Knowledge of the Sciences vs. Knowledge of Scripture

Welcome to the Brickyard. This is a place to find quotes for use in your own research and writing. The bricks are free, but the building is up to you. The following quotes are from Abraham Kuyper’s Sacred Theology and particularly Chapter 2: The Fundamental, Regulative, and Distinctive Principle of Theology, or Principium Theologiae.

“When I speak of the fountains of science, I understand thereby a certain group out of a sum of phenomena, from which a separate whole of science is distilled by me.”

Kuyper, Sacred Theology, 140.

“It is, in a word, the natural man who by his reason draws this knowledge from his object, and that object is subjected to him as the thinking subject.”

Kuyper, Sacred Theology, 140.

But theology is different because God cannot be the mere object of human inquiry. Kuyper writes,

“For, and I speak reverently, even when I posit God Himself as the object of theology, this God is then placed on trial by the theologian, and it is the theologian who does not cast himself down in worship before Him, saying, ‘Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth,” but of his own right (suo jure) investigates Him.”

Kuyper, Sacred Theology, 141.

“With every other object [e.g., animals, plants, stars] it was the thinking subject [man] that took knowledge; here it was the object itself [God’s revelation] that gave knowledge.”

Kuyper, Sacred Theology, 141.

“Theology, taken in its original and only real meaning, as ‘knowledge of God,’ or as “the science of the knowledge of God,’ cannot go to work like the other sciences, but must take a way of its own; which not merely in its bends and turns, but in its entire extent, is to be distinguished from the ordinary way of obtaining knowledge (via cognitionis), and therefore assumes a principium of knowing of its own as its point of departure.”

Kuyper, Sacred Theology, 141.

“Speaking more accurately, we should say that the material principium is the self-revelation of God to the sinner, from which principium the data have come forth in the Holy Scriptures, from which theology must be built up.’

Kuyper, Sacred Theology, 143.

“It is unfortunate, however, that in olden time so little attention was paid to the formal principium.”

Kuyper, Sacred Theology, 143.

“…the neglect of the formal principium was to bring about a revision of the Scripture in the sense of our darkened understanding, as has now actually taken place.”

Kuyper, Sacred Theology, 143.

Here Kuyper observes that in his time men using their darkened or faithless understanding treated the Scripture as a mere object, taking from it whatever knowledge they liked. In such a context, these men made a revision of the Scriptures. When in fact these men should have understood that Scripture being the sovereign words of God only give knowledge and cannot be taken at the will of men and made a mere object.

If the question, “Is the story of the woman caught in adultery, Scripture?” and if the question, “Is the story of the woman caught in adultery part of the New Testament?” are theological questions, and they are, then we must turn to the principium cognoscendi, the Scriptures, as source, ground, and foundation for answering those questions. Scripture answers these questions, and the answer is not modern textual criticism.

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