What are those Areas and Spheres?

Klaas Schilder

Originally published in De Reformatie, February 22nd, 1947 and following, vol. 22, nos. 20–23.

Slogans are nice, but dangerous.           

They are nice insofar as a genius, who has thought through a problem and found a solution, or the beginning of it, gives the quintessence of it in a catchphrase, a nimble adage, a “slick” maxim, “in a nutshell”; I compare them to vitamin tablets, or to maggi cubes, in which, at least according to the experts, there is the extract of some nourishing substance. Compressed, you get the vitamins on a silver platter.             

But they are dangerous insofar as the non-genius masses put the maggi cube first in their pockets and then in their mouths. The genius thinker who first launched the saying naturally had in mind the whole treasure of thoughts behind it and deposited in it, for better or worse. But the masses have no knowledge of that. They have to enter through the gate of that core saying and try to explore inside the castle of the master’s theoretical deliberations, coming from outside. The author of the saying, on the other hand, has lived in his castle, he has also worked there – we remain in the metaphor of the castles – and therefore when he built the entrance gate with the inscription above it that contains the text of the saying, he went from the inside to the outside.             

So the danger threatens from two sides. The masses, reading the inscription above the gate, wriggle and work with it in their way, often putting a great deal into it that did not occur to the father of the saying. Or, they leave out what he saw as an essential element in it. Or, they hang their heresies on it. These can be heresies for the first time, if the saying itself was good. But if it also was itself heretical, then the heresies accumulate: one joins the other.          

If such a slogan is clear, and hits the bullseye exactly, then of course the danger is much less. Whoever hears the catchphrase “no reconciliation without satisfaction” and then realizes that he is on theological ground, and that it is not about human beings but God that is being spoken of here, will not easily be able to eliminate the orthodox truth from it. At least, if he is not a Barthian: in this respect these people stand for nothing. 

But if it concerns a saying which itself is in need of commentary in order to make at least its first intention clear, then the danger of abuse is very great. Then the danger also looms from that side.       

I have often thought about this lately when I have heard two sayings in debate.

The first is: conquer every area for the Christ of God (because: the glory of God in all areas of life).

The second: sovereignty in one’s own sphere.

These are two slogans, and every reader of De Reformatie, I think, knows them by heart. The second is from Kuyper, the first greatly popularized by him.

We will not bother here to give an exegesis of these sayings. No doubt the second in particular would deserve this, for it is not so transparent, though it is in itself a beautiful specimen of compressed vitamins. Prof. Veenhof wrote at length about it at the time: one can find comments enough on it from his writing.[1] Roughly speaking, the catchword means: that every sphere of life wishes to be treated according to its own nature, that God has given all spheres of life their own law, that one may not transfer the laws that apply to one sphere of life to another, and that – to give but one example – the church may not be treated like the state, or the state like the family, or the life of science like the life of art. And so on. And regarding the intention of the first maxim – about the honor of God in all areas of life – there is no need to explain.

What was originally intended by these sayings is gradually becoming quite detached from what many people today make of them.

In earnest, one can nowadays hear the question: Can we Christians keep away from the cinema? Should we not conquer that area for the Christ?

Can we keep away from dancing? Should we not conquer that area for the Christ?

Can we let sports go? Should we not conquer that area?

Isn’t scouting an impressive movement? Should we not conquer it? The youth hostel movement! The camping “life”? Should we not conquer it? And so on. And so on.

Besides these, other comments can be heard.

The church exercised “discipline” in 1942 and thereafter. “Discipline”! In the name of the Lord. Saying: this is the Lord’s will, you may not contradict our formula, for it is His eternal, unchangeable Word. Then others said: but this is skewed: and the work was done in a way that would make any secular judge’s hair stand on end – is that acceptable? The answer then was: leave off of that comparison: church law is of its own order, and cannot be compared with secular law: sphere sovereignty!      

