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centrates Encyclopedia upon the formal side of science.
Realistic Encyclopedia is no Encyclopedia. Formal Enc}'-
clopedia alone is entitled to bear this name in the scientific
sense. In this sense this acquired conception applies as
well to general Encyclopedia as to Encyclopedia of ^jfecial

44 § 26. RESULT [Div. I

departments, even though it lies in the nature of the case
that general Encyclopedia, because it is general, limits itself
to the principal ramifications of the organism of science, and
leaves the detailed ramifications of each group and its sub-
divisions to the study of special Encyclopedia. General
Botany has nothing to do with the variations of the species
rosa into tree roses, monthly roses, provincial roses, or tea



§ 27. Tivo Difficulties

And now, as we come to the conception of that special
Encyclopedia called Theological, the simple application to
Theology of what was obtained for the conception of General
Encyclopedia will not suffice. There would be no objection
to this in the cases of the Encyclopedias of the Juridical or
Philological sciences, but in the case of that of Theology
there is. The reason of this lies in the two circumstances:
first, that the scientific character of Theology is disputed by
many ; and, secondly, that they who do not dispute this are
disagreed as to what is to be understood by Theology.
Dr. Rabiger, who has referred to this difficulty in his
Theologik oder Mnc. der Theol.., Lpz. 1880, p. 94, incorrectly
inferred from it that for this reason, before its object can
be ready, the Encyclopedia of science must create for itself
from these several Theologies a general conception of The-
ology, in order that it may make this general conception
of Theology the subject of scientific study. Tliis is not
possible, since then Encyclopedia would have the right of
judgment between the several Theologies ; it should have
to furnish a complete demonstration for the sake of sup-
porting this judgment ; and thus it would have to investi-
gate independently all the formal and material questions
which are variously solved in Theology. In this way it
would have to treat the leading departments of Theology
fundamentally, and, dissolving into dogmatics, apologetics,
church history, etc., would cease to be Encyclopedia. It
would then bring forth its own object, instead of studying a
given object. And, worse yet, he who would write such an



Encyclopedia would not be able to escape from his own per-
sonality nor from the view-point held by himself. His criti-
cism, therefore, would amount to this : he who agreed with
him would be right, he who disagreed wrong, and the result
would be that he would award the honorary title of general
Theology to that particular Theology to which he had com-
mitted himself. A general Theology would then be exhib-
ited, and, back of this beautiful exterior, the subjective
view-point, which was said to be avoided, would govern the
entire exposition.

§ 28. The First Difficulty

If both difficulties that here present themselves are
squarely looked in the face, it must at once be granted
that before Theological Encyclopedia can devote itself to
its real task, it must vindicate the scientific character of
Theology. This is not the creation of an object of its own,
but the simple demonstration of the fact that Theology is a
proper object of Encyclopedic investigation. If all Ency-
clopedia is the investigation of the whole or of a part of the
organism of science, no Encyclopedia of Theology can be
suggested as long as it is still uncertain whether Theology
forms a part of this organism. Since, now, the doubt con-
cerning the scientific character of Theology does not spring
from the still imperfect development of this science, but
finds its origin in the peculiar character it bears in distinc-
tion from all other sciences, it is the duty of the writer of
an Encyclopedia of this science to show upon what grounds
The disputes this doubt as to its right of existence This
demonstration must be given in two ways. First, by such
definitions of the conception " science," and of the conception
" Theology," that it will be evident that the second is sub-
ordinate to the first. And, secondly, by showing that the
parts of Theology are mutually related organically, and that,
taken as a whole, it stands in organic relation to the rest of
the organism of science. This treatise also will venture the
effort to furnish this double proof.

The first only of these two proofs is demanded by the


peculiar character of Theology. The second proof that the
parts of a special science mutually cohere organically, and
together are related equally organically to the whole of
science, every special Encyclopedia of whatever science
undertakes to show. But the first proof that the conception
of this special science is subordinate to the conception of
general science does not occur in other special Encyclo-
pedias, because with the other sciences this subordination
is evident of itself and is by no one denied.

