Abraham Kuyper.

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by which he must observe what goes on in the sacred domain ;
while on the contrary he who wants to perfect himself in
the accuracy of his observations within this sacred domain,
is bound to apply himself to mystical devotion as well as to
pietistic practice of holiness. As the pianist must make his
fingers supple in order by a greater velocity to accommodate
them to the vibrations of the world of sounds, so the theo-
logian must tune his inner being and hold it to that pitch
by prayer, meditation, self-denial and daily practice in order
to accommodate himself to the sound of heavenly things.
Not in the sense that prayer and meditation could ever take


the place of alacrity and intelligence or of the "body of
doctrine " (copia doctrinae). By his supple fingers the pian-
ist cannot produce a single tone, if he has not the instrument
itself at his disposal. But however strenuously we emphasize
this intellectual development, unless a spiritual development
be its guide, it degenerates of necessity into intellectualisra,
and becomes cold, barren and unfruitful. Only when the
theologian applies himself in harmonious relation to the de-
velopment of hoth^ does he offer himself to the Holy Spirit as
a prepared instrument, and is able to reveal even more fully
the strength of this instrument.

§ 90. The Holy Sjnrit as Teacher (Spiritus Sanctus Doctor)

In this connection only can it be explained what has been
implied in the worship of the Holy Spirit by the Church of
Christ as the Teacher of the Church (Doctor ecclesiae). This
confession must now be considered, because it implies that
the action of the human mind, in order to attain to the
true " knowledge of God," and thus of all theology, stands
subject to his guidance. To understand this well, we must
first distinguish between the several sorts of activities that
go out from the Holy Ghost. From Him all animation pro-
ceeds, as well as the whole creation, and wherever life glows,
its flame is ignited by the Holy Ghost. That flame is want-
ing in the chaotic mass, and then the Holy Spirit moves as
yet separate above the chaos. But when the chaos becomes
cosmos, the fiery flame of the Spirit glows and scintillates
throughout the entire creation. In all conscious life this work-
ing of the Holy Spirit reveals itself more intensively and
more definitely in the psychical life of man. Not because the
Holy Spirit is here a different one, but because this plane of life
stands higher, possesses the form of conscious life, and is conse-
quently able to cause the energy of the Holy Spirit to appear
in a much higher form. In this sense all light in us, in our
emotional life as well as in the domain of science and art, is
light ignited by the Holy Ghost. But this does not touch
the highest sphere of His activity. This is reached only,
when from his side the creature places himself in conscious


communion with this energy of the Holy Spirit, whereby the
Holy Spirit becomes the " Gemeingeist " in the organism of
humanity. And this is wanting in the life without palin-
genesis. There the " Gemeingeist " is sought in a national
spirit, in a spirit of the times, in a prevailing tendency of
spirits, and this effort sets itself in opposition to the Holy
Spirit. But it is different with that tree of humanity
upon which the " Edelreis " has been grafted by God. For
humanity thus restored is identical with the bodi/ of Christ,
and in this bodi/ of Christ no other " Gemeingeist " but the
Holy Spirit is conceivable. This lies expressed in the Pente-
cost miracle, by which this indwelling of the Holy Spirit was
accomplished. Beautiful confession is made of this by the
Heidelberg Catechism, when it speaks of the Holy Spirit as
" He who dwells in Christ as the Head and in us as His mem-
bers." Hence there can be but one thought entertained con-
cerning the subject of restored humanity : viz., that it is led
and guided by the Holy Spirit, and this is the profounder
sense of what Jesus spake, that the Holy Spirit shall guide
into all the truth (John xvi. 13) ; which utterance by itself
simply implies that the Church of Christ should have a guide
on her way, and that this guide would lead her ever more
deeply into the knowledge of the truth. It is this Holy Spirit,
who alone is able to "search all the deep things of God"
(1 Cor. ii. 10). It is this same Holy Spirit who reveals
these mysteries unto us. And finally, it is this Holy Spirit
who, by His communion, makes us spiritual, gives us the mind
of Christ, and thereby enables us to judge spiritually (1 Cor.
ii. 10-16).

