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A piety, which there maintained itself and kept its virtue,
was much better acclimatized to life in the world. At times
they expressed the desire that the academy life should be suc-
ceeded by at least one year of seclusion from the world in a
more quiet seminary. But this was merely a corrective and a
palliative, and their chief strength lay in exhortation, in moral
pressure, in the power of the Word, to exhibit ever more
clearly the folly and the contradiction of the study of theol-
ogy without the corresponding fear of the Lord, trembling at
His word, and communion with God in Christ. This implied
at the same time that these demands of Scriptural, ecclesiasti-
cal and personal piety were not exacted from the student only,
but from every theologian after graduation from academy life.
Because it involved the articulation of theology to the spirit-
ual reality, this claim could not be abandoned at a single point
of the whole way. Godliness alone is able to foster, feed and
maintain that holy sympathy for the object of theology which
is indispensable for success.

There is a difference here also between the studies which
touch the centrum of theology and those which lie on its
periphery. A point of detail in Church history touches the
spiritual reality at almost no single point, so that such a
study by itself is not able to stamp a man as a theologian.
But when theology is taken as an organic whole, and all its
subdivisions are viewed from this central interpretation, the


demand made by our fathers may not for a moment be aban-
doned. "Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the
Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him."

§ 99. The Organism of Theology in its Parts
If theology lies organically wrought into the organism of
science, it must also have an organic existence of its o^i^n ;
which is simply according to the law that the organizing
principle governs the entire organism in its parts. This
brings us to the so-called division of the theological depart-
ments ; an expression which is rightly subject to criticism, since
one does not divide an organism, but finds its organic parts
there and only needs to exhibit them. Hence there can be
no question of drawing up a catalogue of departments, and of
dividing these departments into certain classes, arbitrarily or
after a rule derived from practice. Whatever is a corpus,
and exists as a crco/ia, brings its own division with it. In the
second place, it must be carefully ascertained that one has
the real corpus in hand. If, with Schleiermacher, theology is
made to consist of a conglomerate of learned departments
which find their unity in " the guidance and direction of the
Church," the organism is lost, and there can be no more
question of an organic division. In fact, Schleiermacher has
really no division. In his opinion, theology as a whole has
become an historic phenomenon, which he classifies in the
historic group ; that which precedes it is no theology, but
philosophy, and that which follows, as practical parts, and
which Schleiermacher takes to be the chief end and aim, is too
poor and meagre to save the name of theology. Neither can
there be any question of theology with those who, though
they still call themselves theologians, actually furnish noth-
ing but a science of religions, and from their point of view
are bound to follow more or less the division of Noack, who
placed phenomenology as first in order, then ideology, and
finally the pragmatology of religion. But Encyclopedia of
Theology can have nothing in common either with Schleier-
macher's conglomerate or with the science of religion. Its
object of investigation is the body of Theology (corpus the-

628 § 99. THE ORGANISM OF [Div. Ill

ologiae), taken as an organic subdivision of the organism of
science ; and this alone we are to consider.

Taken in this sense, there is no essential difference of opin-
ion concerning the division of the theological departments.
It is held, almost universally, that a first group centres itself
about the Holy Scripture, a second group has Church his-
tory for its centre, a third group has Christian doctrine
for its object, and Homiletics, together with what belongs
to it, forms the fourth group. This fourth group may be
called one thing by some, another by others ; some may differ
concerning the order to be observed ; the classification of cer-
tain departments belonging to each of these four groups may
vary ; but this does not cancel the fact that a certain com-
mon opinion indicates ever more definitely these four groups,
as proceeding of themselves from the organic disposition of
theology. The only divergence from this of any importance
that presents itself is, that a division into three groups
still appeals to a few, which end is reached by uniting with
Francke the so-called practical theology with systematic, or
like Bertholdt the historic with the dogmatic, or like Kienlen
the exegetical with the historical departments. But this
difference need not detain us, since it merely involves a ques-
tion of coordination or subordination. They who follow the
division of three always accept a division of one of the three
into two parts, so that actually they also acknowledge the
existence of four groups. In itself it cannot well be denied
that in the Holy Scripture, the Church, Christian doctrine,
and in the functions of office, four separate objects are given,
which compel a division into four principal groups. And the
reduction of these four into three groups is serious only
when, with Gottschick and others, the Bibliological group is
denied a place of its own from principle. For then the
principium of theology is assailed in its independence, and
theology itself undermined.

