Abraham Kuyper.

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these two periods of revelation lie, indeed, separated from
each other by a point of transition known to God, even
though we can only approximately indicate the beginning
of the second period.

§ 76. Inspiration in Coyineetion with Miracles

So far as the special principium in God directs itself as
principium of knowledge to the consciousness of the sinner,
it brings about inspiration (with its concomitant illumina-
tion); on the other hand, as principium of being (essendi),
the spiritual and material acts of re-creation commonly called
miracles (mi57S3 and repara^. Since, however, the world of
thought and the world of being do* not lie side by side as two
separate existences, but are organically connected, inspiration
formally has in common with the wonderful (^x'?) that which
to us constitutes the characteristic of the miracle. Conse-
quently the formal side of the miracle need not be considered

Very unjustly at the mention of miracles one thinks almost
exclusively of those in the material domain, and almost with-
out a thought passes by the spiritual miracles. This of course '
is absurd. The creation (if we may so call it) of a mind,
such as shone forth in the holy apostle John, or such as in the
secular world sparkled in a Plato, is, if we make comparison,
far more majestic than even the creation of a comet in the
heavens ; and in the same way the re-creation of a person inim-
ical to God into a child of God is a profounder work of art
than the healing of a leper or the feeding of the five thousand.
That nevertheless the material miracle captivates us more, is
exclusively accounted for by the fact, that the spiritual miracle
is gradually observed after it is ended, and only in its effects,
while the material miracle, as a phenomenon, is immediately
visible to the spectator. In order not to be misled by this
one-sided appearing in the foreground of the material miracle,
it is necessary that we first explain the connection between


the spiritual and the material miracle. The undeniable fact,
which in this connection appears most prominentl}-, is, that
from the daj'S of paradise till now the spiritual miracle of
palingenesis is ever unceasingly continued, and occurs in
every land and among all people, while the sphere of the
material miracle is limited and confined to time and place.
The question of psychico-physical processes, which are often
spoken of as miracles, is here passed by. Whether the
study of hypnotism will succeed in lifting the veil which
still withholds from our sight the working of soul upon soul,
and of the soul upon the body, time will tell; Init in any case
it appears that in this domain, under definite circumstances,
there are forces at work which find their cmisa causans in
our nature, and therefore do not belong to the category of
the miracle. With reference to the real miracle, on the other
hand, the Holy Scripture reveals to us that there is a palin-
genesis, not only of things invisible but also of things seen.
The Scripture nowhere separates the soul from the body, nor
the body from the cosmos. Psyche, body and world form
together one organic whole. The body belongs to the real
existence of man as truly as his psyche, and for human exist-
ence the cosmos is an inseparable postulate. To the state of
innocence, i.e. to that existence of man, which was the im-
mediate product of creation, there belonged not only a holy
soul, but also a sound body and a glorious paradise. In the
state of sin the unholiness of the psyche entails therefore the
corruption of the body, and likewise brings the curse upon
the cosmos. Even as this organic connection of these three
elements appears both in the original creation and in the state
of sin, it continues to work its effect also in the re-creation.
Here also the effect begins with the psyche in regeneration,
but will continue to operate to the end in the palingenesis of
the body, and this body will see itself placed in a re-created
cosmos delivered from the curse. If now regeneration con-
sisted in a sudden cutting loose of our psyche from every
connection with sin, so that it were transformed at once into
an absolutely holy psyche, not merely potentially, but actually,
the palingenesis of the body would enter in at once, and if this

422 § 7G. INSPIRATION IN [Div. Ill

took place simultaneously in all respects, the palingenesis of
the cosmos would immediately follow. This, however, is not
so. Since our race does not enter life at one moment, but in
the course of many centuries, and exists, not individualistically
as an aggregate of atoms, but in organic unity, the transition
from potentia to actus cannot take place except gradually
and in the course of many centuries; and since each man has
no cosmos of his own, but all men together have only one and
the same cosmos, our ancestors (see Heb. xi. 40) could not be
perfect without us, i.e. without us they could not attain unto
the end of their palingenesis, and therefore the apostle Paul
does by no means expect his crown at present, nor yet im-
mediately after his death, but only at the last day, and then
simultaneously with all them also that love the appearing of
Christ (2 Tim. iv. 8).