Or: someone says: several leaders of the Anti-Revolutionary Party have declared us to be schismatics and revolutionaries: and of course that means we are anti-social elements, a corrupting force for popular life: how can we then cooperate with them as with leaders? How can we acknowledge their moral authority, when we see clearly that they themselves have broken unity, abused the name of the Lord, broken the power of popular life, the church, by wrongful bindings [see next example]? The answer then is: stop, you are going much too far, you are confusing the spheres: sphere sovereignty!

A third example: in 1942, “the church” binded, that is, demanded that nothing that was not wholly in accordance with the “regeneration” formula[2] should be taught. Later she twisted together a formula which was very similar to the other one, but in one point gave freedom, to contradict the first one; she then became revealed as a church-of-false-binding, because the “must-be-wholly-in-accordance” was thereby relinquished. If you say to me: you have to give me a guilder, while I have no intention of giving more than 99 cents, and someone then says: no, no, it has to be wholly -in-accordance-with-100 cents, and I say “no” to that question, and then later 99 cents is said after all to be enough, which entirely justifies my “no” to the question that you yourself so phrased, then someone can very well say: A penny is just splitting hairs, so this is no more than Pharisee’s talk (Pharisees often had a good character), because it was said at first that the Lord God, who connects His Name and right to a split hair, also wanted that split hair. For that formula “wholly-in-accordance” also forbade the difference of a split hair. And should another then cry out: for shame, disgraceful violation of law, then comes a voice of protest: do you perhaps wish to equate ecclesiastical binding with scientific? Wrong, man, wrong: sphere sovereignty!

Or, and this is a fourth example: there are professors of a Reformed university, who declare: as a church man I bind myself to the forms of the church, because that is ecclesiastical binding, but in my scientific practice or my philosophical association I care not a whit about it and am free from it. You may then object a hundred times: but that is not possible because you have to confess those church forms and that is a pre-scientific work to which all science must correspond, then they say: stop with your foolish rigorism: sphere sovereignty!          

We could go on.

Now I am firmly convinced, that here one experiences the tragedy of the core saying of the castle dweller on the one hand, and the “use” (abuse) of the masses on the other. “The masses” may also include prominent people from other castles. Sometimes the prominents of the first-mentioned castle themselves move among the crowd which comes to “approach” another.

It becomes, I believe, necessary to ask the question: is not the word “area” or “sphere” being toyed with here?

I believe so.

To be fair, it must be acknowledged that here too the danger did not come from one side only, that is, not only from the side of the “masses.” Kuyper himself, father of the saying “sphere sovereignty,” or rather, popularizer of it,[3] left the word “sphere” unclear here, and no less the concept of “sovereignty.” He elevated the familiar slogan in his speech at the “inauguration” of the Free University. Searching for a scriptural formula that would cover his own, he resorted to 1 Cor. 15: 23: everyone in his own order (order = in Greek “tagma”). Literally, the passage reads: “… provided you but recognize that, as innumerable as the starry images [i.e., constellations] in the firmament, there are all kinds of spheres in life, the circumference of which, from a principle of its own as its center, is drawn with fixed radius: the apostolic ‘hekastos and tooi idiooi tagmati’ (each in his own ‘tagma,’ that is ‘order,’ K.S.). Just as one speaks of a ‘moral world’, a ‘scientific world’, a ‘commercial world’, an ‘artistic world’, so one speaks more correctly of ‘a sphere’ of morals, ‘a sphere’ of domestic life, ‘a sphere’ of social life, each with its own area, and because they form an area of their own, they have within the circumference of that area their own Sovereign.’ This last capital letter is also really from Kuyper himself.[4]          

There are plenty of pitfalls here.

