Abraham Kuyper and Karl Barth on Creation as Revelation

Orthodox-Apocalypse-FrescoIn Judeo-Christian history of thought, there's always been core belief that God is creator, and that the world has not always existed but was creation by God in the beginning. (Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.) However, in philosophy and many other religions, its very common to see the world as always existing beside God or pantheism. Karl Barth helped explain that Covenant is the basis from which Creation has come forth, and that its future is in Reconciliation and finally in Redemption. Many theologians have followed this theme of Covenant, Creation, Reconciliation and Redemption as well. Here's a quotation on Barth's program:

"In doing he [Karl Barth] depicted the relation between creation and covenant as complementary, the covenant being the internal basis of creation, creation the external basis of the covenant. As the determinative goal of creation, covenant is its internal basis. In the divine counsel God's decree of election, and with it the covenant, precedes the creation of the world." - Wolfhart Pannenberg, Systematic Theology, Vol 2, pg 143

I found the following long quotation from Abraham Kuyper that explains how Creation is a revelatory act by God that explains this same idea that Revelation isn't something hidden within Creation, as something to be discover hidden, or worse, as something that comes from Creation. The opposite is true, that all of Creation is a result of the Revelation of God. Kuypers ideas are similar to Barth an engaging the same opponents at Barth, so I enjoyed the harmony between two great Reformed Theologians.

The first proposition therefore reads: "God reveals Himself for His own sake, and not in behalf of man."

This only true starting-point for the real study of Revelation has been too much lost from view, not only in recent times, but even in the more prosperous periods of sound Theology. Even in the treatment of the dogma of “the necessity of sacred Scripture,” the fact of sin was always taken as the point of departure, and thus the starting-point for Revelation was found in the soteriological necessity of causing light to arise in our darkness. A revelation before sin was, to be sure, recognized, but it was never successfully placed in relation to revelation in the theological sense; and this was especially noticeable in the mechanical placing side by side of natural and revealed Theology. To repair this omission is therefore a necessity. Every interpretation of Revelation as given for mans sake, deforms it. You either reduce Revelation to the Creation, or cause it to occur only after the Creation. If you accept the latter view, you make it intellectualistic, and it can only consist, as the Socinian conceived, of an outward mechanical communication of certain data, commandments, and statutes. Thus, however, true revelation, which is rooted in religion itself, is destroyed. If for this reason you favor the other horn of the dilemma, viz. that Revelation goes back to Creation itself, then the motive for this Revelation cannot be found in man; simply because man was not yet in existence, and therefore could be no motive. For though it be asserted that, as the apostle Peter says, man was foreknown in the Divine decree before the creation, and that therefore Revelation could well point to this foreknown man, the argument is not valid. For in the decree a motive must have existed for the foreknowledge of man himself; and if it be allowed that this motive at least could lie only in God, it follows that Revelation also, even if it found its motive in man, merely tended to make man what he should be for the sake of God, so that in this way also Revelation finds its final end in God, and not in man. But even this might grant too much. With a little thought one readily sees that Revelation is not merely founded in Creation, but that all creation itself is revelation. If we avoid the Origenistic and pantheistic error that the cosmos is [183] coexistent with God; the pagan representation that God Himself labors under some higher necessity; and the Schleiermachian construction that God and the world were correlate, at least in the idea; and if, consequently, we stand firm in the sublime confession: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth,” the motive for Creation cannot be looked for in anything outside of God, but only and alone in God Himself. Not in an eternal law (lex aeterna), a fate (μοίρα) or necessity (άναγκή), nor in some need of God nature, nor in the creature that was not yet created. He who does not worship God as self-sufficient and sovereign, misconceives and profanes His Being. Creation neither can nor may be conceived as anything but a sovereign act of God, for His own glorification. God cannot be glorified by anything that comes to Him from without. By His own perfections alone can He be glorified. Hence creation itself is primarily nothing else than a revelation of the power of God; of the God Almighty, who as such is the Creator of heaven and earth.

If this is true of creation, and of the self-revelation of God which was effected in the creation, this must be true of all revelation, simply because the cosmos, and every creature in the cosmos, and all that is creaturely, are given in the creation. If you deny this, you make an essential distinction between all further revelation and the revelation in creation; you place it as a second revelation mechanically alongside of the first; and lapse again into the irreligious, intellectualistic interpretation of revelation. If, on the other hand, further revelation is not taken except in organic relation to the revelation given in creation, and thus is postulated by it, the motive of creation becomes of itself the motive of its manifestation; and all later revelation must likewise be granted to have been given us, not for our sake, but in the last instance for God’s own sake. For though it is self-evident that the manner of operation of this revelation in every concrete case adapts itself to the disposition of the creature, and in this creature reaches its temporal end, yet in the last instance it only completes its course when in this operation upon or enriching of this creature it glorifies its Creator. When this revelation, therefore, leads to the creaturely knowledge of God, i.e. ectypal Theology, this knowledge of God is not given primarily for our benefit, but because God in His sovereignty takes pleasure in being known of His creature; which truth is thus formulated in Holy Scripture, that God doeth all things for His Name’s sake: sometimes with the additional words: not for your sakes, O Israel.

pages 182-183, Abraham Kuyper, Encyclopedia of Sacred Theology

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