From the nature of the case it is this fact that dominates
theology. Theology is studied age after age, among all
classes of people and in all kinds of lands, in various circles
and under the influence of numerous factors, ecclesiastical
and non-ecclesiastical. In itself, therefore, this sundry task
would bear a broken and atomistic character. All unity
and all growth would be wanting. If it is nevertheless a
fact that this growth is not wanting, and that in the midst of
changes and variations unity and progress are apparent, then

Chap. Ill] § 90. THE HOLY SPIRIT AS TP:ACHER 585

a hio-her subject, standing outside and above the subjects
of individual theologians and dominating them, must have
caused these many rills to flow in one bed, and in that bed
must have determined the direction of the stream. With the
other sciences this higher subject is given of itself in the
immanent logica, in the Logos of the object, which corre-
sponds to the Logos in the subject and aids the logical under-
standing of the object after a fixed law. That higher power
which guarantees unity and growth in these sciences is cer-
tainly given in Creation. But such is 7iot the case with
theology. This directs itself to a life, which is the fruit of re-
creation; of re-creation in being as well as in consciousyiess ;
and therefore only the Holy Spirit, who is the author of this
double re-creation, can here give the impulse, guidance and
direction to the spirits, and introduce unity in what goes out
from the individuals. And this claims a still stronger
emphasis, because the development of the re-created con-
sciousness is conditioned by the Holy Scripture, of which the
Holy Spirit is the "primary author" (auctor primarius). If
it is a fact that the secondary authors (auctores secundarii)
intended to convey much less of a meaning in their writings
than the Holy Spirit, under whose impulse they went to work,
then from the nature of the case the Holy Spirit alone is able
to reveal to the Church His rich and full intention regarding
the Holy Scripture. Hence there is unity in the theological
effort only because it is the selfsame Holy Spirit who gave us
the principium of theology and superintends the effect and
the application of this principium. The exegesis of the Holy
Scripture is correct and complete only when the Holy Spirit
interprets that Scripture in the Church of God. And the re-
flection of the content of the Scripture in our consciousness,
and the reproduction of it hy our consciousness, is true and
pure and entire only when the Holy Spirit gives command
and direction to this activity of the re-created consciousness.
The way in which this is done by the Church, in connection
with the office, will be shown in the following section. Even
without the influence of the instituted Church, it follows that
the individual theologian should always be conscious of this


working of the Holy Spirit. This is something both different
from and greater than his mystical fellowship with the spiritual
reality which was explained in the former section. Without
more, this mystical fellowship simply referred to the tenor
of his inner life. But it is entirely different when the theo-
loo-ian understands and feels that he is an organ of service,
on the ground of which he may confidently expect lasting
fruit of his labors so long as he puts himself in the service
of the Holy Ghost. This is entirely analogous to the differ-
ence between the plodder on his own responsibility and the
man of science who labors in the service of the truth. What
in every other department of study is service of the truth,
is here service of the Holy Ghost. Without this sense of
service all study becomes subjectivistic, unhistorical, and ar-
rogant, while, on the contrary, the placing of oneself at the
service of the truth, i.e. in this instance of the Holy Ghost,
banishes all pride, curbs the desire to be interesting by ex-
hibiting new discoveries, feeds the desire of theological fel-
lowship, and thereby sharpens that historic sense which
impels the theologian to join himself to that great work of the
Holy Spirit effected in past ages, which at most he may help
advance a few paces.

