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Thursday, December 09, 2010

     __________________________________________________________________             Title: You Can Do Greater Things Than Christ       Creator(s): Kuyper, Abraham (1837-1920)           Rights: Copyright by J.H. Boer    CCEL Subjects: All;      __________________________________________________________________                       YOU CAN DO GREATER THINGS THAN CHRIST      Demons, Miracles, Healing and Science      By      Dr. Abraham Kuyper      Original Title:  Pro Rege of het Koningschap van Christus Volume 1     Kampen, The Netherlands: J.H. Kok, 1911     Pages 143-247      Translator: Dr. Jan H. Boer     Copyright 1991 by J.H. Boer     [1]http://socialtheology.com/      Nigerian edition of English translation published by     INSTITUTE OF CHURCH AND SOCIETY/NORTHERN AREA OFFICE     (Christian Council of Nigeria)     P.O. Box 6985, Jos, Nigeria     First Printing: 1991     Reprinted: 1993      __________________________________________________________________                                    INTRODUCTION      By Jan H. Boer     Translator                  Miracles, spiritual healing, demons and angels - these and    related topics are once again high on the Christian agenda.   I say    "once again," for in the days of the Bible and during many centuries of    Christian history these were topics of utmost concern to people of all    continents, of all cultures and of most religions, including the    Christian religion.  It is only the last couple of centuries that the    very reality of these practices and forces has been challenged,    particularly in the Western world.                 Though I welcome their return on the agenda, that does not    mean I fully endorse the way these items have returned or the theology    that supports this return.  That theology is often too narrow in its    scope to the point of frivolity.  In the Nigerian context, its easy    acceptance by Christians of all stripes, regardless of their    denominations, can be explained partially because these concerns are so    deeply Biblical and partially because they are so similar to major    concerns in our traditional religion.                 I offer you a translation of a discussion on these subjects    originally written by Abraham Kuyper.  Kuyper (1837-1920) was a pastor,    theologian in the Reformed or Calvinist tradition, a Christian    philosopher, Christian politician, Christian educator in The    Netherlands.  He even served as Prime Minister of his country.  His    stimulation led to the establishment of a Christian educational system,    a full-fledged university, a Christian political party, a Christian    press and led to the formation of a truly pluralistic state, in    distinction from a secular one, that created structural and    institutional room for all major persuasions in the country.  He was    also a prolific writer.  Furthermore, he was a progenitor of liberation    theology.  It was one of his conscious aims to free the common people    of his country from oppression by the government, the state church and    other forces.  That battle he won.  He placed such an imprint on his    country that more than 70 years after his death, one cannot understand    his country without reference to Kuyper.        I offer you this translation because of what he writes about    miracles, healing, demons and how he relates all of these to science.    It is not everyday that a successful politician and social crusader    writes about subjects today largely associated with the charismatic    movement.  Too often discussion on these subjects are far removed from    the social, economic, political and scientific developments in which    they take place.  Too often this discussion is narrowed down and has so    little relationship to other aspects of life that much of it seems    trivial.  In contrast to this situation, Kuyper's discussion is    WHOLISTIC.  That is, he places these concerns in a very broad framework    and relates them to many other aspects of culture.  It is this    wholistic approach that renders his affirmation of these phenomena so    unique.  He frees these concerns from the realm of the trivial and puts    them squarely in the middle of history, science and other cultural    developments.                 The book in which this material is found is a three-volume    work entitled Pro Rege.  The entire 3-volume work represents a    wholistic exposition of the Kingdom of Christ and covers wide areas of    cultural life in The Netherlands in particular and in Western Europe in    general.  Students of Kuyper and students struggling with the    integration of the Christian faith and life often refer to this work of    Kuyper.  However, in keeping with the long-standing Western skepticism    with respect to the world of spirits and powers, I do not know of a    single reference to this part of Pro Rege on the part of researchers.                 Underlying this wholistic emphasis is the Cultural Mandate    of Gen. 1:26-28, the very first command in the Bible, the command to    rule and develop this world.  Kuyper's interest in the world has its    basis on this Mandate.  It is this mandate that prevents him from    separating the spiritual and material into distinct compartments.  It    leads him to explore the relationship between scientific and spiritual    affairs.  Science and other cultural activities derive their importance    from the God-given mandate to rule and develop creation.  Sin has    incapacitated the human race from doing so adequately, but Christ and    His Sprit have liberated the human spirit from the idolatry of nature    and thus freed mankind to fulfill its mandate. [1]                 An additional but related reason for offering you this    translation is that English-speaking Evangelical Christians are trying    to find alternatives to their social irrelevance of the last century,    an alternative that remains true to the basics of the Gospel.  For this    reason, interest in Kuyperiana is increasing amongst them, for he seems    to offer a kind of model to a wider Christian approach to the    world--but language is a barrier.  Hence, when I informed some of my    friends on the staff of Fuller School of World Missions in Pasadena,    California, about this project, they enthusiastically encouraged me to    proceed and make this material more widely accessible.                 Kuyper's works are, of course, marked by the time and    culture in which he lived, though because of his prophetic spirit, he    was y no means bound by them.  He writes that it is difficult to    understand the fear that people of earlier or other contemporary    cultures have for nature.  Yes, difficult for someone of his time and    culture, but not for Africans.  He struggles against the Western idea    of a universe closed to spiritual influences and forces.  That was    necessary in his context but hardly for Africans who are deeply and    experientially aware of the reality of the world of spirits.  He refers    to developments in the arts, but ignores African art since he knew    nothing about it.                 In spite of these alien elements, Kuyper's struggle is very    relevant for us in Nigeria, for most Christian missionaries came from    the West and were afflicted with typical Western blindness with respect    to much of the spiritual world.  Their blindness is part of the    inheritance of many mission churches in the country and it has rendered    much of the established church powerless over against the world of the    spirits and helpless over against many kinds of sickness.  The upsurge    of charismatic churches is a reaction to that powerlessness inherited    from Western missionaries.  Kuyper challenged that blindness and    powerlessness at the home front not only, but also explains it.  His    discussion goes far in helping us understand that weakness in the    missionary movement, even though his focus was on his own culture    rather than the cultures that were targets of missionary activity in    his day.  Charles Kraft's book Christianity With Power [2] represents a    more recent treatment of the same missionary weakness, a very fine    treatment, but lacking the comprehensive view of the work of the Holy    Spirit in cultures affirmed by Kuyper.                 This translated segment of Pro Rege betrays a degree of    cultural optimism along with a high view of Western culture, both of    which constitute a second foreign element.  To some degree, Kuyper    shared this optimism and appreciation with his contemporary Europeans.    He was deeply appreciative of science and technology and had great    expectations from them.  He could hardly be expected to have foreseen    the problems we recognize today with respect to these modern    phenomena.  He was also impressed by the deep impact the Christian    faith had made on Western culture and by the relative superiority this    faith had given Europe.  Yet, Kuyper was more critical of the    undercurrents of his own culture than most of his contemporaries.  In    fact, Pro Rege was written to counteract much of that culture's    tendencies.  Those familiar with the body of Kuyperiana know how deeply    aware he was of the shortcomings, not to speak of decadence, of his    culture, especially in the spiritual-philosophical realm.  He was among    the foremost opponents of the colonial rape of many Southern peoples.    [3]                 Kuyper had many unusual ideas about miracles and the    demonic world.  He was not afraid to go against the grain of popular    opinion of his day on these subjects.  The traditional Christian view    was that miracles and so-called "faith healing" belong to the distant    Christian past.  They were neither necessary anymore nor possible.    Kuyper rejected this opinion and strongly affirmed their continued    relevance today and their possibility.  Miracles, according to Kuyper    are still possible, and so is faith healing.                 Probably the most novel aspect of Kuyper's view of miracles    is that he regards them as belonging to human nature.  If it were not    for the fall into sin, the power to perform miracles would be common to    all of us.  When Christ performed miracles, He did so not as the Son of    God, but as the Son of Man, as the representative of the restored human    race.                 Another intriguing aspect of Kuyper's view on miracles is    his emphasis on the fact the power to perform miracles has been    retained by various practitioners of traditional and Muslim religions.    While today's Christians tend to deny followers of those other    religions that power and often relate it to the world of tricks and    deceit, Kuyper points to the Egyptian wise men of Moses' days as well    as to the plain and undeniable reports of such powers brought to his    attention by returned missionaries.  It is time modern Christians once    again acknowledge these powers.  Kuyper's explanation for this    phenomenon is deeply satisfactory and can help us come to grips with    them.                 We must be careful not to jump to premature conclusions.    While various Christian communities are known to reject medical science    in favour of so-called "faith healing," in line with the Cultural    Mandate, Kuyper holds science in high regard and thinks of it in terms    of the "greater works" of John 14:12.  He strongly rejects any    dichotomy or incompatibility between medical science and faith healing,    while he condemns those who resort exclusively to faith healing.    Medical science, along with science in general, is a great gift from    God through Christ.  Science is thus not something secular that has    nothing to do with Christ or religion. [4]   But while Kuyper has high    regard for the Christian origin of science, he also realizes that    science is often practiced in a secular or ungodly spirit.  I will    leave it up to you, the reader, to discover how Kuyper explains this    apparent contradiction.                 Kuyper repeatedly insists on the reality of the demonic    world.  He rejects all Western attempts at reasoning that world out of    existence on basis of pseudo-scientific arguments.  He insists that the    central thrust of Christ's ministry on earth was to defeat the    demonic.  To rationalize that world out of existence is not only    unrealistic, but it also takes the heart out of Christ's work.                 I have personally met Nigerian Muslim Malams who, after    their conversion to Christ, insisted on having practiced all kinds of    demonic powers on various victims.  Only today did I hear the testimony    of a young man consciously devoted by his parents to the demonic world    from his childhood on into adulthood.  He told me of the wicked and    awesome powers he possessed during that stage in his life.  Through a    dramatic conversion experience he escaped from the clutches of demonic    powers.  To maintain that kind of emphasis in a secular culture took a    great deal of courage for a man of Kuyper's standing.                 The Nigerian church has long suffered from a missionary    heritage of dichotomy of spirit and material.  We tend to divide life    into water-tight religious and non-religious compartments, into    spiritual and non-spiritual affairs.  This dualistic division has long    prevented Christians in Nigeria from entering politics.  The Western    church is often rightly accused of having reduced the Gospel to mere    spiritual dimensions and of thereby having trivialized, marginalized it    in society.  Kuyper represents that part of the Reformed tradition that    formed an exception to this Western tradition; he strongly rejected any    such compartmentalization.  You will find him a strong advocate of    integration of life and religion, one keenly aware of the interplay of    the spiritual and the material.  These cannot and should not be    compartmentalized; they belong together.  Because of this integration    of the spiritual and material, Kuyper became a great reformer in both    church and society.                 Finally, it must be acknowledged that, while Kuyper was an    original thinker and a powerful writer, he did not allow himself the    time to write carefully or to edit.  From a technical point of view,    his writings suffer from certain defects.  Frequent repetition and poor    organization mar his style.  When it comes to writing, he himself is an    example of the instinctive approach he describes in these pages.  Dutch    readers may notice that I have made occasional attempts to correct    these problems where they went out of hand.                 I doubt that it is necessary to emphasize that I am not    prepared to defend all Kuyper's statements or claims.  Nevertheless, I    offer this translation to you in the firm conviction that its    perspective can serve us as a corrective in the area of spirits and    healing not only, but also help us get rid of our dualisms and the    subsequent "Christian" trivialities in our lives.      __________________________________________________________________     [1] For a brief English-language discussion of the Cultural Mandate,    see J.H. Boer, Missionary Messengers of Liberation in a Colonial    Context: A Case Study of the Sudan United Mission (Amsterdam: Editions    Rodopi, 1979), pp. 491ff.  J.H. Boer, Missions: Heralds of Capitalism    or Christ? (Ibadan: Daystar Press, 1984), pp. 138, 150-152, 155,    159-160.  J.H. Boer, Wholistic Health Care of, for and by the People    (Lagos and Jos: Christian Health Association of Nigeria 1989), pp.    25-26.     [2] Ann Arbor, Michigan: Servant Publications, 1989.     [3] For an English-language summary of Kuyper's view on colonialism,    see J.H. Boer, Missionary Messengers of Liberation in a Colonial    Context: A Case Study of the Sudan United Mission, pp, 47, 469-472.    Also J.H. Boer, Missions: Heralds of Capitalism or Christ? Pp.    137-139.  For a similar summary of his views of Western culture, see    also Boer, 1979, pp. 11, 16-17, 466-467 and Boer, 1984, p. 31.     [4] For a further discussion on this subject, see Boer, Wholistic    Health Care of, for and by the People, pp. 10-12.      __________________________________________________________________  Chapter 1                                      MIRACLES                 Anyone seeking to understand miracles must keep in mind the    painful struggle in which the human race is involved against nature.    In this struggle, the human race is at a disadvantage.  While humanity    is seriously weakened by the curse of sin, that same curse has    increased the power of nature.  Nature appears to be more powerful than    the spiritual.                 This situation led long ago to the deification or idolizing    of nature that became the object of worship.  The human race, stricken    with fear, gradually transferred the adoration that is reserved for the    living God to nature.  These fears did not arise when nature was in    restful repose, but only when it was in a state of turbulence and    agitation.  It does not really make any difference whether, as in some    cases, this fear was the result of what people suffered directly at the    hands of nature itself or whether, as in some other cases, it arose    because people thought to detect the work of evil spirits behind    nature's violence.  In either case the dominant concern constantly was    how to escape from the threatening power of nature when it is agitated.                 Take the sea, for example.  When the sea is quiet, it is    most enjoyable and restful to walk along the beach or to take to the    water in a rowboat or sailboat.  But once a storm begins to break    loose, waves as high as mountains can in no time flat demolish the boat    and render the beach into a place of death and destruction.  There is    no way people can control the threatening waves when this happens.    They are totally helpless over against them.  Nature, when it is quiet,    can quicken one's spirit and soothe one's heart, but when it becomes    violent, it arouses fear and horror.  Over against such fearful terrors    people feel helpless not only in themselves, but it also seems as if    God Himself is overwhelmed by it all and quite powerless.                 The above scenario has led to the transfer of adoration    from God to nature with all of its turbulence and violence.  In other    cases, it has led to an animistic fear of the spirits that supposedly    used the forces of nature for their own evil purposes.  Under these    conditions, it was only when God displayed His superior power over    nature and over these spirits by means of miracles that the fear of God    could remain a reality in the hearts of men at all.                 Only in this context do both the necessity as well as the    great significance of miracles become clear to us.  It is impossible to    understand miracles without considering sin, the curse and their effect    on creation.  It is safe to say that rejection of the reality of    miracles is caused by the failure to recognize the significance and    reality of these factors.                 Over against the powers of nature, fallen mankind was at a    disadvantage.  It was weak in both body and spirit.  The powers given    mankind at creation slowly but surely waned after the fall. Take the    human life span, for example.  At first, we read of our ancestors    living nearly 1,000 years but this is slowly reduced so that later we    are promised an average of three score years and ten (70 years).    Diseases of all kinds reared their heads.  As the generations went by,    these diseases and other negative forces undermined human resistance.                 It is for this reason that many cultures have stories of    ancient ancestors that were very powerful and strong, stories of    Nimrods and giants, of descendants of Anak to whom the Israelites    seemed like mere grasshoppers (Numb. 13:33).  Alas, subsequent    generations, even those of OT Israel, continuously deteriorated and    weakened.                 The deterioration of spirit was even worse than that of the    body.  Instead of attacking nature together, people began to attack    each other.  Cain murdered Abel.  Murder and hatred became common among    people.  Human conscience was defiled, which, in turn killed morale and    courage.  Mankind lost its awareness of its position of superiority    over against nature.  Fear replaced courage and reduced the inner    resilience of the human soul.  A soul tormented by fear cannot but lose    its resilience.  And thus it was that mankind experienced increasing    weakness and helplessness over against a nature that appeared to rule    and threaten all of life.                 The human race, severely weakened by sin, was in    confrontation with a nature with a greatly increased power.  It is    extremely difficult for us today to form an adequate picture of the    curse that came over nature. [5] Perhaps it is best to think of nature    as having gone berserk, because of the weight of the curse under which    it had to labour.  We all know how a berserk person can sometimes be    very strong.  Three or more people may be needed to overcome such a    person.  The same is sometimes true for a drunk person.  It often takes    special effort to overcome a drunken madman.  It is not unheard of for    a people, before they start a war, to prepare themselves by heavy    drinking.  Intoxicants tend to increase one's courage and strength and    make one reckless.                 Such increase in strength characterizes berserk persons    even more than drunk people.  The anger that comes with being berserk    can heighten the victim's physical power beyond that of an ordinary    person.  Being berserk causes a radical transformation in the nature or    personality of its victim.  He stands before you totally venomous and    obnoxious, apparently without any redeeming features.  A person, whom    you normally know as calm and collected, suddenly attacks his wife, his    children or even his parents.  He may try to torment and kill them.    His emotions, his expressions, in short, his entire personality has    been transformed into a totally different being.  He attacks his    environment with destructive powers.  Anyone who tries to tame or    restrain him will experience the full force of an anger aggravated by    this strangely heightened strength.                 The above image is an example of nature after it was    distorted by the curse of sin.  Just like a berserk person, nature has    its moments of calm and quiet, but this is often interrupted by periods    of violence and anger that stir up all of creation and threaten    destruction everywhere.  The earth quakes; cyclones pick up homes and    hurl them down to the ground; tempestuous gales anger the ocean waves;    rivers burst beyond their banks.  At such times, it may seem as if all    nature is hell-bent on destruction.  The curse has totally transformed    nature into an ominous threat.  What used to be peaceful has become    violent.  Plants sprout thorns and thistles.  Animals have become wild    and roam about devouring their fellows.  Sickness and pestilence abound    everywhere.                 All of nature constitutes one organic unity.  The curse has    entered the very core of that organic whole and all of its spheres and    aspects.  Destruction has wormed its way into the very marrow of the    system and from there its effect radiates throughout all of its parts.    Indeed, it confronts the human race like one gone berserk.                 In the Garden of Eden nature embraced our race with a    disarming love and protected it, but now, driven by the curse, it    appears as if this same nature directs its anger especially to the    object of its former special love and leaps upon the human race to    torment it, to squelch it, to vent every possible violence upon it    until it is totally annihilated.  The power of this cursed nature has    become so much greater in comparison to the weakened human race.  She    attacks humanity in the world of plants with poison and thorn, in the    animal kingdom with claw and fang, in the skies with lightning and    gale, in the depths with fiery volcano and quake.  She sets herself up    as a possessed and angry colossus that leaps upon the human community    with unrivaled destructive power.  In this state of anger, her strength    has been multiplied tenfold.  She roars and snarls to terrify the    people.  Subdued by this violent anger, a terrorized race withdraws    into itself as a snail hides in its shell and sneaks away, trembling    with fear. [6]                 Fear has become the essence of religion.  Actually, the    term fear gets in our way when we want to express our tender and inner    feeling of love for our God.  The Christian religion fills us with a    Spirit that creates within us an emotion leading us to whisper in holy    adoration, "Abba, Father!" (Mark 14:36; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6).  But if    you turn to the Old Testament, whether you read the stories of Moses or    about the Patriarchs, the Psalms or the prophets, it is always the fear    of God that comes to the foreground.  This fear is and will remain the    dominant form in which godliness expresses itself.  Even in the last    book of the prophets, Malachi, the Lord asks, "And if I am a master,    where is my fear?" (Mal. 1:6). [7]                 It could not be otherwise.  It is difficult for us, living    as we do in a modern world, to imagine concretely the fear and despair    which our ancestors experienced because of the curse that brutalized    nature after the fall. [8]   Their relationship to nature went far    beyond mere dependence.  That word is much too weak to convey the fear    and terror with which that generation regarded nature with its    unlimited powers that would brook no restraints and of which they    became helpless prey.  The human spirit was beset by apprehension, by    anxiety and by terror unto death--by fear in the fullest sense of the    word.  Anyone so beset by terror and carnality and who had ceased    worshipping God could hardly avoid regarding this all-powerful force of    nature as the ultimate or highest power.                 Nature worship and its close relative, subjection to evil    spirits which were thought to be the basic cause behind the terrorism    nature represented, arose out of this fear.  Those who continued to    believe that God retains power over nature and that the latter is His    servant came to regard God with a similar kind of fear, so that fear of    God became a central focus of their religion.                 It is in this context that the need for miracles arose.    The need arose because of the contrast between a weakened human race    and a brutalized nature that had acquired such great and destructive    powers.  Humanity had become so impressed with and fearful of nature,    that God was obscured and no longer noticed.  He was invisible, while    nature with its terrorizing powers was around them at all times and had    to be taken into account constantly.  The impression nature made upon    the human race was so overwhelming that it destroyed human courage.    Who could withstand nature?  Who could oppose her?  Who could overcome    and subdue her?                 Well, yet, it is true: faith in God had not disappeared    altogether.  It was dimly realized that the Creator of heaven and earth    had to be more powerful.  Sometimes His help was recognized, coming as    it usually did via ordinary means.  But the question could not be    suppressed: is God, our God, really stronger than nature?  Is He really    its Lord and master?  People would plead and pray, torture themselves    and make offerings to God, but after all that, nature would gain the    victory.  Such situations further depressed faith in God.  