Abraham Kuyper.

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and form to the archetypal. And yet this further expla-
nation has not made the matter itself more clear, but more
confusing, — both mechanically and intellectually. In the
self-knowledge of God there are not ten parts, six of which
he has decided to reveal unto us ; but, though only " as in a
glass darkly," the ivhole image has been reflected to us in
Revelation. Neither will it do to interpret the revelation
of God's self-knowledge as a merely intellectual communica-
tion, independent of Creation and the Incarnation ; for this
would cut in Revelation itself the main artery of religion.

Rather, therefore, than lose ourselves in this intellectual-
istic abstraction, we adopt the names of Archetypal and
Ectypal Theology in the originally fuller sense, i.e. as
standing in immediate relation to the creation of man after
the image of God. As man stands as ectype over against
God, the archetype, man's knowledge of God can therefore
be only ectypal. This is what we meant when we called
Theology a dependent knowledge — a knowledge which is
not the result of an activity on our part, but the result of
an action which goes out from God to us ; and in its wider
sense this action is God's self-revelation to His creature.

Chap. I] § 60. ECTYPAL THEOLOGY 257

§ 60. Ectypal Theology the Fruit of Revelation

The ectype does not arise unless there is a material that
can receive the impression of the archetype, and the act of
impressing it on this material has taken place. And though
in the preceding section it was maintained that the ectypal
knowledge of God did not arise from our observation of
God but from self-communication on the part of God, and
consequently bears a dependent character, we do not assert,
that for the acquisition of this knowledge of God the nature
and disposition of the subject are indifferent. On the con-
trary, all revelation assumes (1) one who reveals Himself; /
(2) one to whom he reveals Himself; and (3) the possibility
of the required relation between these two. In revelation,
therefore, man (and more especially sinful man), who is to
receive it, must be taken into account. If, as was done
formerly, we exclusively consider Him who reveals Him-
self and that which He reveals, this revelation lies outside
of man ; the actual perception and assimilation are wanting ;
and the whole end of revelation is lost. In the second
place, it will not do to interpret revelation as an announce-
ment or communication of the one subject to the other sub-
ject, without taking due account of the fact that the subject
God created the subject man, and that God wholly maintains
and governs man from moment to moment ; the result of
which is, that He does not follow a way of communication
that happens accidentally to be present, but that He Himself ^
lays out the way of communication in keeping with His pur-
pose. In the third place, it must be kept in view that the
revelation of God is not an act of a single moment, but a
continuous process, which extends itself across the ages, and
in this extension does not purposelessly swing back and
forth, but propels itself according to the motive contained
in its idea, according to the nature of its successive content,
and according: to the nature of the bed which its stream
must form for itself. In the fourth place, this revelation ^
may not be interpreted as an atoraistical self-communication
of God to the several indivldnah, but must be taken as a reve-

258 §60. ECTYPAL THEOLOGY [Div. Ill

lation to man in liis generations, i.e. to the organic unity
of humanity, and only in this organic unity to the single
man. And finally, in the fifth place, account must be kept
of the special character which this revelation had to assume,
both with regard to the act of revelation and its content,
and the forming of its channel in the human spirit, in
order, in spite of the obstruction of sin, to accomplish
its original plan and to realize the purpose implied in its
tendency. Though it is thus unquestionably true that in
our sinful state we could never attain to a true Theology,
i.e. a true knowledge of God, unless the form of revelation
were soteriological, it is nevertheless necessary that in our
representation of revelation also the fact be emphasized that
the soteriological element is ever accidental, bears merely
an intervenient character, and remains dependent upon the
fundamental conception of revelation which is given in
creation itself, and Avhich teleologically looks forward to
a state of things in which there shall be no more sin, so
that every soteriological act shall belong to a never-return-
ing past.

The first proposition therefore reads : Grod reveals Him-
self for His oivn sake, and 7iot in behalf of man.