This, however, should not be interpreted in the sense that
the service of the Holy Spirit is antagonistic to the service of
the truth. The domain of palingenesis is no newly created
ground, but the outcome of re-creation. Hence the natural
life is subsumed in it, the natural consciousness also, i.e. those
powers, attributes, and laws of being, to which the human
consciousness is subject by its nature, in virtue of the creation.
As was seen above, the light of the Holy Spirit operates also
in this natural consciousness, and of itself this lower light is
adopted and included in the higher. If this were not so,
theology would be merely a mystical beholding (OeapCa) ;
but for the reason alone that it is so, it appears as an intel-
lectual and rational discipline (disciplina noetica and diano-
etica). On this depends also the old question, which from
the days of Arius has repeated itself in the Church, even
this : whether theology is authorized to draw out by logical

Chap. Ill] § 91. THE CHURCH AND THE OFFICE 587

sequence what is not written avroXe^et in the Holy Scripture.
Almost every tendency, whose interest it was to attach itself
to the letter of the Scripture, and to oppose inferences from
Scripture, has stated its objections against logical deduction
in its polemical writings. Even by Franciscus Veronius from
the side of Rome a similar objection was raised against
the theology of the Reformers (see Voetius, Disp. Theol. I.
pp. 5-12). In theory, however, this position has been de-
fended only by some Anabaptists, and later by the Metho-
dists, although they themselves did not strictly adhere to it.
This whole conception meanwhile starts out from a mechani-
cal Scripture-view, and is not worthy of refutation. It is of
importance only in so far as it may be asked, whether in His
revelation the Holy Spirit was bound to logic. In principle
this is denied by all dualistic tendencies. They view the
spiritual life of palingenesis and the intellectual life of sin-
ful nature as two spheres which do not touch each other.
The refutation of this false assertion must be sought in this :
(1) in that palingenesis is represented as a re-creation, which
implies the subsumption of the natural life ; (2) in that the
Holy Spirit is the author of the logical in the natural life as
well as of the spiritual in the regenerated life; and (3) in
that the Holy Spirit Himself, as the " Gemeingeist," leads
and directs not merely the mystic-spiritual, but also the
logical-dianoetical action of the Church, and therefore also of

§ 91. The Church and the Office

As the result of the two preceding sections no other infer-
ence is possible, than that theological science can only exist
in the Church of Christ. Outside of her pale palingenesis
is wanting, faith is wanting, and the enlightening, and the
fellowship of saints, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit as
" Gemeingeist." By this, however, it is by no means meant,
that the organ for theological science is given in the insti-
tuted Church. The conception of the instituted Church is
much narrower than the Church of Christ when taken as the
body of Christ, for this includes in itself all the powers and


workings that arise from re-creation. There is a Christian
disposition and a Christian fellowship, there is a Christian
knowledge and a Christian art, etc., which indeed spring
from the field of the Church and can flourish on this field
alone, but which by no means therefore proceed from the
instituted Church. The instituted Church finds her province
bounded by her offices, and these offices are limited to the
ministry of the Word, the Sacraments, Benevolence, and
Church government. These are the only offices that have
been appointed as special functions in her life. All other
expressions of Christian life do not work by the organ of
the special offices, but by the organs of the re-created natural
life ; the Christian family by the believing father and mother.
Christian art by the believing artist, and Christian schools
by the believing magister. From which it follows that in this
domain of palingenesis science also does not come to revela-
tion by organs sj)ecially appointed for this purpose, but by
the regenerated natural organs. By making an exception of
theology here, it is assigned a place outside the organism of
Christian knowledge, which prevents it from having one and
the same subject in common with the other, Christianly under-
stood, sciences. If then for want of a better school, or in
behalf of her own safety, the instituted Church may found
a seminary for the education of her ministry, such a semi-
nary is never a scientific institution in its absolute sense.
Neither are we authorized, in view of such a seminary, to
withdraw ourselves from the obligation of prosecuting the
science of theology for its own sake. If preachers are to be
not merel}^ Ministers of the Word, but theologians as well,
the university training is indispensable.