The final    conclusion for most was that nature was the all-powerful one, not God.    Fear for nature with its accompanying doubt as to God's power had    eventually to lead to the question whether God even exists.  It was in    order to take the wind out of the fearful faith-undermining experience    that miracles became necessary.  Whenever God would show His signs and    miracles that so brilliantly displayed His power over nature, then fear    for nature would go on the retreat and God becomes once again a refuge    and rock for His children.                 Revelation also became necessary in this context.  In    addition to God's apparent powerlessness, He was invisible.  Where was    He?  How could He be discovered?  That is where revelation came in,    already beginning in the Garden of Eden.  He made promises and these    were fulfilled.  He announced judgement in the great flood and it    came.  He related to the Patriarchs as a man to his friend.  Hence, in    the community where this revelation was given, faith in God's existence    was either retained or revived.  But this was a small community.  Those    who were blessed with this revelation were very few.                 Among the other nations, faith in God faded away.  Almost    all of them succumbed either to nature worship or they subjected    themselves to evil spirits.  The time arrived when a new people had to    be called and formed, a people among whom faith in God formed the    foundation of their nation.  To this end, the descendants of the    Patriarchs had to go through the melting pot of Egypt.  From there they    emerged as one nation, called to leave Egypt and to take possession of    Canaan and so to become the people of the Lord.  It was at this point    that God worked a miracle so grandiose and so overwhelming that it    became for Israel the miracle that would remain for them the foundation    of faith and hope throughout the ages.                 The first miracles occurred in the presence of Pharaoh in    his palace.  Then came the miracles of judgement upon Pharaoh and his    people.  Finally, we witness the mighty miracle of Israel's crossing of    the Red Sea.  The obvious intention here was a display of power in    order to inculcate respect for God on the part of Egypt and its    rulers.  Other reasons for this display included the liberation of    Israel and their establishment as a household of faith in the God of    their fathers.                 These miracles were preceded by revelation to Moses.  God    judged it necessary to make a deep and powerful impression on Moses of    God's holy existence.  And then came the competition with the wise men    of Egypt.                 Take careful note of the following!  How could these    Egyptian wise men perform the miracles they did?  The ancients had    retained an instinctive knowledge or understanding of nature, handed    over as tradition from generation to generation.  This tradition    included certain secrets that left the human race at the time with a    remnant of control over nature.  Superficial mockery may try to explain    this all away as imagination and deceit, but it is not so treated in    Scripture.  We are told that the wise men of Egypt could indeed perform    works that are beyond most of us today and that can be explained only    in reference to a certain mysterious, instinctive knowledge of power    over nature that has since then been lost.                 Though we gladly acknowledge the existence of such    knowledge at the time, it must simultaneously be conceded that it was    mixed with a great deal of deceit and trickery.  The source of the wise    men's magic was that traditional knowledge of nature.  This secret    knowledge had served for a long time to elevate the people of Egypt to    a higher level of culture, but by this time it had deteriorated into    deceitful magic.  For this reason, Moses and Aaron stood up to them    with a completely different power, the wonderful power of God.  They    did so in ways that are unfamiliar to the modern person, but that    effectively demonstrated the emptiness of these Egyptian mysteries.    The first cycle of miracles is thus aimed at counteracting the    mysteries that still bloomed in Egypt.                 Things became more serious upon completion of this cycle.    Now came the miracles of judgement.  These were mostly miracles for    which the powers of nature were harnessed in order to fulfil the    judgement of God on the pride of Pharaoh.  The Egyptians were very    proud of their river Nile and they worshipped it as an idol.  And now    God turned that same Nile, that idol, into His instrument for    destroying Egypt's pride.                 Then came the miraculous plagues from the desert.  These    can only be explained in terms of an intensified working of nature, but    so intensified that even the Egyptians had to acknowledge the working    of a higher power, even though they continually retreated into their    unbelief.                 But then all the stops were pulled out.  The first-born    sons of Egypt died.  Israel marched through the Red Sea.  Now the    people saw the full power of God and all His glory over nature at    work.  Miriam and all the women with her burst out into jubilation at    such a display of wonderful power.  And Moses shouted it out, "Who    among the gods is like you, O Lord?  Who is like you - majestic in    holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?" (Exodus 15:11).                 The last miracle is the miracle at the beginning of    Israel's history that has forever been established as the witness to    Jehovah's unrivalled superiority over nature and its powers and thus    has become the cornerstone of Israel's religion.  Israel will from here    on time and again refer to this magnificent display of power.  This    event continued to provide them with a focus for all of their    subsequent history and with a source of strength.  "Jehovah, a God who    works wonders," is the call that accompanied them during their entry    into Canaan.  All the inhabitants of Canaan were terrified at the God    of Israel.  This reputation of a God more powerful than nature filled    the nations with awesome fear and its experience filled the children of    Israel with courage that enabled them to subdue Canaan.                 In this way, faith in the living God was preserved for the    benefit of the human race through the miraculous.  The miraculous is    not a mere appendage to the history of religion.  It does not serve as    mere decoration on a cake, something you could simply ignore.  To the    contrary, the miraculous had a most significant role to play.  Out of    it came revival and the reaffirmation of faith.  Even the fact that we    can believe in a living God today is, after so many centuries, still to    be attributed to that miracle that took place at the beginning of    Israel's history.                 The full significance of the miraculous cannot be    appreciated, unless you go back to the ordinance of God that the human    race is to subdue all of nature and all of the earth (Gen 1:26-28). [9]      Sin has robbed the human race of the crown of honour.  After the    fall, humanity was faced with unrestrained violence on the part of    nature, helpless and impotent.  Mankind was left with the question    whether the God it adored was also impotent in the face of this    turbulent creation.  Or was this God in a position to lord it over    nature and to protect its human victims from its violence?                 The answer to this question could be given only by    miracles.  It had to become known that there is a power much greater    than that of nature, one that can work or reveal itself in nature,    control her and make her subservient to a higher goal.  Spiritual or    oral revelation would not be able to make the point sufficiently.    There was need for a demonstration of power over the terrible terrors    of nature to which an impotent race found itself subjected in fear.  It    is precisely this need that was supplied by the miracles at the birth    of the people of Israel.  That is the reason the Reformed churches, in    distinction from some other traditions, did not ignore the Old    Testament in order to bury themselves only in the New.  The Reformed    fathers constantly referred back to the beginning of Israel for the    purpose of honouring the mighty revelation of the miraculous power of    God in that birth.  They understood that this miracle, for which there    was no need in the Garden of Eden, had to come after the paradise    tradition had worn off.  A new faith had to be nurtured in Israel, so    that eventually all nations of the earth would be blessed through that    people.      __________________________________________________________________     [5] This statement may be true for Kuyper's contemporary fellow    Westerners, but in Africa we tend to be much more aware of the power of    the curse.     [6] All words or sentences written in capital letters in the text serve    as editorial devices to draw attention.  They are not so emphasized in    the original.     [7] In the New International version (NIV), this phrase "my fear" reads    "respect due to me."     [8] The comment in Note 5 applies here as well.     [9] This concerns the Cultural Mandate which is explained in the    Introduction.      __________________________________________________________________  Chapter 2                               THE MIRACLES OF CHRIST                 The foregoing discussion by no means exhausts the    significance of miracles in the Bible.  Until now, we have discussed    primarily those miracles that God directly and immediately performed    Himself.  Their purpose was to demonstrate that God's power far exceeds    that of nature, though her power, too, is impressive.  Those who    thought nature to be a superior power would backslide into the idolatry    of nature worship.  Only those who recognized and confessed that the    power of Jehovah far exceeded that of nature, would bow themselves in    humility and adoration before the Invisible One.  Fear filled the    hearts of everyone, fear that expressed itself either in terror before    nature or in the worship of the God of miracles.                 More needs to be said.  If we stop here, we will not see    the relationship between the task of the human race to rule and develop    the world (Gen. 1:26-28), the Cultural Mandate, and to the power to    perform miracles of which the Scripture speaks.  If we are to obtain a    clear and complete understanding of the miraculous, we need to pay    attention to two other series of miracles, namely, those performed by    the men of God and, secondly, the wonders and signs of Christ Himself.                 As far as the miracles performed by the men of God are    concerned, we will discuss only those that these men themselves have    performed by means of a power granted them.  We will ignore the signs    of competition with the wise men of Egypt as well as those wonders by    which these men of God played only an external role.                 When Moses stretched his staff over the River Nile or over    the Red Sea, it was not as if Moses brought these miracles about on his    own power by simply swinging his staff.  Moses himself rejected any    such interpre-tation.  He gave the glory to God alone when he sang, "By    the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up..." (Exodus 15:8).  When    he hit the rock with his staff, instead of speaking to it, his    self-esteem prompted him to take the initiative with respect to this    miracle, even though he was not the source of the power to accomplish    it.     It is not always easy to distinguish clearly between miracles performed    directly by God Himself and others in which God is involved, but in    which people serve as tools or channels through which the power of God    comes to expression.  Nevertheless, there is a difference between    them.  The flood was a direct miracle in which no human being    participated.  The raising of the child of the widow by the prophet    Elisha, however, involved the medium of the prophet.  The virgin birth    of Christ was an immediate miracle of God, while the signs and wonders    performed by the disciples were possible because Jesus empowered them.                 There is a direct relationship between the miracles    performed through the media of the men of God and the royal mandate to    the human race to rule the world.  The power to perform these miracles    has been given to us in order to gain the victory over nature and to    undo the effects of the curse.                 We are faced here with a mystery, namely the power of the    spiritual over the material.  There is no better example of this power    than that which we exercise over our own bodies.  In all that we do    through and with our bodies, it is not the body that does it, but the    spirit within us. [10] It is our spirit that moves our bodies around    and makes it perform.  When one person holds the hand of another or    embraces another with his arm, the hand and arm are merely in the    service of the spirit in us that makes our bodily parts perform.  In    all that we do, our bodies are the servants of our spirits.                 As much power as the spirit has over our body, it does not    have the power to influence the world outside our bodies in an    immediate way, that is, without some external means.  The ability to    exercise such external immediate influence is restricted for most of us    to our speech.  We are no longer capable of exercising immediate    influence on the material world around us.  The means through which    such influence could have been exercised has been broken.  We now stand    almost helpless before nature.             The Bible testifies often    that the supernatural world of spirits can exert influence on our    world, good influence from God's angels and evil influence from    demons.  Fallen man is as powerless with respect to demonic influence    as he is over against nature.  He is not capable of delivering a man    possessed by demons. However, it is clear from the residual    after-effects of the instinctive power over nature found in animistic    societies, that such instinctive power belonged originally to the    entire human race.  Anyone who denies these instinctive residual    after-effects will have a hard time explaining all the reports coming    from animistic societies. [11]                 This instinctive after-effect of humanity's original    ability has gradually faded away until our race became almost totally    powerless.  Our spirits were restricted to influencing our bodies as    well as other spirits by means of the word and personal influence.  The    one appointed by his Creator to rule the world had collapsed into    impotence.  Although he retained his authority to rule, his scepter and    crown had fallen away.                 In this context, the miracles that God enabled a few people    to perform have a unique meaning.  True, they served to rescue or    liberate people from the miserable predicaments in which they found    themselves, but their actual purpose lay elsewhere.  Misery was rampant    in Israel, while it was even more intensive among the other nations.    If the purpose of these miracles was to rescue people from their    miseries, the power to perform them should have been much more    widespread than in fact it was.  They were small in number.  They took    place within a small area and among only one nation.  They occurred    only sporadically.  They were performed by only a few individuals, all    of whom stood in the higher service of interpreting God's revelation.    The purpose of these miracles was to buttress faith in his revelation,    to place the seal of truth on this revelation and to evoke the    conviction that a greater power had come down among the people.  This    purpose could have been achieved if all these miracles had been    performed directly by God and without intermediaries, but that was not    what happened.  In addition to those performed by God directly, others    were carried out by the mediation of these men of God.  The reason for    God's using their mediation was to restore mankind in its royal power    over nature and over evil spirits in a prophetic way.  These miracles    were a prelude to the triumph, a foreshadowing that in the future,    humanity would regain what it lost.  They showed a glimmer of the power    and majesty that had been man's at his creation. They demonstrated that    the human spirit is capable of greater power when that spirit is    touched by the Spirit of God.                 These miracles were not produced by magic.  The Scripture    sharply condemns miracles by magic.  All magic and trickery was banned    from Israel.  The demonic element that had become mixed up with these    miracles was strongly opposed in every way. Over against this    semi-demonic power of magical miracles, arose in Israel the ability to    perform miracles by means of empowerment of the human spirit by the    Spirit of God.  This was no magical power; it was a continuation or    renewal of the original power of the human race over nature.  These    miracles were momentary flashes seen in a few godly people that showed    and reminded Israel of the original nobility that was mankind's.  They    also were prophetic of the glory that lay ahead.  They constituted a    breakthrough of the curse that had since the fall oppressed the human    race and continues to do so partially, but that will one day be lifted.                 The story of Daniel in the lion's den reminds us of Adam in    the Garden of Eden.  Of course, it was God's power that restrained    these animals, but that power is the secret in all that we do, not only    in our miracles.  When one is victorious in battle, he may return home    a hero, but he will give God the glory, for God's power was operative    through the victor.  The miraculous power that suddenly came to life in    Daniel was the same power of which we see a glimmer in a tamer of wild    animals and which Adam possessed fully in the Garden of Eden.  Daniel    stood among the kings of the forest as the human king over nature.                 The above power is displayed in its full majesty by the son    of Man, our Saviour.  The Old Testament miracles have to be seen in    relationship to the Messiah.  They were distant prophecies of what    would be accomplished by Christ.  They were reminders of the high    position of the human race before the fall.  They demonstrated that    restoration of those original powers was possible and prophesied, that,    indeed, they would be restored.  However, these miracles could not    reveal that power in its fullness.  That revelation would first come    with Christ, in whom we meet mankind without sin, that is, mankind with    its original unbroken power.                 It is important in this context that we do not turn the    miracles of the Son of Man into miracles of the Son of God.  It would    be easy to do so.  God is almighty.  It is easy to attribute Christ's    signs and miracles to His divine powers and to regard these miracles as    proof of His divinity.  Their purpose was to show that the Father had    sent Him, that He had a task to perform on earth.  He never made a    sharp distinction between His own miracles and those of His disciples.    He made the remarkable promise to the disciples that whoever believed    in Him would do even greater works that His (John 14:12).  With respect    to forgiveness of sins, the Lord said, "But so that you may know that    the Son of Man (not: "Son of God") has authority on earth to forgive    sins...  Then He said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go    home" (Mat. 9:6).  Matthew adds that the crowd was amazed that such    authority was given to people.  You will completely misunderstand    Jesus' work, unless you realize that He was among us as the Son of    Man.  He humbled Himself, in fact, destroyed Himself, when He took upon    Himself the form of a servant.  While on earth, He neither ruled as the    Son of God nor did He display the majesty of His divinity, but He    appeared among us as a human being, as one of us, and He did not reveal    any power other than that potentially available to all humanity.  He    simply obeyed His Father.  He came to fulfill the work to which His    Father had called Him.                 All his powers resided in His spirit.  The Holy Spirit was    given to Him in rich measure.  It was a spiritual power that worked in    Him always within the parameters of our human nature, subject to the    ordinances that God Himself had embedded in the creation of our human    nature.  When Jesus was arrested, He said to Peter, "Do you think I    cannot call on my Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more    than twelve legions of angels?" (Mat. 26:53). He was not speaking as    the Son of God.  God does not need the help of angels.  He spoke as the    Son of Man, who would be rescued from danger and death by an invincible    army of angels.                 Jesus represents for us the restored person in whom the    human spirit had reached the pinnacle of power over against nature,    material and the demons.  It would be wrong to assert that Jesus was    like Adam, for in Adam human development was in its beginning phase,    while in Jesus this development reached its climax.  He was not merely    a person, but He was the Son of Man, the central person.  He    represented the human race in its fulfillment, humanity in its richest    and highest power and authority.  Adam's power over the creation    collapsed the moment the curse fell upon creation and made it go    berserk.  The Son of Man, however, possessed the power of the human    spirit to the highest possible degree so that He could even control    nature, disoriented as it was by the curse.  Similarly, His power to    perform miracles remained to the end a human power, that is, a power    that falls within the limits of our human nature.  Human nature here    is, of course, to be understood not as we know it today, but as it was    in Adam, except that it had reached mature development.  In Jesus'    signs and miracles there resided a power that far exceeds our power,    but it was a power that He received, that was given to Him.  It was not    something He possessed in Himself as Son of God.  In His signs and    wonders He revealed Himself not in His divinity, but in His humanity.    Even in His present state of glorification He is and remains the    glorified Head of the church, the glorified Son of Man.  As God, He    could not have been glorified in the sense of being "promoted."  And as    to His future glory, the apostle teaches that His saved ones will one    day reign together with Him as King.  Also, our humiliated bodies will    one day become glorified like His.                 It is not possible here to treat exhaustively the    relationship between Christ's divine and human nature, but it must be    emphasized that the signs and miracles of our Lord must not be regarded    as direct divine miracles.  The work of Christ in its totality was one    grand miraculous display of power of the man Jesus Christ or, better    still, of the Son of Man.  He was robed with the majesty of Adam before    the fall, except that in Christ this majesty had reached its full    development, culmination.  Furthermore, Christ applied His power to a    nature deeply disturbed by the curse and become violent.  Thus He stood    in all His human majesty and power over against the worlds of demons    and of nature.  The power and authority that humanity lost in the    Garden were restored in Him and then developed to their culmination.    In His miraculous power we see the reappearance of the glory of human    control over the earth.                 When Jesus was tempted in the desert, "He was with the wild    animals, and angels attended Him" (Mark 1:13).  This scene reminds us    of the story in the Garden when Adam gave names to the animals.  His    temptation in the wilderness reminds us of the temptation of Adam and    Eve, the difference being that while Adam and Eve gave in, the Son of    Man was victorious.  His battle was first of all against demons.    Casting out devils breaks the demonic power.  When Jesus sent out His    disciples, their main assignment was "to drive out evil spirits" (Mat.    10:1).  It is this demonic power that undergirds so much of nature.    This demonic power displayed itself especially in those considered    possessed.  Jesus broke that power with a power that is within reach of    humanity, for both the disciples and the apostles also drove out    demons.                 The power of the Son of Man showed itself in ever widening    spheres.  Not only were the animals in the desert subjected to Him, but    so were the fish of the sea.  He also demonstrated power over the world    of plants by turning water into wine (John 2) as well as by multiplying    loaves of bread (Mat. 14, 16) and by causing a fig tree to wither (Mat.    21).   He displayed His power over the inanimate world when He walked    on the water (Mat. 14) and stilled the storm (Mark 4).  This display of    power was not limited to the realm of nature.  He also attacked the    result of the curse.  He freed the blind, deaf and dumb from their    shackles.  Victims of every kind of disease received mercy and healing    at His hands.  Finally, at least three times He re-united body and soul    of those who died.  Not only did He heal the diseased, but He also    healed the wounded, as in the case of the servant of the High Priest    (Luke 22).                 All of Jesus' miracles are cut from the same cloth and form    a unit.  It could almost be said that there was a plan in the way the    Messiah restored and fully developed the power of the human spirit,    thus demonstrating clearly His triumph over the various realms of the    demonic, of nature and of suffering in general.  You can appreciate    this display of power fully only if you recognize in all of it the Son    of Man as victorious King over all that opposes or attacks mankind.                 The above does not deny the legitimacy of looking at each    miracle individually and attribute individual meaning to each one.  You    may also admire Jesus' pity for the maimed or His love for the    suffering.  Jesus' miracles form a holy string of pearls, in which each    pearl by itself is of great value.  Nevertheless, it is only when you    regard the pearl string as a single entity that you can understand the    basic meaning of Jesus' miracles and thoroughly analyze their deeper    significance.  Such analysis and understanding require that you do not    take the godless race or the sinner as your point of reference, but    mankind as God created it in His image, crowned with honour, clothed    with power and majesty, anointed as king over creation.                 That race had gone under, disappeared, no longer to be    found.  However, the germ of that power and glory was still present in    human nature, though smothered under the ruins of sin and curse.  It    was that original human nature that Jesus adopted.  He was the seed    promised to Eve.  As far as the flesh is concerned, He was from Adam's    loins.  His Spirit was allotted a level of power that restored in Him    all the glory of the Garden.  In Him that glory shone once again, but    now in its complete potential brilliance.  In the presence of that    brilliance all the agitation and turbulence caused by sin and curse    became pale, even as far as the triumph over death.  Thus the kingship    of Christ in its first manifestation was not a foreign robe hung on His    shoulders.  Neither was it a foreign authority laid upon Him.  