This only true starting-point for the real study of Revela-
tion has been too much lost from view, not only in recent
times, but even in the more prosperous periods of sound
Theology. Even in the treatment of the dogma of "the
necessity of sacred Scripture," the fact of sin was always
taken as the point of departure, and thus the starting-point
for Revelation was found in the soteriological necessity of
causinsf liffht to arise in our darkness. A revelation before
sin was, to be sure, recognized, but it was never success-
fully placed in relation to revelation in the theological
sense ; and this was especially noticeable in the mechanical
placing side by side of natural and revealed Theology.
To repair this omission is therefore a necessity. Every
interpretation of Revelation as given for man's sake, de-
forms it. You either reduce Revelation to the Creation, or


cause it to occur onl}^ after the Creation. If j^ou accept the
latter view, you make it intellectualistic, and it can only
consist, as the Socinian conceived, of an outward mechanical
communication of certain data, commandments, and statutes.
Thus, however, true revelation, which is rooted in religion
itself, is destroyed. If for this reason you favor the other
horn of the dilemma, viz. that Revelation goes back to Crea-
tion itself, then the motive for this Revelation cannot be found
in man; simply because man was not yet in existence, and
therefore could be no motive. For though it be asserted
that, as the apostle Peter says, man v/as foreknown in the
Divine decree before the creation, and that therefore Revela-
tion could well point to this foreknown man, the argument
is not valid. For in the decree a motive must have ex-
isted for the foreknowledge of man himself; and if it be
allowed that this motive at least could lie only in God, it
follows that Revelation also, even if it found its motive in
man, merely tended to make man what he should be for the
sake of God, so that in this way also Revelation finds its^
final end in Crod, and 7iot in man.

But even this might grant too much. With a little
thought one readily sees that Revelation is not merely
founded in Creation, but that all creation itself is revela-
tion. If we avoid the Origenistic and pantheistic error that
the cosmos is coexistent with God; the pagan representa-
tion that God Himself labors under some higher necessity;
and the Schleiermachian construction that God and the
world were correlate, at least in the idea; and if, conse-
quently, we stand firm in the sublime confession: ^^ I believe
in God the Father Almiglity, Creator of heaven and earthy'"' the
motive for Creation cannot be looked for in anything outside
of God, but only and alone m Crod Himself. Not in an eter-
nal law (lex aeterna), a fate Qfxoipa') or necessity (ava'yicrj'),
nor in some need of God nature, nor in the creature that
was not yet created. He who does not worship God as self-
sufficient and sovereign, misconceives and profanes His
Being. Creation neither can nor may be conceived as
anything but a sovereign act of God, for His own glori-

260 § 00. ECTYPAL THEOLOGY [Div. Ill

ficution. God cannot be glorified by anything that comes
to Him from without. By His own perfections alone can
He be glorified. Hence creation itself is primarily nothing
else than a revelation of the power of God; of the God
Alinightt/, who as such is the Creator of heaven and earth.
If this is true of creation, and of the self-revelation of
God which was effected in the creation, this must be true
of all revelation, simply because the cosmos, and every
creature in the cosmos, and all that is creaturely, are given
in the creation. If you deny this, you make an essential
distinction between all further revelation and the revelation
in creation ; you place it as a second revelation mechanically
alongside of the first; and lapse again into the irreligious,
intellectualistic interpretation of revelation. If, on the
other hand, further revelation is not taken except in organic
relation to the revelation given in creation, and thus is post-
ulated by it, the motive of creation becomes of itself the
motive of its manifestation; and all later revelation must
likewise be granted to have been given us, not for our sake,
but in the last instance for God's own sake. For though it
is self-evident that the manner of operation of this revela-
tion in every concrete case adapts itself to the disposition of
the creature, and in this creature reaches its temporal end,
yet in the last instance it only completes its course when
in this operation upon or enriching of this creature it glori-
fies its Creator. When this revelation, therefore, leads to
the creaturely knowledge of God, i.e. ectypal Theology, this
knowledge of God is not given primarily for our benefit, but
because God in His sovereignty takes pleasure in being known
of His creature ; which truth is thus formulated in Holy
Scripture, — that God doeth all things /or His Name's sake ;
sometimes with the additional words: not for your saJces,

From this the second projiosition follows of itself, that
Divine Revelation assumes a creature capable of transposing
this Revelation into subjective hwivledge of God.

