The Biblical and Christian Worldview for the 21st Century Home

 

The Mind of Christ: Abraham Kuyper, John Calvin, and Biblical Theology

 

But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.  For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?“ But we have the mind of Christ (II Corinthians 2:15-16).

“For who has known the mind of the LORD?
    Or who has become His counselor?” (Romans 11:34)

Abraham Kuyper has described The Mind of Christ more fully than any theologian that I have read.  Thus, I am going to let him speak for himself, quoting at length from his book, Principles of Sacred Theology.

By way of brief introduction, Kuyper discusses an encyclopedia of knowledge that is “mined” from the gold of Scripture in all ages according to the challenges that are presented to it.  In the early centuries, Christians encountered Ariansim, Arminianism, Gnosticism, and many other errors and heresies.  Later, Biblical truth experienced syncretism with pagan culture, as the Gospel spread around the world.  Biblical truth even had to overcome its own dominant church (Roman Catholicism) which had distorted the Gospel for individuals and churches.  In modern times, we face all the “-isms” that include secular (humanism, socialism, communism, etc.) and the religious (Mohammedism, Hinduism, Judaism, etc.).

The Word of God is more than sufficient for these challenges.  Indeed, these allow the Bible to be developed more fully than in the past.  Initially, Christians and the church may be overwhelmed by these challenges, even experiencing martyrdom.  But, little by little, the Word and the Spirit have overcome on the individual, social, cultural, and national levels.  This progress has always been impure and stuttering, but nevertheless advancing in the knowledge of the truth. 

The reader must keep is mind that Kuyper has dogmatically stated a “two-fold starting point”: the Bible as the very Word of God written and palingenesis (being born-again or regeneration).  While every thought even in the believer is tainted by sin, Kuyper is excluding unbelievers entirely from contributing to this organic growth of the mind of Christ in believers.  Neither would he include the imposter theologians who deny the infallibility and inerrancy of the Scriptures and that the 66 books of the Protestant Bible are all fully and completely God’s Word written.

Kuyper describes the process for us.

“The revelation of God is not an act of a single moment, but a continuous process, which extends itself across the ages… according to the nature of its successive content… this revelation must not be interpreted as an atomistical self-communication of God to the several individuals, but must be taken as a revelation to man in his generations, that is, to the organic unity of (regenerated) humanity, and only in this organic unity to the single man.”  (257-258)

Only in the combination of the whole race of man does this revelation reach its creaturely completeness . . . The knowledge of God is a common possession, all the riches of which can only be enjoyed in the communion of our race . . . but because humanity is adapted to reveal God, and from that revelation to attain unto His knowledge, does not individual complement another, and only by the organic unity and by the individual in communion with that unity, can the knowledge of God be obtained in a clear and completer sense. (272)

 “(Not) every believer is able to think out in a clear way, the entire content of revelation.  This is only done by all believers together.” (289)

One who, himself of a sound mind, should have to live on some isolated island among insane people, would run a great risk of becoming himself insane;  and in such a condition, a very strong mind could only maintain the reality of its consciousness.  Just because we do not exist atomically, also in our consciousness, in order to remain firm our own sense cannot afford to lose the support of a similar sense of others.”  (389)

It is the Holy Spirit who, by illumination, enables the human consciousness to ever richer insights into (Scripture’s) content…. A believer of the 19th century knows much more than a believer of the tenth or third century could know, but that additional knowledge is ever dug from the selfsame gold mine… This, of course, does not imply that the former generations fell short in knowledge of God, but simply, that the development of the human consciousness in those times did not make such demands on the knowledge of God.  A child can be as rich in his God as the full grown man, but because the consciousness of the adult is more richly unfolded, the holds the knowledge of God likewise in a more richly folded form… But however far this increase of knowledge may proceed in the future, it will never be able to draw its material from any other source than from the Holy Scripture…. the substance of the knowledge of God which comes to us … is identical with the Holy Scriptures (402).

“It lies entirely in the organic character of revelation, that it passes through two periods, the first of which brings it to its complete measure (the closing of the canon - Ed) and the second of which allows its, having reached its full measure, to perform its work.  And this is what we face in the difference between inspiration and illumination.  (419)

 

John Calvin

John Calvin did not develop the idea of a community of mind of all Christians of all ages, as Kuyper did.  However, he did occasionally note that reality.

For even Paul himself, in another place, after testifying that all the mysteries of God far exceed the capacity of our understanding, does nevertheless immediately add, that believers are in possession of the Lord's mind, because they have received not the spirit of this world, but that which has been given them by God, whereby they are instructed as to his otherwise incomprehensible goodness.  See the footnote to Calvin’s Commentary on the two verses above.

 

Biblical Theology

Biblical Theology has some dimension of this mind of Christ.  While this theology has a diverse nature and application, I mention it here with this definition.

Biblical theology is principally concerned with the overall theological message of the whole Bible. It seeks to understand the parts in relation to the whole and, to achieve this, it must work with the mutual interaction of the literary, historical, and theological dimensions of the various corpora, and with the inter-relationships of these within the whole canon of Scripture.  Biblical Theology

In this more narrow focus, biblical theology strives to more fully develop and understand the Bible and corresponds to our thoughts here.

However, in no way would I condone any theologians of this method who do not fully subscribe to inerrancy and infallibility.  Biblical theology has within it a number of neo-orthodox and others who would hedge on some of the Bible’s clear messages or on the truthfulness of some books and passages. 

(All that you ever wanted to know about Biblical Theology can be found here.)

Summary Principles

1.  The mind of Christ only exists in regenerated (born-from-above) minds who are totally committed to the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture.  While the Holy Spirit is a teacher in this process, He never gives anything that might be considered new revelation in addition to the current 66 books of the Protestant Bible.

2.  The mind of Christ is often advanced by the tremendous intellect of one mind, but in its truest sense is always corporate through the mind of two or more believers, the local Session, the local congregation, assemblies of churches, and the universal  (“catholic”) church of all ages.

3.  The mind of Christ builds on the work of others.  Individuals who work “atomistically, ignoring the great work of others both present and past, are renegades to the corporate nature of Christianity and a danger to the understanding of revealed truth.

4.  The mind of Christ is sufficient for all Christians in their time of history.

5.  Biblical theology is a method to increasing the knowledge of the mind of Christ, but is not identical with it.

6.  The mind of Christ is identical to a fully developed, Biblical worldview.

 

 



Copyright ©2007 Covenant Enterprises
Site Design 2007 Adaptive Web Solutions