This    kingship, this power, this authority emerged from human nature,    spiritually elevated to a very high and rich state.  It was the    man-King from the Garden that was revived in Jesus and developed far    beyond its initial form.      __________________________________________________________________     [10] Not being a psychologist, I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the    details of the theory here advanced.  However, the general picture    advocated would seem to be confirmed by the Biblical emphasis on the    role of the spiritual in human action.     [11] Only yesterday a Nigerian Muslim theologian recently converted to    Christ told me that he used to have the power to make people berserk by    placing a curse on them.  After his conversion, he undid the curse, the    victims became free and he apologized to them for his actions.  These    curses can affect people without anyone knowing the perpetrator.  Only    the day before yesterday, I received a letter from a Nigerian pastor    who from his childhood on was dedicated by his parents to the service    of Satan.  He had the power to curse and otherwise ruin the lives of    anyone he desired.  Upon his conversion, he also renounced these    powers.  He is now engaged in a Christian healing ministry.  People    with such demonic powers are found throughout Africa, among adherents    of Traditional Religion as well as Islam.      __________________________________________________________________  Chapter 3                             HUMAN POWER AND AUTHORITY                 Thus, in summary, the immediate, direct divine miracles    have restored faith in the majesty of God's omnipotence, in His power    and authority over a nature that had gone berserk under the curse.    Likewise, in Christ's miracles human rule over nature was restored.  It    is important that we distinguish sharply between these two series of    miracles.  In God's direct, immediate miracles we see the revelation of    the majesty of the Lord of Lords, but when Jesus restrains the angry    waves of the Sea of Galilee, we witness the Son of Man subduing nature    to His will as the King of nature.                 Then there is the unique significance of the miracle of    Jesus' giving His disciples the ability to do likewise and even more,    as in His promise to them that they would do even greater things that    He did (John 14:12).  The first time we hear about this is when Jesus    sent His disciples out in order to announce to the children of Israel    the coming of His kingdom.  Matthew tells us that Jesus "gave them    authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and    sickness" (Mat. 10:1).  The disciples crisscrossed the country and    returned to Jesus in holy ecstasy, rejoicing that the spirits submitted    to them and that they had been able to perform miracles (Luke 10:17).    It appears that they attached too much significance to this new    experience, for Jesus had to warn them not to "rejoice that the spirits    submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven" (Luke    10:20).  This warning clearly implies that the power they displayed    during their ministry of healing and miracles belonged to the sphere of    this earthly life and that they were to pursue the highest state that    was not to be found in this stage of their earthly life, but in the    coming state of human glorification.     We receive further explanation about this miraculous power given to the    disciples after Jesus' descent from the mountain of transfiguration.    Only three of His disciples were present at this wonderful event, while    the others were left at the foot of the mountain.  While Jesus and the    three were on the mountain, an agonizing father turned to the waiting    disciples at the foot of the mountain with his epileptic son.  He    begged them to deliver his son from the demon that possessed him.  The    disciples tried, but they were not successful.  When Jesus came down    from the mountain, the man turned to Him for help and told Him the    disciples could not deliver him.  Jesus rebuked the demon and it left    the boy.  He reprimanded the disciples with these strange words, "If    you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this    mountain, Move from here to there' and it will move" (Mat. 17:20).  In    the account of Mark, Jesus adds, "This kind can come out only by    fasting and prayer" (Mark 9:29).                 There are three clear implications in these words of Jesus.    (1) The power of healing given them was not a magical power, but an    ability that requires the foundation of faith. (2) This power of faith    was to serve as an exercise of the power of the spirit over the power    of the material in its demonic substratum. (3) This ability or gift can    be developed or improved by means of fasting and prayer.  The gift or    ability to perform such miracles was not merely an outflow of divine    power for which this gift served as a mere funnel.  Rather, it was an    ability or gift that emerged from human nature, though a nature    sanctified by faith and strengthened by fasting and prayer.                 We ought not to circumvent the strong statement of Jesus    that the disciples would be able to move mountains if they had faith.    Usually people explain this statement moralistically by referring to a    "mountain-moving faith."  What is meant with this explanation is merely    that faith will ultimately triumph over all difficulties of life, even    if such difficulties appear to us like high mountains.  This    explanation does not fit the context.  The story here is about an    epileptic boy, possessed by demons, that the disciples tried to deliver    but failed.  Jesus located the reason for their failure in their lack    of faith.  Over against this lack and subsequent failure, Jesus pointed    out which faith and what power of faith was required for them to be    able to heal such people and to perform such miracles.  Jesus'    reference to moving mountains is not about a faith that can overcome    moral problems, but about one that is able to heal the diseased.  The    moralistic interpretation is irrelevant in this context.  The subject    here is that of power to perform miracles and of unlimited power over    disease.                 Neither is the explanation acceptable that turns "faith    like a grain of mustard seed" into an extremely weak faith, one that is    in its beginning phase.  True, a grain of mustard seed is a very small    seed, but Jesus' point here is not about a weak, beginning faith.  In    no way does Jesus deny that the disciples had faith.  Their faith was    proven by the many miracles and healings they already had performed.    Jesus rebuked them because their faith was not strong enough.  That is    to say, it was not strong enough to cope with this special kind of    demon.  This specific kind was so powerful that it could not be driven    out by faith except it was accompanied by fasting and prayer.  Thus the    mustard seed is not regarded here in terms of its small size compared    to other seeds, but from the point of view of its power, that in such    an exceedingly small seed there is a power resident that can turn it    into a tree.  It is also this aspect of the power of this small seed    that impressed Jesus the most, as in Mat.13:31. There Jesus emphasized    that though it is the smallest of seeds, it grows into "the largest of    garden plants" and eventually turns into a tree large enough to house    birds.  The disciples did have faith, but it lacked power to deal with    this special kind of demon.  Like the mustard seed, their faith may    have been small, but out of the small faith a power was to be developed    so unbelievably strong that it would grow into a tree in which the    birds would nest.  The emphasis is on the surprising and unexpected    power of the tiny mustard seed, the same surprising and unexpected    power to be resident in and to develop out of the small faith of the    disciples.  They definitely had faith, but the stem did not shoot up    from the seed of their faith with sufficient power.                 When Jesus applied the same thought to the mountain that    could be cast into the sea, He was not referring to magical    experiments, but to the tiny seed of faith that can develop itself into    a mighty power that can withstand all opposition of flesh, material and    nature and that can defy the demonic powers hiding behind these.  The    gift of Jesus to His disciples to perform miracles was the power of the    spirit that was natural to the human race at creation, that was lost    through sin, but can be restored through faith.  More even, through    faith this power can be enhanced to a higher level.  It is also clear    that Jesus directed this ability of theirs first of all to doing away    with the effects of the curse.  They would drive out demons and heal    the sick.  The spiritual character of the power of their faith was    emphasized to such an extent that Jesus, who in all diseases always    penetrated to the demonic effects of the curse, ensured that in their    spiritual power the holy would triumph over the demonic.                 It will be useful for us to pay attention to the comments    of Jesus in John 14:11-12.  There Jesus pointed to His works and    invited people to "believe on the evidence of the miracles    themselves."  He added, "Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have    been doing.  He will do even greater things than these."  Here, too, it    is clear that Jesus located His own powers to perform miracles within    human nature and did not attribute them to His divine nature.  If His    miracles derived from His divine nature, it would not have been    possible for the disciples to inherit these same powers, for they    shared only His human nature.  Jesus did not separate Himself from the    disciples, but He chose a terrain where He and His disciples had common    ground, He as the Son of Man and they as the children of men.  In this    same passage it is also clear that the works the believers were to    carry out, would include having spiritual power over nature in order to    free the latter from the curse itself and from the demonic activities    that are activated by the curse.  This power was to be exercised on    basis of the power resident in their faith.                 There is still more to it.  Jesus said that the disciples    would have this power BECAUSE He is going to the Father.  As they    performed these works and even greater ones, they were doing so in    relation to Christ.  They were seen in unity with Christ, as being in    Him, as mystically being present in His body, as working out of Him as    their Head.  However, this relationship or condition would not be in    place till after He had died, risen, gone up to heaven and was seated    at the right hand of God.  That is what He meant, when He said, "I will    do whatsoever you ask in My Name."  Again, "You may ask Me for anything    in My Name, and I will do it."  Jesus presented Himself as the source    of this power that would operate in His believers and that would    inspire them.  He did not say that God would do it, but He, the Son of    Man, their Head and Lord, would be active in the members of His    spiritual Body. Neither was there any reference to a power or gift over    which they themselves would have independent control.  This was a    royal-human power that resided in the Son of Man and that would be    revealed as it radiated from Him to the believers as members of the    spiritual Body.  This was the royal authority of mankind at work, but    that, because of the curse upon creation, was lost by the sinful race.    This authority was revived in Jesus as the Son of Man and radiated from    Him as Head of the Body, to His believers.                 In all this it becomes convincingly clear how extremely    superficial the opinion is that Jesus' words were intended solely to    reveal His divine power.  Such an opinion would not leave room for the    fact that the disciples also received this power of miracles, even    though they were ordinary human beings.  This opinion would render it    totally impossible that the disciples would do even greater works that    Jesus Himself.  This whole development makes sense only if you regard    the miracles performed by Jesus as done by the Messiah, that is, as    done by the One promised by the Father, who came from God and who    shared in our human nature.  Furthermore, this development can be    appreciated only if you recognize in this Son of Man the restoration    and the further elevation of powers that at creation were impressed on    the human race by God.  Only when seen in this perspective can you    relate the miracles of Jesus with creation itself, with the fall, with    the curse and with the penetration of demonic powers into this world.    In this perspective these miracles form an indispensable link in the    history of salvation.  Only then can one see the miracles of Jesus in    the framework of this history.  And only then can they be shown to have    controlled the further development of human domination over the    material element of creation, over nature, over the curse and over the    demonic powers that operate in and through this curse.                 As soon as the apostles became public witnesses to the    Lord, they showed they had the same kind of miraculous power as Jesus.    The first specific apostolic miracle about which we read is the healing    of the cripple (Acts 3).  The apostle Peter showed his strong    consciousness that the secret of their authority was not in magic, but    in their communion with Christ their King. "Why do you stare at us as    if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?" Peter    asked the crowd.  "By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see    and know was made strong."  Faith makes possible the restoration of    spiritual power to human nature.  It is not something independent, but    is valid only in relationship to the Son of Man.  That faith was    operative in this event in both Peter and in the lame man.  This faith    that breaks the power of demons and that reconciles us to God through    Christ, was given to the apostles and to the lame.  That is why Peter    added, "It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through Him that has    given this complete healing to him, as you can all see."  The    revelation of the apostles' miraculous power made such an impression on    the people, that they carried all their sick to them wherever the    apostles went.                 Although Paul was not among the original disciples of    Jesus, after his conversion it soon became clear that this same power    was also operative in him.  After all, this power did not depend on the    physical presence of Jesus, but it was given by Him and could be    developed to its highest level only after His elevation to the right    hand of God.  It could radiate from Him fully only as Head of the Body,    as the King of the new humanity.  In James 5, we read that the elders    would anoint the sick, pray with them and heal them.  This practise was    merely the continuation of the practise of Jesus and the apostles.    This power to heal through prayer is available to us even today; it has    not been abrogated.                 It is not possible to attribute all these stories of    miracles and healing to imagination and deceit.  If these healings of    specific persons in specific places had not really taken place, they    would have been discredited long ago.  Without having conducted careful    research, no one has the authority or right to deny the possibility    that this same miraculous power is still available to us today.  Some    might reason that, since these miracles are not as common today as they    were in that distant past, they did not take place then either.    However, anyone reasoning along that line does not understand the    unique character of revelation.  Israel became a nation of God's people    by means of the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea and the provision of    the law at Mount Horeb.  But this does not mean that all people have to    have originated in the same way.  In Israel a new faith had to be    developed.  Other nations have inherited it from them.                 Even in the developments of nature it is recognized that    there are certain climatic events of special importance.  A tree    develops from a seed that may go through various stages that never    re-occur.  The characteristics of a child are very different from those    of an adult, while the adult displays qualities that would be    unthinkable in a child.  Similarly, age brings unique qualities to    people that are not found among those of middle age.  The same holds    true for all historical developments.  All historical developments go    through various stages, each with their own peculiarities.  Here, too,    there is the parallel of the tree that begins as a seed and ends up    bearing fruit.                 As far as revelation is concerned, in its first period the    miraculous has a special meaning and function, but it should not be    concluded that in the next phase of revelation, that is, its dispersion    among the nations, the same phenomena must repeat themselves in the    same way.  Furthermore, it must not be forgotten that, according to the    Scriptures, seducers and tempters and even the Antichrist himself could    perform miracles.  For this reason, it is necessary that whenever we    hear reports of miracles, we must pay close attention to the source of    power that is said to have performed such miracles.                 There is no reason at all to deny the existence of a    spiritual healing power in our present day, provided we keep in mind    both the special character of the first historical phase of revelation    and the danger of demonic miracles.  We may not deny the possibility    that it could please God to perform miracles today or that a power    could radiate from faith in Christ to heal the sick.  This statement    does not mean that we have simply to accept in good faith all the    stories about miracles and healings that we hear about these days.  The    facts must be investigated and established objectively.  Gullibility    has no place in this context.                 There are two questions on which the whole matter depends.    First, the kind of power that our souls have over our bodies.    Secondly, the kind of power faith can raise in our souls.  The    relationship between soul and body is until this day all but clear.  We    have earlier pointed to the doubling of muscular strength that may take    place in a mentally disturbed person.  Though it may be hidden to us,    somewhere within us there is a point where the soul makes contact with    our nervous system.  Through that contact point the soul exercises    influence on our muscular system.  It is not our body that sees, hears,    moves, lifts or drops, but it is the soul that uses the body as its    medium.  In the sleepwalker it is the soul that guides the body while    the latter is unconscious of it.  Courage has its seat in the soul and    it has been shown that courage can perform greater miracles than the    most muscular giant.  Joshua and the people of Israel had their spirits    lifted seven times by words, "Be strong and of good courage."  This    admonition was given on the assumption of the powerful influence of the    soul on the body.  Who then will deny that under certain circumstances    the soul has powers to evoke superior strength in the body?  Even    medical doctors value the role of the patients' morale in the healing    process more than you may think.  The soul can be subjected to intense    cultivation so as to exert healing influence on the body.  This    cultivation can be the result of faith that, in turn, can have a    special focus on one's own healing.  Faith in the possibility of one's    own healing can have various sources in the hearts of the sick.  It can    be inspired by what they hear from or see in others.  It can originate    in the prayer impulse in one's soul.  Another factor to be considered    here is the spiritual influence of one soul on another.  It is possible    to approach the soul of another without having physical contact.    Napoleon, for example, inspired his armies from long distances by the    mere sound of his name.  Both biology and hypnotism have demonstrated    beyond any doubt that one spirit can exert direct influence on another    spirit.  Faith on the part of the one spirit can directly evoke faith    on the part of the other.                 We do not intend here to trespass on psychology.  Faith in    healing always requires faith in Christ as the basis.  This faith that    turns the soul or converts it comes only from above.  As Peter    expressed it, this kind of healing comes about only in communion with    Christ and through His name.  Thus we resist all attempts to declare    healing by spiritual power as impossible for our day or as based purely    on deceit.  At the same time, we admit that deceit and fabrication are    not infrequently used to pretend the possession of healing power.  We    also realize that there has never been a lack of unique individuals who    possess great biological strength that they have confused with a    spiritual consciousness so as to regard themselves as miracle workers    and abuse the gullibility of the people for their own glory and to    their advantage.                 However, as we shall soon see, it is not to such spiritual    healing that we must look for the further development of Christ's rule    over the powers of nature.  For that development we must look    elsewhere.      __________________________________________________________________  Chapter 4                         THE ENHANCEMENT OF OUR HUMAN POWER                 In summary, we have so far proposed two points.  First,    miracles had a special significance in the days of Jesus and the    apostles that fell away once Revelation had been completed.  Secondly,    it cannot be concluded from the first point that there is no further    possibility of miracles.  Christ our King lives at the right hand of    God as Head of the congregation and as Head of humanity.  There is    power radiating from Him and there is no good reason to think that that    power can no longer triumph over nature.  We insist on the continued    possibility of miracles.                 At the same time, we have to agree that neither the    miracles performed by the apostles nor those of later times were    greater than those performed by Jesus Himself.  We have only to think    about the miracle at Cana, about the feeding of the multitude, about    walking on the sea or stilling the storm, or about the three raised    from the dead to sense that the glory of the apostolic miracles in no    way surpassed those of Christ. We do not mean to belittle the apostolic    miracles or to demean their significance, but we do deny that the    miracles of the apostles outranked those of Christ.  Nevertheless,    Christ has emphatically declared that His church would perform more and    greater things than He Himself has done.  The difficult question then    arises as to where we are to look for this "greater" and of what it    consists.                 We are not satisfied with what certain commentators offer    in this respect.  They point to four things.  They say that the    apostles shared the Holy Spirit with others through the laying on of    hands.  Further, they point to their speaking in unusual languages, to    the spreading of the Gospel throughout the Roman empire and, finally,    to what is recorded in Mark 16:17-18, where we read, "And these signs    will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out    demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with    their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them    at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get    well." [12] It is obvious that not every believer would be able to    perform such miracles.  It can only mean that throughout the ages such    things will occur.                 Still we are not convinced that in those works of the    apostles there was something "greater" than we find in the works of    Christ.  This assertion is especially true for their spiritual works.    True, the preaching of Jesus was restricted to Palestine, while Paul    preached in Spain and Peter in Babylonia, but this difference does not    qualify the work of the apostles as "greater."  It is no more than an    extension and continuation of what Jesus started.  They were no more    than imitators.  Those who are today bringing the gospel to the    farthest corners of the earth still do not perform works greater than    those of Christ.  Similarly, the laying on of hands by the apostles    cannot be described as greater than when Christ breathed on his    disciples, saying, "Receive the Holy Spirit."  Even the speaking in    unusual languages is not a miracle performed by the apostles.  Rather,    it was an expression of their souls that occurred without any intention    on their part.  It was more in the nature of a momentary ecstasy.    Besides, who would argue that speaking in other languages is superior    to the stilling of the storm or the feeding of the five thousand?  And    when you take the acts of the apostles referred to in the passage    quoted above, one can hardly regard these as greater than those    performed by Christ.  Besides, till today people in various cultures,    whether Africa or India, conjure and control snakes.  He who refuses to    be diverted by superficial arguments will realize that these    commentators fail to do justice to the promise of Jesus.                 Allow me to recommend a totally different point of view.    The opinion we are about to advance is based on the difference or    contrast between two approaches or attitudes to nature.  The one can be    described as a general lack of awareness that leads to instinctive    action.  We could call that an attitude of "instinctive    unconsciousness."  The other attitude is developed by a conscious    studious manipulation of nature.  We will refer to it as the "conscious    analytical" or some variation of that. [13]                 Let us illustrate this contrast by a reference to cooking.    The average housewife in any culture is a good cook who knows exactly    what spices to put in a dish and how much.  If you were to ask how much    spice to put in or why, she would not be able to answer, for her    knowledge is instinctive.  She has never consciously analyzed her    recipes.  She just knows.  Now you take that same cook and put her    through a home economics course where everything is analyzed and    explained.  Her attitude will change from a natural, instinctive    unconscious application of skills learned in someone's kitchen to a    kind of conscious, studious, academic approach.  What used to be done    well unconsciously is now done consciously, aware of all the whys and    wherefores, of the exact measure of each ingredient, a teaspoon of this    or a cup of that.  In some countries, such a cook may not have taken a    course, but she has at her disposal a library of cookbooks that have    the same effect.                 A further illustration comes from "farming," an occupation    associated with the world of instinctive unconsciousness, or    "agriculture," a term more related to the studious, conscious approach    to that endeavour.  In Isaiah 28:24-29, we have the picture of a    traditional farmer who knows his trade very well.  From where does he    get his skill and knowledge?  The prophet explains that "his God    instructs him and teaches him the right way."  "All this comes from the    Lord Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom."  Here    is a description of farming as conducted by unschooled people who go    about their business in an instinctive way.  They have a talent, a    gift, a practical, instinctive but unconscious way of doing things that    God Himself has taught them through the generations.  Such farmers may    never have heard about agricultural schools, extension services,    intensive agriculture or any other modern agricultural phenomena.    However, once people begin to avail themselves of modern developments    in agriculture, they change over from an instinctive, unconscious    approach to a more conscious, studious method, which enables one to    explain and give adequate reasons for the methods used.  As    modernization progresses in this area, the modern farmer will become    more conscious about the chemical composition of the soil, the    requirements of the various seeds and all the factors that influence    the growing process.  The motivating factor will no longer be that the    forefathers have handed down this or that method.                 In some cultures this change from the unconscious to the    conscious approach has gone further than in others.  And as we    illustrated it by reference to cooking and farming, two basic human    activities, so it either is developing or has developed in all aspects    of culture.  Traditionally, parents raised their children without any    knowledge of pedagogy--and they often did a good job.  But today one    will find mothers, especially in the Western world, reach for various    books about raising children.  Traditionally, people would learn    various trades and establish all kinds of industries, usually small,    without conscious analysis or feasibility studies.  There were no trade    schools or technical colleges.  Today such knowledge is despised and    not recognized.  Everything must be learned and consciously analyzed in    a recognized institution.  Traditionally, all improvements in whatever    area were expressions of life itself, of the instinctive urges that    motivated people, but that instinct is now in danger of being stunted,    dulled, discouraged.  It is being or has been replaced by the    conscious, analytical studious approach.                 Another example is that of the field of art.  Artists of    all kinds have presented their artistic products, all of them motivated    by this same instinctive unconscious urge.  Often they produced art at    such a high level that they are admired for generations and even    centuries.  All modern societies look back upon the artistic heritage    of their unconscious stage with admiration, as glorious artifacts of    their past.  All peoples tend to admire the paintings, music and other    forms of art of what they consider their classical heritage of past    centuries, the products of their instinctive unconscious phase.  The    artists of the past seldom, if ever, read any books on art or attended    art schools.  They all worked instinctively, by inspiration.                 Today, the modern artist must increasingly avail herself of    the new institutions of art colleges or academies, of literature that    discusses true and false art, of conferences and workshops where new    methods may be developed.  Art criticism has become a field for    professional engagement.  Libraries have large sections of literature    on aesthetics.                 There is thus an evolution taking place in all cultures,    advanced more in some than in others, from the instinctive to the    conscious approach.  Now that these instinctive factors are gradually    receding and even disappearing, we find ourselves motivated by a    conscious penetration into the laws of nature to achieve a higher, more    communal and much more powerful mastery over nature and even over life    itself.  This more conscious approach of today misses some of the charm    that was associated with the earlier attitude, but it puts us on a    higher level, multiplies our powers and equips us as rational beings    for greater achievements.  Under the former approach, each triumph over    nature was an independent achievement with hardly any relationship to    other discoveries or inventions.  Today, our power over nature has    become communal property; everyone share in it.  In distinction to the    former piecemeal approach to nature, we now confront nature as a whole    with our communal power.  Together, we have penetrated the mysteries of    nature.  We have discovered its composition and the laws that govern    her movements.  In this shift from the instinctive unconscious to the    conscious, analytical approach to nature we face an evolutionary    development of extraordinary proportions, for it places the human race    over against nature with a much higher measure of power and control.                 Our human civilization started with the instinctive    unconscious approach rather than the conscious analytical.  The    instinctive stage is the one during which God Himself, directly,    without any mediation, shows humanity the way and helps it develop this    inner power.  It is exactly as the prophet Isaiah put it in the earlier    quotation.  It was impossible for civilization to start with the    conscious analytical, for the conscious knowledge of nature had not yet    developed.  If cultural development had to wait for the analytical    approach, no progress would ever have been made, for no one possessed    the wherewithal to analyze nature.  Thus it was wonderful grace that    God enabled the human race to achieve such great heights through this    instinctive approach during the first period.  The original mastery    over nature that was part of mankind's created inheritance broke down    under sin and the curse, but it did not disappear completely    immediately after the fall.  It continued to operate among the nations    in slackening measure, slowly fading away.  Its after-effects, however,    soon degenerated into magic and eventually shriveled away.    Nevertheless, the inspiration of the instinctive life continued through    the ages to carry cultural development along.  It was able to carry    civilization to a high level. [14] Archeology has surprised us with its    discoveries of high civilizations like those of Egypt and Canaan in the    days of Abraham.                 Of course, it cannot be denied that even in those eras of    long ago the analytical was not lacking altogether.  Imitation has    always been part of human life and imitation involves study.  Without    denying that factor, we insist that the peculiar character of cultural    development was basically that of inherent talent, of instinctive    motivation, while whatever analysis was done was practiced in a    superficial way and remained peripheral.                 This stage could not last indefinitely.  Once our race    began to research into the deep recesses of nature and discovered the    hidden powers within it to make them subservient to culture, we    achieved a much greater power over nature.  It will not serve us well    to lament over the romance and poetry of the past that was lost in the    process and replaced by cold, prosaic analysis.  This prosaic evolution    was inevitable and could not be postponed indefinitely.  Given our    created urge to exercise dominion, humanity had eventually to penetrate    into the depth of nature to find its hidden powers and thus to    re-establish dominion.                 And so it happened.  First there was the period of the    after-effects of our original powers from the Garden of Eden.  This    period was followed by the flowering of our instinctive life.  Today we    find ourselves in the third period in which our mastery over nature    increases rapidly through systematic analysis.  This difference can be    illustrated in the difference between the way in which traditional    societies seek to heal the sick with amulets and incantations on the    one hand and the diagnosis and treatment of the sick by the modern    medic on the other hand, who has analysed the human body from within    and is able to discover the basic cause of the disease.  This is not to    deny that traditional medicine men do heal people.  It can even be    acknowledged that there were certain effective diagnoses and    medications in the past that are now ignored to our own hurt.  Modern    medical technology continues to be plagued by the way it has contempt    for much healing in the past.  But surely we all realize that the    understanding of disease, the level of knowledge and of medical    technology has reached a much higher plateau.  We also realize that in    this period of conscious research we have taken a much stronger    position vis a vis diseases than was the case in the era of tradition    and instinct.  Thus, we ought not to look back to the era with    nostalgia, even though we should recognize its relative successes.  Our    rational power resides in the conscious life, not in the instinctive    approach.  Only when we approach nature with our consciously analytical    methods can we once again exercise dominion over nature that reminds us    of our royal calling to subdue it.  Compared to the past, we recognize    in this conscious approach something of the greater works of which    Christ spoke.                 In this context I want to return to Jesus' parable of the    mustard seed as well as that about yeast or leaven (Mat. 13, Mark 4).    It is common for us to spiritualize these parables, but in so doing we    miss their point entirely.  Throughout Jesus' works and words He always    kept body and soul, spirit and matter, visible and invisible together    in one totality.  In the light of that, what right do we have to    exclude the empirical, the physical, and the visible that are so    prominent in these parables from Jesus' prophecy and to consider only    their spiritual aspect?  When Jesus spoke of the "more" that was    awaiting us, He referred precisely to His works, among which His    miraculous works automatically drew the most attention.  Most of those    miracles revealed His power over the visible, the material and physical    aspects of nature.  Hence, let us not separate what Jesus always    regarded as one.  He concerned Himself with the whole person, both with    poverty of the soul and with misery of the body.  Over against both of    these He was Redeemer, the Liberator.  He delivered from sin as well as    from the misery that encompasses us.                 It was in this context that Jesus pointed to the little    mustard seed.  It is so very, very tiny.  But this tiny seed sprouts,    grows up and goes through a process at the end of which we have a tree    with its branches reaching out far and wide within which the birds of    heaven make their home and which provides shade from the heat of the    sun.  And so, said Jesus, it would be with the seed of the Kingdom.  It    looks insignificant and trivial at the time it sprouts.  But then it    begins to grow and go through an organic process until it is like the    tree with its wide branches in the middle of the world to offer comfort    and protection to people in their sin and in their physical miseries.    The parable points to a dynamic situation in which we proceed through a    series of stages of history.  It points to a penetration of the seed of    that kingdom influence throughout our lives and to a future wherein    both the spiritual and the material effects of that seed will become    plain for all to see.  There is a constant "more."                 Similarly, the parable of the leaven or yeast illustrates    for us the same process in its hidden action.  The miracle here is that    when the yeast has come into contact with the flour, it sets into    motion a mighty process.  Jesus' interest here was not in the external,    instinctive action of the woman who bakes, but in what happens with    that yeast in the flour as it works quite independently from the woman    to obey the powers hidden within it.  Jesus penetrated the secrets of    nature and showed how powers are hidden within it that would    automatically set the process into motion until it would reach its    fulfillment according to the natural laws governing this process.                 What right or reason would we have to restrict the    significance of this meaningful prophecy about this kingdom process to    the spiritual?  Is it not more legitimate to relate this process of the    Kingdom to all of human culture?  Does not the power of this Kingdom    touch our lives at all levels--spiritual, social and material?  And is    that penetrative action in all areas not the result of that yeast or    leaven?  When the Christian faith entered the world, it touched all the    factors and laws of human society and by so doing completely changed    the face of society.  Contrast the cultures that have been penetrated    by that yeast and those that have not.  Where this faith has motivated    people, it has affected their lives at all fronts, spiritually,    socially and materially, and has elevated life to a higher level just    as the bread rises through the fermentation of the yeast hidden in it.                 When you take the above perspective, you do not have to    search long for evidence, for it is plain for all to see that wherever    this liberation and elevation of the spirit has taken place, it is    there that people have dedicated themselves to research and knowledge    of nature and there that the control of nature has been increased in    such a wonderful way.  True, the Greeks and Romans were also engaged in    some research and among the Arabs considerable successes were booked.    Nevertheless, the greatest scientific revolution was initiated and    developed where the Spirit of God had liberated the human spirit with    His touch.  And though it is true that science has subsequently turned    its back to the Christian religion, the spirit, the motivating force    that has guided this process arose and developed where that spirit had    penetrated society.  If it were not for Jesus and the penetration of    His Kingdom in the West, its people would still cringe helplessly    before the gods of nature as did their ancestors.  It would be an    insult to His greatness, were we to deny that Jesus did not foresee or    intend this development.  He is the King of this process.  Unto Him is    given all power in heaven and on earth.  When Jesus placed the leaven    of His Kingdom in the bread of human society and promised the disciples    that they would do works greater than His own, He in fact prophesied    that this leaven would one day elevate all of society.  Though we    admire His miracles, wherever His spirit of liberation strode, we see    those greater works, we see a new and wonderful power and authority    over nature that has been achieved through persistent, conscious    analysis of its secret powers.  And the works emerging from that    development Jesus described as greater than His own.      __________________________________________________________________     [12] Kuyper's day, Bible translators have generally agreed that these    last few verses of the Gospel of Mark were not part of the original    manuscripts.  Most recent Bible translators relegate them to a note.    However, the passage does correctly summarize what in fact took place,    according to the book of Acts.     [13] As already mentioned in the Introduction, I, the translator,    consider Kuyper's writing to be an example of a style emerging from the    "instinctive unconsciousness."     [14] I know a young Nigerian who created a new type of Christian songs    that combined aspects of the traditional music of his ethnic group with    Christian themes.  In a short time he composed a considerable number of    songs that were so popular that his songs were sung even by people of    other ethnic groups.  Then the young man went to a teachers' college -    and that was the end of his creativity.  His instinctive unconscious    approach was stunted by the new consciousness he achieved through    study.  However, since his was not a music or art college, he simply    dropped his artistic activities.  His new consciousness did not help    the development of his musical and poetic talents.  It appears that it    was impossible for him to combine the earlier instinctive approach in    art with a more conscious attitude to life in general.  The two    approaches seem mutually exclusive.  In Nigeria, the emphasis on paper    credentials has seriously contributed to this partially unfortunate    development.      __________________________________________________________________  Chapter 5                            THE SHREWDNESS OF THE WORLD                 Already in the Garden of Eden mankind was ordained to rule    over nature, but because of the fall into sin and the subsequent curse    that came upon all of creation, the severely weakened race lost his    sovereignty.  However, in Christ, the Son of Man, this rule is restored    and that in a three-fold manner.  First, immediately by means of the    power to perform miracles directly, a power that His disciples    inherited from Him.  Secondly, mediately by means of the enhanced    development among mankind of its spiritual factors wherever the    Christian religion triumphed.  Thirdly, at the time of His return, an    event to which the New Testament does not tire of pointing as an    indispensable component of the great work of deliverance.                 This then is the three-fold situation arising from the    above.  First, Jesus restored human control over nature by giving the    power of performing miracles.  Secondly, Jesus restored this same power    on a much broader and lasting scale by means of the light that has gone    through the nations and that has renewed their cultures.  Thirdly, at    His return, Jesus will lead nature to its highest goal by means of    final glorification.                 It would lead us too far astray from our present purposes    to fully explain this third item.  Let a reference to the prophet    Isaiah's statement suffice:     The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the    goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little    child will lead them.  The cow will feed with the bear, their young    will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.  The    infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child will    put his hand into the viper's nest (11:6-8)                  This is obviously the promise of the final restoration of    affairs to a situation similar to that before the fall.  The promise is    expressed in Eastern poetry, but it is a powerful way of depicting the    full restoration of peace within nature and of human control over    nature.  This full restoration will not be realised until the return of    Christ, but then it will spell the everlasting defeat of the power of    Satan and the end of all the resistance evil spirits now offer us    daily.  This restoration will come at the end of days, when the    struggle is completed and the kingdom of glory has finally triumphed.                 While the above victory awaits the future, we already reap    the benefits of the restoration of mankind's mediate control over    nature.  This control comes to us in the second of the three phases.    It is the power that we now have at our service and that has especially    during the last century and a half developed at such a startling speed.                 This is not the immediate power to perform miracles as    Jesus practised it when He was on earth.  This is a power of a totally    different order that operates in a very different way.  In both kinds    of power Jesus exercised over nature, that is both the power of working    miracles as well as His mediate power, it is the spirit that subdues    the physical but does so in a direct manner without using means.  In    our present phase the spirit governs the physical mediately, that is,    by means of the development of the human spirit.  This is the power of    the spirit over the physical by means of science and technology.  In    addition to science, we have resourcefulness, the brilliant move, the    energy and the talent, perseverance and the will.  Nevertheless, all    this is analyzed and explained primarily through science and    technology.  Technology is the ability of mankind to subdue nature and    includes medical science.  This immediate, direct power of ours over    nature is a wonderful power, but it is not the same as miraculous    power.                 This scientific and technological power has come to us    through Christ.  His gospel has called forth a totally different and    much higher development of the human spirit.  Wherever this gospel has    taken hold, this development has taken place.  Out of this newer,    richer and higher development of the spirit arose automatically the    superior knowledge of and power over nature.  The credit for this    development must go solely to Christ, not to any nation or race.                 It cannot be denied that through this second indirect,    mediate phase of the restoration of control over nature we received    through Christ, we achieve more than what Christ did through His    miracles.  This is not to be seen as a higher power, for who has    displayed higher power than Christ when the wind and storm obeyed Him,    when He multiplied loaves of bread and raised the dead?  Nothing can be    higher than that.  Our achievements are not greater in the sense of    higher, but their superiority lies in their extent, their magnitude,    their scale, their scope and their duration.  Jesus' miracles were    always performed on a single individual or a single crowd and were    restricted to a limited area.  Our present direct, mediate control over    nature, the scientific, affects and influences all nations and people    equally, year after year, and constitutes a blessing to millions    simultaneously in all their problems and diseases.  And so this    declaration of Jesus that His followers would do greater works than He    did, strange as it may seem at first glance, can thus be fully    explained.                 The above issues have frequently been misunderstood.  Many    have assumed that anything that did not come out of the Christian faith    was also beyond the sphere of Christ Himself.  The inventions of    unbelieving scientists and the production of unbelieving artists have    often been regarded as the works of the devil.  Jesus had nothing to do    with these works.  His rule was limited to all that related to the    salvation of souls for eternity.  The terrain where Christ exercised    His royal sovereignty was regarded as excluding the evil direction of    the spirit that guides the "world," that is the community of    unbelievers, as well as all common human life.  The Biblical statement    that God so loves the world that He gave His only son to deliver it was    understood exclusively as referring to the elect.  The world itself was    abandoned, while Jesus' coming was only for the salvation of the elect.                 Such a reduction of the Gospel flies in the face of what    the Scripture teaches about the restoration of paradise, about the new    heaven and the new earth and about the glorification of our body.  Thus    many ended up with the untenable position of admitting that where the    Christian religion has taken deep roots, culture has reached a higher    degree of development, but denying that this development has anything    to do with King Jesus and even regarding these developments as hostile    to Christ.  The rich and comprehensive meaning of the Biblical    assertion that "all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to    me," was not understood.  It is time we broaden our spiritual horizon    and recognise that Jesus, as King, has sovereignty over the totality of    human culture.  Once that is realised, it becomes inevitable that both    our spiritual development unto eternal life and our general cultural    development that has led to such an amazing increase in our knowledge    and control over nature, are placed under His rule.  The contrast    between human development in Muslim and other countries where the    Gospel had not taken root and the West is sufficient evidence for this    thesis.  Our spiritual awakening unto eternal life and our general    human development are not independent from each other.  These are two    operations within the one organism that exercise mutual influence on    each other.  He who refuses to honour the majesty of Christ in both of    these developments, robs Him of the full glory due to Him.                 Though we cannot accept it, it is not difficult to see how    this failure to recognise the Kingship of Jesus over general cultural    development has come about.  It is a fact that unbelievers have    generally contributed more to the development of culture than believers    have.  It is no accident that scientists who worship the Lord are a    small minority among them.  The Lukan statement that "the people of    this world are more shrewd...than are the people of the light" (Luke    16:8), has been true throughout history.  That is to say, when it comes    to nature and to the visible affairs of this world, unbelievers usually    know how to exert greater power than do followers of Christ.  This    statement does not constitute disapproval, for Jesus praised the    manager for his shrewdness, though, it must be emphasised as well, not    for his corruption.  There is no explanation here as to why this should    be so.  The cause for this situation is not explored.  It is simply    observed from experience that this is usually the case.  In the area of    general cultural development, unbelievers often outdo the followers of    Christ.                 The above trend can be observed already early in the Old    Testament.  Abel prefers to wander around pensively with his flock,    while Cain exerts himself with his spade in his farm.  Of Cain it is    said that he built a city, though we must recognise that this would not    be much more than a primitive community that protected itself against    wild animals.  Nevertheless, Cain, the son of darkness, is associated    in the Bible with the first technological advance.  In the next    generations, it is not the descendants of believing Seth who are at the    edge of progress, but those of the worldly Cain.  The credit for    original development of the harp and flute goes to Jubal, of tents to    Jabal and of bronze and iron tools to Tubal-Cain (Genesis 4).                 And so it continues throughout history.  Egypt was known as    a pagan country, but it is there that Israel grew into a people and it    is there that Moses was educated to prepare himself for his role as    leader of his people.  King Solomon had to send to pagan Tyre to get    Huram, a craftsman "experienced in all kinds of bronze work" (1 Kings    7:13-13), to work on the temple.  In the days of King Saul there were    no blacksmiths in Israel.  When they needed such craftsmen, they had to    resort to other nations around them.  During its glory days, Israel    never excelled in any area of science or art.  Commerce was mostly    controlled by the Canaanites.  Israel's maritime fleet was puny    compared to that of her neighbours.  Egypt, Assyria, Babylon and Persia    all surpassed her in every science and art.  And then we have not yet    mentioned the achievements of the Greeks and Romans.  The best    historical musea in the world have very few artifacts from early Israel    among their displays.  During the reign of Solomon there seems to have    been a temporary unusual increase in wealth in Jerusalem, but even here    there are good reasons to surmise that the artists employed were    foreigners.                 