spark

Linked Glossary of Terms
(references to De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee, unless indicated. See concordance for correlation with pages in the New Critique. The concordance is in pdf format.)

semen religionis NC II, 311

“Kuyper’s Wetenschapsleer” 211

seed Vernieuwing en Bezinning, 57
spark “Kuyper’s Wetenschapsleer” 209
Vernieuwing en Bezinning 36
Roots 39

For Franz von Baader, God’s central action occurs above time; this is the central action of the Word. This central action of the Word is linked with man’s original work:

Das ursprüngliche zeitliche Werk des Urmenschen war, all Strahlen dieser zentralen Aktion (des Wortes) nach und nach in seinem Wesen zu vereinigen und also das Wort in sich Mensch werden zu lassen. Ein Menschwerdung, welche, wie man weiß, Gott selbst übernahm, nachdem der Mensch sie vernachlässigte (Zeit, 39 ft. 20; Werke II, 89)

[The original temporal work of original Man was to gradually unite within its being all rays of this central action (of the Word), and therefore to let the Word become human in itself. A becoming human which, as we know, God Himself undertook, after humans neglected it.]

This view of God’s Word as acting in a Central way is familiar in Dooyeweerd and in neo-Calvinism generally. Baader says that the Word produces rays [Strahlen] within temporal reality. The original human task was to return those rays into their unity.

This statement relies on the analogy of the prism. The collection and return of rays to their source is an idea that is similar to Lurianic Kabbalah, with which Baader was familiar. Baader uses these ideas in his view on how our theoretical concepts have to be related back to their Center. Baader says that theory involves three steps. The first is the initial subordination or dissolution of true coherence, and our ‘embodiment’ in the periphery [this is the abstraction in which we form the Gegenstand]. The second step is the collection [Sammlung] of the dispersed ‘sparks’ in the temporal world, in order to reunite them in a higher order. The third step is when this unification or ‘higher embodiment’ is completed; there is then death or dissolution of the lower embodiment; it is like the scaffolding that collapses after the house is built (Zeit 36).

Baader also refers to seeds in the fallen beings; through their resurrection or growth the powers in them are unite and to lifted up into true time (Zeit p. 30)

Baader says that we are to be mediators for the nonintelligent world just as Christ was a mediator for us. In his kenosis, Christ suspended his own glory and self-sacrifice. Similarly, as helping beings we ourselves must enter into the other beings, and must ourselves become conceivable [Sichsatzlich-machen], to embody ourselves [einverleiben] or to seed ourselves [einsäen] into the beings that are still bound. Just as God descended into the temporal through Christ, so we descend into the temporal. To do this requires that we acknowledge our solidarity and sympathy with those beings that require our help (Elementarbegriffe 554-559).

Baader refers to love as the sparks of God (Lichtstrahlen 80). Elsewhere he says “We are not yet the image of God, but the seed is created in us,” (Espr., Werke 12, 347). Christ was reduced to the humble state of the germ or root, in order to seed Himself into fallen beings. By this seed, the fallen being is given the possibility to ascend again [Wiederaufsteigung] or of growth [Wachstum]. In this way, the fallen beings are united again within the Center and are lifted up into ‘true time.’ The dispersed powers are united, and the suppressed powers of potential growth are led on high (Zeit, 30)

Baader also speaks of an unfolding from a previously undifferentiated unity or seed state:

Each embodied or realizing and fulfilling life proceeds from a Center, in which the individual limbs of the organism are still undifferentiated, as partial lives, and in a seed state, the still state of potential. [“Über Sinn und Zweck der Verkörperung, Leib oder Fleischwerdung des Lebens,” Philosophische Schriften I, 86]

Baader sometimes uses organic images to explain his own work. In a reference to the aphoristic nature of his thought; he compares his ideas to seeds or ferment (Werke 1,153f).

There are similarities in Dooyeweerd, although he sometimes speaks of ‘seeds’ instead of ‘sparks.’

In Vernieuwing en Bezinning (p. 36), he speaks of God’s common grace that holds back the complete demonization of the world, so that we can still see everywhere “sparks of God’s glory, goodness, truth, justice and beauty” [lichtvonken van Gods macht, goedheid, waarheid, gerechtigheid en schoonheid]. This can be seen even in idolatrous [afgodisch gerichte] cultures. Roots (p. 37) translates ‘lichtvonken’ as ‘traces’ which I think lessens the impact of what Dooyeweerd says. But Roots does translate ‘vonken’ as sparks in the next reference:

Shown to his fallen creation as a still undivided totality, the revelation of God’s common grace guards scriptural Christianity against sectarian pride which leads a Christian to flee from the world and reject without further ado whatever arises in western culture outside of the immediate influence of religion. Sparks of the original glory of God’s creation shine in every phase of culture, to a greater or lesser degree, even it its development has occurred under the guidance of apostate spiritual powers (Roots 39).

What is remarkable here is that this common grace is given to creation as a still undivided totality.

In Vernieuwing en Bezinning (p. 58) he also refers to the powers, which God has enclosed in His creation, and which man now must unfold. (“waarop de mens de krachten, door God in Zijn schepping besloten, gaat ontsluiten.”) Are these powers any different than the sparks of God’s glory that he refers to?

