I really wish that I were totally at home with reading and discussing the Christian philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd. Among my dozen or so Dutch Calvinist heroes, he is near the top, being bested perhaps only by Abraham Kuyper. But much of the time, I am only able to appreciate Dooyeweerd’s life and thought without being able to really interact with it. I am a junior high and high teacher. I don’t know much, but I point a lot. I point at this novel, that event in history, this theologian, and that philosopher. If my students listen and watch where I am pointing, they will be ready to move on with their learning. Along with pointing to Melville, Homer, Kuyper, Calvin, Dante, Shakespeare, Dickens, Louise Cowan, Faulkner, and many others, I point to Herman Dooyeweerd.
For years, I knew little more than the name of Dooyeweerd. But I began noticing a common denominator among the people I read and admired. Cornelius Van Til had high praise for Dooyeweerd. R. J. Rushdoony showed great appreciation for him and quoted him often. Nancy Percey referenced him in her books and bibliographies. H. R. Rookmaaker was radically changed by reading Dooyeweerd. Others like Francis Schaeffer, Gregg Singer, Hebden Taylor, and Francis Nigel Lee mentioned, praised, quoted, and honored him.
Some years back, I worked on and delivered a series of lectures on significant Calvinistic worldview thinkers. Many roads led back to this Dutchman. I finally pulled my copy of In the Twilight of Western Thought off the shelf and read it—twice. I acquired copies of The Christian Idea of the State, Roots of Western Culture, and the magnum opus, A New Critique of Theoretical Thought.
I bought and read books about Dooyeweerd, including Contours of a Christian Philosophy: An Introduction to Heman Dooyeweerd and The Myth of Religious Neutrality by Roy Clouser. (Both books are outstanding.)
Dooyeweerd’s books were only available in used copies or in some very expensive reprints a few years back. Now, Paideia Press has been publishing very affordable copies.
Below is a very great excerpt from Dooyeweerd’s New Critique. This isn’t your normal morning devotional thought, but it is far easier to negotiate than much of Dooyeweerd’s writing. I love it, but need to keep reading it over and thinking about it. Thanks to Gregory Baus for finding and posting this on the Herman Dooyeweerd FaceBook Page.
” One cannot attain to true self-knowledge without true knowledge of God, which cannot be gained outside of the Divine Revelation in Christ.
At this point, many a reader who has taken the trouble to follow our argument will perhaps turn away annoyed. He will ask: Must epistemology end in a Christian sermon or in a dogmatic statement? I can only answer by means of the question as to whether the dogmatic statement with which the supposed autonomous epistemology opens, viz. the proclamation of the self-sufficiency of the human cognitive functions, has a better claim to our confidence as far as epistemology is concerned.
Our philosophy makes bold to accept the ‘stumbling block of the cross of Christ’ as the corner stone of epistemology. And thus it also accepts the cross of scandal, neglect and dogmatic rejection. In the limitation and weakness of the flesh, we grasp the absolute truth in our knowledge of God derived from His revelation, in prayer and worship. This knowledge in the full sense of the word contains the religious principle and foundation of all true knowledge… the knowledge about God in which religious self-knowledge is implied, is not primarily gained in a [theoretical] way…
It rests on our trustful acceptance of Divine revelation in the indissoluble unity of both its cosmic-immanent sense and its transcendent-religious meaning; an acceptance with our full personality and with all our heart. It means a turning of the personality, a giving of life in the full sense of the word, a restoring of the subjective perspective of our experience, enabling us to grasp reality again perspectively in the light of Truth. This does not mean a kind of mystical supernatural cognitive function, but it refers to the horizon that God made for human experience in the cosmic order created by Him. The subjective perspective has been obfuscated by sin and distorted and closed to the light of the Divine Revelation.
True self-knowledge opens our eyes to the radical corruption of fallen man, to the radical lie which has caused his spiritual death. It therefore leads to a complete surrender to Him Who is the new root of mankind, and Who overcame death through his sufferings and death on the cross. “