But by itself the assumption that there are four organic
groups in the body of Divinity (corpus theologiae) is not
enough. To be scientifically established, these four groups
must of necessity proceed from a common principium of divi-


sion. Thus far, however, this principium of division has not
been allowed sufficiently to assert itself. This is to be attrib-
uted to the fact that each of these four groups has been viewed
almost exclusively /rom the view-point of the subject, and no
notice has been taken of how they lie m the object and how they
are taken from the object itself. Hence the custom has become
almost universal to distinguish these four groups as exegetical,
historical, systematic and practical. But this custom is not
logical. Distinction can be made between the exegetical,
historical and systematic labors of the human mind, but
it will not do to add to these three the ^jrac^zmZ departments
as coordinate. The name of practical departments is not
derived from the labor of the human mind, but from the
purpose or object of these departments. For the sake of
consistency, therefore, we should speak of the exegetical,
historical, systematic and technical departments. Even with
this method of distinguishing the groups, Encyclopedia can-
not be satisfied. For this also locates the principium of divi-
sion in the subject. It is the human mind that lends itself
to the fourfold function of exegesis, of the study of history,
of constructing certain data systematically, and of technically
deriving from these certain theories. But just because the
human mind is the subject of all science, there is no proper
division of theology obtained thus at all, but simply a passport
which, mutatis mutandis, is applicable to every science ; and it
is well known how a similar scheme has been applied to almost
all the other faculties. But what is applicable to all sciences
can never disclose to us the proper organic character of
theology ; and he who derives his principium of division
exclusively from the subject, has no information to give con-
cerning the organic existence of the organism of theology.
Better progress would have been made if the example of
Hyperius had been followed, which points to the Word, the
Church and dogmatics as being the constituent elements.
These, at least, are elements taken from the object and not
from the subject, and therefore dissect the organism of the-
ology itself.

Even this, however, does not indicate the principium of divi-

630 § 99. THE OEGANISM OF [Div. Ill

sion which operates from the object. In the subjective division
the principiura operates out of the human mind, which lends
itself to the four above-named functions. If, on the other
hand, the organic division is to arise from the analysis of the
object itself, then the principium of division must be derived
from the object. This objective principium of division must
be found in the principium of theology itself. In the devel-
opment of its germ the plant of itself brings the organic
spread of branches and stem. If the Holy Scripture is this
principium of theology, it is plain that those departments
should first be taken in hand which deal with the Holy Script-
ure as such; then as a second group those departments
which trace the working of the Word of G-od in the life of
the Church ; then in a third group the departments should be
combined which reflect the content of the Scripture in our
consciousness; and finally a fourth group should arise from
those departments which answer the question, how the work-
ing of the Word of God, subject to His ordinances, must he
maintained. Thus the division into four groups is the same,
but now it is taken from the object, after a principium of
division which lies in the object itself. The Word of God,
first as such, then in its tvorking, after that according to its
content, and finally in its propaganda. This is most accurately
repeated when one speaks, first, of a Bihliological, then of an
Ucclesiological, after that of a Bogmatological, and finally of a
Diaconiological group. In the Bible you have the Word in
itself ; in the Church (^Ecclesia), you see the Word in oper-
ation, objectified in the reality; in Dogma the content of
this Word reflects itself in the sanctified human conscious-
ness; and in the Biaconia, i.e. the office, the service of the
ministry is indicated, which must be fulfilled for the sake of
that Word.