First, that Greek, apostolic word “order.” Those who read the States Translation and do not trace the connection think of something like “rule,” “norm,” “law.” But the apostle was thinking of something quite different when he wrote 1 Cor. 15. He speaks there of the resurrection of the dead: first Christ, next those who are Christ’s at His return, then comes the end. “Order” here does not have the meaning of “law,” “standard,” or the like, but of “battalion,” “company”; a good army (the military image lies originally in the word “tagma”) marches in a disciplined fashion: each individual in his own company, or battalion, also each general by his own troop. “Order” here means “division,” “group,” “class,” “column.” The context of 1 Cor. 15 may also intend rank differences (Christ is not only first in time in the New Testament framework, but is also first in rank), but strictly speaking Paul here indicates differences-in-time. Thus, this apostolic word by no means provides a foundation for what Kuyper argued on October 20th 1880. What can be argued with reference to this Pauline word, is that, for example, a church which “disciplines” and “binds” and “suspends” and so on, in violation of Christ’s law, and which thus “disciplines” on earth without there being discipline in heaven, without Christ previously going as the general, abominably sins against sovereignty in her own sphere, for she does not let each one come into his own “order” (“tagma”): the Grosheide-Ridderbos troop column was not preceded in the 1944 ejections[5] by the Lawgiver Christ: they commanded (on a certain day): “all in accord with our regeneration formula, forward march!” but they did not receive this command from the Firstfruit Christ. Such a church should not stop me for a second with its droning (for it is nothing but this now, nothing but a miserable defense against honest criticism): sphere sovereignty! There they violated “order,” and Sovereignty too. That is an initial calamity.         

A second: what is it with that word “sovereignty” anyway? Does it sometimes mean that each sphere has its own moral law? By no means! That it is autonomous? Out of the question! I am sure that when exegeting that well-known saying, many have heard themselves reminded of the formula from Genesis 1: God created everything after its kind. But there it speaks not of “spheres” of creatures but of “kinds” of creatures, trees, fish, people, elephants, mosquitoes, parakeets, radishes, flowers. And in Genesis 1 it is not about how those kinds of creatures (which one never sees occurring in an isolated “sphere,” in a “reserve” for example where only fish, or only trees, or only radishes grow) are ruled or used, or possibly “invented,” changed by men in accordance with the moral law of the Lord (who undoubtedly wants us to treat all creatures according to their nature), but in Genesis 1 it is about how each species multiplies and lives its life according to its own law of growth and order of life.           

A third difficulty, related to the first: who or what is called “Sovereign” here, with its own capital letter? Not just “the” Sovereign, but “a” Sovereign? Not just the one Sovereign who rules over everything, but “a Sovereign” each for a different sphere? How the listeners fared in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam on October 20th 1880, I do not know; perhaps they understood Kuyper to the core. I haven’t, and, well, I don’t really believe the previous sentence. Kuyper defines sovereignty as “the authority that has the right, duty and power to break and avenge any resistance to his will.” That’s quite something, that last one. But who or what is the Sovereign? Of course, Kuyper knows God as Sovereign. “Absolute,” yes, “the only Absolute Sovereign,” Kuyper says of Him. Later he says: the absolute Sovereignty is transferred to Christ, the man (Kuyper’s italics). Taken over by Him to be given back again. That all still sounds pretty clear. A little later we read that the Sovereign “works on matter by force according to fixed law in the sphere of nature” (Kuyper’s well-known view of nature). But immediately afterwards we get “spheres” in which not the Sovereign God works but something else. logic has sole dominion in the “sphere” of thought (thinking thus controls itself: logic is here, to use a term not always correctly applied: absolutized). The “sphere” of faith, on the other hand, has a circumference within which only the person is Sovereign (Kuyper’s capital letter); and that seems to me just as thoroughly wrong as that word about logic. A while later it is God’s turn again (apparently, He must share with His creature, the “person,” and with an operation of His creature, namely logic). For in the sphere of conscience, according to Kuyper, no one has sovereign authority but “the Holy One Himself.” A while later, not logic but truth is “Sovereign” in science (and truth, in turn, is quite different from logic). Moreover, it is as little God or Christ as logic, or person, or … principle. For repeatedly again we read, that “our principle” (e.g., our Principle of Reformed) must have sovereignty within itself. And what is a principle? Silence, thou ninny, for it is not the individual who may make names for principles and descriptions for those principles, for that right belongs only to the authoritative body which is the bearer of historical life in the sphere of spiritual life. Who is not the bearer of historical life already? And who does not stand on the ground of the Reformed confession, to say nothing of principles, already? Sovereignty in its own sphere is at the foundation, says Kuyper, and the synods which need it, may hearken: at the bottom of all presbyteral church order. But however pleasing we find it that the Ridderboses and Grosheides read this, we must recognize that as far as they are concerned we can make nothing of it. For … of course, they cannot make sense of it any more than we can, though they may say so more nicely.

