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to be, and as they are sometimes now (in Belgium, in the
Netherlands, America, England and in Switzerland), and as
they ought to be everywhere, this question would entirely
fall away; for then this relation would merely be an item
of history. But this question is important because to this
day in most countries the most influential universities are
state institutio7is, founded, supported and governed by state
authorities. Thus the Government determines not merely
the number, rank and quality of the faculties; but directs
also the organism of theology, as being on a par with the
other sciences, by its conditions for every chair, and by its
choice of departments, which it unites as a group under one
and the same chair. Even in former times this was not
right, since it can never be derived from the attributes of
the Government, that it shall determine the organism of
theology. But this raised no preponderating difficulty, inas-


much as in those times the Government made free-will abdica-
tion of every discretionary right, and simply followed custom.
Such, however, is not the case now. In Holland indeed it
has reached such a point that the Law for Higher Education
(of April 28, 1876, Stbl. n. 102), Art. 42, prescribes a tenfold
division of the theological departments, which is entirely an-
tagonistic to the nature and character of theology ; even to
such an extent that dogmatics, which is the heart of all the-
ology, is simply cut out from the body of theology. ^ It can
scarcely be denied that this is a violent attack upon the
organism of theology. In view of facts such as these, we
maintain the right of theology to determine its own organ-
ism. No Government can do this, since this is not its prov-
ince ; neither does it possess the data for it. Neither is it
authorized to do this, since plajdng the rSle of dilettante
and abusing its power it creates confusion in theology. It
is evident that the division of departments and of chairs of
itself exerts an influence upon the entire course of studies,
upon the association of studies even in the case of the ablest
theologians, and darkens insight into the true essence of The-
ology. Such an interference on the part of the Government
is an attack upon the liberty of science, while in Theology,
moreover, it amounts to the choice of a confessional party ;
in casu of the modern interpretation of Theology as "the
science of religion " instead of " the science of the revealed
knowledge of God," which it has always been, in keeping
with its origin and principle.

A measure of influence can more properly be accorded
to the Church, in so far as the Church may dictate what
studies are indispensable to the expression of her life, both
with reference to the education of her ministers and to the
defence of her faith ; in fact, this influence is exerted by the
Church in the conditions assigned by her for ecclesiastical
examinations. No universit}^ can permanently neglect in its

1 These departments are : (a) encyclopedia, {h) history of the doctrine
of God, (c) history of religions, (cZ) history of Israel's religion, (e) history
of Christendom, (/) Israelitish and old Christian literature, {g) Old and
New Testament exegesis, {h) history of Christian dogma, (;) philosophy
of religion, (k) ethics.


theological faculty the departments needed for these exami-
nations. But so far as Theology stands in vital connection
with the Church this tie is a natural one ; beyond this it
ceases to exist. Hence even ecclesiastical influence should
extend no further. The Church states her need, but the
question in what way, in Avhat order, and in what connec-
tion this need must be met is encyclopedic and pedagogic.
That which exists mechanically can be taken apart and recon-
structed differently at will, but this is not possible with organic
life. That which lives organically obeys, in its organic devel-
opment, an inner law of life. It is as it is because it sprang
from its germ thus and not otherwise, and because it can
assume no proportions except those Avhich it possesses by
nature. By violently attacking the life of an organism, you
can occasion anaesthesia or hypersesthesia, atrophy or hyper-
trophy, of one of the organs, but this does not modify the
nature of the organism. That remains the same as before.
Concerning the organism of theology, therefore, we cannot
but think that all interference on the part of the Government
should be most firmly resisted ; that the Church both ma}' and
must exert an influence by the appointment of those studies
which she deems necessary for the maintenance of her life,
provided she does not presume to determine in what way her
requirement shall be met; and that therefore the construc-
tion of the body of theology can be determined by itself alone
as it unfolds its organic existence. This does not deny that
this organic articulation (Gliederung) is formulated by our
thinking. But if this task is properly performed, it consists
of the simple statement of what kind of organic life we have
discovered in the organism of theolog5^

§ 97. Organic Articulation of Propcedeuties

The discussion of propaedeutics, as such, is really in place
in a ratio studiorum, and not in Encyclopedia proper. And
3^et Encyclopedia cannot afford to pass the propaedeutic stud-
ies by in silence. For these studies are not accidental, neither
are they chosen arbitrarily, but are indicated of themselves
in the organic ties that bind theology to the other parts of the


