This week we feature a post by Steve Bishop who is involved in full-time Christian ministry as a husband, father and in teaching mathematics and forensic science to post-16s. He blogs at www.stevebishop.blogspot.com and maintains the neo-Calvinist/Kuyperian website www.allofliferedeemed.co.uk Follow him on twitter @stevebishopuk
Mind maps have in recent years been associated with Tony Buzan. However, they go back as far as the third century and were – or so it is alleged – first used by Porphyry of Tyros. Mind maps are great tools for creating visual displays of information. I find them helpful in aiding close reading of a text and it was for that reason I decided to mindmap Kuyper’s recently translated Wisdom and Wonder.
To do so I read through the book several times—each time making rough drafts of the maps and then revising if necessary in light of a second or third read.
What struck me as I was reading and mindmapping—in no particular order—are the following.
1. The pivotal role of the education chapter. It acts like a hinge joining the chapters on science with those on art. The key focus in that chapter is the need for and the role of a Christian university. Kuyper was writing this series between 1895 and 1901. Uppermost in his mind would have been the education issue and the events that led to the founding of the VU in 1880. Here he is underlining the need for Christian education, an education that would prevent a public/private divide which leads to a schizophrenic Christianity.
2. The difference in which science and art are treated. In the science chapters there is much emphasis on two kinds of knowledge, two kinds of people – the antithesis; but this is largely missing for the section on art.
3. The difference Kuyper places on the level of science – he seems to be adopting Warfield’s position – in that the so-called higher sciences, the social sciences, are more influenced by subjectivity than the lower mathematical and physical sciences.
4. The emphasis on the eschatos in the discussion on art. Beauty has been affected by the fall, but common grace has preserved us from a complete loss of beauty. In the kingdom of glory there will be a higher degree of beauty, it will be restored and more. Art foreshadows and provides us with prophetic glimmerings of the New Jerusalem. It provides a form of bridge between the now and the not yet of the kingdom.
5. The role of common grace:
- it restrains the fall and tempers the curse
- preserves us from a complete loss of beauty
- the independence of art
- strengthening of the revelation to the heart
- it is a form of mediated wisdom that lies between acquired knowledge and instinct
- without it non-Christian science would provide us with misleading information.
This is an important work of Kuyper’s. It is an important work for today. It reinforces the role of common grace and shows that science and art are important aspects of our Christian discipleship. Discipleship is not meant to be a part-time activity, something that we do on weekends and in our leisure time; discipleship is about redeeming all of life. As Kuyper puts it: “thinking is a spiritual activity.”