It is not by accident that these groups thus indicated cor-
respond to the common division of Exegetical, Historical,
Systematic and Practical Theology ; but is accounted for by
the fact that each of these four organic members of the body
of Divinity emphasizes a peculiar function of the human
mind. In the investigation of the Bible as such exegesis


stands first and always will. In the investigation into the
Ohurch the historiological activity of the mind is most fully
exercised. With Dogma^ a systematizing function of the
human mind is a first requisite. And with the Diaconia you
enter upon the practical domain, and an insight is required
into technique. If meanwhile it is the organic plan of the
object which successively calls into action these several func-
tions of the human mind, the real dividing virtue does not
go out from your subject, but from the object; hence the
division must be taken so as to correspond to the elements of
the object. The subjective division corresponds to this, but
must not be put in its place. Moreover, the correspondence
is only partial. All labor bestowed upon the Bible as such
is by no means exegetical. The historic-critical study of
the several books as such is not exegetical. Neither is
archaeology exegetical, etc. While, on the other hand, it
must be remarked that all exegetical labor is by no means
confined to the first group. The exegetical function of
our mind is equally engaged in the investigation of Sym-
bolics, of the Fathers, and in consultation with the sources
of Church history. From this subjective point of view it
was entirely logical on the part of Professor Doedes of
Utrecht when he classified Symbolics under this first group.
With the more precise analysis of the subdivisions of each
group, as given in another volume, it will appear that the
objective division leads in more than one particular to a
modified division of the special departments. These, how-
ever, will not detain us now, since this would occasion a
needless repetition. Here we simply inquire after the four
principal branches as they appear upon the tree of theology,
and we think that we have indicated them in the Biblio-
logical, Ecclesiological, Dogmatological and Diaconiological
groups ; just by tJiese names and in this order.

The symmetry of these designations is justified by the
fact that it is the human logos each time which seeks an en-
trance into each of the four elements of the object. With
each of the four groups it is ever the action of our logos
which makes the knowledge of the object to appear from the

632 § 99. THE ORGANISM OF [Div. Ill

object. Then coordination of Bible, Church, Dogma and
Diaconia — the last taken in the sense of office — is war-
ranted by the fact that each of these four bears a supernatural
character: the Bible, because it is the fruit of inspiration;
the Church, because it is the fruit of regeneration; Dogma,
because it presents to us the result of the guidance of the
Holy Spirit in the consciousness of the Church ; and the
Diaconia, because the offices are appointed by Christ, and
as organs of the churchly organism each office derives its
authority exclusively from Christ, the King of the Church.
Another name than that of Diaconia for office would be
preferable, because "Diaconia" makes one think almost
exclusively of the Diaconate. But we have no choice.
Diaconia is the official name for office in the Christian
Church, clearly defined for us in the New Testament. For
office the Greeks used the expressions to epjou, rj eVt/teXem,
V ^PXVf V ^ci^TovpyLa, and for the office of judge to 8i/ca-
(TTrjpLov. But no one of these expressions could here be used.
'A^PXV could not be used, because the churchly office differs
in principle from the magistratic office as a ministerial ser-
vice ; and it would not do, since the expression archeological
departments would have occasioned a still greater misunder-
standing. AetTovpyia of itself would have been no undesir-
able term, but the name of Liturgy is differently employed,
and would have caused more difficulty than " Diaconia." Be-
cause of ' their indefiniteness the other terms could not be con-
sidered at all. And thus it seemed by far the safest way to
maintain the constant use of Scripture and to adopt again
the New Testament expression for the churchly office, viz.
Diaconia, notwithstanding the confusion a superficial view
of it may occasion. It must indeed be conceded that in
1 Tim. iii, 8, 12 and elsewhere, along with eViV/coTro?, the word
ScdKovo<; appears as also indicative of a definite office ; but when
the question is raised as to what word the New Testament
uses to indicate office without distinction of function, there
is no doubt but that hiaKovia is the expressly indicated term.
In Phil. ii. 17, 30 the word Xenovpyia occurs, but not in an
official sense. In verse 17 Paul speaks of the sacrifice and


