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"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Wednesday, 7 December 2005

Dooyeweerd on the days of Genesis

I refer, for example, to the question concerning the sense of the six days of creation. By disregarding the faith-aspect of the temporal order and by utilizing astronomical and geological concepts of time, theology was entangled in the following dilemma: if these days are not to be understood in the sense of astronomical days of twenty-four hours, they are to be interpreted as geological periods. A curious dilemma indeed. For it has not occurred to any theologian to apply this alternative to the seventh day, the day on which God rests from all his work which he had made. This would be rightly considered blasphemous. But why was it overlooked that the same blasphemy presents itself if God's creative deeds are conceived of in natural scientific time-concepts? The reason is that the theologians who posed the dilemma mentioned did not realize the fundamental difference between the divine creative deeds and the genetical process occurring within the created temporal order as a result of God's work of creation. Here the influence of Greek philosophy clearly manifested itself. For because of its pagan religious basic motive, this philosophy excluded any idea of creation. It merely accepted a temporal genesis, at the utmost conceived as the result of a formative activity of a divine mind which presuppoes a given material. The scholastic accommodation of the biblical revelation of creation to this Greek idea of becoming gave rise to the false view that creation itself was a temporal process.
God's creative deeds surpass the temporal order because they are not subjected to it. But as a truth of faith of God has revealed these creative deeds in the faith-aspect of this temporal order which points beyond itself to what is supra-temporal. It was God's will that the believing Jew should refer his six work days to the six divine creative works and the sabbath day to the eternal sabbathic rest of God, the Creator. This is the biblical exegesis given by the Decalogue. And it eliminates the scholastic dilemma concerning the exegesis of the six days of creation, which originated from a fundamental disregard of the faith-aspect of the temporal order. This disregard is also to be observed in the Augustinian interpretation of the six days as a literary form or framework of representation which lacks any temporal sense, through this conception is, no doubt, preferable by far to the astronomical or geological interpretation.

Herman Dooyewerd In the Twilight of Western Thought (Craig Press, 1960; pp 149-151)
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