Revelation by itself would not be able to realize its aim.


Imagine that there were no i-easonable creatures, and that
the creation consisted of nothing but entirely unconscious
creatures, incapable of consciousness, the perfections of God
revealed in His creation could not be evident to any one but
God Himself. This, however, would be a contradiction in
terms. He who is Himself the Author of revelation, knows
the entire content of His revelation before He reveals it.
Hence nothing can become known to Him by His revelation,
which at first He did not know. This is possible in part
with us. When by the grace of God a poet first carries a
poetical creation in his mind, and afterwards reveals it in
his poem, many things become known to him in this poem
which at first were hid from him. This is accounted for by
the fact that this poet was inspired in his poetic creation by
a higher power, so that he himself did not know all the
obscure contents of his imagination. With God, on the
other hand, such cannot be the cas'B, simply because God
cannot be inspired by one higher than Himself, and because
there is nothing in His Being which He does not see
with fullest clearness of vision. This implies that there
can be no mystery for God, either in His Essence, coun-
sel, or plan of creation; and hence nothing can become
revealed or known to God by creation. By creation the
contents of His virtues are in nothing enriched ; in no
particular do they become more glorious to Himself; hence
there would be no revelation in creation or in any later
activity of God, if there were no creature to whom all this
could become the revelation of a mystery. For though we
grant that God Himself sees and hears the beautiful in His
creation ; Ave deny that this display in creation is a greater
joy to God than the view of His perfections in Himself.
Every effort to seek a necessary ground in this sense for
the creation of the cosmos results in cancelling the self-
sufficiency of the Eternal Being, and in making God, by
His creation, come to the knowledge and possession of His
own divine riches ; and by a little deeper thought this of
itself leads back again to the theory of the world's co-
existence with God.

262 § 60. ECTYPAL THEOLOGY [Div. Ill

The proposition of an unintentional revelation is equally
untenable. This often happens with us, because the reve-
lation of our person or of our disposition is not always
under our control. Not only unintentionally, but some-
times against our intention and in spite of our purpose
to the contrary, all sorts of things are constantly heard and
seen of us, which it was by no means our desire to reveal.
But this again you cannot apply to the Eternal Being, with-
out lapsing into the anthropopathic representation of His
existence. Such unintentional discovery of self to others
results from a lack of power or insight, and from a con-
sequent dependence upon many human data. Thus the
omnipotence and absolute independence of God would be
impaired, if in Him you assumed this unconscious, uninten-
tional, and in so far accidental, revelation. His revelation
postulates both the will and the purpose to reveal Himself,
and this is inconceivable, unless there is at the same time a
conscious being outside of God, which is able to appropriate
what is revealed, and for which this revelation is intended.
Though a star is praised for sparkling, which it does with-
out knowing it, and a flower for the aroma that flows from
its cup without this cup jDerceiving it, and though, in a
similar strain, we praise the native simplicity of a beautiful
character that radiates without effort and conscious aim,
yet with no such conception can we approach the Lord
our God, for He has nothing that He does not owe to
Himself, and in no single particular is He a mystery to
Himself. In Him whose is the highest and the most com-
plete consciousness, there is no room for the conditions of
semi- or total-unconsciousness. What the Oonfessio Bel-
gica states in Art. 12, that all created things are "for
the service of man, to the end that man may serve his
God," applies also to the realm of revelation, since man is
the creature, by whom whatever is creaturely on earth be-
comes the instrument of revelation of the attributes of God.