This tendency can also be noted during the days of Jesus.    The new cities of Caesarea and Tiberias sprang from foreign    inspiration.  Even Jesus surrounded Himself with mostly simple    fishermen from Galilee.  Among His followers were few intellectuals;    Paul, Apollos and Luke represented the intellectuals in the New    Testament church.  Apart from Paul's writings, New Testament and    subsequent apostolic writings are products of divine inspiration; they    are not the products of scholarship.                 The phenomenon we are describing is no accident.  Its basic    cause is to be found in the psychological fact that for most of us our    spiritual power is not sufficient to embrace both spheres, that of the    kingdom of heaven and human culture.  Often, or, perhaps, usually, when    the human spirit concentrates too much on cultural human development,    the resulting science or art will encourage our ego, our selfishness,    with such force that it becomes very difficult for the child of God in    us not to be suppressed by our pride.  Some, like Newton and Agassiz,    have taught us how to overcome this problem, but these two men are    among the exceptions.  For most people it would appear that their    achievements in science or art give them such satisfaction and pride    that it becomes impossible for them to humble themselves in the worship    and service of God.  The doubts that science and art can arouse in your    heart can create a degree of spiritual confusion and temptation of    which the ordinary believer can form no idea.  Engagement and success    in these endeavours can create such pride and elevate the human being    to such an extent that worship of the Almighty suffers severely.  Pride    and humility do not make good bed partners.  How often do not our young    people enter the university with a true confession of Christ, only to    graduate as unbelievers?  The demands of this area of life are so    absorbing, so comprehensive that it tends to keep people from looking    up.                 There is another side of the coin.  The fear of losing    their faith has kept many Christians from involving themselves in    society.  The most concrete examples of such withdrawal are the hermit    and the monk who lock themselves in their cell.  Believers are seeking    after God, they want to enjoy fellowship with Him, but the world tends    to divert their attention from this quest.  The result is that they    will avoid the world altogether, avoid the temptation to be    side-tracked and withdraw from society in order to achieve intimate    communion with God.  The examples of hermit and monk are extremes.    They do not represent the mainstream of Christians, but the tendency to    avoid the world and to isolate yourself in your own circle of believers    is still as overwhelmingly strong in many quarters as it has been    throughout church history.  Though Calvinists have generally had a    different perspective and have resisted the withdrawal symptom because    of their doctrine of common grace, it cannot be denied that during the    17th^ and 18th centuries they became unfaithful to their best insights    and also tended to isolate themselves from society.                 Now, we may look down upon these negative escapist    withdrawal tendencies and we must surely reject them, but not without    honouring the quest for holiness that forms its deepest motive.  The    wisdom of the Biblical rhetorical question, "What good will it be for a    man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?" (Matthew    16:26) stands.  When you involve yourself in the world, you will    immediately be confronted with what is called the "world" that is, its    unholy spirit, its pretentious temptations and the demonic background    of its life.  True the Christian can overcome this "world," but when    you feel insufficient and weak in your faith, it may be better to    withdraw into the light than to fall away from it into the darkness of    the world.                 As we devise a Christian approach to the world, we must    keep in mind the tendencies and difficulties discussed so far.  The    spiritual struggle demands that we constantly concentrate on all    spiritual powers available to us.  If you work in the world, in order    to achieve, you must concentrate all your spiritual power on the    material and visible.  Both streams will continue to follow their own    beds.  So it has been in the past, so it is today and so it is likely    to continue.  On the one hand, there is a powerful development of human    knowledge and skills, a development especially encouraged by people who    concentrate all their spiritual powers in this area, but who for that    very reason remain strangers to the mysteries of godliness and piety.    On the other hand, there is that powerful development of the spiritual    or religious life that is encouraged by the children of light who    expend all their spiritual powers in this area.                 There are some reasons that would lead us to acknowledge    that this tension was designed by God Himself.  After all, He is the    almighty dispenser of gifts and talents.  In addition, it would seem    that history itself shows that God was pleased to distribute His gifts    and talents to develop human knowledge to the pagan peoples rather than    to His own Israel.  Did not the pagan nations of Egypt, Babylon, Greece    and Rome possess gifts for science and art of which Israel was    deprived? Can we not clearly discern the difference between the sons of    Seth and the sons of Cain throughout history?  Even when we come to our    own time, do we not see the same tendencies at work?  We may pray all    we want that those eminent scientists and artists humbly bow before    Christ.  Sadly we may enquire why we cannot count such people in our    fellowship.  But it does not seem to change.  It continues to be true    that the gifts and talents necessary for general social developments    are more generously distributed among the children of this world than    among the children of light.                 It is only Calvinism that in its most flourishing periods    has broken this general rule.  Calvinism has revived in us the    realisation and hope that there are historical exceptions, not only of    individuals, but of entire communities, that have followed a different    spiritual direction. [15] Exceptions to the rule are possible, they    exist, but this fact does not invalidate the general rule itself.                 Let us never lose sight of that fact that, even where this    basic rule is operative, where the torch of higher scientific knowledge    has been lit and power over nature has been greatly increased by people    who personally reject the kingdom of Christ, such developments never    take place outside of His divine ordinances.  Thus in this general    cultural development, without forgetting its sinful and negative    elements, we must recognise and honour the fact that these gifts have    come to us through Christ.      __________________________________________________________________     [15] Kuyper is likely referring to the Calvinist revival in The    Netherlands, a revival of which he was the major architect.  See    Introduction.      __________________________________________________________________  Chapter 6                              THE WORLD OF THE SPIRITS                 We have seen that the restoration of sovereignty over    nature by the Son of Man has two aspects.  First, there is the    immediate, direct power exerted by means of His miracles.  Secondly,    there is the mediate, indirect power that through Christ has developed    by means of the rise of scientific knowledge.  We have also seen how    Christ referred to the effects of this scientific development as "the    greater works" that His followers would perform.  This development took    place thanks to the work of Christ, for He added the explanation,    "because I am going to the Father" (John 14:12).                 This latter point is so important that it requires further    explanation.  It cannot be denied that our superior knowledge of and    control over nature arose in those cultures where the Christian    religion took deep root.  However, that fact itself does not explain    the relationship between this superiority and the influence of Christ    on the hearts of men.  It might be self-explanatory if the scientists    who discovered all this knowledge were mostly faithful Christians, but    the opposite has largely been the case, with non-Christians having    taken the lead, while Christians often avoided the enterprise.  There    seems to be an inner contradiction here when we remember that Jesus    emphasised that those who would do those greater works would be those    who have faith in Him.  It is not possible to locate the origin of this    higher power over nature in Jesus' royal reign and at the same time to    separate this development from the faith.  Thus we are confronted with    the question how it is possible that Jesus tied this development so    closely to faith in Him, while in fact science has been practised    without reference to Him and even in a spirit hostile to Him.  If we    are to hold on to both of these, we will have to find a point of    contact between them that will dissolve the apparent contradiction.                 Let us return to Jesus' temptation in the wilderness (Mat.    4).  The Messiah appeared as the Son of Man in order to restore to us    our rule over this earth.  Before He began His public ministry among    Israel, the devil himself appeared to Him in the desert.  The devil    claimed to have control over the kingdom of this world and to have the    authority to hand over this rule to Jesus, provided Jesus would bow    before him and worship him.  It will not do to regard this claim of    satan as a baseless pretence, for Jesus Himself at one time referred to    satan as the ruler of this world, a term that in effect makes satan the    king.                 It was not only at this particular time in the desert that    Jesus struggled with him over the power of this Kingdom.  Christ    struggled with him throughout His ministry.  This struggle would not    come to its victorious climax until its conclusion on the cross.    Throughout Jesus' ministry, deliverance from demons was a prominent    part of His programme. The power He gave to His disciples included that    of casting out demons.  In a moment of holy ecstasy Jesus claimed that    He "saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven" (Luke 10:18).  This    struggle against Satan was so much in the foreground that in the Lord's    Prayer, He included the phrase "And deliver us from the evil one."  It    would be a thorough distortion of Jesus if we were to explain away His    struggle with the devil psychologically, for this struggle was the    essence of His ministry.  It is not without reason that the Apostles    constantly emphasised the struggle between the Spirit that Jesus poured    out and the spirit of Satan.  They opposed every attempt to cast the    struggle of believers into an ordinary moral struggle.  As believers    who have been delivered, we struggle "not against flesh and blood, but    against ... the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm"(Eph.    6:12).  Till this day, "the devil prowls around like a roaring lion    looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).  When the final triumph    of the church was depicted on the island of Patmos, the further    outworking of this spiritual drama showed that Satan was once more    freed, after which he is to be cast into the lake of fire, the event    which will spell the complete defeat of all anti-Christian and    anti-godly forces.  "The man of lawlessness" which Paul mentioned in II    Thessalonians 2:3-12 "will be in accordance with the work of Satan    displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders."  As    in Jesus the Son of God became human and the eternal Word became flesh,    so Satan attempted to incarnate himself, an attempt that constituted    the height of blasphemy and that led to his eternal downfall.  Luther    expressed this in his description of Satan as the ape or imitator of    God in so far as he, in his struggle against God over control of this    earth and of the human race, imitates or apes God in what God in His    mercy prepared for our redemption.                 Liberal, modern theological studies have completely    divorced the study of Jesus' work from this most crucial demonic    background to His entire ministry and ignored it.  All the stories and    sayings in the Gospels and apostolic writings concerning the world of    spirits and demons are explained away as the result of imagination and    superstition.  These were the categories of thought, it is alleged, of    the superstitious civilization in which Jesus was brought up and that    He also accepted.  Those superstitions, of course, were all in error.    We modern people know better today and we must therefore re-interpret    the Bible to suit the modern mind, thus dropping all serious    considerations of this aspect of the Bible. References to demons and    spirits must be explained psychologically.  Such methods of    re-interpreting the Bible have sometimes been referred to as    demythologizing, that is, taking the myths out of the Bible by    explaining them away.                 It should not surprise us that such interpretations are    advanced by scholars who see no more in Jesus than a prominent Jewish    rabbi or teacher, or, perhaps, a religious genius. Such scholars cannot    accept Him as the Bible presents Him and therefore must make Him    palatable to their own tastes and theories.                 What is more difficult to understand is that even some    scholars who regard themselves as orthodox believers and who claim to    honour Christ in all His divinity, go along with various types of    demythologizing by suggesting that Jesus not merely went along with the    world view of the ancients, but that He actually shared their mistaken    views.  Since we now know better, we are free today to reject that    world view, including the demons and evil spirits.                 These views are mutually exclusive.  You cannot at the same    time hold the opinions that Jesus is divine and that He was wrong.    Some try to get around this difficulty by asserting that Jesus realised    that their world view was false, but in order to have access to the    hearts of the people He adjusted Himself to their way of thinking and    complied with it.  This attempt is based on pure nonsense and flies in    the face of all facts.  The temptation in the wilderness was a struggle    into which He was led by the Holy Spirit and which was witnessed by    none of His disciples.  Jesus' casting out of demons cannot adequately    be understood as merely an attempt to adjust Himself to a wrong world    view.  It constituted a serious struggle with demons during which they    themselves spoke to Him.  Without any inducement from the disciples,    Jesus said on His way to Gethsemane that the ruler of the world was    about to make his last attack.  And how could Jesus possibly include a    prayer for deliverance from the evil one in the Lord's Prayer, if Satan    did not work in the hearts of people?  All such explanations are to be    rejected without reservation.  His struggle with Satan to deliver the    sheep of His pasture from the claws of the world is not a side issue in    Jesus' life, but a dominant concern.  In fact, the entire history from    the days of the Garden to Christ's return makes no sense whatsoever,    unless one recognised the overwhelming dominance of the motif of the    struggle between God and Satan for the soul of mankind.  Actually,    during the days of Jesus' ministry the demons worked harder and had    greater influence than normally.  The influence of spiritual powers,    whether angelic or demonic, can vary from time to time.  At the time    the battle between God and Satan was about to be decided, angels and    demons intensified their activities beyond that of normal times.  Thus,    to eliminate or to discount the influence of demons is in effect to    completely distort a central aspect of the ministry of Christ among us.                 When you look at these issues carefully, you will realise    that they are not only related to the reality or otherwise of angels    and devils, but that they also touch spiritual life in general.  The    conclusions of those who deny the existence of demons reach further and    eventually lead logically to the denial of the existence of the soul,    of the resurrection, of the very existence of God and finally forces    upon them a reality that consists only of nature, of the body and of    the physical.  Of course, for all these concerns are intertwined.  When    you lock yourself up in a finite, closed world, you will turn that    restricted vision into the measuring rod of all reality.  That    measuring rod will then determine for you what is possible and what can    or cannot exist.  You will have pulled the shutter over the window that    gave you a view of the spiritual world and no longer see anything of    the world.                 The measuring rod of the visible cannot measure the    spiritual.  The spiritual is of a different nature, operates with    different powers and proceeds according to other laws.  If you try to    measure the spiritual world by the categories or laws of the physical    and visible, and you are consistent, you are almost sure to arrive at a    position that has no room left for miracles, spirits, souls or even    God.  A fish cannot appreciate the grandeur of a great mountain range,    because his vision and experience is restricted to its watery abode.    Similarly, when you restrict your vision to the world of the visible,    you will have no eye for the beauty and glory of the spiritual world.    Even if you were still to acknowledge the reality of all that is    beautiful and good, you will find yourself measuring it by the standard    of the visible, as if it emerged from matter.  You will not know or    recognise another, separate realm that has its own composition and that    is not within reach of the measuring rod of the visible.  Science that    takes a position above faith and against it ends up negating the entire    spiritual realm.  Such science excluded the spiritual and is in fact    another kind of distorted faith that has conformed to a one-sided    science.  Such science has forfeited a place of honour that is rightly    reserved for true science.                 The tense relationship between faith in such one-sided    science and scriptural faith has somewhat softened in the Western world    with the rise of a series of phenomena that are related to movements    like spiritism, telepathy and clairvoyance.  This development has    influenced a sizeable community to recognise certain puzzling phenomena    and mysterious powers that would be worthwhile examining, even though    such examination is not likely to lead anywhere, since we cannot    penetrate that shadowy world with our reason.  Nevertheless, this    situation has yielded us some gain in that even among non-Christian    scholars there are those who admit to the existence of something like a    spiritual world that wields a certain influence on our psychology and    life.                 Though meager, this situation has yielded something    positive for us.  It is now more generally admitted that there is more    to reality than scholars had wanted to acknowledge.  People are once    again becoming used to the idea that there exists another order of    reality that is distinguishable from that of the visible.  It is    realised now that we relate to this other world in a very different    manner from that of the visible world around us.  It has been noted    that, while some people have experienced nothing of this other world    and laugh at it, others have contact with it and believe firmly in it.    It can no longer be denied that there is a certain similarity here with    what was earlier revealed by the prophets and apostles about another    spiritual realm.                 Though the similarity is there, we should not jump to the    conclusion that the prophetic and apostolic revelation was the same as    that of spiritism, clairvoyance and the rest of them.  In fact, the    differences are emphatic.  Nevertheless, the two share the affirmation    of a realm other than the physical and that there are means whereby    entities and powers from within that realm can communicate with us.    There have even been those who were about to lose their Christian faith    because of its affirmations about that realm, but who, under the    influence of these newer movements, once again acknowledge that after    all there is an eternal life after death.  To them the spirits causing    tables to dance are as reliable evidence as the resurrection of Christ.                 Of course, faithful Christians will never stoop down to    such outright heresy. Their communion with the spiritual realm is of a    totally different character.  The Christian relationship to that realm    does not depend on spiritualistic witnesses but rests on faith in God,    a foundation as solid as a rock.                 Though Christians do not attach the great value to these    phenomena that others attribute to them, there is nevertheless    something positive about this development in the struggle between    Christian and scientistic faith.  The short-sighted pretence of    scientists who deny the possibility of that other realm has been dealt    a serious blow.  The existence of this other realm is now admitted    along with the fact that there are powers in that realm that cannot be    explained scientifically.  The world of spirits with which they have    come into contact almost automatically opens the way to believe in the    existence of a spiritual world.  By this means the question arises    spontaneously and necessarily as to what to make of this spiritual    world and in which way this realm exerts its influence on the visible    world and on mankind.                 In psychology the same development is taking place.  It is    no longer satisfied with the vague data with which its practitioners    used to operate.  It is assumed that psychological phenomena must    reveal themselves in one or another in or through the body to the    outside.  In so far as these phenomena, whether they are healthy or    sickly, normal or abnormal, are visible or audible outside a person,    they can be observed, touched, compared or contrasted, seen in relation    to other phenomena and conclusions can be drawn from them. Though there    are many who would prefer to explain such phenomena purely by    determining their cause solely in the body, and though not a few deny    the existence of the soul, the fact continues to impress itself upon us    that the physical data are insufficient to explain what is observed.    Thus, researchers are forced to accept that there is something in a    person that does not have its origin in the physical and to acknowledge    at the same time that this spiritual dimension has its own sphere in    which other, peculiar laws operate and where the normal laws of nature    do not apply.  In many aspects of the person, such as in thought life,    imagination, dreams, artistic expression, sense of beauty, moral    motivations and, yes, even in the way our sense of right and power is    shaped, you run into phenomena that are shrouded in a mystery.  You    could go on to the power of religion, to the mystery of love, to    heroism and so much more, all of which touch our lives deeply in ways    that defy explanation unless you admit to the influence of the    spiritual realm on mankind.                 The materialistic attitude that has been so prevalent has    lost some of its adherents among the finest thinkers.  A more spiritual    attitude is gaining acceptance.  People are increasingly feeling and    acknowledging that there is a mystical world to which we somehow stand    in a certain relation.  The previous indifference is being replaced by    the tendency to search for a mystical relationship to that world.  It    is felt that there surely is that other sphere of spiritual life,    knowledge of which such people deeply desire.  They thus open the    portals of their hearts deeply in order to allow the influence of that    mystical world to penetrate.  Hence, among our greatest scholars there    is at present an excessive receptivity towards the spiritual.  The    callous materialism that half a century ago was so rife in scholarly    circles is now largely restricted to the pseudo-scholars, to business    people and to the revolutionaries among the lower classes.                 Nevertheless, it is characteristic of our day that same    circle of scholars that is presently so open to that mystical view,    still wants nothing to do with the revelation of God that has come to    us out of that mystical spiritual world in God's Word.  These people    clamp on to what they have learned of Buddhism.  They delve deeply into    Theosophy.  They attempt to resurrect the Spirit of the philosopher    Hegel.  They will lend their ear to anything at all.  But as soon as    you mention the special revelation of God that came to us in the    prophets, in Christ and in the apostles, then you are suddenly faced    with fierce opposition. They will agree that there is this spiritual    world and that we have a relationship with it and that it is very    important that we understand the relationship, but, that knowledge must    come from within us, from our own conjectures and findings, from our    own rational activities, from our own pondering and meditating.  We    human beings, we must be the source of this knowledge.  That this    knowledge might be revealed to us by God by His own means is not    allowed.                 Believers themselves certainly share in the responsibility    for this development.  I am, not suggesting that believers also have    denied revelation.  The contrary is true.  Nevertheless, even with them    the broad mysterious background of this revelation has been relegated    to the insignificant.  Ask yourself what significance the host of    angels still has for most believers or how they regard the influence of    demons and Satan.  How many believers have not completely come to    disregard these agents?  They may not deny their existence, but they    have become mere meaningless figures for them. [16]   If these beings    were to cease to exist, it would have no difference on their    watered-down faith.  Oh, of course, they adhere to the influence of the    Holy Spirit on their souls.  But casting out of demons by Jesus and His    disciples is by many believers regarded as psychological healing of    disturbed patients.  Even in the preaching of the Gospel much of what    the Gospels tell us about that spiritual world disappears without a    trace.  And if you point to Satan as the ruler of the world who took by    plunder what belonged to the Son of Man and that this kingdom was    restored to its rightful owner through Golgotha and the open grave,    then you are taking your audience to a terrain that is completely    foreign to them.  They have never regarded the power of Satan over this    world and over the spirits as real, as actual.  For this reason, they    cannot recognise the greatness of Christ's victory over Satan.  This is    precisely the reason they fail to understand how Christ made possible    the subjection of nature to the human spirit by His coming into the    world and breaking the spiritual power of Satan, while freeing the    human spirit.  This attitude of believers has provided the basis for    the rejection of the revelation of God on the part of scientists who    are otherwise open to the existence of a spiritual realm.  