We could mention other objections. But we prefer to head for our goal. We have to note that in these passages of Kuyper’s well-known speech with that either blessed or fatal slogan, the imagery is once again the accident, the accident, the accident. The orator grabs the hearers with it, and they get lost. But when posterity reads soberly, they sigh that the orator did not address them with a parable from the cave, as Plato once did, but always takes them back to the cave of parables. Those who asked for exegesis were rebuffed (Lindeboom, Ten Hoor and others). I don’t know what those “spheres” are; I only know that all the bunglers could have their way with making spheres when I read that there are as many spheres as starry images in the firmament. So we also have so many of our own Sovereigns as starry images in the firmament. That’s going to be something. I also know that this “areas” doctrine has never sat well with Kuyper: one time with him you get areas (or: spheres) as many as the stars (images) in the sky or the sand on the shore of the sea, another time two pieces, one of common and another of particular grace. I also know that those sovereigns, pardon, Sovereigns, were put on the horse by Kuyper in a flash. Science? We’re done here: it’s logic. Truth instead? Fine, may as well. Consciousness? This time it’s the Holy One himself. Nature? One time it’s the growth-law of all organic life, another time it’s God, the Providential One. I also know that one time these areas or spheres are presented in an image which has nothing to do with mathematical figures, the next time – see above – the mathematical figure of sphere, radius and center is readily at hand; we get the assurance that there is an area demarcated by such a sphere, and a while later the somewhat sober assurance that these areas naturally overlap each other. Which is probably true. But which immediately raises the question: what about the Sovereignty of those Sovereigns, as countless as the stars?            

No, I am not mocking. I know that dozens of honest men have gone out into the world with this word of Kuyper’s, have served the editorial table, and have spoken true, good and stimulating things “as a result” (that’s just it) of this word of Kuyper’s, which he himself filled with good thoughts. None of them need attack me here. Perhaps quote collectors can find quotes from my own writings: anything is possible in that field for those who see no growth and no connection and cannot distinguish prose from poetry. But when it comes to matters of substance, I find Kuyper’s speech at the opening of the Free University a monstrosity of weakness, a beautifully presented game of concepts, the deep seriousness of which was Reformed, but which never for a moment reached a dogmatic, philosophical conclusion.   

And that doesn’t bother me. But it does bother the church, and the Christian faith, and the Christian life, that, building not on the stronger but on the weaker moments in Kuyper’s work, one is now going to misuse his slogan to claim all “areas” and to declare all “spheres” sovereign, in such a way that anyone may do anything, and every consistory must keep its mouth shut about everything, because of this sphere sovereignty.            

They play hocus-pocus with Kuyper’s words; and pastors and others who nowadays let the whole so-called unbelieving world of culture into the church, on the one hand moan about a “cultural” crisis (they mean that everything has gone haywire, and that the leaders have lost the plot with the people, and that the strainers of gnats can no longer control the swallowers of camels) and on the other hand laugh with joy, those who wish to be called “pious.” Because: claiming all areas for Christ, even dancing and cinema! With this slogan they are also Kuyperian in their own eyes, and in the eyes of some synocratic elder who only recently struck a pose to save Kuyper from, for example, those terrible Liberated….