§ 29. The Second Difficulty

The second difficulty should be considered somewhat more
at length. It presents itself in the fact that all sorts of
Theologies offer themselves as the object of investigation to
the writer of an Encyclopedic Theology. There is a Greek
Theology, and a Romish Theology, a Lutheran, Reformed,
and a Modern Theology, a " Vermittelungstheologie," and,
in an individual sense, we even hear a Schleiermachian, a
Ritschlian, etc., Theology spoken of. Order, therefore, is
to be introduced into this chaos. Simply to make a choice
from among this number would be unscientific. Where
choice is made its necessity must be shown. Even the
Romish theologian, who looks upon every other Theology
save that of his own church as the exposition of error, can-
not escape from the duty of scientific proof of this position.
If it involved merely a difference between several " schools,"
it might be proper to select out of these several interpreta-
tions what is common to them all, and thus to conclude the
existence of a general Theolog.\ . But this is not so. The
difference here springs not from a difference of method in the
investigation of one and the same object, but from a difference
concerning the question of what the object of Theology is.
One Theology investigates a different object from another.
One Theology denies the very existence of the object which
another Theology investigates. Even if we could agree
upon the methods of investigation it would be of no use, for
though the merits of your method were recognized, the
objection would still hold good that you apply your method


to a pseudo-object, which has no existence outside of your
imagination. This springs from the fact that the object of
Theology lies closely interwoven with our subjectivity, and is
therefore incapable of being absolutely objectified. A blind
man is no more able to furnish a scientific study of the phe-
nomenon of color, or a deaf person to develop a theory of
music, than a scholar whose organ for the world of the
divine has become inactive or defective is capable of furnish-
ing a theological study, simply because he has none other
than a hearsay knowledge of the object Theology investi-
gates. Hence no escape is here possible from the refraction
of subjectivity. This should the more seriously be taken into
our account because this refraction springs not merely from
the circumference of our subjective existence, but is organi-
cally related to the deepest root of our life and to the very
foundation of our consciousness. Whether this imiDossibility
of completely objectifying the object of Theology does or does
not destroy the scientific character of Theology can only later
on be investigated ; here we do not deal with the object of
Theology but with Theology itself as object of Theological
Encyclopedia ; and of this it is evident that Theology itself
cannot be presented as an absolute and constant object, be-
cause its own object cannot escape from the refraction of
our subjectivity. If a scientific investigator, and in casu the
writer of an Encyclopedia, could investigate his object with-
out himself believing in the existence of his object, it might
be possible for the Encyclopedist at least to keep himself
outside of this difference. But this is out of the question.
Faith in the existence of the object to be investigated is the
conditio sine qua non of all scientific investigation. No theo-
logical Encyclopedist is conceivable except one to whom
Theology has existence, neither can Theology have existence
to him unless it also has an object in whose reality he equally
believes. As an actual fact it is seen that all writers of
Theological Encyclopedias take for their object of investiga-
tion that which they conceive to be Theology, and also that
every theologian assumes something as object of Theology
which to him has real existence. Thus one link locks into

Chap. IV] § 30. NO ONE-SIDEDNESS 49

the other. To be able to write an Encyclopedia of Theology-
it must be fixed beforehand what you conceive to be Theol-
ogy ; and in order to know which of the several theologies
that present themselves shall be your Theolog}^, it must first
be determined what the object is which you give Theology to
investigate. It is evident therefore that the theological En-
cyclopedist cannot possibly furnish anything but an Ency-
clopedia of Ids Theology. For though this may be denied,
and it be made to appear that a Theological Encyclopedia
in the general sense is given, the outcome always shows
that in reality the writer claims universal validity for his