organism of science. Being itself a department of ideal
science, theology naturally demands such a general devel-
opment as is indispensable to all ideal sciences. In the
conflict waged as to the precedence of humanistic and natu-
ralistic studies in preparatory schools, the humanistic must
be preferred for theological propaedeutics. But it is a mistake
to make it appear that the humanistic training, indicated as
such historically, is sufficient for the theologian. In the main,
if not exclusively, humanistic propaedeutics directed them-
selves to the beautiful form, and were but little impressed
with the importance of philosophy and history. Ancient
philosophy was taught, and Greek and Roman history, to-
gether with their proper antiquities, but rather as a means
for the understanding of the classics than as a proper factor
for the forming of the mind. And this is not tolerated by
the position of theology in the organism of science. To be
sure, theology does not allow neglect of beauty of form.
The finer form alone lends to the mind that sensitive discern-
ment which is indispensable to all ideal science, and which
in its reproduction is not to be discarded. But with this
formal scholarship theology is not satisfied. The too exces-
sive admiration of the world of old Hellas is rather an im-
pediment in the way to the deeper study of her principles.
To her the old classic world is simply a link in that great
process of development that extends to the present time.
Hence she demands a propaedeutic which embraces the entire
course of philosophy and history down to our times, and
which from first to last is subject to the criticism of Chris-
tian principles. For which reason this propaedeutic cannot
be ended in the preparatory school, but must reach its com-
pletion in academic propaedeutics. Even in itself the limi-
tation of propsedeutics to the gymnasia cannot be approved,
since for every truly scientific study a scientific introduction
into the scientific treatment of it is indispensable ; and this
the gymnasium can never give. Theology, moreover, must
be able to make use of a critical knowledge of human thought
and act (philosophy and history) as its background, such as
cannot be taught in the preparatory school. This implies at


the same time that propaedeutics cannot stand on any other
foundation than the study of theolog}^ itself. Propsedeutica
in the pagan sense, standing outside of palingenesis, denies
the organic connection between theology and other studies,
and does not prepare for, but leads one away from, theology.
Hence the character of preparatory as well as of academic
proppedeutics ought to be distinctively Christian; which de-
mand is 7iot met by the addition of religious instruction (a
Religionsstunde) to pagan propaedeutics. It demands that
the entire preparation itself, both formal and material, shall
keep close reckoning with the principles of a Christian life-
and world-view. He who is himself a partaker of palingene-
sis, and who consequently pays homage to the Cross of
Golgotha as the centre of the development of human his-
tory, has an entirely different outlook upon the propaedeutic
departments from him who as a humanist boasts of a credat
ludaens Appella. And the demand for a proper propaedeu-
tics of theology is only met when the organic relation between
the propredeutical studies and the study of theology in the
narrower sense is given full scope to assert itself. Indeed, if
closely considered, the name of propaedeutics is not very hap-
pily chosen. The theologian does not pass on to theological
studies, in order henceforth to ignore all other sciences, but,
proportionately to the rate of his progress, he finds himself con-
stantly bound to trace the organic connection between his
own and still other studies. Such as, for instance, in the
historic and ethnologic studies of the religious differences
of non-Christian nations. His own studies are not isolated at
a single point, and it only weakens the position of theology
to prosecute her studies as though she stood alone. More-
over, later study must be continued with a definite end in
view, in those departments which at first seemed as pro-
paedeutics only. Every student of Church History is aware
of this with reference to the knowledge of history ; the same
applies to Philosophy, even Psychology, Philosophical Ethics,
and ^Esthetics."

Of course this applies to the scientific theologian only, and
not to everv Minister of the Word. Other demands apply


to his education, which are made not by the position of
theology in the organism of the sciences, but by the con-
ditions with which his office brings him in touch, and which
therefore cannot be mentioned here. Only think of what
is advocated from many sides about the knowledge of medi-
cine, of agriculture, of common law, of social conditions, of
the school question, etc., as being of service to the local
pastor. Questions with which, from the nature of the case,
Encyclopedia cannot be concerned, since they have nothing
to do with the nature of theology and its organic relations.
But the more formal propedeutics deserve, certainly, a brief
mention, especially the study of the languages, a matter which
is not ended with the study of the two fundamental lan-
guages of the Scripture, the Hebrew and the Greek. For then
even Latin might safely be omitted. It should rather be
insisted upon that the languages be first studied from the
general linguistic point of view, and then the question is in
order, what are the special languages the knowledge of which
is indispensable to the study of theology. Without a clear,
general linguistic conception of language, one cannot truly
enter into the knowledge of any one language. The phe-
nomenon of language as such is organically connected with
theology in its principium, and therefore all sound theology
presupposes an historic and critical insight into linguistics,
graphistics and the philosophy of grammar. Not, of course,
as though we should begin with this. It is indeed the claim
of pedagogics to supply the eopia doctrinae during those years
in which the memory is most plastic ; but in this review,
which does not consider the course of studies, but the or-
ganic position of theology in the organism of science, the
knowledge of language in general comes first. With respect
to individual languages in particular, the mother-tongue fol-
lows organically first upon linguistics, because in this alone
our immediate consciousness feels the pulse-beat of the life of
language : and the other modern languages have little con-
nection with theology, except in so far as they give us access
to the products of theologic toil in other lands. Strictly
taken, translation might do away with this necessity ; since,


however, the indiscriminate translation of all detail-study is
impossible, theological study is simply inconceivable without
the knowledge of modern languages.