The very order, which is founded in the nature of our race,
brings it to pass, that the re-creation of the body and of the
cosmos tarries till the end. If thus the miracle as such, in
that special sense in which we here consider it, had not ap-
peared until the parousia, the saving power would have
brought about none other but a spiritual effect. There would
have been regeneration, i.e. palingenesis of the psyche; but
no more. A power would have become manifest capable of
breaking psychically the dominion of sin; but that the same
power would be able to abolish the misery, whicli is the result
of sin, would have been promised in the word, but would
never have been manifested in the deed, and as an unknown
X would have been a stone of offence upon which faith would
have stumbled. The entire domain of the Christian hope
would have remained lying outside of us as incapable of
assimilation. This is only prevented by the fact, that already
in this present dispensation, by way of model or sample, the
power of palingenesis is shown within the domain of matter.
In that sense they are called " signs." As such we are shown
that there is a power able to check every result of sin in the
material world. Hence the rebuke of the elements, the
feeding without labor, the healing of the sick, the raising of
the dead, etc. ; altogether manifestations of power, which


were not exhausted in the effort at that given moment to
save those individuals, for this all ratio sufficiens was Avant-
ing ; but which once having taken place, were perpetuated
by the tradition of the Scripture for all people and every
generation, in order to furnish a permanent foundation to the
hope of all generations. For this purpose they could not
create a 7iew reality (Lazarus indeed dies again), but tended
merely to prove the possibility of redemption in facts ; and
this they had to do under two conditions: (1) that succes-
sively they should overcome every effect of sin in our human
misery ; and (2) that they should be a model, a proof, a
(Tr)/xelov, and therefore be limited to one period of time and
to one circle. Otherwise it would have become a real palin-
genesis, and they would have forfeited their character of
signs. There were hundreds in and about Jerusalem whom
Jesus might have raised from the dead. That Lazarus
should be raised is no peculiar favor to him; for after once
having died in peace, who would ever wish to return to this
life in sin? but it was to glorify God, i.e. to exhibit that
power of God which is also able to abolish death. This is
what must be shown in order that both psychically and
physically salvation shall be fully revealed. Thus only does
hope receive its indispensable support. And in this way
also by these signs is regeneration immediately bound into
one whole with the palingenesis of the body and of the cosmos
as object of faith. What Paul writes of the experiences in
the wilderness : " All these things happened unto them by
way of example; and they Avere written for our admonition"
(1 Cor. X. 11), is true of all this kind of miracles, of which
with equal authority we may say: "Now all these things
happened by way of example; and they were written for
our admonition."

The destructive and rebuking miracles are entirely in line
with this. With the parousia belongs the judgme^it. The
misery^ which as the result of sin now weighs us down, is
yet by no means the consummation of the ruin. If now that
same power of God, by which the palingenesis of soul, body
and of cosmos shall hereafter be established, will simultane-

424 § 76. INSPIRATION IN [Div. Ill

ously, and as result of the judgment, bring about the destruc-
tion as well of soul, body and cosmos in hell, then it follows
that the signs of salvation must run parallel with the signs
of the destruction, which merely form the shadow alongside
of the light.