Our second proposition, however, implies more than this.
The conscious creature is not only indispensable in order that
revelation can be revelation^ but that which is revealed must


also be transposed by man into subjective hiowledge of God
and of His perfections. That -which God reveals is conscious
knowledge of Himself, before He reveals it. He is not a
Light from which effulgence radiates, while He Himself
does not know that light. His self-knowledge is absolute,
and the impulse to reveal His perfections arises from His
knowledge of them. And therefore this revelation of His
perfections does not reach its aim nor point of rest until God
is known. Hence, without ever giving themselves to intel-
lectualism, the Holy Scriptures always put this knowledge
of G-od in the foreground, and stand in prospect a " know-
ing of God as we are known." If Mozart had been a
completely self-conscious musician, he would not have been
able to develop his compositions otherwise than with the
will and aim of finding performers and hearers who would
not only hear his compositions and perform them, hut ivould
also understand them. And in like manner revelation flows
from the archetypal knowledge of God and strives to become
ectypal knowledge of God in man. Thus revelation itself
is properly no Theology, but flows from the auto-Theology
in God Himself and has Theology, i.e. knowledge of God
in man, for its result.

This leads to our third proposition, viz. that man, in order
to do this., must he adajjted by nature, relation and process to
inte^yret ivhat has heen revealed as a revelation of Grod and to
reduce it to sid'jectlve knoiuledge of God.

It was the aim of propositions one and two to show that
man did not come into being indifferent as to the manner
how, and only afterwards revelation was added to him as
an auxiliary, and was therefore adapted to his need; but
that, on the contrary, revelation finds its end in God, and
our human race was in its creation entirely adapted to this
revelation. In this third proposition examine this original
and necessary relation between revelation on the one side
and the nature, relation and development process of our race
on the other. And we point at once to the twofold office

264 § 60. ECTYrAL THEOLOGY [Div. Ill

of man in revelation. He is not only to appropriate that
which has been revealed, but he is himself a link in that reve-
lation. This is exhibited most stronglj' in his logos, since
by his logos he appropriates revelation to himself, and in his
logos reflectively (abbildlich) reveals something of the eter-
nal logos. If the cosmos is the theatre of revelation, in this
theatre man is both actor and spectator. This should not be
taken in the sense that, in what is revealed in him, he adds
one single drop to the ocean of cosmical revelation, but
rather, that man himself is the richest instrument in which
and by which God reveals Himself. And he is this not so
much on account of his body and his general psychical
organization, but chiefly on account of that deepest and
most hidden part of his being, in which the creaturely
reaches its finest and noblest formation. And if, without
lapsing into trichotomy, we may call this finest element in
our human being the pneumatical, we define it as being both
the choicest jewel in the diadem of revelation and the instru-
ment by which man transmutes all revelation into knoivledge
of God. Both are expressed in the creation of man after the
image of Crod. On one hand, one's image is his completest
revelation, and on the other hand, from just that creation
after God's image originates that higher consciousness of
man, by which in him also the logos operates. This is
what the older Theology called innate or concreate Theology
(theologia innata or concreata), and to which the doctrine
of faith must be immediately related.

To make this clear we must go back a moment to the first
man, who, in so far as he represented our entire race, was
no individual, and in whose case we do not yet need to
reckon Avith the relation in which we stand to other men.
It is evident that, when thus taken, Adam possessed in him-
self, apart from the cosmos, everything that was necessary
to have knoivledge of God.

Undoubtedly many things concerning God were manifest to
him in the cosmos also ; without sin a great deal of God would
have become manifest to him from his fellow- men ; and through
the process of his development, in connection with the cosmos.