Dooyeweerd refers to these slumbering powers that need to be developed in all of the law-spheres (“Leugen en Waarheid over het Calvinisme,” Juli/1925 Nederland en Oranje [in Folder Miscellaneous Articles, 1923-1939, archives, ICS). The same article speaks of this work in terms of sacrifice:

Maar alle wetssferen gezamenlijk naar Gods ondoorgrondelijk wereldplan als een ongebroken eenheid samenwerkend tot de eere Gods en op ieder terrain des levens een uiterste energieontplooiing vanuit het Christelijk, dat het persoonlijk leven stelt tot een dagelijksche Gode welbehagelijke offerande—ziedaar de kern der Calvinistische leven-en wereld beschouwing.

[The kernel of the Calvinistic life- and worldview is that all law-spheres should work together as an unbroken unity towards God’s unfathomable world plan and to His glory, with the most extreme development of our energy in each area of life from out of our Christian belief, so that our personal life may be an acceptable daily sacrifice to God].

Sometimes he refers to ‘seeds’ instead of to ‘sparks.’ In Vernieuwing en Bezinning, Dooyeweerd says (p. 57) that God’s Word is spirit and power that must work through our whole life and attitude of thought. It wants to wake new life in us, where death and spiritual love of ease (‘gemakzucht’) now rule. He says,

You want God’s Word revelation to fall in your lap. But Christ Jesus says that you yourself must bear fruit, whenever the seed of God’s Word is fallen in good earth.

The fulfillment of temporal reality is to be found in man. He cites Kuyper’s Lectures on Calvinism, and Kuyper’s reference (p. 46) to the semen religionis [religious seed] implanted in man :

Maar gelijk heel de schepping culmineert in den mensch, kan ook de verheerlijking haar voleinding eerst vinden in den mensch, die naar Gods beeld geschapen is; niet omdat de mensch, die zoekt, maar omdat God zelf de eenig wezenlijke religieuse expressie door het semen religionis, alleen in het hart des menschen inschiep. God zelf maakt den mensch religieus door den sensus divinitatis, die Hij spelen laat op de snaren van zijn hart. (“Kuyper’s Wetenschapsleer,”Philosophia Reformata, 1939, 211).

[Just as the whole creation culminates in man, its glorification can only first find its fulfillment in man, who was created as God’s image; this is not because of man (who seeks), but because God Himself created in the human heart alone the only truly religious expression in the semen religionis [religious seed]. God himself makes man religious through the sensus divinitatis [the sense of the Divine], which He lets play on the strings of his heart].

It is this idea of the fulfillment of temporal creation in man that comes closest to Baader’s idea of collecting the sparks. We humans are responsible to assist in the perfecting of the temporal world. Dooyeweerd states this expressly:

De anorganische stoffen, het planten- en dierenrijk, hebben geen zelfstandige geestelijke of religieuze wortel. Hun tijdelijk bestaan wordt eerst volledig in en door de mens (Vernieuwing en Bezinning, 30).

[The inorganic materials, the plant and animal realms, have no independent spiritual or religious root. Their temporal existence first becomes complete [fulfilled] in and through Man]

The English translation Roots of Western Culture has a similar idea at p. 30:

In contrast to mankind, neither the inorganic elements nor the kingdom of plants and animals have a spiriutal or religious root. It is man who makes their temporal existence complete.

A similar idea is found in Dooyeweerd’s Encyclopedia of the Science of Law. Dooyeweerd says that initially, the full meaning of the entire temporal cosmos was focused in the religious root-community But

Because of humankind’s fall into sin the entire temporal world has been cursed. The other creatures, which are included with humanity in the same temporal order of the world, do not themselves have a religious root to their existence. Humanity’s task was to disclose the entire temporal creation in the service of God (p. 47).

Elsewhere, Dooyeweerd refers to Kuyper’s view that there are sparks of divine love in our heart:

Maar dit weten we, dat, zoo zeker er een vonk van heilige liefde in ons hart glooit, deze vonk niet kan gebluscht worden, en eerst bij den ademtocht der eeuwigheid in vollen gloed kan ontbranden (“Kuyper’s Wetenschapsleer,” Philosophia Reformata 1939, 209, citing Kuyper Enc II, 112-3).

[But this we know, that if there is a spark of divine love glowing in our heart, it is certain that this spark can not be blown out, and only by the taking of breath in eternity can it break out into full flame]

Kuyper mentions that the new life is more inclined to go in this direction than in the direction of scientific enquiry; this can sometimes lead to the depreciation of the role of science.

Other references by Kuyper to divine sparks include:

We must return to that wondrous Word of God which as a mystery of mysteries lies still uncomprehended in the Church, seemingly dead as a stone, but a stone that strikes fire. Who has not seen its scintillating sparks? Where is the child of God whose heart has not been kindled by the fire of that Word? (The Work of the Holy Spirit, p. 6)

and

First, that this work of re-creation is not performed in fallen man independently of his original creation; but that the Holy Spirit, who in regeneration kindles the spark of eternal life, has already kindled and sustained the spark of natural life. And, again, that the Holy Spirit, who imparts unto man born from above gifts necessary to sanctification and to his calling in the new sphere of life, has in the first creation endowed him with natural gifts and talents. (p. 46).

Calvin said that sparks (scintillae) of the knowledge of God are kindled everywhere in general revelation and that an awareness of divinity (sensus divinitatus) has been implanted in everyone.(Institutes Vol. I, Book I, c. 4, s. 1). It is cited by Kuyper in his Lectures on Calvinism, 46.

Revised Oct 5/07

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