong to it,
and that therefore the search after God, i.e. Theolog}^ cannot
be classed with science. We answer, that this objection
has no force when directed against our representation of the
matter. To us, indeed, not the unknown Essence of God but


the ectypal revelation (revelatio ectypa) which has been
made hioivn, is the object of Theology. This revelation does
not lie outside of, but in the cosmos, and never presents itself
to us in any but its cosmical form. Without the least
modification, therefore, of our definition of the object of
science. Theology, interpreted in this wa,y, certainly obtains
its proper place in the organism of science. And Theology
extends no further than this. For though the assumption
of a cosmos implies the confession of a ground of being for
that cosmos, it is not science, and therefore not Theology,
but only the mysticism of our inner life, which involves the
data by which we personally know and experience that we
stand in communion with that extracosmical ground of

§ 55. The Influence of Palijigenesis upon our View of
Theology and its Relation to the Other Sciences

In the preceding sections the difference has repeatedly
been shown between the conceptions which, according as
you reckon with or without palingenesis, you must enter-
tain of the task of the several faculties and their mutual
relations. In this closing paragraph this difference is more
definitely considered. There are two sorts of people, both
of which claim to be the interpreters of our human race
in its normal manifestation, and who, because thinking that
their own apprehension is the scientific consciousness, cannot
abandon the pretension that the result of their scientific work
alone leads to the knowledge of the object; which knowl-
edge is indeed not adequate, but as pure as lies within
our reach. The difference between these two groups can
briefly be designated by the word Palingenesis, in so far as
this implies, first, the abnormal character of that which has
not undergone this palingenesis, and, on the other hand, the
gradual growth into normality again of what exhibits itseK
as fruit of this palingenesis. This accounts for the fact
that he who not only stands outside of palingenesis but
also rejects it as a play of the imagination, must consider
everything as normal and can only view the divergenciejs


or disturbances as necessary stages in the process of de-
velopment. Hence such an one deems himself authorized
to draw his conclusions from what exists — both from what
exists outside of him and from what exists in himself, — and
to make these conclusions compulsory for all. And from
this point of view no other method is conceivable. He, on
the other hand, who himself lives in the palingenesis, or who
at least accepts it as a fact, has eo ipso an entirely different
outlook upon himself and his surroundings. Palingenesis
implies that all existing things are in ruins ; that there is a
means by which these ruins can be restored, yea, that in
part they are already restored. He neither may nor can,
therefore, draw compulsory conclusions from what exists
outside of palingenesis ; there can be no question with him
of an evolution process ; and for him the necessity of all
science does not lie in what presents itself to him, but in
the criticism of existing things by which he distinguishes
the abnormal from the normal.

This applies to all the faculties, but becomes more impor-
tant in proportion as the part of the object which a given
faculty is to investigate stands higher. With the faculty
of Natural Philosophy, therefore, this antithesis makes itself
least felt ; a little more with the Medical ; more strongly
with the Philological ; almost overwhelmingly with the Ju-
ridical; but most strongly of all with the Theological faculty.

If I omit from my calculations the facts of palingenesis
and sin, then no estrangement from God lias taken place ;
then our understanding has not been darkened ; and no
disturbance has convulsed nature to cloud the transparency
of God in the cosmos. And it is equally inconceivable
that a restoring power should be operative in the world,
in our heart and in our thought, or that there should be
a revelation, in facts or in words, which does not coincide
with the normal process of development. For in this case
we have nothing but progress, continuous gain and clari-
fying of knowledge. And granted that there is a God and
that a knowledge of this God seems possible, this knowl-
edge of God stands infinitely higher in our nineteenth cen-


tury than in the days of Abraham and Moses, of David and
Isaiah, of Christ and his Apostles. Hence it is from no evil
intent, at least not among men (of Satan we do not speak),
but simply the necessary consequence of the lack of a per-
sonal experience of palingenesis, that, so far from acknowl-
edging them, modern theological development cannot rest
until it has dispossessed all religious phenomena of their un-
common character, and has included them in the scope of the
normal development of our human consciousness. And it
is but the consequence of principle, which is compulsory
from this point of view, that the authority of the Holy
Scriptures is attacked, and that the conflict against the
Holy Scriptures must be continued until at length all that
they offer us is reduced to the proportions of the ordinary.

And this gives rise to the question whether from this
naturalistic point of view there can still be a theological
science, and whether there is still room for a theological fac-
ulty. This question is not answered by a rehearsal of the
gigantic labors of modern Theology in breaking down the
so-called antiquated representations. Breaking down is
not building up. And though it is indisputably the task of
science to combat error, it is plain that this negative effort
does not justify the existence of a faculty. Thus the ques-
tion should be put as follows : When once the old building
shall have been taken dcwn entirely, so that without causing
any more concern, antique Theology, properly catalogued,
shall have been carefully put by in the museum of scientific
antiquities, will there then still remain a work of a peculiar
character like Theology which as such will justify the exist-
ence of a separate faculty ? And this must be answered in
the negative. It can be said superficially, that from this
view-point also the five questions present themselves to the
thinking mind — concerning his own spiritual and bodily ex-
istence, and his relation to his fellow-men, to nature and to his
God ; but — and this is the decisive point — from this point
of view the very existence of God is questionable. One no
doubt says there is a God; but another denies it. And among
those also who acknowledge the existence of God, some hold


that He can be known, while others dispute it. Suppose it
were a question whether there are plants, should we be able
to speak of a botanical science? So long as the existence
of the object of a science remains uncertain, inquiry may
take place ; one may sound, feel his way and seek, but one
cannot investigate. Science with a proper object, and a
method derived from that object, is still wanting. Hence
in no case can a complex of sciences be allowed to form an
independent faculty, on the ground of its organic relation to
life. As an escape from this dilemma an attempt has been
made to substitute another object for this science, by placing
the knowledge of Religion at its disposal instead of the knowl-
edo-e of Grod. From now on it is to be called the Science of
Religion. The existence of religion can in no case be denied.
In religion we have to do with a notable phenomenon that
has been observed at all times and among many nations.
This phenomenon may be investigated and thus theological
science be revivified. This, however, rests upon a misunder-
standing. As a subjective phenomenon religion is one of
the phenomena of man's spiritual existence, and as such it
belongs to the Philological faculty, and more appropriately
to history and philosophy. And as no one would think it
proper to found a separate faculty for sesthetics or ethics,
it is equally unreasonable to open a faculty for the religious
life in man (or at least in many men). We do not deny
that from this point of view also there may be a very ear-
nest desire to learn what may be known of God in man
and in nature ; and to the study of religion or of the science

Online LibraryAbraham KuyperEncyclopedia of sacred theology : its principles ... → online text (page 21 of 64)