The question arises next, whether Latin must be main-
tained under this title only in theologic propaedeutics. There
is certainly no difference of opinion about the necessity to
the theologian of the knowledge of Latin. For more than
twelve centuries the Christian Church documented her life
of thought in almost no language but the Latin. He who
is no ready reader of Latin finds himself cut off from the
historical life of the Church. It is a different matter, how-
ever, whether theology as such is interested in the study
of Latin as a means to general training; something which
is continually being contested, but which, it appears to us,
cannot be abandoned. For this we state two reasons. First,
because Latin as a language is classic in its clearness, con-
ciseness and beauty, by which it puts a stamp upon our
thinking, such as no other language can do, not even Greek
excepted, however much richer it may be. In "common
grace " the Latin language occupies a place of its own,
and he who neglects her claim impoverishes the forming
of the mind. And in the second place, the development
of Western thought has acquired a characteristic of its own,
first under the influence of ecclesiastical, and after that of
humanistic Latin, which is plainly apparent in the forma-
tion of many words and in syntax. Entirely apart from the
question whether this characteristic should be preserved or
abandoned, it follows from this, that a real grasp upon the
world of our Western thought is simply impossible without
the knowledge of Latin. Upon this ground we desire to see
the study of Latin upheld, while we urge, at the same time,
that this study shall not be limited to classical Latin. Latin
is also the language of the Western Fathers, the »Scholastics,
Reformers, and later theologians; but their Latin bears
another character, uses other words, follows a different con-
struction, and speaks in new terms. He who understands
Cicero cannot for that reason understand Augustine. Virgil's
Aeneid is no help to understand Thomas's Summa. Horace


is of little help in the reading of Calvin or Voetius. Hence
the organic connection demands that the study of Latin shall
not limit itself to the golden age of the classics, but that it
shall follow the historical process in the language which,
though nationally dead, is still alive in use. The importance
of this does not appear to those to whom theology is a mere
Science of Religion; but he who would study theology in
the real sense of the word, and thus continue the task
begun by our older theologians, must begin by understand-
ing them.

A like observation applies in part to Greek, which is
organically related to theology in three ways : First, as the
language of old Hellas ; secondly, as the language of the
LXX, of Flavins Josephus, etc., and New Testament; and
thirdly, as the language of the Eastern Fathers, taken
in their widest sense. As a starting-point, therefore, the
knowledge of classic Greek is a necessity; then comes the
knowledge of later Greek {kolv^)^ and more especially of
the Syrian and Alexandrian, which come nearest to the lan-
guage of the New Testament. Then follows the language
of the New Testament itself, and finally that peculiar
development attained by Greek in the Byzantine Chris-
tian world. They who pass on from Demosthenes to the
New Testament, as is the case with many in our times, with-
out ever having a glimpse of one of the Eastern Fathers in
the original, fall short in historic knowledge of Greek. Since
the gymnasium is intended for young men of other faculties
as well, and is, therefore, not able to give a sufficiently broad
introduction into this historical knowledge of the Greek
language, academic propaedeutics ought to be directed to this
with an eye to theology, more than it has thus far been.

Hebrew and Chaldee occupy a somewhat different position.
As a language, the Arabic is linguistically rightly esteemed
much more highly than Hebrew ; both because of its riches
of forms and of the mighty world of thought to which it
affords an entrance. Hebrew lies altogether outside the
circle of higher culture. If it is of great importance to every
literator to be familiar with at least one language of the


Semitic trunk, and though Hebrew offers special advantages
for this, by the simplicity of its forms as well as on account
of its significance to the most potent monument of our
higher civilization, it will, nevertheless, probably be the rule,
that theologians almost exclusively will apply themselves to
Hebrew, not as a linguistic phenomenon, but as an auxiliary
to the right understanding of the Old Testament. At the
gymnasium it is generally a secondary matter, falling out-
side the lines of a general training; and at the academy few
are willing to train the memory to any great extent. Yet
it is an imperative necessity that an improvement shall be
made in this direction. In our pulpits the fundamental texts
of the Old Testament are spoken of by men who are not
able to translate the simplest passage at sight, much less to
retranslate into Hebrew. And in this condition of things the
study of Hebrew is but a waste of time.