But from this it does not follow that the instituted Church
as such should not be of profound significance to the science
of theology. The case indeed is this : sufficient knowledge
of God ad hoc flows from the Holy Scripture in a three-
fold way : personal, ecclesiastical and scientific. If now we
consider scientific theology first, then it is clear that its
beginnings are very slow, that its growth covers the lapse
of ages, and that it is not only still very incomplete, but

Chap. Ill] § 91. THE CHURCH AND THE OFFICE 589

it will never be finished, because as a science it can never
be at a standstill, but will always advance without ever being
able to reach completion. In the earlier ages especially it
Avas very imperfect. If then for the sake of procuring the
necessary knowledge of God, the Church, which we referred
to in the second place, should have had to wait for the result
of this study, generation after generation would have passed
awa}- before the Church could have begun her task. And
this was not to be allowed. The Church had to be in
immediate readiness. She could not be held back by any
embarrassment. Neither has this taken place. From the
very beginning, before there could be so much as a question
of science, the Church has borrowed the content of her
preaching from the Scripture and thereby has made use of a
knowledge of God, which was sufficient ad hoc, i.e. for the
life of the Church. What was needed in the churchly life
gradually increased also, but in connection with this the
Church unfolded the content of her preaching ever more
richly, at the same time profiting by the fruit of scientific
theology that gradually arose. Thus churchly confessions
originated, which were increasingly rich and full, but these
churchly confessions have never announced themselves as the
results of science. And it is different again in the third place
with the personal knowledge of God of each individual. The
individual person, whose life is measured by the day, was still
less able than the Church, to wait till science had ended her
combats and finished her task. In a sense even more definite
than the Church each individual must personally be in instant
readiness, and have convictions, which for him, ad hoc, can
alone be obtained by personal faith and personal experience.
Every other conception is unmerciful, since it is unable to
give the elect, at every given moment, according to his several
condition, that knowledge of God which he needs. Distinc-
tion meanwhile is readily made between this personal, churchly
and scientific theology (or knowledge of God). The first
tends to supply each child of God his comfort in life and in
death. The second, to enable the Church to preach and to
maintain her confession in the face of the world. And the


third is charged with the introduction of the knowledge of
God into the human consciousness. Tlie first has for its circle
the life's-si^here of the individual, the second the circle of the
instituted Churchy and the third the circle of the church taken
as an organism. In connection with this the form of the
knowledge of God is distinguished also in these three ways.
Personal faith does not formulate, but, as the fathers since
Augustine said, " appropriates and enjoys " (utitur et fruitur).
The churchly confession formulates in dogmata. Scientific
theology sifts and tries, analyzes and draws inferences, con-
structs systems and places in connection with what Kes out-
side. And, finally, the first is fruit of personal enlightenment
and experience ; the second, of the official activity of the
Church, also in her struggles with heresy ; and the third is
the independent fruit of study.

If, now, we bring this in connection with the guidance of
the Holy Spirit, then this guidance in the case of the personal
knowledge of God consists in the providential and spiritual
leading, by which the heart of the individual is influenced and
his world of thought is formed ; in the case of the ecclesiasti-
cal knowledge of God it is the guidance of the Holy Spirit
bestowed upon the Churches through the ofiice ; and in the
case of the scientific knowledge it consists in the clarifying of
the consciousness. This, however, must not be understood in
the sense that these three factors are isolated, and work each
by itself. No man is a theologian in a scientific sense unless
he is also a partaker of personal enlightenment and spiritual
experience. For, unless this is the case, his starting-point is
wanting, and he has no contact with the principium of the-
ology. Neither can the theologian stand outside the church
relation, and thus outside of personal union with the churchly
confession, for then he finds himself outside the historic pro-
cess, and, in fact, the organic contact is broken with the life-
circle, within which his studies must flourish, so far as is pos-
sible to him. The personal faith, which simply touches the
principium, and which as being entirely individual is an ines-
timable magnitude, needs receive no further mention here.
For the theologian, it is the starting-point ; but it is nothing