service of your faith (Ova la koI Xeirovpyia t/;? Trta-retu? ufXMP ),
which he was to accomplish by his martyrdom, a saying in
which it appears, from the additional word "■ sacrifice," that
he by no means refers to his apostolic office. And in the
30th verse he mentions a service (Xecrovpyia'), which he was
not to administer in his office to the Philippians, but which,
on the contrary, they were to administer to him. But wher-
ever on the other hand the administration of a definite office
is mentioned in a technical sense, the word " diaconia " is
used and not XeiTovpyia. In 1 Tim. i. 12 Paul declares that
he is put into the ministri/, i.e. into the diaconia, viz. into
his apostolic office. In 1 Cor. xii. 5 it is expressly stated
that there are diversities of ministrations (^Siaipeaefi Sluko-
viSiv). In Eph. iv. 2 we are told that Christ "gave some,
apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and
some, pastors and teachers " ; and all these together are
called unto the work of ministering (et? ep'yov SiuKovia'i).
In this sense Paul speaks of himself constantly as a diaconos
of Jesus Christ. Hence we must dismiss the objection that
the name of diaconate is now indicative of but one of the
offices. The use of it by the New Testament is conclusive.
Neither was there an escape from the dilemma by the use of
the terms "(Economical" or "technical" departments. For
one reason the symmetry would then be lost from the names
of the four coordinates. And, moreover, the word technical
would have brought us back again to the subjective di^i-
sion, and the word oeconomic would refer to the Churcli
organization. Office alone stands coordinate with Bible,
Church and Dogma as a supernatural element, and this
word office cannot be applied to any other but to the Dia-
coniological departments.

Nothing need be said in justification of the name of Bihlio.
logical departments, and the question of what is or is not to
be classed under this rubric must be reserved for later dis-
cussion. But we must briefly vindicate the name of Ecclesi-
ological departments in the sense indicated above. At first
sight it appears that the twofold assertion is contradictory,
that the Church in this connection is a supernatural fruit of

634 § 99. THE ORGANISM OF [Div. Ill

regeneration, and that in another sense she is the product of
the operation of the Word. This contradiction, however, is
in appearance only. Even here thought may not be divorced
from heing. Without the constant activity of the Holy Spirit
the Scripture itself is inoperative, and only when this activ-
ity of the Holy Spirit causes the Scripture to be illumined
does this fruitful virtue go out from it. Suppose, therefore,
that the Holy Scripture were to be carried into the world,
without the regenerating and illumining activity of the Holy
Spirit to precede, accompany, and to follow it, no church
would ever be seen among the nations. But on the other
hand also, if the action of the Holy Spirit had remained a
pure mystery, and had not been unveiled to the consciousness
by the Word, there would have been a hidden life-power in
the souls of many people, but that power would never have
become operative, would not have led one believer to join
himself to another, and thus would never have revealed the
Church as an observable phenomenon. In its hidden quality
the Church therefore is the product of the regenerating action
of the Holy Spirit, but theology cannot observe that action ;
this remains hidden in mysticism ; and theology begins to
reckon with it only when it makes itself outwardly manifest in
word and practice. In this the Word of Crod is the leading
power, and the touchstone as well, by which it becomes known
whether we have to do with an action of the Holy Ghost,
or with a fanatic fantasy or imagination. Hence both are
true : in its spiritual essence the Church is a product of the
action of the Holy Ghost, and the Church, as an object ob-
servable by theology, exhibits the operation of the Word.

The name of Bogmatological departments can only be fully
explained in connection with the treatment of the group.
Here, however, let it be said that it does not mean a group
of departments, in which, independently of the history of doc-
trine, the investigator is to build up for himself a system of
truth from the Holy Scripture. Actually this is never done.
Every dogmatist who is a real theologian, voluntarily takes
the history of doctrine into account. Care, then, should be
taken not to ajjpear to do what in reality one does not do.