If Ijotli these kinds of miracles, however strongly con-
trasted with each other, bear one and the same character at
heart, it is entirely different with the real miracles, which do
not take place as ensamples (ruTri/cw?), but invade the world
of reality. Only think of the birth of Isaac, of the birth of
Christ, of his resurrection, of the outpouring of the Holy
Spirit, etc. The motive of these miracles, which form an
entire class by themselves, lies elsewhere, even in this, that
the re-creation of our race could not be wrought simply by
the individual regeneration and illumination of the several
elect, but must take place in the centrum of the organism of
humanity. And since this organism in its centrum also does
not exist psychically only, but at the same time physically,
the re-creation of this centrum could not be effected, except
by the working being both psychical and physical, which is
most vividly felt in the mystery of the incarnation. The
incarnation is the centrum of this entire central action, and
all miracles which belong to this category tend to inaugu-
rate this incarnation, or are immediate results of it, like the
resurrection. All clearness in our view of the miracles
must be lost, if one neglects to distinguish between this
category of the real-central miracles and the category of
the typical miracles in the periphery ; or if it be lost from
sight, that both these real as well as these typical miracles
stand in immediate connection with the all-embracing mir-
acle that shall sometime make an end of this existing order
of things.

If, now, it is asked to what category inspiration belongs, it
is evident at once that inspiration bears no typical, but a real,
character, and belongs not to the periphery but to the cen-
trum. Itself psychical by nature, it must^ meanwhile, reveal
its working in the physical domain as well : (1) because the
persons whom it chose as its instruments existed physically


also ; (2) because it sought its physical crystallization in the
Scripture ; and (3) because its content embraced the physical
also, and, therefore, often could not do without the manifesta-
tion. Nevertheless the psychical remains its fundamental
tone, and as the incarnation brought life into the centrum
of human being, inspiration brings the knowledge of God into
human knoivledge, i.e. into the central consciousness of our
human race. From this special principium in God the saving
jDower is extended centrally to our race, both by the ways
of being and of thought, by incarnation and inspiration.

From this it appears that formally the miracle bears the
characteristic of proceeding forth from the special, and not
from the natural principium, in God. The miracle is no
isolated fact, but a mighty movement of life, whicli, whether
really or typically or, perhaps, in the parousia teleologically,
goes out from God into this cosmos, groaning under sin and
the curse ; and that centrally as Avell as peripherally, in
order organically to recreate that cosmos and to lead it
upward to its final consummation. Are we now justified in
saying that miracle antagonizes nature, violates natural law,
or transcends nature? We take it, that all these representa-
tions are deistic and take no account of the ethical element.
If you take the cosmos as a product wrought by God, which
henceforth stands outside of Him, has become disordered,
and now is being restored by Him from without, with sucli a
mechanical-deistical representation you must make mention
of something that is against or above nature ; but at the
penalty of never understanding miracle. This is the way
the watchmaker does, who makes the watch and winds it,
and, when it is out of order, repairs it with his instruments ;
but such is not the method pursued in the re-creation. God
does not stand deistically over against the world, but by
immanent power He bears and holds it in existence. That
which you call natural power or natural law is nothing but
the immanent power of God and the will of God immanently
upholding this power, while both of these depend upon His
transcendent counsel. It will not do, therefore, to represent
it as though the world once created miscarried against the

426 § 76. INSPIRATION IN [Div. Ill

expectation of God, and as though, after tliat, God were bent
upon the invention of means by which to make good the loss
He had suffered. He who reasons like this is no theologian ;
i.e. he does not go to work theologically, but starts out from
the human representation, viz. that as we are accustomed to
manufacture something, and after we see it fail try to repair
it, so he carries this representation over upon God. And so
you derive the archetype from man and make God's doing
ectypal ; and this is not justifiable in any circumstance, since
thereby you deny the creatorship in God. Our Reformed
theologians, therefore, have always placed the counsel of God
in the foreground, and from the same counsel from which the
re-creation was to dawn they have explained the issue of cre-
ation itself. Even the infra-lapsarian Reformed theologians
readily acknowledged that the re-creation existed ideally, i.e.
already completely in the counsel of God, before the creation
itself took place. What they called the apj^ointment of a
Mediator (constitutio mediatoris) preceded the first actual
revelation of sin. Hence there is no twofold counsel, so that
on the one hand the decree of creation stands by itself, to which,
at a later period, the decree of salvation is mechanicall}' added;
but in the deepest root of the consciousness of God both are
one. Interpreted to our human consciousness, this means
to say, that the creation took place in such a way, that in
itself it carried the possibility of re-creation ; or, to state it
more concretely still, man is not first created as a unity that
cannot be broken, then by sin and death disjointed into parts
of soul and corpse, and now, by an act of power mechanically
applied from without, restored to unity ; but in the creation
of man itself lay both the possibility of this break and the
possibility of the reunion of our nature. Without sin, soul
and body would never have been disjoined by death ; yet
in the creation of man in two parts (dichotomy) lay the
possibility of this breach. But, in like manner, if our body
had merely a mechanical use in actuality, and did not develop
organically from a potentia or germ, reunion of what was
once torn apart would have been impossible. Just because,
in the creation, this potential-organical was characteristic of