Thus the    church shares the burden of responsibility for this development.      __________________________________________________________________     [16] Kuyper here describes the spirituality that marked most    missionaries that came to Africa.  This missionary spirituality is the    explanation for the weakness of most of the Nigeria missionary churches    in the face of African spirituality.      __________________________________________________________________  Chapter 7                         THE EFFECTS OF THE SPIRITUAL WORLD                 It is clear, then, that we must continue to insist on the    influence of the world of spirits on our world as Jesus attested.    Similarly, we must hold on to the fact that Satan and his demons have a    real effect on our world.  But we are then directly faced with the    question how we must visualise their operation.  We know absolutely    nothing about this matter, except from the Scripture.                 Hence we are faced with a mystery.  That spirits can    influence each other, we experience daily.  We also know from    experience that our spirit affects our body.  But neither experience    nor science can answer the question as to how one spirit can affect    another or how our spirits influence our bodies.  Those influences take    place in a sphere where our powers of observation have reached their    limits.  Here we are dealing with feelings, impressions, emotions and    experiences.  However, it is beyond us to determine the way this all    works.  We know the effect; we do not know the method, and every effort    to discover it has failed.                 It is clear that sometimes the spirit of one individual    person is stronger than that of another and can more easily make an    impression than the spirit of another person.  It is also true that one    spirit is more receptive to another's influence than some are.  It has,    furthermore, been observed that it sometimes is easier to influence the    spirit of a large crowd than each member of that crowd individually,    but we are in the dark when it comes to the question of how this    hypnotic or suggestive power works, on what power it is based and how    it achieves its purpose.  Even in a love affair we have an unsolved    mystery, especially in cases where one single momentary glance can make    such an emotional impression on a young man or woman that they find    themselves drawn to each other by an irresistible power as if magnetic    forces fuse their souls to each other.  We all have a spirit within us    and we get in touch with other spirits daily, but no one can analyse    what that spirit actually is.  All attempts at describing it fail us.    We know what a spirit is not, but we do not know what it is.  We know    that a spirit has power, but how that power resides in the spirit, how    it is activated or to what laws it is subject remains a hidden secret    for us.  We can observe that somewhere our soul makes contact with our    nervous system, because it is through our nervous system that we absorb    the experiences of our lives and of our senses into the soul, but where    this point of contact is located, we do not know.  One person holds the    opinion that the soul is spread throughout the body; another locates it    in our heart; a third puts it in the brain.  Via amputation we can lose    significant parts of our body without the spirit within us suffering at    all.  There are also parts of our body that cannot stand any    significant damage without our losing consciousness immediately.  Here    you can guess, you can surmise, you can theorize all you want, but you    will not arrive at any certainty.                 So, most questions in this area remain unanswered and we    are unable to account clearly for the way in which our spirit    influences our body, but no one doubts the fact of this influence.    That fact is confirmed every moment of our lives.                 If we apply the above concerns to the spiritual realm that    exists in the world outside of the human race and we start off with the    revealed fact that there is indeed such an external spiritual realm,    then it is obvious that there must be a certain relationship between    the spirits that exist out there and those that are within humans.    They have at least in common that both sets of beings are spirits and    thus the characteristic features of our own spiritual life can also be    found in those other spirits.  We cannot go beyond this point.  Our    human spirituality may have peculiarities not shared by those other    spirits and vice versa.  Whatever gap there may exist, these others,    too, are spirits and thus a type of being that shares certain basic    characteristics with our own spirituality.                 It is neither strange nor unnatural that these spirits    could remain holy or desecrate themselves and that we can thus speak of    good angels and fallen angels, of holy spirits and of demons.  Of these    evil spirits it may also be assumed that they can influence each other    in the sense that one of them, as Satan, can exert a dominating    influence over the other demonic spirits.  Similarly, it can generally    be assumed that both good and evil spirits can exert influence on the    human spirit.  Both demons and good angels can affect us.  Going one    step further, it can hardly be denied that, as our spirit affects our    body and thus the material, so both good and evil spirits can affect    the visible world.                 The Scripture insists on this possibility.  It teaches us    that all spirits are serving spirits.  That means a number of things:    they have a service to perform; they are called to service; they have    received the properties and powers necessary to perform it; this    service is not restricted to heaven, but reaches out to this earth and    its human inhabitants.  Similarly, the good spirits affect our lives.    They are partners in the great battle for the Kingdom of God.  They    rejoice in the fields of Ephratha.  They are eager to participate in    the work of deliverance.  They are sent out to serve those who will    inherit salvation.  In the last day they will triumph along with Christ    and those whom He delivered.  We must not picture them as if they live    in isolation above, while we live in separation here below.  They    participate in all our affairs.  They rejoice and sorrow along with    us.  That in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus the angels    deposited poor Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham is an imaginative    expression of the participation of angels in our lives.                 Not only does the Scripture teach that the good angels can    affect us, but the fallen angels, the demons, can as well affect us as    they seek our destruction.  This was not their original inclination,    but Satan wants to separate us from God and to draw us into his own    kingdom.  Satan has been called the "brother of Christ" in order to    emphasise his pre-eminence among the spirits.  It is exactly that    pre-eminence that tempted him to rebel against God.  Since then, all of    his energies have been directed against the Kingdom of God in order to    promote his own kingdom.  To this end he does all he can to subject    mankind to his own designs.  In this attempt he has the advantage of    unusually strong powers that stand ready to do his bidding.  His    preeminence goes along with great gifts and unusual powers.  These    qualities were meant to be used by him in the service of God, his    Creator.  Satan did not lose these qualities after his fall, but    instead used them against God and His anointed one.  These powers were    first displayed in the Garden at the time he deceived our ancestors to    fall into sin.  Since that time, the Scriptures portray him restlessly    sowing spiritual destruction among mankind, frustrating the grace of    God working for our liberation and promoting his own kingdom on earth.    He has been called the "ruler of this dark world" (Eph. 6:12) and the    "prince of this world" (John 12:31, 14:30).  The government of this    world, promised by God to mankind, has been taken over by him.  Through    the use of all sorts of unholy, secret powers Satan keeps the children    of men and the nations caught in his traps.  Charms and magic are among    his unholy arsenal of powers by which he retains the souls of people.    This demonic rule stood unchallenged and unrestrained until the    appearance of Christ.  At that time he doubled his efforts and powers    and turned the battle into a personal struggle against the anointed one    in order to retain his own rule as prince of the world and to frustrate    the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven.                 In this power struggle Satan exerts influence over other    demonic spirits by subjecting them to his will and thus making them    subservient to the fulfillment of his designs.  Similarly, Satan works    in the human spirit to lead people astray, to catch them in his net and    to destroy the seed of piety in them.  He also affects the body and the    material, as we see so graphically in Jesus' days in those who were    demon possessed.  He even penetrated into Jesus' inner circle: he led    Jesus to His destruction, brought Peter into danger and eventually    tempted and led people astray everywhere, so that Jesus laid the    prayer, "Deliver us from evil" on the lips of all His followers.  In    our own day, Satan's power comes and goes, wanes and waxes, but in    Jesus' days, Satan's attacks were particularly vicious as we witness in    the incidents of those possessed by demons in such overwhelming ways,    that the demons themselves spoke to Jesus, "What do You want with us,    Jesus of Nazareth?  Have You come to destroy us? I know who You    are--the Holy One of God!" (Mark 1:24-26; Luke 4:31-35).  Jesus cast    them out and at one time even had them invade a herd of swine which    then went berserk and jumped into the nearby sea (Mat. 8, Mark 5, Luke    8).  We are talking here about a spiritual influence and power that is    not restricted to affecting the human spirit but that can also affect    the human body and even the human personality.  The incident of the    swine shows that even the animal kingdom is drawn into its orbit.                 It will not do to regard this influence of the spirits on    our lives an unusual circumstance, for such a view cannot do justice to    the phenomena under discussion.  The Scripture hardly encourages such    an interpretation.  To the contrary, it depicts Satan as "your enemy    the devil" who "prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone    to devour" (I Peter 5:8).  Paul asserted that we are struggling "not    against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the    authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the    spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Eph. 5:12), a    struggle that knows no relief, but in which we are restlessly engaged    from moment to moment.  We need to call upon our God every morning and    every evening for Him to "deliver us from the evil one."  And it is not    only our own spiritual life that is constantly under threat of invasion    and overpowering, but the same holds for all of nature.  We read, "For    the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but    by the will of the one who subjected it."  Further, "The whole of    creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to    the present time" in the hope that it "will be liberated from its    bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children    of God" (Rom. 8:19-22).                 We are not talking here about occasional exceptional    events, but about a constant and dark influence exerted over all    aspects of life and creation, of a demonic oppression that is exercised    everywhere in our human society as well as throughout our world.  That    oppression came with the curse and as the nations wandered farther and    farther away from God, it increased.  That curse was dealt its lethal,    principal blow with the coming of the Messiah, and, thanks to the    pouring out of the Holy Spirit, it is significantly tempered or    restrained where the Christian church is present.  However, this    oppression will not be totally done away with until Satan has been    bound for eternity and the glorification of God's children, along with    the establishment of the new heaven and the new earth, will have taken    place at the return of Christ.                 The spirit does not simply repose or rest in the material,    but it carries the material along.  Through His almighty providence and    the majesty of His will, God preserves the universe in its make-up.    That almighty providence is present everywhere.  There is not one    creaturely spirit and not even one unit of the most microscopic    material that does not owe its preservation to that almighty    providence.  All creation is at each point and at each moment carried    along, preserved and empowered through this providential power of God,    that resides everywhere in creation and motivates it.  God, of course,    is a spirit.  To Him clings nothing that is visible or physical.  Thus    it is the almighty Spirit of God that created and upholds not only the    creaturely spirit, but also the realm of the visible.  No matter how    deeply the sciences may penetrate into the composition, laws and powers    of nature, they will never be able to touch the spiritual essence or    base on which it all rests.  Even when the physical material turns out    to be all motion and power, science will not get beyond the motion and    power.  It is beyond the reach of science to determine how God, a    Spirit, works within this material creation and motivates it.  It is    simply impossible to know anything about this subject, unless God    reveals it to us.  For this reason it is necessary for those of us who    desire to form at least a vague conception of the spiritual base,    constantly to return to His revelation.                 Attempts have been made to prove the above without resort    to divine revelation, but these have led from one error into another,    from the pan into the fire.  A superficial attempt has been made by    appeal to Deism.  This is the view that God has created this universe    like a clock that automatically runs on and on without God having    anything further to do with it.  Still others have sought comfort in    Pantheism.  This view has it that as human beings have bodies infused    with a soul that inspires and enlivens it, so can the entire universe    be seen as a gigantic body of which God is the soul.  In this view God    has no existence apart from His creation and is exhausted by it. This    God becomes conscious only in the human consciousness, but He has no    independent existence or consciousness and is not marked by holiness.    These views represent worldly wisdom to which they resorted who were    interested in such questions but who would not accept God's holy    revelation.                 It was over against this pseudo-wisdom that Jesus and the    apostles placed the divine wisdom that was hidden from the learned and    wise for generations, but that was eventually revealed to little    children (Mat. 11:25).  Thus, we do not just have this little earth    with our God far and high above it with nothing in between but death,    but we have a creation of God that is filled with wonderful and rich    life.  There are 10,000 times 10,000 angels, as the apostle of Patmos    expressed it.  Those innumerable spirits are not just a jubilating and    praising host, they are not merely marginal figures in the great drama    of creation, but they are powerful heroes that carry out the Word of    God.  All these hosts are His servants who carry out His pleasure.    They have a service to perform, a call, a task that basically is    nothing else than to obey the voice of His word.  They neither sleep    nor rest, but they are forever busy in the fulfillment of their    service.  They are borne up by God Almighty, who appears in and through    them as a personal power.  Christ is appointed head over all this    host.  Under Him are the good angels of God, who form the host that    restrains all demonic influences and seeks to overcome and destroy    them.                 It is not possible to restrict all this to the spiritual    realm.  There simply is no barrier that would prevent any point of    contact between the spiritual and the material.  The angels also affect    the material, as the Scriptures show us repeatedly.  This effect is    demonstrated especially by the demonic spirits.  It is precisely    through the visible that they try to tempt us and bring us down.  At    first glance, the sin of pride would seem the most purely spiritual in    nature, but even this sin often expresses itself in the material    through money or goods, through honour or power.                 Over against those angels that serve God without ceasing,    there are the fallen angles.  The latter did, of course, cease to serve    God and now have no other task than to break down the Kingdom of God,    but they do so with the powers and gifts with which God at one time    equipped them for His service.  They have retained the ability of    approaching souls, to entice and tempt them, to affect our souls and    thus exert influence over the material.  This phenomenon is stronger in    those possessed by demons than most of us experience today, but this    "service to destruction," as the apostle called it, continues so that    all of life's evil and abuse that cannot be squared with God's love and    holiness, must be explained on basis of these demonic influences.  Life    is covered by an impenetrable veil behind which takes place a struggle    of spirits that we cannot explain and of which we only observe its    effect on our lives.                 All superstition has its cause in that mysterious    background of our lives.  People sensed the effects of this mysterious    power in their lives and they felt the need to oppose it.  But, instead    of seeking help against this oppressing power and deliverance from it    from God and His good angels, people depended on their own wits and    sought to overcome evil by means of magic.  This practice was, in fact,    tantamount to serving and worshipping the demonic spirits themselves.    People feared the power of these spirits and tried to gain their    favour.  In some circles this has actually developed into an open,    unabashed service and worship of the evil one.  Whatever form it took,    the intent of this superstition and demonic magic was invariably to    control this demonic influence by means of the demonic.  The result has    been that spiritually the nations found themselves tied more and more    to the demonic.  The spiritual was feared as a threat rather than    recognised as a liberating force.  People sensed the net in which they    were caught, but they did not know how to extricate themselves from    it.  People felt themselves surrounded by a demonised nature.                 Over against such a situation, Moses spoke these words of    God, "The nations listen to those who practice sorcery or divination.    But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so.  The    Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your    own brothers.  You must listen to him" (Deut. 15:14-16).  By this    means, it was only among Israel that this demonic power was broken in    principle.  When the promised Prophet finally was announced    victoriously, "This is my beloved Son.  Hear Him," the struggle in the    wilderness between Christ and Satan began immediately.  It was then    that Satan's head was crushed on the cross.  It was then, in the hour    of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that a new power was released    through the church to enter the world.  This new power created an    atmosphere of liberation for the human spirit so that the children of    God could begin to develop themselves in freedom.  That moment signaled    the unfettered development of the human spirit.  Gradually superstition    was pushed back, this time not by resorting to magical tricks, but by    research.  By hard and serious scientific study, liberated mankind was    able to recover its power over nature.      __________________________________________________________________  Chapter 8                                  CHRIST AND SATAN                 When you meet anyone who professes not to believe in the    existence of Satan and his demons, you can generally be sure that    person has fallen into the clutches of Satan.  Christ and Satan work in    opposite ways.  Christ does not leave a stone unturned to reveal His    Name and thus redeem, but Satan does all he can to keep himself hidden    from you so that he can destroy you by means of the mysterious    influences he exerts over you.  Here light and darkness stand over    against each other.  Christ is the light that constantly extends its    rays farther and farther, while Satan represents the darkness that    forever withdraws itself into dark and shadowy places in order,    eventually, to lose himself along with all the world in the terror of    the night.  Not to believe in the existence of Satan and his influence    is extremely dangerous, for this is just the attitude that will allow    Satan to capture your heart.  It is a form of backsliding and evidence    of a weakening faith so that even in the Church of Christ and in the    proclamation of the Gospel, these demonic powers are increasingly    ignored.                 There is some evidence for this alarming development.  When    people recite the Lord's Prayer, they all pray, "Deliver us from the    evil one," but in free, spontaneous prayers we seldom call upon God to    cover us with His shield against the poisonous arrows of Satan.    Therefore, if the Kingdom of Christ is to regain its glory also in our    eyes, it is imperative that we emphatically insist that Jesus Himself    saw His life struggle as one fierce battle against Satan and that    Jesus' view of Himself is of decisive importance for us.  We know    nothing about the spiritual realm from ourselves, but He who came down    to us from heaven, from the spiritual world, He has every right to    speak in this respect.  What we received from His lips was revelation    and all those who confess that Christ is the way, the truth and the    life, must take that revelation seriously.  True, belief in the    existence of this spiritual realm has been mixed up with superstitions    against which we cannot struggle enough.  However, to assert that faith    in the existence of a demonic world is the fruit of mere superstition    is nothing more than short-sighted superficiality.  Throughout the    centuries it has been the most profound and sensitive souls who have    sensed that they were engaged in a mighty struggle for life against    this demonic world.                 Our point of departure is thus the sure data of    revelation.  These include the following twelve points:     1.  There exists a spiritual world outside of and apart from our human    race.     2.  There are two hosts or groups of these spirits, namely angels and    demons.     3.  The host of demons is subject to the rule of Satan.     4.  Both angels and demons have powers, gifts and talents that they    received from their Creator.     5.  These spiritual beings have been called to use their powers and    gifts in the service of God, not only to praise Him, but also as    instruments for the development of His Kingdom.     6.  These spirits exert all kinds of influence on this earth, not only    in the spiritual realm, but just as much in the physical, visible and    material realm.     7.  After their fall, the demons have misused their powers in order to    destroy both this earth and our human race.     8.  Until the coming of Jesus and with the exception of Israel, these    demons had established the kingdom of Satan over the peoples and    nations that made Satan in effect the ruler of the world.     9.  Christ has come in order to destroy the works of the devil and to    establish Himself as Head and King over this world.     10.  The temptations of Christ in the wilderness and the gradual    casting out of demons must be understood in the context of that    struggle.     11.  The power of Satan was broken down in principle during this    struggle, so that Jesus could exclaim, "I saw Satan fall like lightning    from heaven" (Luke 10:18).     12.  The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost introduced into    this world a holy spiritual force that was designed to ceaselessly push    back that demonic atmosphere that had for so long oppressed the life of    the nations.                 Scripture testifies that from the time of Pentecost Satan    has been bound.  At the end of days he will once again be released with    all his demonic powers (Rev. 20:7).  Among the implications of the    prophecy is that in our present age, Satan is not in full control of    himself.  This is true not only in the sense that Satan's plans could    never go beyond what God would allow him, but also that the Kingdom of    Christ constantly chips away at the kingdom of Satan, so that the    spiritual environment that through the Holy Spirit dominates in the    church of the living God radiates out into the world and restrains the    effects of Satan's power.  This is not to be understood as if Satan's    power has already been destroyed and thus can be ignored.  The Lord's    Prayer teaches us that this struggle of the evil one to destroy us    continues and the apostle emphasised that behind the flesh and blood    lies the fearful struggle with "the powers of this dark world and    against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Eph.    6:12).                 Since the coming of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy    Spirit, a great change has come about.  Presently we recognise the    existence of two very different, opposing, kingdoms on earth.  One is    that of the demonic that can be identified by its operations and    influence among the unbelieving communities of this world.  The other,    standing next to and opposed to the former, is a totally different    kingdom that is covered by holy baptism and where the Holy Spirit is    the dominating power.                 This symbolism is implied in the sacrament of baptism.  The    origin of baptism lies in the ancient image that, as water can clean    the dirt from our bodies and clothes, so can spiritual cleansing take    place by water, whether by sprinkling or immersion.  Such religious    water rituals are found among almost all the peoples of the world.                 Members of pagan nations who wanted to be incorporated into    Israel had first to undergo the so-called proselyte baptism.  That is    to say, they were to be symbolically cleansed from the contamination    that clung to them as pagans.  The symbolic meaning of this proselyte    baptism was enhanced in various ways.  For one, the baptismal candidate    had to break all his relationships with home and family.  The laws of    Moses strongly emphasised the difference between the clean and the    unclean.  Many objects and beings were considered unclean or unholy    such as various types of animals, the sick, human corpses, cadavers and    others.  Rituals for cleansing abounded in their culture in order to    emphasise that demons affected not only the soul and the intangible    world, but also the body, the physical.                 For this reason, the baptism of John, Jesus and His    apostles touched the raw nerve of Jewish pride so dramatically.  