Independent formulation of faith is nothing but the criticism
of an individual mind, which cuts itself loose from the com-
munion of saints, takes its stand proudly over against the
power of history, and cherishes faith in its own leading by
the Holy Ghost but iiot in the guidance of the Holy Ghost in
the Church of Christ. As a protest against this the name of
Doo-matological group demands that Dogma, as a result of
history, shall be taken as one's starting-point, and that in its
central interpretation and in each of its subdivisions this
Dogma shall be examined critically and ever again be tested
by the Holy Scripture, in order that in this way at the same
time its further development may be promoted.

And finally, with reference to the order of succession,
opinion can scarcely vary as to which group ought to be-
gin and which group close the series. Of themselves the
Bibliological departments take the precedence, because the
Holy Scripture is the very principium of theology. And in
the same way it is but natural for the official departments to
come last, since they assume the completion of the Dogmato-
logical departments. But a difference of opinion may arise
as to the question, whether the Ecclesiological departments
ought to follow or to precede the Dogmatological. Planck,
Stiiudlin, and Harless put Systematic Theology first, and
Historic Theology after it; but without doubt Hagenbach
owes the great success of his encyclopedic manual largely to
his accuracy of judgment in assigning the first place to the
historical departments. Raebiger likewise took the same
course, and to us also it is no question for doubt but that
logical order demands the Bibliological group to be followed
immediately, not by the Dogmatological, but by the Ecclesio-
logical group. Our division admits of no other. Dogma has
no existence at first, but it originates only by degrees, and it
is unthinkable without the Church that formulates it. If thus
we would avoid the mistake of formulating our dogmatics
unhistorically directly from the Scripture, but rather seek
to derive it from the Scripture at the hand of the Church,,
then the Church as a middle-link between Bible and Dogma
is absolutely indispensable. To which, of course, it must be


added, that there is an " interaction " between each of the
four groups. What man is able to bring any Bibliological
department to a satisfactory close without taking the Church
into account? How would you be able to understand more
than a part of Church history, without keeping account with
Dosfma and the Office ? And how would Dogma be intelli-
gible without the official function, which in councils and
synods made their construction a possibility? This, however,
applies to any division of any science whatever. In the pro-
cess of history the fibres of all groups twine themselves about
and around each other. To this, however, the organic division
cannot adapt itself. The only question to be solved is this :
how, in the idea of the organism, the several elements are to
be originally distinguished. And so taken, the idea of the
organism of theology points out to us four principal branches
which divide themselves from her trunk : First, that group
which engages itself with the Bible as such; secondly, the
group in which the Church appears as the revelation of the
operation of the Word ; in the third place, the group which
rangres itself about Doo-ma as the reflection of the Word in
the consciousness of regenerated humanitj^ ; and finally, a
fourth group, which has the office for its centre, as the means
ordained of God to cause His Word continuously to assert



§ 100. Introduction

The historic review of Theology, which closes this volume,
cannot undertake to furnish a detailed narrative of the pro-
cess run by theology in all its ramifications during these
eighteen centuries. This process forms, not the subject of
an encyclopedic, but of a proper historical investigation, which
directs itself to a single department, or to a single period, or
finally, to theology as a whole (as with Von Zezschwitz, in
his Ent^vickelungsgang der Theologle als Wissenschqft, Lpz.,
1867). In Encyclopedia, on the other hand, only the result
of these investigations can be taken up and put into connec-
tion with the encyclopedic course of thought. For the writer,
especially, there is less occasion to enter upon details, for
the reason that the history of Theological Encyclopedia,
which runs so largely parallel with that of Theology, has
elsewhere been treated by him more broadly than has hereto-
fore been done, and too much detail in this chapter would
only lead to needless repetition. The question whether this

Online LibraryAbraham KuyperEncyclopedia of sacred theology : its principles ... → online text (page 59 of 64)