our body, the redemption also of the body is possible and its
reunion with the separated soul.

Thus one needs merely to return to the counsel of God,
which lies back of creation and re-creation, and embraces
both in unity, in order once for all to escape from the
mechanical representation of a Divine interference in an
independently existing nature. Sin and misery will, without
doubt, continue to bear the character of a disturbance, and
consequently all re-creation the character of providence and
restoration, but both creation and re-creation flow forth from
the selfsame counsel of God. This is most clearly apparent
from the fact, that re-creation is by no means merely the
healing of the breach or the repairing of what was broken
and disturbed. Spiritually, regeneration does by no means
restore the sinner to the state of original righteousness
(justitia originalis). He who has been regenerated stands
both lower ^ so far as he still carries the tendrils of sin inwoven
in his heart, and higher, so far as potentially he can no more
fall. Likewise physically, the resurrection of our body does
by no means return to us an Adamic body, but a glorified
body. Neither will the parousia bring back to us the old
paradise, but a new earth under a new heaven. Hence the
matter stands thus, that in the counsel of God there were two
ways marked out, by which to lead soul, body and world to
their organic consummation in the state of glory: one ajjart
from sin, by gradual development, and the other, through sin,
by a potentially absolute re-creation ; and that, furthermore,
in creation everything was disposed to both these possibilities.
If nature is taken in its concrete appearance, it is no longer
what it was in the creation, but its ordinance is disturbed;
and if this disturbed ordinance is accepted as its real and
permanent one, then indeed, its re-creation, in us as well as
about us, must appear to us as a violence brought upon it, for
the sake of destroying the violence which we inflicted upon it
by sin. If, on the other hand, you take nature as it appears in
creation itself, and with its foundations lies in the counsel of
God, then its original ordinance demands that this disturbance
be reacted against, and it be brought to realize its end (TeA.09);



and for this purpose the action goes out from the selfsame
counsel of God, from which its ordinance came forth. In
God and in His counsel there is but one principium, and if
we distinguish between a special principium or one of grace,
wliich presently works in upon the natural principium, we
onl}^ do this in view of the twofold providence, which must
have been given, in the one decree of creation, just because
the cosmos was ethically founded. That the working of these
two principia form a twofold sphere for our consciousness,
cannot be avoided, because the higher consciousness, which
reduces both to unity, will only be our portion in the state
of glory. This antithesis, however, is not present with God
for a moment. He indeed works all miracles from the
deeper lying powers, which were fundamental to the crea-
tion itself, without at a single point placing a second creation
by the side of the first. Wherever the Scripture speaks of a
reneival, it is never meant that a new poiver should originate,
or a new state of being should arise, but simply that a new
shoot springs from the root of creation itself, that of this
new shoot a graft is entered upon the old tree, and that in
this way the entire plant is renewed and completed. Crea-
tion and re-creation, nature and grace, separate, so far as
the concrete appearance in the practical application is con-
cerned, but both in the counsel of God and in the poten-
tialities of being they have one root. The miracle, therefore,
in its concrete form is not from nature, but from the root
from which nature sprang. It is not mechanically added
to nature, but is organically united to it. This is the rea-
son why, after the parousia, all action of the principium
of grace flows back into the natural principium, brings
this to its consummation, and thus, as such, itself dis-

§ 77. Inspiratioyi according to the Self- Testimony of the


The naive catechetical method of proving the inspiration
of the Holy Scripture from 2 Tim. iii. 16 or 2 Pet. i. 21,
cannot be laid to the charge of our Reformed theologians.