In this connection, however, this question cannot be treated
more fully. Only under the heads of general training and
of special studies can Encyclopedia indicate to what other
studies and languages theology stands organically related.
And it is clearly seen that especially in the study of lan-
guages, entirely different claims are made, both by the
schedule of the general scientific training and by custom,
from what theology must demand of these languages within
her pale. The very propaedeutics for Theology demand
such natural talents and persevering application to study,
that the false notion must be abandoned that all those who
are educated for the practical ministry of the Word, can
be theologians in the real sense of the word. With the
majority, the needed requirements for this are altogether
lacking. The effort to have so high an aim realized by all
would not develop, but stultify, many persons. Hence the
old difference between pastors and doctors must be main-
tained. Pastors should be sufficiently advanced to be able
to take their stand intelligently at the scientific view-point,
and to follow scientific development ; but apart from the
study of theology as a side issue or as a favorite recrea-
tion, the profounder study of theology as a science Avill


ever of necessity be the task of the few, who have extraor-
dinary powers of mind at their disposal, as well as the neces-
sary time and means.

§ 98. Organic Articulation to Spiritual Reality

Science is no abstraction. It is the reflection of life in
our consciousness, and therefore it sustains the same or-
ganic relation to reality as the shadow to the body by which
it is cast. A single word, therefore, is needed to show the
organic articulation of theology to spiritual reality. Thus
far this has been suggested in a subjective sense, by the asser-
tion that the mysticism of the Spirit is indispensable to the
theologian. But from the nature of the case it is evident
that for this subjective necessity there must be an objective
ground. If the treatment of the subjective demands required
at the hand of the theologian belongs to Hodegetics rather
than to Encyclopedia, Encyclopedia nevertheless is bound to
indicate the relation of this science to its own reality, from
which the necessity of these demands is born. If in real life
there were no antithesis between the domain of palingenesis
and what lies outside, there would be no special Revelation,
and in simple consequence there would be no question of
theology other than in the style of Cicero. In like manner,
if there were no operative grace, which effects enlightenment,
articulation of the science to this spiritual reality would be
altogether wanting. "The natural man receiveth not the
things of the spirit of God." Now, however, the influence
of this reality operates upon theology in a threefold way:
First, materially, by the provision of matter which it brings
to theology; secondly, by the influence of the Church, so
far as that Church propels its confession as a living witness ;
and thirdl}^ in the theologian personally, inasmuch as his
own spiritual experience must enable him to perceive and
understand what treasures are here at stake. Coordinated
under one head, one might say that the Holy Spirit guaran-
tees this organic articulation through the agencies of the
Holy Scripture, the Church, and the personal enlighten-
ment of the theologian. Hence piety of motive is not


enough. Piety is often present with the Buddhist also and
the Parsee. But the piety referred to here must bear a
stamp of its own, and cannot be identical with that pious
impulse which operates also in fallen man, either poetically,
heroically, or sentimentally. But it is very definitely that
piety worked by God, which is possible only when a new life
has been implanted in the sinner, and in which new life has
dawned a higher light. In the second place, this piety
should not remain isolated, but must manifest itself in the
communion of saints ; not merely arbitrarily, but organically,
hence in union with the Church, which affords a bed to the
stream of the ages. And finally, in the third place, in its
rise from the root of regeneration and in its union with the
Church, this piety should not remain a mere mystical senti-
ment, but, for the sake of affecting theology, it must inter-
pret being into thonght, in order presently from thought to
return to heing by the ethical deed.

Where this articulation, in the sense mentioned, is organi-
cally present, so far as it concerns the articulation to reality,
the position of theology in the organism of science is what it
should be. Without this connection the theologian becomes as
one who looks out upon nature through eyes half blind, as one
almost deaf who studies acoustics, or as one devoid of all finer
taste who devotes himself to aesthetics; the simple result of
which is that neither nature, acoustics, nor aesthetics receive
their dues. History indeed teaches that where this articula-
tion to spiritual realit}^ is wanting^ rationalism at once lifts up
its head to attack theology in its very heart ; or, where this
articulation is imperfect, sentiment is bound to prevail, and
theology disappears in mysticism or pietism. For this reason
the theologians of the best period of the Reformation ever
insisted strenuously and convincingly upon the linking to-
gether of theology to the Word, to the Church, and to per-
sonal enlightenment; for in these three factors together is
found the guidance of the Holy Spirit, without which no
theology can flourish. The proper relation of these three
factors has been considered at sufficient length above. Here
it is merely observed that our theologians of the Reformation


period were embarrassed by the removal of theology from the
seminary to the university. It was apparent in Paris, Lou-
vain, and elsewhere, that the university life brought with it
far more diversion and temptation than the secluded life at
the seminaries. Now the Reformation in principle abandoned
the seminary, and from principle gave theology its place in the
university, and it became necessary to insist more strenuously
upon piety and asceticism of life in the future theologians.
The piety at the seminary was too much like a hot-house
atmosphere, and results showed how little these hot-house
plants amounted to the moment they became exposed to the
less favorable atmosphere of common life. In view of this
also they gave their preference to the freer university life.

Online LibraryAbraham KuyperEncyclopedia of sacred theology : its principles ... → online text (page 58 of 64)