§ 30. JVo One-sidedness

This is a self-deception which nevertheless contains a germ
of truth. If in order to be a theologian one must believe in
the existence of the object of his Theology, the claim is of
itself implied that what he takes to be valid must also be
valid to every one else. This is no presumption, but only
the immediate result of the firmness of conviction which is
the motive for his scientific investigation. All scepticism
causes science to wither. But from this there flows an
obligation. Just this : to point out in the other theologies
what is untenable and inconsequent, to appreciate what is
relatively true, and to a certain extent to show the necessity
of their existence. No one Theology can claim to be all-sided
and completely developed. This is not possible, because
every Theology has to deal with an object that is not suscep-
tible to an abstract intellectual treatment, and which can
therefore only be known in connection with its historical
development in life. Aberrations very certainly occur which
furnish only negative or reactionary results for the knowl-
edge of the object of Theology, and these can only be
refuted. But there are also elements in this object of The-
ology, which do not find an equally good soil for their devel-
opment with every individual, with every nation, or in every
age. Every theologian, therefore, knows that neither he
himself, nor the stream of history in which he moves, are


able to make an all-sided and a complete exhibition of the
object of his investigation.

Thus to him also there are theologies which are not simply
aberrations but merely one-sided developments, whose rela-
tive validity he appreciates and with whose results he
enriches himself. But even that which is relatively true
and complementary in other theologies he is not allowed to
leave standing loosely by the side of his own theology, but
is bound to include it organically in his own theology, being
ever deeply convinced of the fact that in spite of their
relative right and complementary value these other theologies
interpret the essence of Theology one-sidedly and understand
it wrongly. Thus the aim is always to show in a scientific
way that the Theology that has the love of his heart is
entitled to the love of all hearts, wherefore he corrects and
enriches his own Theology with whatever acquisitions he can
borrow from the other theologies in order thereby to vindi-
cate the more effectively the universal validity of his object
of Theology. No reduction therefore is practised of the
several theologies to a common level, for the mere sake of
investigating encyclopedically what is common to them all ;
but on the contrary the start is taken from one's own con-
viction, with an open eye to one's own imperfections so as
sincerely to appreciate the labors and efforts of others, and
to be bent upon the assimilation of their results.

§ 31. View -point here taken

This attempt to write a Theological Encyclopedia, too,
purposely avoids therefore every appearance of neutrality,
which is after all bound to be dishonest at heart ; and makes
no secret of what will appear from every page, that the Re-
formed Theology is here accepted as the Theology, in its very
purest form. By this we do not mean to imply that the Re-
formed theologians are to us the best theologians, but we
merely state, that Reformed Theology, 1, has interpreted the
object of Theology most accurately, and 2, has shown the way
most clearly b}^ which to reach knowledge of this object. Let
no one take this statement to intend the least infringement


upon the respect which the writer of this Encyclopedia is also
compelled to pay to the gigantic labors of Lutheran, Romish>
and other theologians. His declaration but intends to make
it clearly known, that he himself cannot stand indifferently
to his personal faith, and to his consequent confession con-
cerning the object of Theology^ and therefore does not hesitate
to state it as his conviction that the Reformed Theology with
respect to this has grasped the truth most firmly.

Does this put a confessional stamp upon this Encyclo-
pedia ? By no means; since " confessional " and " scientific"
are heterogeneous conceptions. " Confessional " is the name
that belongs to the several streams in the historical life of
the Church, and is no distinguishing mark for your manner
of scientific treatment of the theological material. The
difference lies elsewhere. The fact is that until the middle
of the last century Theology received its impulse from the
Church, in consequence of which Theology divided itself into
groups which maintained their relation to the groupings of
the churches according to their confessions. Since that
time, however. Theology has not allowed itself to be gov-
erned by the life of the Church, but by the mighty develop-
ment of philosophy, and consequently we scarcely speak in
our days of a Lutheran, Romish, or Reformed Theology, but of
a rationalistic, a mediating, and an orthodox Theology. With
this custom this Encyclopedia does not sympathize, but takes
it as a matter of course that even as the medical, juridical,
and philological sciences, the theological science also is
bound to its object such as this shows itself in its own circle
in life; i.e. in casu the Church. Every other grouping of
theological schools rests upon a philosophical abstraction
which really ranks Theology under philosophy or under
history and ethnology, and in that way destroys it as an
independent science. Hence our aim is to seek the object
of Theology again in its native soil ; to examine no piece
of polished cedar in the wall, but the tree itself on Lebanon ;
and in this way also to study the object of Theology in the
history of the Church.