Chap. Ill] § 91. THE CHURCH AND THE OFFICE 591

more. It is very different, on the other hand, with the
churchly confession. An objective condition lies in this. It
is a product of the life of the Church, as in an ever richer form
it has revealed itself officially, i.e. in ecclesiastical assemblies,
under the special guidance of the Holy Spirit. Two things are
contained in this confession. First, the self-consciousness of
the Church, as it has developed itself historically, which, con-
sequently, is the result of a spiritual experience and a spir-
itual struggle that fills in the gap between the present and
the first appearance of the Christian Church. And in the
second place, the result of the special leading of the Holy
Spirit, vouchsafed in the course of ages to the Church, and
to the knowledge of God that has developed itself within her
pale. For this reason the theologian should not undervalue
the confession of his Church, as if in it a mere opinion pre-
sented itself to him over against which, with equal if not
with better right, he might place his opinion. The life of the
Church, and the forming and reforming of her self-conscious-
ness, is an action which is uninterruptedly continued. Scien-
tific study unquestionably does and must exert an influence
upon this, but for this reason this action should not sacrifice
its independent character and motive of its own. A company
charged with the public water-works may change the direction
of some part of a river-bed by cutting off some needless bend
or obstructive turn, but this does not render the company the
original creator of the river who causes its waters to flow. In
the same way, the scientific theologian may exert a correc-
tive power here and there upon the confessional life of the
Church, but this does not constitute him the man who sets
this life in motion. That life pursues its own course, the
stream of that life creates a bed for itself. To the theolo-
gian, therefore, the confession of his Church does not merely
possess the presumption of truth ; it appears objectively be-
fore him clothed with authority : with that authority which
the many wield over the individual, with the authority
of the ages in the face of ephemeral excitements ; with the
authority of the office in distinction from personal life ; and
with the authority which is due to the churchly life by


virtue of the guidance of the Holy Ghost. It is not lawful,
therefore, for him simply to slight this confessional life of
the Church in order, while drifting on his own oars, to con-
struct in his own way a new system of knowledge of God.
He who undertakes to do this is bound in the end to see
his labor stricken with unfruitfulness, or he destroys the
churchly life, whose welfare his study ought to further.

From this, however, it does not follow that his studies
are to have no other tendency than to confirm the con-
fession of his Church, as if this were clothed with infallible
authority. This was the fault committed by Scholasticism.
The guidance of the Holy Spirit truly intends to be immedi-
ately effective in its final result ; but it compels itself least of
all to be this in every part of its action. A guide is given you
of whom you know that in the end he will bring you where
you want to be, but he does not necessarily lead you along a
straight line and at once to that end. You approach this end
only by stages ; and for the sake of having your own thought
and activity develop themselves, this guide allow^s you to
take circuitous routes, and to try roads that run out, from
which you will return of your own accord ; wdiile amid all
these apparently contradictory movements he keeps the end
in view, and brings it to pass, that finally you go to it of
yourself. And in this very connection scientific theology is
of a practical significance to the Church. It carries, indeed,
the end in itself, of causing the glory of God's truth to
shine also in the world of our consciousness. But it is
equally called to examine critically the confessional life of
the Church, by ever and anon testing the confession of the
Church by the principium of theology, i.e. the Word of God.
For which reason the theologian can never be a man of
abstract study. Of two things he must do one. As a man
of study he must remain in harmonious contact with the
Church, whose confession he confirms by his study. Or he
must enter an ever dangerous suit against the Church, whose
confession he antagonizes in one point or another, on the
ground of the Word of God. If now this touches an infer-
ential question, which lies in the most distant circumference


of dogma, the character of this struggle is less serious. But
if the difference concerns the centrum of the confession, i.e.
the real knowledge of God, the Church must either consent
to his view and modify her confession, or he must break with
the Church, whose confession he has found to be false. In
this it is assumed, of course, that both he and his Church
stand upon the basis of God's Word. Otherwise either the
Church or the theologian who criticises her is wanting, so
that there may be a good deal of quarrelling, as the outcome of
dishonesty, but there can be no question of a spiritual strug-
gle. But that spiritual struggle is the very thing in question.
From both sides it must be carried on for the sake of the truth
of God. And even as the martyr, the theologian must have

Online LibraryAbraham KuyperEncyclopedia of sacred theology : its principles ... → online text (page 55 of 64)