he would have obtained an ever richer revelation of God.
But apart from all this acquired knowledge of God, he had
in himself the capacity to draw knowledge of God from what
had been revealed, as well as a rich revelation from which to
draw that knowledge. Our older theologians called these
two together the "concreate knowledge of God"; and cor-
rectly so, because here there was no logical activity which
led to this knowledge of God, but this knowledge of God
coincided with man's own self-knowledge. This knowl-
edge of God was given eo ipso in his own self-conscious-
ness; it was not given as discursive knowledge, but as
the immediate content of self-consciousness. Even in our
present degenerate condition, when much of ourselves can
only be learned by observation, there is always a back-
ground of self-knowledge and of knowledge of our own
existence, which is given immediately with our self-con-
sciousness. Before the fall, when no darkening had yet
taken place, this immediate self-knowledge must have been
much more potent and clear. And thus it could not be
otherwise but that in this clear and immediate self-knowl-
edge there was, without any further action of the logos in
us, an equally immediate knowledge of God, the conscious-
ness of which, from that very image itself, accompanied him
who had been created in the image of God. Thus the first
man lived in an innate knowledge of God, which was not
yet understood, and much less expressed in words, just as
our human heart in its first unfoldings has a knowledge of
ideals, which, however, we are unable to explain or give a
form to. Calvin called this the seed of religion (semen reli-
gionis), by which he indicated that this innate knowledge of
God is an ineradicable property of human nature, a spiritual
eye in us, the lens of which may be dimmed, but always so
that the lens, and consequently the eye, remains.

In connection with this, now, stands faith, that wonderful
TTtb-Tt?, the right understanding of which has been more and
more lost by the exclusively soteriological conception of our
times. Of course as a consequence of the fall faith also
was modified, and became faith in the Saviour of the world.

266 § 60. ECTYPAL THEOLOGY [Diy. Ill

But the form which anything has received as a consequence
of sin can never be its proper or original form ; and it is
equally absurd to look upon saving faith as a new spiritual
sense implanted for the first time by regeneration. Nothing
can ever be added to man by regeneration which does not es-
sentially belong to human nature. Hence regeneration cannot
put anything around us as a cloak, or place anj^thing on our
head as a crown. If faith is to be a human reality in the regen-
erate, it must be an attitude (habitus) of our human nature
as such ; consequently it must have been present in the first
man ; and it must still be discernible in the sinner. To prove
the latter is not difficult, provided it is acknowledged that
ethical powers (sensu neutro) operate in the sinner also, even
though in him they appear exclusively in the privative, i.e. sin-
ful form. Taken this way, the pistic element is present in all
that is called man ; only in the sinner this pistic element as-
sumes the privative form, and becomes unfaith (ainarLa). If
sin is not merely the absence of good (carentia boni), but posi-
tive privation (actuosa privatio), airiaria also is not only the
absence of faith (absentia fidei), but the positive privation of
faith (actuosa fidei privatio), and as such sin. By overlook-
ing this distinction our earlier theologians came to speak
of the innate knowledge of God (cognitio Dei innata)
as an attitude (habitus), which properly invited criticism.
Cognitio can be no habitus. But while they expressed
themselves incorrectly, they were not mistaken in the mat-
ter itself; they simply failed to distinguish between concreate
theology (concreata), and faith which is inseparable from
human nature. Faith indeed is in our human consciousness
the deepest fundamental law that governs every form of dis-
tinction, by which alone all higher "Differentiation" becomes
established in our consciousness. It is the daring break-
ing of our unity into a duality; placing of another ego
over against our own ego; and the courage to face that
distinction because our own ego finds its point of support
and of rest only in that other ego. This general better
knowledge of faith renders it possible to speak of faith in
every domain; and also shows that faith originates primor-


dially from the fact that our ego places God over against
itself as the eternal and infinite Being, and that it dares to
do this, because in this only it finds its eternal point of
support. Since we did not manufacture this faith our-
selves, but God created it in our human nature, this faith
is but the opening of our spiritual eye and the consequent
perception of another Being, excelling us in everything,
that manifests itself in our otvn being. Thus it does not orig-
inate after the Cartesian style from an imprinted idea of
God, but from the manifestation of God in our own being to
that spiritual eye which has been formed in order, as soon as
it opens, to perceive Him and in ecstasy of admiration to be
bound to Him. By faith we perceive that an eternal Being
manifests Himself in us, in order to place Himself over against
our ego, in the same way in which we discover the presence
of light by our eye ; but what this eternal Being is and what
it demands of us, is not told us by faith, but by the innate
knowledge of God, presently enriched by the acquired.

The discovery, the perception of a mightier Ego, which is

Online LibraryAbraham KuyperEncyclopedia of sacred theology : its principles ... → online text (page 25 of 64)