But even thus the choice of the Reformed stamp is not

52 § 32. COMPASS OF ITS TASK [Div. 1

yet scientifically justified. The Encyclopedia obtains its
right to this only when it shows that the historical distinc-
tion between Romish, Reformed, etc.. Theology flows of
necessity from the very essence of Theology, and that the
current distinctions of our times are foreign to its essence
and are attached to it from without. And thus every
Encyclopedical writer is entitled and obliged in his Ency-
clopedia to honor as Theology whatever is Theology to him-
self, but this should be done in such a way that he shows
how with this interpretation the organic character of this
science is best exhibited.

§ 32. Compass of its Task

On this condition it is the task of Theological Encyclo-
pedia : 1, to vindicate the scientific character of Theology;
2, to explain the relation between Theological science and
the other sciences ; 3, in its own choice of the object of
Theology to exhibit the error in the choice of others, and to
appreciate what is right in the efforts of others and to appro-
priate it ; and then, 4, to do for Theology what it is the
task of general Encyclopedia to do for science in general.

With reference to the first point. Dr. Riibiger goes too far
when (p. 95) he says : " The only problem of Theological En-
cyclopedia is to build up Theology as a scie7iee.'' It certainly
has more to do than this. It can even be said that only
after this task has been performed does its real Encyclopedic
task begin. If Encyclopedia is truly the science of science,
everything that is done to place the science as object before
oneself is only preparatory work. Only when Theology
lies before you as a science does your real Encyclopedic
study begin. His proposition therefore to give the name
of "Theologik" to Theological Encyclopedia will not do.
"Theologik" isolates Theology from the organism of the
sciences, and the very point in hand is to grasp the science
of Theology as an organic member of the body of sciences.
This is expressed by the word Encyclopedia alone, for which
reason the name of Theological Encyclopedia can under no
consideration be abandoned. From this follows also the


second point already indicated. Theological Encyclopedia
must insert Theology organically into the body of sciences ;
which duty has too largely been neglected not only in the
special Encyclopedias of Theology, but in those of almost all
the special sciences. The third point follows of itself from
§ 31, and calls for no further explanation. And as regards
the fourth, this flows directly from the subordination of the
conception of Theological Encyclopedia to that of general

§ 33. Its Relation to Methodology

This task includes of itself the scientific description of the
method of Theology, and of its parts, and its insertion into
organic relation with its object. No general Methodology is
necessary, for this may be assumed to be known. But it must
show the paths of knowledge, mapped out by general Meth-
odology, which Theology is to travel in order to reach her end.
Then it must show what modifications are introduced into
this general method by the peculiar character of Theology.
And finally, what nearer method flows from this for the sub-
divisions of Theology. There is no cause for a separate
treatment of Theological Methodology. He who places it as
a separate study outside of his Encyclopedia, must invoke its
help in that Encyclopedia ; neither can he furnish his Meth-
odology without repeating the larger part of the content
of his Encyclopedia. Just because of the strongly subjec-
tive character which is inseparable from all Theology, it is
dangerous to separate the method too widely from the object,
neither can the object be sufficiently explained without deal-
ing at the same time with the method. Hence it should be
preferred to treat the method of Theology taken as a whole
in the general volume of the Encyclopedia, and then, so far
as this is necessary with each subdivision, the modifications
which this method undergoes for the sake of this subdivision.