This    new baptism included Israel in the categories of the unholy and the    unclean.  It prophesied the coming of a new Kingdom, the Kingdom of    Heaven, which by its nature excluded both Jew and Gentile, so that both    had to undergo this cleansing before entering that new Kingdom.                 That is the reason the early church tied the rite of    exorcism to that of baptism.  Before being baptised, the candidates had    to deny Satan and free themselves from his service and influence.  This    promise was made on behalf of baptised infants by those who presented    them for the sacrament.  This practice of combining these two rites    served to emphasise the rich meaning of the sacrament of baptism in a    concrete way.                 The problem arose with the second generation of    Christians.  The children of Christians could not possibly be placed on    the same level as those of Jews and Gentiles.  Born of Christian    parents, these children are considered holy and clean in the New    Testament.  They were not born in demonic territory, but in territory    where the Holy Spirit held sway.  For this reason, the rite of exorcism    did not make sense when applied to such children.  Hence some of the    churches of the Reformation rejected the association of infant baptism    with exorcism.                 With this the question has not been answered as to whether    or not the old practice should not apply to the baptism of converts    from other religions, whether, Jew, Secularist, Muslim or    Traditionalist.  Such converts do not come from holy, but from unholy    territory.  Through baptism they enter the holy territory.  Literally,    they move "from the dominion of darkness" into "the Kingdom of the    Son""(Col. 1:13).  It would seem to us, therefore, that when we take    seriously the principal distinction between holy and unholy territory,    it may be advisable that converts from other religions, when they are    baptised, also undergo the rite of renouncing the devil.                 The difference between the baptism of John and that of the    church was in fact that the latter was performed with the Holy Spirit.    This implies two things.  First, children of Christian parents do not    need to be transferred to this holy terrain, for they are born into    it.  Thus, there is no need for exorcism in their case.  Secondly,    those converted from other religions are born in unholy territory.    Through baptism they are transferred into the holy in order to make a    clean break with the ruler of this world and replace him with Christ    the King.                 The entire doctrine of the covenant of grace depends on    this distinction, a distinction that requires that we regard the work    of the Holy Spirit in its broadest sense.  Those who limit the work of    the Holy Spirit to the regeneration of the soul, forget that the Holy    Spirit radiates from our spirits throughout all the aspects of our    lives and thus creates a totally different atmosphere.  Satan created a    demonic atmosphere through his effect on the souls of Gentile nations,    but the Holy Spirit has an even greater effect when with divine    omnipotence He penetrates human life once He has established His own    center of radiation in the church.                 With all this, we are not suggesting that the line of    separation between the holy and unholy territories can always be    observed.  The church in the prosperous city of Corinth was little more    than a very small oasis in a moral wilderness.  The few Christians    there were not very influential in the city.  The dominant atmosphere    of the city remained pagan.  In fact, there was great danger that the    demonic influences radiating from that pagan atmosphere would penetrate    the church of Christ.  That is the reason for Paul's sharp admonitions    in his letters to this church.  It was only later, when the majority    were baptised, that the church could influence public affairs.                 This process of Christianisation took even more time among    the tribes and nations of Central and Northern Europe.  With such    massive peoples' movements it was only to be expected that the    Christian life at first would be no more than a veneer.  Under the    veneer of Christianity the old paganism continued with its destructive    demonic influences.  The continuation of this ancient pagan spirit    revealed itself not only in the retention of pagan customs and in a low    level of morality, but also in the tendency to restrain demonic powers    by means of superstitious practices.  Occasionally such situations    could degenerate to such an extent that a kind of satanic worship was    established.  The ancient traditions encouraged attempts to incorporate    these demonic powers, to seek reconciliation with them, to make them    subservient, and all of this would find expressions in shameful    orgies.  These traditions would express themselves in many forms of    superstition and they have left us with fearful memories of awful    with-hunts and witch trials.                 The church and, upon the church's insistence, the    government sensed clearly the great danger that threatened the    Christian community from the side of these demonic influences.  Today    there is the tendency to interpret all of this superstition as the    result of ignorance and delusions.  For those who deny the existence    and the power of these unholy spiritual powers, that is the only    interpretation possible.  The Christian church never accepted that    view.  The church knew from the Gospel and from her Lord and King that    these demonic powers were too real to deny.  We have every right to    regard such a widespread revelation of devilish appearances as a strong    attempt of Satan to interfere in the Kingdom of Christ in order to    retain his own influence and to prevent the expansion of the sacred    territory of the Holy Spirit.  The mistake of the church and government    of those days was not their recognition that they were dealing with    demonic powers.  Their mistake was that they sought to battle against    these phenomena with sword and persecution instead of with spiritual    means.  Because of this mistake, the struggle of the Christian church    against these demonic powers constitutes a very somber, dark and    shameful page in its history.  This was not the casting out of demons    by means of high spiritual superiority of which we read in the days of    the apostles.  This was an attempt to achieve by persecution through    fire and sword what could only be undermined and overcome by spiritual    means.                 The formula used in the Reformed Church for the Lord's    Supper followed a better way.  Here the demonic is attacked in its    nerve center. It acknowledges that even in the Christian church traces    of this evil are found, but the power to resist is sought in    ecclesiastical discipline and in exclusion from the sacrament of the    Lord's Supper. This spiritual attack has been so successful that in no    church has superstition been erased as thoroughly as in Calvinist    churches.  The prime initiative came from the churches and their attack    was purely spiritual in nature, [17] though governments also sought to    suppress these evils.                 One dangerous side of this continued demonic influence was    that people thought they could break its power by means of magic.  In    other words, they sought to stem the fatal influence of Satan by means    obtained from Satan himself!  That constitutes superstition.  It is the    belief that there are secret means to resist the evil effects of    demonic powers, whether these powers tempt us to sin, or lead to    sickness or evil in person or animal, or disturb life by means of other    fearful phenomena.  Superstition seeks deliverance through amulet,    talisman, magical formula or incantation.  Satan is thought to have    created evil by magic, and superstition seeks to overcome him by even    stronger magic.  By trying to overcome the demonic with demonic means    people in fact confirmed the rule of the demonic in their hearts.  It    looked better when deliverance could be attributed to a religious relic    or symbol associated with the Christian religion.  However, in essence    it was still an attempt to meet the demonic with an external, secret    magical power instead of facing it with the spiritual force of the Holy    Spirit.  The Christian veneer of relic or symbol did not render the    attempt less magical.                 Because of this fatal mix-up, it took centuries to erase    this superstition from the public life of countries where the Gospel    was slowly penetrating deeper and deeper.  Among peoples still under    the sway of traditional religions and Islam we find that all sorts of    secret working of demonic origin, no longer common among Christianised    people, are still daily occurrences.  Such people continue to depend on    magical formulas to resist demonic influences. [18]                 Nevertheless, even now we should not fool ourselves into    thinking that there are no traces of superstition left among the    Christianised people of the world.  Gambling and other types of games    encourage belief in the effect of a mysterious fate on our lives.  You    will find fortune tellers and soothsayers in all large cities.  Members    of the highest social classes seek their advice.  Various superstitious    means are used throughout Christianised people to determine the number    of people with whom a person should sit at the dining table or the day    of arrival of a certain ship at sea.  In even the most highly cultured    circles where sensitivity and experience of the Holy Spirit is lost,    you find that people resort to spiritism and clairvoyance, as if they    have access to greater light there than they have in the Light of the    Gospel.                 We do not deny that there is truth in all these phenomena    or that they are worth our attention.  But evil creeps in when the    Gospel is pushed aside and people search for a higher revelation in    these phenomena than has been given us in Christ.  Do not forget that    the Bible teaches that even Satan can work signs and miracles.  For    this reason, Christians have constantly to be aware of the need to test    the spirits.                 It is only the greater power that radiates from the Holy    Spirit throughout private and public life that can deliver us    permanently from the dominion of these demonic powers and    superstitions.  Christ, our King who is seated at the right hand of    God, has poured out the Holy Spirit into the midst of our lives.  By    means of this Spirit, Christ has established the church, of which He is    head, as a spiritual power on earth whose workings and influence    already serve as instruments of His dominion.  The influences of this    Holy Spirit radiate far beyond the limited circle of this living    church.  You can find its traces in the life of the people, in public    opinion, in the law, on morals and customs, in short, everywhere.    Those influences of the Holy Spirit have formed a dam that obstructs    the flow of the demonic.  It is in this way that the Holy Spirit has    gradually freed public life from demonic powers.                 The Christianised peoples of the world are free. [19]   The    superstitious attempts to control the results of the curse by magical    means has largely disappeared from among them.  This freedom, this    liberated spirit has awoken in them the power and realisation that,    through scientific research, inventiveness and penetration into the    mysteries of nature, it is possible once again to master the mysterious    powers of nature that God has created.                 Those who see in Christ only the Saviour of the souls of    the elect may have difficulty understanding these broad concepts.  But    those who understand that Christ has been given all power on heaven and    on earth, spiritual and material, will recognise the great drama    surrounding Christ, the Lion of Judah.  He is the center of that divine    struggle involving the principles and powers, a struggle that will    continue until its bitter completion, when Satan will fall from heaven    like lightning and this world has been released from his grip, while    God's holy dominion over this world will have been fully established.                 This process, during which the ruler of this world is    dethroned and the glorious dominion of Christ is established over this    world, constitutes the red line throughout history.      __________________________________________________________________     [17] The Reformed churches not only lost their superstition, but they    also lost all sensitivities to that large spiritual world, the reality    of which Kuyper is arguing so strongly.  A case of the baby being    thrown out along with the bath water.     [18] My experiences in Nigeria bear out these assertions as already    indicated previously.  However, these people not only use magical    formulas to resist demonic influences, but the sorcerers among them    also use formulas to harness these influences for their own benefit.     [19] It would appear here as if Kuyper had a very high and uncritical    opinion of western culture.  In fact, those acquainted with his    writings and works know that Kuyper was a tireless champion against the    secularism and decadence of his culture.  His positive attitude here is    directed to developments in science.  In his days, people could be    excused from failing to recognize the negatives associated with science    and technology today.  See Introduction.      __________________________________________________________________  Chapter 9                              THE WISDOM OF THE WORLD                 We now have before us the full picture with all of its    relationships.  It is the spiritual that governs the material.  Among    all the creatures on earth, mankind possesses the strongest spirit.    God appointed the human race to exercise dominion over the earth and    all of nature (Gen 1:16-18).  Satan distorted this situation.  His    spirit being more powerful than that of mankind, he exerted his    influence over the spirit of our race, led us to the fall, and since    then has penetrated all of human life and, in fact, all creaturely    existence and processes.  This cancerous growth resulted in mankind    losing its dominant position and Satan taking its place.  He pushed    mankind from the throne of honour and placed himself on it.                 For this reason, Christ Himself bestowed on him the title    of "ruler of the world."  The first prophecy was directed against this    "ruler of the world" and predicted that one time the seed of the woman    would crush Satan's head (Gen. 3:15).  Then came the establishment of    the nation of Israel that was protected in a special way over against    the onslaughts of Satan on their own territory.  Finally, Christ    Himself came.  Christ was both Son of God and Son of Man, but it was as    Son of Man that He engaged Satan in the struggle to overthrow him as    the "ruler of the world" and to dethrone him.  The goal was for Him as    head of the human race to restore to mankind the dominion over the    earth that was lost because of the fall.  This struggle between the    divinely anointed King and the "ruler of the world" started with the    temptation in the wilderness, continued to Gethsemane and Golgotha and    came to its principal settlement with the resurrection of Christ.                 During Jesus' days on earth, there was tremendous agitation    in the demonic world.  The country of Israel was full of possessed    people.  The most hellish intentions possessed a Judas, a high priest,    a Roman governor.  Over against the power of Satan and his demons,    Jesus rose up with the superior royal power of the Spirit.  He cast out    demons and gave His disciples also power over them by means of the    immediate power of His Spirit.  That was not all.  Since the demonic    power of the ruler of the world was secretly behind the curse over    nature and the miseries suffered by the human race, Christ exercised    His power of the miraculous also over the physical realm.  He not only    cast out demons, but He also healed the sick and demonstrated the    superiority of His Spirit over nature.  He did all these directly,    without resorting to means.  Even the storm on the Sea of Galilee was    stilled by no more than His word of power.  The climax of it all came    in His power over death.  He recalled Lazarus from the grave, the    daughter of Jairus from her deathbed and a young man from his bier.    This power of the immediate work of the spirit He also laid upon the    disciples after whom it continued to be exercised throughout the    apostolic century.                 This was only the beginning and in that beginning came also    the prophecy of what is awaiting us at the end of the ages.  Christ    will one day return and then the power of Satan will be completely    destroyed and a situation better than the original Garden will be    established.  Then the great miracle will happen, when this earth will    be transformed into a new earth that will flower eternally before the    face of God under a new heaven.                 In between the day of Christ's initial principal victory    and that end time lies a long interim period.  During this interim    Satan has suffered defeat in principle, but he continues to agitate the    world, especially the non-Christian peoples.  That is why Jesus    ascended into heaven, where He now sits at God's right hand with His    royal dominion and is busy forming in this world even now a new    humanity that is His body and that derives its life from Him as its    head.                 This church of the living God has received the Holy Spirit    in two ways.  She herself derives her life from this Spirit and,    secondly, she spreads around her a new atmosphere of a higher and    holier human society.  This is the city on the hill that herself enjoys    that light not only, but also has that light radiating out into the    world.  The atmosphere of the Holy Spirit pushes back that of Satan.    There arose within that atmosphere a Christian approach to statehood,    society, science and art.  In this atmosphere magic and sorcery could    not blossom and thus disappeared.  The human spirit has been liberated    in this atmosphere.  In the sweat of its brow that liberated human    spirit eats from the bread of knowledge and regains through science    that power of nature which we have now achieved.                 Alas, all that glitters is not gold.  In place of honouring    the Christ for this restored power, scientists increasingly regard the    area of science as if its might is rooted in its own power and pit it    against the King who restored this power to them.                 Unfortunately, the Christian community shares in the    responsibility for this unhappy development.  With a narrow minded    reductionist perspective she recognized only the direct, immediate    power of the spirit that expresses itself through miracles while she    closed her eyes to the development of that wider spiritual power over    nature that was restored to mankind during the interim period in the    form of inventiveness, utilizing of talents and gifts, and the    application of serious research.  The Christian community did not    recognize that wider liberation of the spirit and often regarded    experimental research with suspicion.  She has often sought to obtain    via miracles what is available only through the sweat of the brow, that    is, through hard work.  An extreme example here is the refusal on the    part of some to avail themselves of modern medicine and the insistence    that healing come through prayer and miracle alone.  Christians have    readily appreciated the need for hard work in the area of agriculture,    but have not always realized that it is required for all human powers    of both body and spirit.                 The result has been that especially unbelievers have    applied themselves to this neglected area with the consequence that an    attitude of hostility to science developed within the Christian    church.  Here we have the origin of that wide chasm between science and    faith.  The Christian church withdrew with a sense of helplessness.    She no longer possessed the power to perform miracles and the power of    science was left to the unbelievers.  The other side of the coin was    that scientists tended increasingly to reject the faith and to act as    if their scholarship rested on purely autonomous human power that was    pitted against the Kingship of Christ.                 Gradually a change is coming about.  The spiritual Israel,    the church, is coming out of its tents.  She is beginning to recognize    her mistake.  She seeks to make a break with her former narrow    perspective and shedding her reluctance by accepting the advantages of    the power that has been achieved over nature with gratitude.  She is    beginning to recover her sensitivity to the work of Christ as King to    restore the dominion of mankind over the earth.  A new light is    arising.  Christians are now reaching for the power of scholarship.    They now realize that the power of Christ is also active in science and    they now pay tribute to Christ as King in this area as well.                 This new development, however, creates a new danger.  Those    Christians who reconciled themselves with science then went to the    other extreme.  Taking their cue only from scientific theories, they    moved away from the mysteries of creation to replace these with the    hypothesis of evolution .  We should regard this development as a    transition situation that victimizes only those afflicted with    spiritual superficiality.  Solid believers refuse to be caught in this    trap.  They draw a sharp line between the substantial results of    science that are the outcome of strict research and those theories    produced by the imagination of researchers who have gone off the deep    end.                 In addition to the restored power over nature, it is    especially the steady increase of our knowledge that heightens our    sense of human grandeur and that ends up with people elevating    themselves with creaturely pride, while simultaneously rejecting the    humility that is characteristic of the Gospel. You many remember the    earlier discussion where it was observed that the blocking of the    stream of religious life can be attributed to various factors, among    them being our power over nature, but also and especially to the    increase of human knowledge and to the high level that scholarship has    been achieved in almost every area.  It is therefore necessary to    determine whether Christianity must in principle resist this high level    of scholarship and be hostile to it or whether this scholarship is a    blessing to us from Christ, even though many of its practitioners try    their best to separate their work from Christ and even play them off    against each other.                 To begin with, it sometimes does indeed appear as if    Christianity wants to attack scholarship and ban it altogether.    Especially the apostle Paul never tired of speaking about the    foolishness of the wisdom of this world.  "Has not God made foolish the    wisdom of the world?" he wrote (I Cor. 1:20).  "Philosophy" was    considered illegitimate.  The church is strengthened not by the noble    and wise of the world, but by the simple, the foolish, those whom the    world despises.  Paul rejected the "philosophers of this age."  He    continued, "For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom    did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was    preached to save those who believe" (I Cor. 1:21).  The Greeks sought    wisdom.  Christ was not only "a stumbling block to the Jews," but also    "foolishness to Gentiles," including the Greeks.  In order "to shame    the wise," God "chose the foolish things for the world."  We are called    upon not to be taken "captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy,    which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this    world" (Col. 2:8).  Jesus Himself had given praise and thanks to God    that it had pleased God to "have hidden these things from the wise and    learned, and revealed them to little children" (Mat. 11:25).                 This attack on the "wisdom of the world" is so emphatic and    so insistent throughout the Scriptures that it should not surprise us    that those who zeroed in on it and who would ignore the context in    which these attacks occur, would despise all human scholarship and    oppose all higher human knowledge.                 This evil and negative development within the church could    only be stemmed by a healthy proclamation of the Bible, but such    preaching was sadly lacking.  Theology withdrew to its own area and    lost its relationship or dialogue with other disciplines.  It paraded    itself as the grand master whose duty it was to prevent the other    disciplines from making further progress.  Theologians almost    completely forgot that which some of the Reformed creeds confess,    namely, that we know Gold from two books, the book of Scripture and the    book of nature, the latter of which strongly emphasized the majesty of    the Lord of Lords.  Theologians were too eager to dominate through    force, force by the church supported by force by the state.    Paradoxically, this attitude caused theology to become poor, emaciated,    petrified and increasingly to find itself in a defensive position vis a    vis the natural sciences that were blossoming.                 The perspective that developed within the church was wholly    wrong and completely contrary to the Scriptures.  Nowhere does the    Scripture insist that we glean all our knowledge about nature and the    world from the Bible.  The Bible tells us that there are certain things    that you can learn only from nature and from the world, while there are    other things for which nature or the world cannot help us at all.  Some    of those can be learned only from the Bible.  Scripture does not have a    low regard for knowledge derived from nature.  Instead, we are told    that from nature we learn about "the glory of God; the skies proclaim    the work of His hands" (Psalm 19:1). It is an extreme form of    foolishness to imagine that you can learn from the Bible all you need    to know about nature and the life of the world, its historical    progress, etc., without doing any further scientific research in nature    or the composition of the world.  The human body can only be known by    investigating it.  The crust of the earth can only be understood by    digging into it.  Animals can be known only by studying animals; plants    only by studying plants.  Similarly, the history of the human race can    only be understood by studying its past.  While we place Scripture in    the forefront, of course, next to it lie open before us the kingdom of    nature along with the history of mankind and the development of its    powers in the various realms, as our legitimate sources of knowledge.    Those who close the book of nature in order to concentrate on the    Scripture do not honour God as much as those who conscientiously study    both the book of Scripture and that of nature.  In nature as well as in    human life a treasury of knowledge is awaiting us that God Himself    brings to our attention and which it would be sin to push aside while    we busy ourselves with reading the Bible.  Yet that is exactly what    people do all too much, with the result that we have two approaches,    each as one-sided as the other.  