So then, we will have to continue our discussion of this issue next week.     

Our previous article tried to make it plausible to those who had not yet noticed that Kuyper’s own use of the words “area” and “sphere” repeatedly raised questions that were either only spread about and contradictory or not answered at all. The danger of dilettantist use of Kuyper’s slogans was thus immediately given. Dilettant use: nothing hateful is imagined. A serious worker just starting out will not be able to avoid the dilettant’s weaknesses in certain areas of knowledge: everyone starts, at least after the fall, to educate others too early. Moreover, the “slogan” is always and everywhere eminently suitable for the “cabaret” of the mind: the thinker ponders about what he should theorize about it; the man, on the other hand, who lets his answers with his questions be dictated to him by the radio segment “Questions to Passers-By” thinks up his own to go along. That is to say: he is not exactly thinking something, but attaching to it what he likes to hear told, and what he himself has heard told.         

Now this happens to him more than once when, emerging from Reformed circles, he hears the slogans “conquer every area” and “sphere sovereignty” being used nowadays, or uses them himself. For what isn’t already called an “area” or “sphere” these days?

In earnest, one can hear it said today: film is an “area” to be conquered for Christ. Christian film thus. The dance ditto. The stage no less. Sports. Boy scouts. Recently, even the carnival got a turn with someone.         

And then once one has promoted all these things to a “sphere” or “area,” the conclusion is: do not stand passively or only negatively towards it, but penetrate that “area,” “conquer” it for Christ. And reject the criticism of others, including consistories and church persons or circles, because in each sphere we have a sovereign.

Now it doesn’t help us much if we already argue that we haven’t made it very far with our “Christianization” of film, theater, and so on. The Christian film, for example, usually boils down to this: a) we take a few films that are not unchristian (nature films, for example, or pure investigative films), and b) we take a few discarded films, which are not particularly immoral or bad, from the (usually outdated) inventory of the film museum of Hollywood folks; c) we make or borrow a film about a subject known to “our people” from the Bible, church history, or national history. We portray the prodigal son in a suit of the 20th century, we have him play on a farm in Drenthe or something. Ben Hur interests people because of the persecutions of Christians. Luther before the Reichstag is also already a gratifying motif. Now let it be said that it is all a bit threadbare; we can see that ourselves, we reply. But – we have limited money and few good players, and so we do as well as we can. Don’t be negative: show understanding. And “conquer.” The objection raised did not make much of an impression.

More serious, then, is our concern that in such organizing of “Christian cinema” one speaks wrongly of “areas” or “spheres.” And unjustly drags in “sphere sovereignty.”                

If – with regard to the latter – we have understood Kuyper correctly, then for those who see film as a matter of “beauty” the “law of beauty” must be sovereign there. Those who do not comply with this, therefore, are undermining sovereignty in its own “sphere.” Whoever sees film more as a matter of popular education must, if he wants to follow the Kuyperian reasoning, observe the norms of education when he enters “this area.” But if we adopt the discarded garbage of the heathens (Ben-Hur players), or, when “filming the prodigal son” simply ignore the environment in which he lived (who pays for a film with essentially oriental “coloring”? ), or we cannot even express the meaning of the parable (Phariseeism versus free grace and vice versa), then we can stand on our pedagogical toes and boast about the Christian education of the Christian populace through Christian film, but we have still neglected the abc’s of the pedagogy which is in accordance with the Scriptures. We have become quasi-educators, nothing more. In other words, we have again sinned against the “sovereign in the (pedagogical) sphere.”