They did not hesitate to expose the inconclusiveness of such
circle-reasoning. They appeal indeed to this and similar
utterances, when it concerned the question, what interpreta-
tion of inspiration the Holy Scripture itself gives us. And
that was right. As the botanist cannot learn to know the
nature of the life of the plant except from the plant itself, the
theologian also has no other way at command, by which to
learn to understand the nature of inspiration, except the
interrogating of the Scripture itself. Meanwhile, there is this
difference between a plant and the Scripture, that the plant
does not speak concerning itself, and the Scripture does. In
the Scripture dominates a conscious life. In the Scripture
the Scripture itself is spoken about. Hence, two ways pre-
sent themselves to us by which to obtain an insight into the
matter : (1) that we, as with every other object which one
investigates, watch for ourselves, where in the Scripture the
track of inspiration becomes visible ; but likewise (2) that
we interrogate those, who in the Scripture declare them-
selves concerning the Scripture. And, of course, we must
begin with the latter. Inspiration is a specific phenomenon,
strange to us, but which was not strange to those hol}^ per-
sons, called of God, who were themselves its organs. ^ From
them, in the first place, we must learn what they taught
concerning inspiration. In them the spirit, which animates
the entire Scripture, consciousl}^ expresses itself. Not with
equal clearness in all. Here also we find a gradual differ-
ence. In the absolute sense it can be said of the Christ only,
that the self-consciousness of the Scripture expressed itself
completely in Him. When Christ was on earth the entire
Scripture of the Old Testament was already in existence;
which renders it of the utmost importance to us to know
what character Jesus attributed to the inspiration of the Old
Covenant. If it appears that Christ attributed absolute
authority to the Old Covenant, as an organic whole, then
the matter is settled for every one who worships Him as his
Lord and his God, and confesses that He can not err. This
proof, however, from the nature of the case, is without force
to him who does not thus believe in his Saviour, and f 6r him


there is no demonstration possible. He who stands outside
of the palingenesis cannot entertain any other demonstration
but that which is derived from nature and reason in their
actual form ; and how would you ever be able from these to
reach your conclusions concerning the reality of that which
does not pretend to spring either from nature or from rea-
son ? Hence they only, who stand in conscious life-contact
with the life-sphere of Christ can accept the force of demon-
stration, which lies in the testimony concerning the Script-
ure by Jesus, as its highest organ. Even then, however, it
must be clearly held in view, that the reports of the Gospels
concerning what Jesus said about the Old Testament, appear
at this point of our argument as reports only, and not as testi-
mony already authenticated. The value to be attached to this
tradition concerning the utterances of Jesus, springs (while
taken as yet outside of faith in inspiration) not from the bare
communication of these utterances, but (1) from their multi-
formity ; (2) from the stamp of originality which these
utterances bear ; (3) from their being interwoven with the
events described ; and (4) from their agreement with the
utterances of Jesus' disciples, whose epistles have come to
us^ If such reports of Jesus' ideas about the Scripture were
very rare, if they appeared for their own purposes only, or if
it was their aim to formulate a certain theory of inspiration,
then (always reckoning without faith in the Scriptures) they
would not possess such a historic value to us ; but since there
is no trace of such a design, and no insertion of a system is
thought of, and only the use is shown which Jesus made of
the Scripture amid the most varied circumstances and with all
sorts of applications, from these reports it is historically cer-
tain, for him also who does not reckon with inspiration, that
Jesus judged the Scripture thus, and not otherwise.

(jThis value, moreover, rises in importance by the fact, that

Online LibraryAbraham KuyperEncyclopedia of sacred theology : its principles ... → online text (page 40 of 64)