One side is content with the Bible and    ignores the book of nature, while the other, equally one-sided, pushes    the Scripture aside and considers the book of nature and of human life    sufficient.                 The same contrast was common also in the days of the    apostles.  In that Graeco-Roman culture, people were ignorant of the    Scripture and sought their salvation in contemporary scholarship.  At    the same time, the Jews regarded the Old Testament as almost the only    source of knowledge and they as good as ignored wider scholarship.    True, there were various schools of thought among the Jews, but these    were all varieties among those schooled in the Scriptures, all of whom    concentrated on the explanation of the Old Testament and constructed a    scholastic series of propositions on that basis.  Then, too, there was    the contrast between the Scriptures of the Old Testament on the one    hand and the philosophy, scholarship and wisdom of the Greeks on the    other.  Since the Gospel showed both the rabbinical study of the Old    Testament and the wisdom of the Greeks to be insufficient, Paul opposed    both and concluded that the Gospel cannot but be an affront to the Jews    and foolishness to the Greeks.                 It was an affront to the Jews, because it pulled down their    national pride.  The Jews laboured under the illusion that their    special position in the world was a permanent arrangement.  The Messiah    whom they were expecting was an earthly king on the throne of David in    Jerusalem.  Of course, both Christ and the apostles annoyed and angered    them greatly, for they pulled the rug from under Jewish national pride    and regarded the Jewish nation merely as a means for the coming of    salvation.  The Jews were invited to enter the Kingdom of heaven on the    same basis as the Gentiles.                 Similarly, the Gospel could not but be regarded as folly by    the learned Greeks.  After all, they considered themselves capable of    constructing a complete system of knowledge concerning the origin and    composition of reality on basis of their own independent reasoning.    They felt insulted when the apostle unmasked their system and had the    light of divine revelation penetrate into the darkness of their    paganism.  The wise and learned among the Greeks despised the idol    worship that was practised by the peasants in the villages and the    lower classes in the cities.  As cultured, learned and developed men,    they considered themselves far above such idolatrous nonsense and    judged it all foolishness.  When the new Christian religion appeared on    the scene, these learned Greeks regarded it as another variety of the    paganism of their own people they so despised and quickly applied the    term "foolishness" to it as well.                 When Paul first heard of this reaction, instead of    withdrawing with hesitation, he accepted this caricature and turned it    against them.  The Gospel is not foolish, but their wisdom is!  Through    your imaginary wisdom, he challenged them, you have closed yourself to    the Gospel.  But true wisdom is found in that Gospel, for its source is    not human wisdom, but the wisdom of God Himself.  It pleased God, Paul    asserted, to close the hearts of both Jewish rabbis and Greek    philosophers and to recommend to both all that they considered the    foolishness of the world, the weak, the ignoble, the humble.                 The question now is whether the foolishness that Christ and    His apostles rejected as the wisdom of the world is identical with    natural science, the science of history and the rest of modern    scholarship.  That is the basic question that we must face.  The answer    to that question is an unqualified "No!"                 In order to understand this issue, we need to clearly    distinguish between modern science that rests on strict and    undisciplined research and those systems of knowledge constructed on    basis of guesses, assumptions and their logical relationships.  The    results of experimental research are indisputable and must be accepted    by all, for this approach can demonstrate to us the nature of things.    Everyone knows that a lightning rod can attract lightning and then    divert it in order to save the building.  Yet, there are those who    refuse to install a lightning rod on their house, not because they do    not understand its operation, but because they are under the religious    illusion that they may not protect themselves against lightning.  Such    religious timidity in no way diminishes the truth of well-researched    facts.  That none of us deny the truth of all these new scientific    findings is clearly demonstrated by the fact that all of us without    hesitation make regular use of its technological fruits in our use of    cars, airplanes and telephones.  In addition, most of us gratefully    accept the services of a physician to take care of our aches and pains.                 The Greeks in the days of Paul had not yet penetrated    deeply into either nature or history, though it cannot be denied that    they had already made some significant discoveries in the realm of    nature as well as in human anatomy.  They had made remarkable progress    with respect to certain diseases.  It never occurred to the apostle    Paul to reject these gains.  In fact, on one of his missionary    journeys, Luke, the physician, accompanied him.  Nowhere in his letters    do you find any hint that Paul would have turned against scholarship or    against the science of nature.  Anyone who thinks to find any such    sentiment in Paul's writing surely misunderstands him.  Rather, his    admonition to try all things and to retain the good is directly    applicable in this area.  Research into nature, history and the    composition of the world and human life is not only not to be    condemned, but it is to be encouraged and praised--provided, and this    is something never to be forgotten, such research leads to retaining    the true and the good while it leads to rejecting evil.                 It is an important duty of Christians to test all that    pretends to be scholarship.  Already in those days the scholarship or    wisdom of the Greeks mixed two different kinds of knowledge.  On the    one hand, there were the results of strict research and, on the other    hand, the system of knowledge based on rationalistic guesses and    assumptions.  It was the result of their rationalistic activity that    they recommended as their wisdom and their philosophy.  The apostle in    no way turned against their scientific knowledge; he only rejected the    fruit of their rationalism.      __________________________________________________________________  Chapter 10                              SCHOLARSHIP AND SCIENCE                 The distinction between the natural sciences and the    "wisdom of the Greeks" against which the apostle inveighs in his    letters, is embedded in our languages and terminology.  The French use    the term "les sciences exactes" to refer to that branch of scholarship    that concerns itself strictly with the study of nature.  In English,    these sciences may variously be referred to as the "exact sciences,"    "natural sciences" or "physical sciences" in distinction from the    "social sciences."                 This distinction is not meant to belittle the great    importance of the historical or social sciences, but it is intended to    emphasize the fact that these are different from the exact sciences    that depend on strict research into nature.  The unique value of the    results of natural science is that they are universally valid and    cannot be called into question.                 Of course, it has happened more than once that people    announce premature conclusions that may be accepted for years, but    which eventually are rejected, because they are found to be based on    either inadequate facts or false generalizations.  Examples of such    corrections can be pointed out in many areas, especially within the    medical sciences.  There we have seen more than once how a cure or    method that was recognized as valid for years is suddenly declared    inadequate or even false.  Thus, there are good reasons for being    careful.                 With the above stricture in mind, we have to gratefully    acknowledge that, by careful observation, the natural sciences have    discovered facts along with the forces behind these facts.  The    regularity of natural laws has been observed.  This has given us a sure    base of knowledge and increased our control over the forces of nature.    Because of this development, these exact sciences must be attributed a    high degree of validity.                 The research connected with these exact sciences restricts    itself to the empirical.  It does not concern itself with the spiritual    and other areas beyond the empirical.  The subjective element that can    play such a large role in the historical and spiritual sciences hardly    appears in these exact sciences.  For this reason, the latter make a    greater impression on those who possess an atrophied spirit than do    those sciences that are more closely concerned with faith.  The type of    difficulties and disagreements that prevent unity and consensus in the    spiritual area hardly occur in the natural sciences.  In the physical    sciences, as long as the observations have been reached via accepted    methods, everyone accepts the conclusions.  There is hardly room for    any doubt here.  Everyone accepts the new findings and takes them into    account in their own work.  The scientific method of strict and careful    observation, the drawing of strictly logical conclusions from these    observations and the subsequent verification that is part of the method    provide us with a certainty and stability that erases all doubts from    our minds.                 We are not suggesting that faith provides less certainty    than do the exact sciences, but it is certainty of a totally different    nature.  This certainty is based on the spiritual attitude of the    researcher that may not be present in others.  Those who possess this    kind of spiritual certainty may be immovable in their conviction, but    neither its base nor content can be demonstrated or proven to others,    except to those who share the same basic faith.  Thus, on the one hand,    there are the absolute and demonstrable exact sciences; on the other,    the spiritual sciences, the results of which can be claimed only by    those who have the required spiritual aptitude.  A researcher who lacks    the spiritual wherewithal can no more judge or accept the result of    spiritual research than a blind person can judge colours or a dead    person, sounds.  This situation has brought it about that the exact    sciences recommended themselves more and more as the only valid science    or only valid scholarship and as the only avenue by which we can    achieve truth.  Science and faith have come to be thought of as    mutually exclusive opposites.                 Now, as long as scientists concerned themselves only with    the empirical, and only with truth related to the empirical, that    approach was acceptable.  But this condition was not met. Scientists    continually went beyond their own territory to trespass on areas not    amenable to the exact sciences.  They spent their energies on the    construction of systems that lacked all certainty.  At the same time,    those who devoted themselves to the historical, psychological and    spiritual sciences falsely demanded equal recognition of the kind of    certainty that is valid in the exact sciences.  Thus great confusion    arose.  The distinctions between the two types of science were    ignored.  Both sides insisted on the right to the term "science."    Theologians and other practitioners of the non-exact sciences began to    insist proudly that even in their disciplines, scholarship had the    right to place itself above or over against faith.  They also arrogated    to themselves the right to determine on the same basis as the physical    sciences the nature of truth and error.                 Among the greatest of the scholars this problem was not so    serious, for they tended to be reserved in their judgements.  However,    among scientists of lower rank this boasting soon went beyond all    bounds.  This was especially the case with those who did not engage in    original research of their own, but who reached their conclusions on    basis of the findings of others.  Examples were unbelievers of the    second rank among the teaching and journalistic professions.  There    especially this annoying idolatry of pseudo-science and their    glorification of the sciences was set in opposition to the faith.  It    was a matter of course that under these circumstances, those who,    because of an inner aptitude in their subjective existence, developed a    higher appreciation for the organ of faith, became critical of all    attempts to oppose anything spiritual in the name of the honourable,    high-sounding, but misapplied name of science.                 The situation in the pagan world of Greece and Rome was    exactly the same at the time the Christian religion made its debut.    Not one of the apostles has ever with a single word denigrated the    results already achieved by the exact sciences of their day.  It never    occurred to them to do so.  There is not the slightest trace of such an    attitude found in any apostolic writing.                 But the Scripture does attack and expose as wisdom gone    astray and as pseudo-science the false pretences of "science" advanced    by pagan thinkers who based their systems of guesses, suspicions and    assumptions that were based on a rationalistic approach.  The    legitimate object of the exact sciences is the empirical world.  At    that level, the sciences are strong and, as long as they restrict    themselves to that realm and base their findings on careful research,    they deserve our support, trust, praise and gratitude.  But those    sciences know nothing about the origin of things, nothing about the    spirit, nothing about the spiritual world that exists beyond our    earth.  Neither can they know anything about the way the spiritual can    affect the material.  The entire spiritual realm, so much higher and    more complicated than the empirical, escapes the exact sciences and    lies beyond the reach of their research.  They have nothing to tell us    about the unity of the design of the course of the history of this    world.  The destination of mankind after death and eternity are hidden    from them by an impenetrable veil. Similarly, the moral struggle    between the holy and the unholy, the origin of that struggle, or what    the end of that struggle will be are all issues that completely escape    the exact sciences.  These sciences can tell you nothing about divine    providence by which God governs all.  When it comes to the highest of    all, the religious and the holy Object of our worship, these sciences    are totally mute.  There it behooves their practitioners to confess    complete ignorance, if they want to be honest.                 This point was difficult for the men of science to    concede.  They did sense clearly that all these spiritual concerns were    of much greater importance for the inner life of people than those    concerning the empirical world about which they had so much certain    knowledge.  For this reason they could not get themselves to confess    their ignorance of this most important realm.  As a result, they    asserted their right to make high sounding declarations also in the    spiritual realm.  Using fantasy and incredible mental gymnastics, they    advanced all kinds of fanciful notions concerning various spiritual    issues and based it all on guesses and assumptions.  Then they would    offer the results of their system as the real truth, the real wisdom,    the real science and the real philosophy, even though it lacked any    kind of foundation.                 The fragile nature of these constructions and their lack of    trustworthiness was demonstrated by the sober fact that philosopher    after philosopher would demolish the approaches of all his predecessors    and seek to replace them with his own.  Thus arose one school of though    after another, each always opposing all the others.  Each approach was    based on a different world and life view.  Through these false    constructions they smothered the true thirst after God in the human    heart and encouraged the spirit of haughtiness, sensuality and eternal    doubt.  The end result of it all was that, with all this puffed-up type    of "wisdom," the finest impulses of the human heart withered away and    the soul could find no peace in its unceasing search.                 Then the Christian faith arrived on the scene.  It aimed at    the renewal of the impulses of the human heart unto a new life and to    offer the heart, tired by the endless swings of the pendulum of the    soul, a new peace from above that surpasses all understanding.  The    Christian faith by its very nature could not but sharply and    principally resist all this imaginary "wisdom" that led people away    from God, in order to disrupt it, expose its empty claims and expel it    from the human spirit to make room for a Christian disposition.                 It would be wrong to conclude from all this that the    Christian faith adopted a hostile attitude towards true scholarship.    In order to sweep away the barriers to the human heart, the Christian    faith sought to demolish false scholarship that was promoted on a    completely erroneous foundation.  The situation of that time was    similar to that of ours.  We, too, enthusiastically embrace genuine    scholarship and science, but we also insist that proper lines be drawn    and limits be observed.  Anytime we meet systems that are based on mere    hunches and weak assumptions and that pretend to explain or even    explain away spiritual phenomena about which nothing can be known apart    from faith, we will deny them the right to the title of "scholarship"    or "science."  Over against them, we will proclaim that Christian world    and life view that is based solidly on God's revelation.                 You really cannot know anything about Australia, unless    either you yourself visit the country or someone who has lived there    tells you about it.  So it is with respect to the invisible world.  We    will not know what that world is like until either we get there or    someone who has been there comes down to us to tell us about it.  Until    that happens, we know nothing about it.  It is almost impossible to    know anything about what goes on in the inner life of the spiritual    world.  The apostle Paul was correct in his observation that no one    knows a person's thoughts, except the spirit within that person (I Cor.    2:11).  Every personality is such a wonderful mystery to us that even a    lifetime is too short to get to know just one other person well.                 Gladstone was a great British statesman.  Outside, at his    front door, this great man hung a cage with a bird in it.  Though that    bird saw Gladstone come and go many times a day, it could never fathom    or understand what went on in its master's head.  Left to our own    devices, we are a little like that bird when it comes to our knowledge    of God.                 Thank God that it is not quite like that.  Humanity,    created after God's image, has been equipped with a religious    sensitivity and with the capability to serve God.  It is entirely    fitting, therefore, that God has not left us to wander about in    darkness, but has radiated us with the light of revelation and thus    allows people to know Him.  That revelation is Christ, He who was in    heaven but then came down to us.  He attained to the highest perfection    possible in this sinful world.  He has been able to provide us with    knowledge of the spiritual realm, about God's greatness, the origin of    things, the government of this world, our inner soul life, our calling,    our destination and our own future.  Wherever this revelation of Christ    entered the world and the Christian faith penetrated paganism, the    latter collapsed and its imaginative but rationalistic wisdom with    which contemporary scholars entertained themselves, along with it.  It    was the little people of the world, the simple and the weak who first    took hold of this glorious revelation.  However, subsequently the    higher classes followed and, after a fearful and hard struggle, the    power of this revelation and the Christian faith triumphed over the    highly developed wisdom of the Greeks.                 In the early stage of the Christian faith, a certain    tendency arose to withdraw into the area of revelation and to    underestimate the significance of the exact sciences.  That was to be    expected. At the time, the exact sciences had not yet been designated    their own territory.  In every way they were mixed up with and absorbed    into what was popularly referred to as "wisdom," as a system, as a    world and life view.  Because of this, all that went by the name of    science at the time adopted a sharply hostile attitude over against the    Christian religion.  It was only natural that Christians would    therefore first concentrate on defending their faith against this    intellectualistic attack.  This struggle coincided with the tremendous    convulsions that led to the collapse of that culture and that destroyed    the high civilization of the Greco-Roman world.  The stream of the    Christian religion flowed on into Middle and Western Europe, where    primitive civilization still held forth. In this new and strange world    everything had to be built anew.                 During the initial period of the re-birth of these newly    converted tribes no one even gave any thought to the development of    scholarship and science.  But the initial period was hardly over when    scholarship was taken up again, so that before long universities began    to appear.  The time was now ripe for renewed interest in study and the    day that the exact sciences would take new roots was near.                 For example, it is significant that during the Reformation,    the Dutch government, as one of its first acts, established the Academy    of Leiden.  If you compare the accomplishments of European    universities, beginning back in the 16^th century, with the results of    the pagan academies of Athens and Alexandria or with those of the    Muslim universities of Cairo or Baghdad or Timbuktu, or with the Jewish    schools at Tiberias and elsewhere, it cannot be denied that scholarship    and science have come to their powerful bloom and development more    among Christians than anywhere else.  Though the proof was no longer    needed, the establishment of the Calvinistic university in Amsterdam,    the Free Reformed University, demonstrated once again how especially    Calvinism has such high appreciation for scholarship and science.    Those who are aware of the developments among Roman Catholics cannot    deny that amongst them, also, scholarship has blossomed.                 Proof based on history alone is not sufficient.  We need to    go back to Christ and the Scriptures.  You can ask, for example, what    connection there could possibly be between the plant kingdom and    Christ.  The answer to this and similar questions is that Christ is the    eternal Word.  Through that eternal Word all things, including the    kingdoms of plants and animals, have been created.  The eternal    thoughts of God that have found their embodiment in all of    creation--and thus also in the kingdoms of plants and animals--have    come to their embodiment only through the eternal Word.  There is not a    single flower or single chirping bird that does not represent something    of this eternal Word that has its mark placed upon all creatures. The    Scriptures do not lock Christ up in the kingdom of grace or even in the    world of mankind.                 The Scriptures show that the entire creation, the visible    as well as the invisible, depend directly on Christ.  Already in the    Old Testament, wisdom is glorified as existing from eternity with God.    It is not the discovery of the human race.  In Proverbs 8:23-27, wisdom    is shown to come from God:     I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world    began.  When there were no oceans, I was given birth; where there were    no springs abounding with water; before He made the earth or its field    or any of the dust of the world, I was there when He set the heavens in    place, when He marked out the horizon on the face of the deep.                  The Son is not to be excluded from anything.  You cannot    point to any natural realm or star or comet or even descend into the    depth of the earth, but it is related to Christ, not in some    unimportant tangential way, but directly.  There is no force in nature,    no laws that control those forces that do not have their origin in that    eternal Word.  For this reason, it is totally false to restrict Christ    to spiritual affairs and to assert that there is no point of contact    between Him and the natural sciences.  Rather, every deeper penetration    into nature must lead to the greater glory of the majesty of the    eternal Word.                 This is not an unnatural, forced combination.  The apostle    said it loud and clear when he explained that in Christ "are hidden all    the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:3).  Note well that Paul    spoke not only of wisdom, but also of knowledge, and not merely some    knowledge, but "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" are hidden    in Him.  How could it be otherwise?  He it is through whom all things    have been created.  He it is who gave embodiment to God's thoughts as    they are expressed in all creatures, both high and low.  He it is who    embedded in all creatures the forces, laws and functions that have made    them what they are.  That being the case, how can anyone possibly think    of anything whether material or spiritual, as having no relationship to    Him?  How could anything in all of creation exist without His having    brought it into operation?  It is not only that He knows and fathoms    all of nature, but He Himself has purposefully established all there    is.  Compared to the knowledge of nature that Christ has by virtue of    His having created it, what is the knowledge that Linnaeus [20] or any    other scientist has about plants?  All science, whether it concerns    nature, psychology, ethnology, or any other discipline, is a radiation,    reflection of a new glory that was hidden, but that is now revealed in    Christ.  The tremendous increase in knowledge gained during the last    century is used by those whose spirituality is atrophied and who are    proud of their own wisdom, to deprive believers of their faith.  But    we, Christians, accept all new knowledge of nature with thanksgiving,    because we recognize that through it shines the holy mark of its    Source.  We know that what we now see is a mere shadow of "all the    treasures of wisdom and knowledge" presently hidden in Him.      __________________________________________________________________     [20] Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778) was a Swedish naturalist and botanist    who established the modern scientific method of naming plants and    animals.      __________________________________________________________________              This document is from the Christian Classics Ethereal                Library at Calvin College, http://www.ccel.org,                    generated on demand from ThML source.  References     1. http://socialtheology.com/ 

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