Much more could be mentioned about this asserted sovereignty in one’s own sphere. The strangest thing is, that Kuyper at least – see the previous article – still spoke of a sovereignty in the sphere of being Reformed, but that those who extend his slogan to all the “spheres” asserted to be sovereign, as good as do not mention the very “spheres” which are of special interest to themselves. But they then forget precisely what is important. Namely, that in imagining “film screening” as an educational means, it is the Reformedness that must come out. So that, for example, a film which wants to “educate” in deviation from what God’s Word says in the parable of the prodigal son, or any other biblical fact, or even in disregard of it, does not educate, but seduces. Not “forms,” but misshapes. Not leads, but mis-leads.           

For this occasion, however, our objection focuses on the fine point: what is a sphere or area? Why should sport be an “area” and, say, “debating” not? It is said: sport is exercise of the body. Sure. But the Sophists knew debating as an exercise of the mind. Why should playing soccer be an “area” and debating not? Why should – starting with De Telegraaf and ending with a Christian newspaper – a number of columns be available for a match between a couple of those silly clubs with English names, and not even a line, let us say, about the wrestling match between, say, Dr. H. H. Kuyper and Dr. S. Greijdanus on the question of the authority of extended assemblies? If one is an “area,” then surely the other is too. Let us honestly confess that our level of interest here is determined by “the world.” It has understood its time; it makes a “culture” of the one along with the negation of the other. It distorts everything: it tears apart the human spirit; it allows itself to be stimulated and rushed in its nervousness by what immediately arouses reactions and, at the same time, lets languish that which of man, that officeholder of God, should first of all demand attention. And it is a pitiful sight to see a Christian society coming after the world here, limping along and playing screeching music, as if “conquering”! Conquerors? Not in the least. Already in the distribution of their spheres of interest they have been conquered. By the “sphere” of enemies.

Let us not beat about the bush: Kuyper’s slogan of “sovereignty” in one’s own “sphere” and of “conquering” every “area” for the Christ has increasingly become a slide by which all sorts of unreformed cargoes come sailing into the hold of our ship. It is time to do away with them.

Let us rather state once again, unanimously and emphatically, as a battle cry which has once again become necessary, that for human action in every sphere in which man’s action entails responsibility, a responsibility which has to be accepted, he is bound by the express moral law of God and the revelation given in this respect by God’s Word. He who amuses himself with imaginary entities may retain the Kuyperian thesis about those thousand and one “Sovereigns,” although I would like him to exchange that capital letter with a lower case one and, despite the recent warning of a co-worker of “De Groene,” I would like to recommend with all my heart that he use a set of quotation marks as often as he uses the word “sovereign” in this context. For I know neither “truth” as sovereign, nor beauty, nor goodness. I know no technical law as sovereign in the field of technology, and no law of commerce as an invariable norm in the field of commerce. I believe that the “laws” (ordinances) of the growth of plants, animals, men, are completely different from the laws which God has set for man’s actions, intercourse, thought, policy, government, obedience, and the like. And also that in every sphere, whatever and however it may be, unregenerate man misuses the light he has received, subverts it, completely obfuscates it, and sins as soon as he turns away from the living God as the only Lawgiver – albeit only in his conceptual construction – in order to declare sovereign some “law” which He has placed in the cosmic givennesses, and which we still more or less have to investigate.       

