DOOYEWEERD: “Kuyper had died…”

Abraham Kuyper 1837-1920

The following extract is from “Center and Periphery: The Philosophy of the Law-Idea in a changing world” (1964 Lecture by Herman Dooyeweerd, translated by Dr. J. Glenn Friesen) –

“Kuyper had died, and as could have been predicted, after his death there was a battle with respect to his spiritual heritage. In which line should reformational thought further develop? For it was clear that two lines could be observed. And not only in Kuyper but also in Herman Bavinck — one of the other leading members of the older generation — and also in Jan Woltjer.

There was a truly reformational line, which sought an inner reformation, an inner re-forming of the whole attitude towards life and thought, which came from out of the driving force, the dunamis of the divine Word.

And the other direction, which merely proceeded in the old scholastic line and that did not want to know about reformation, inner formation of thought. But as Voetius had named it, they wanted accommodation, adaptation, an external adaptation of thought to traditional theology, which itself appeared in every respect to be infected by Greek philosophy, which cannot be reconciled with the Biblical basic principle [grondgedachte].

The Philosophy of the Law-Idea immediately chose the reformational line, in this radical sense. It concerns reformation, inner reformation of our attitude of thought, through God’s Word – and, as was always added, in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. That’s what it’s about.

It was against the scholastic accomodation. But then the conflict occurred with the theological faculty of the Free University, which at that time was still wholly in the grip of the scholastic way of thinking. It related in particular to the attack that the Philosophy of the Law-Idea had made against the traditional scholastic view of man, the view that man is a composite, something put together out of two substances, two independent entities [zelfstandigheden] as they were called: a material body that is mortal, and a soul that is immortal because it is spiritual, an anima rationalis, a rational soul that is characterized by reason, by its ability to think. In this picture of man there was no room for

the core [kern] of human existence, as it has been revealed to us by the light of the Bible, namely the religious center of man’s existence, the concentration point of his whole existence. It is what the Bible concisely names “the heart, out of which are the issues of life.”

Extract from “Center and Periphery: The Philosophy of the Law-Idea in a changing world” 1964 Lecture by Herman Dooyeweerd. Translated by Dr. J. Glenn Friesen.

Direct DOWNLOAD PDF (70 pages) of full speech.

Glenn Friesen’s Dooyeweerd SITE.