54 § 35. RESULT [Div. I

§ 34. Its Aim

The aim of Theological Encyclopedia is in itself purely
scientific. Since Theology belongs to the organism of sci-
ence, the Encyclopedic impulse itself compels the investi-
gation of this part also of the great organism of science, in
order that we may know it in its organic coherence and rela-
tion. This is its philosophical aim. But its aim is equally
strong to bring Theology itself to self-consciousness. No
more than any other science did Theology begin with know-
ing what it Avanted. Practical interests, necessity and un-
conscious impulse brought it to its development. But with
this it cannot remain satisfied. For its own honor's sake,
Theology also must advance with steady steps to know itself,
and to give itself an account of its nature and its calling.
This is the more necessary since in our times Theology as a
whole is no longer studied by any one, and since the several
theologians choose for themselves but a part of the great task.
Thus every sense of relation is lost, and a writer in one
department infringes continually upon the rights of the
others, unless the sense of the general task of Theology
becomes and remains quickened. In the third place, the aim
of Encyclopedia of Theology is defensive or apologetic.
Much presents itself as Theology with the assumption of the
right to translate real Theology into that which is no Theol-
ogy. The conflict which arises from this may not be left to
chance, but must be decided scientifically, and this cannot
take place until Theology fixes its scientific standard. And
finally its aim in the fourth place is, for the sake of non-
theologians, who must nevertheless deal with Theology, to
declare, in scientifically connected terms, what Theology is.

§ 35. Result

As the result of the above it is evident that the conception
of Theological Encyclopedia consists in the scientific investiga-
tion of the organic nature and relations of Theology in itself
and as an integral part of the organism of science. As such
it forms a subdivision of general Encyclopedia, and with it

Chap. IV] § 35. RESULT 55

belongs to the science of philosophy. As such it is formal^
not in the sense that it must furnish a mere scheme of de-
partments and of names, but in the sense that it is not
allowed to become material^ as if it were its duty to collect
the theological content in a manual. It may enter into the
material only in so far as it is necessary for the sake of ex-
hibiting the formal nature and relations of Theology. Dis-
tinguished from Hodegetics and Historia litteraria, it is not
called upon to furnish a manual for beginners ; though noth-
ing forbids the addition to it of a brief historia litteraria, pro-
vided that this is not presented as a part of the Encyclopedia



§ 36. Introduction

It is the task of Theological Encyclopedia to investigate
the nature of Theology for the stated purposes of under-
standing it, of passing criticism upon its progress, and of
assisting its healthful development. It is not sufficient that
it answer the question. What Theology is ; it must also
critically examine the studies that have thus far been be-
stowed upon Theology, and mark out the course henceforth
to be pursued. This investigation would bear no scientific
character, and consequently would not be Encyclopedic, if
Theology were merely a private pursuit of individuals.
Now, however, it is both, because Theology presents an
interest that engages the human mind as such. We face
a phenomenon that extends across the ages, and has engaged
many persons, and therefore cannot be the outcome of a
whim or notion, nor yet of an agreement or common contract,
but is governed by a motive of its own, which has worked
upon these persons in all ages. This motive cannot lie
elsewhere than in the human mind ; and if a certain regu-
larity, order and perceptible development are clearly mani-
fest in these theological studies, as prosecuted in whatever
period and by whatever persons, it follows that this motive,
by which the human mind is impelled to theological investi-
gation, not only formally demands such an investigation, but
is bound to govern the content and the tendency of these
studies. Distinction therefore must be made between the
theological study of individual theologians and the impulse


Uiv. L] § 36. INTRODUCTION 57

of Theology which they obeyed consciously or unconsciously,
entirely or in part. This theological impulse is the general
phenomenon, which is certainly exhibited in special theologi-
cal studies, but never exhausts itself in them. This general
phenomenon lies behind and above its temporal and individ-

Online LibraryAbraham KuyperEncyclopedia of sacred theology : its principles ... → online text (page 6 of 64)