Therefore the church, when she visits her members, does have to place herself iure suo under the discipline of the written moral law in every sphere of her activity. The series of articles which our lecturer, Drs. H. M. Mulder, will begin in the next issue will provide us with a quote from a secondary school teacher who claims to be a Christian – which fact does not make the quote Christian – in which he states that members of the Dutch Labour Party cannot be excluded from the Christian teaching staff because “every area of life requires a specific line of conduct.” Of course this is a truism, but it is also as useless as a cow for determining our special duty. For in every field this is obedience to the moral law. This moral law indeed also imposes on us the duty to respect the ordinances that God has determined for the created and its growth, its coherence and so on. But as soon as we lay our hands on God’s creation, whatever it may be, a flower in the room, a child in the cradle, a pear tree in the garden, a star in the night, we have to listen to His moral law. We do not get anywhere by postulating that there are “sovereigns” of our own in millions of spheres of life. For not one of these spheres occurs in isolation; as soon as people go to the South Pole, for example, even there, in those desolate regions, the commandments of God come asking for recognition. It was not theists but pantheists who turned ethics into diaetetics, that is, into dietary doctrine. Their view was: there are laws in the universe which are the “formula” of the “movement” of all things; whoever has read the formula off of the movement of all things, no longer needs “maxims” (which are pro-positions); he has no moral norms to accept from outside, let alone that he should “read” them from any “scripture”; for his reading-book is nature, which is divine, and sovereign, and a teaching-book from a God transcending nature he can do without. He who says: in science, knowing, truth, thinking, logic is sovereign, will not hear without alarm his pupil assure him later on: in sexual life, “the” sexual is sovereign; come along then with the seventh commandment: you will only be laughed at, and your admonition will be too late.              

Even that “conquering” of what the world has made or at least proclaimed to be an “area” must be done away with. In the sense meant here, the world is the organization of those who continue to sabotage on a grand scale God’s office-task. I already pointed out earlier that for missions, the church, Christian education, theological study at the service of the church, and so on, a Christian must sacrifice his two quarters precisely because his neighbor who does not care about God’s commandment spends his two quarters on self-cultivation and self-scattering. If that neighbor participated, then the Christian could suffice with one quarter, and perhaps use the second for an hour of play and of relaxation. The game would then not become an “area” that swallows up everything, but offer him the tranquility that is more facilitating to office-service. Now, however, in order to truly “conquer” the “area” of the great world for his God, he must deny himself much: the other strikes and sabotages. Today movies are an area, tomorrow soccer, the day after tomorrow the card game, the dance, drink. However, it is only all God’s creatures that are good, and of His creatures (not, however, of our distillery products) there is nothing objectionable, taken with thanksgiving. But the latter must be the accompaniment. He who gives thanks, keeps his mission in view, does not know Father’s property apart from Father, and Father is to him also Judge and Commissioner.           

I can’t help but think of soldiers at war. The battle is going on; a group of soldiers, who don’t care anymore, are sitting in the trench or in the bunker playing cards; and now a captain arrives, who also throws his knapsack in a corner: he definitely has to conquer that card-playing area. He says: for Christ’s sake. He means: for myself. And in the trench a trench bulletin will soon appear: the game has been won by recruit so and so. The war bulletins? Well, who reads those anymore?     

A sergeant who is very handsome and who misses the bulletin with the game’s results in another trench, mutters something about a cultural crisis. He thinks music-making, and football-kicking, and picture-watching to be such a thing as culture as long as they are done on a large scale.       

But I see in culture the unfolding of what God has created in such a way that the work praises the Master. The man who keeps body and soul fit for the service of his King, I call a man of culture. The nervous seeker of distraction, who brings everything into system except the holy war, I call a patient.       

The hospital is also a sphere. With its own laws.

But the laws are to be read from the Book of Healings of my God. And he who knows that book, and likewise he alone, can read them from the hard achievements of that master-because-servant race, in the day of Yahweh’s lordly power. That people are healthy, at least insofar as they are so willing.


[1] C. Veenhof, Souvereiniteit in Eigen Kring: Schets van de leer der “Souvereiniteit in eigen kring”, zoals die door dr. A. Kuyper werd ontwikkeld [Sphere Sovereignty: Sketch of the doctrine of “Sphere Sovereignty” as developed by Dr. A. Kuyper], Kampen: J. H. Kok, 1939.

[2] [A reference to the doctrine of presumptive regeneration, first adopted at the general synod of the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland in 1905.]

[3] For his part Kuyper refers to Groen.

[4] Not the emphases.

[5] [The event which precipitated the so-called Vrijmaking [Liberation], when Schilder and others were suspended from their church offices in the GKN (and subsequently removed).]