An accidental blog

"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.

Thursday, 31 August 2006

More Bruce Wearne interviews

There is an interview by Bruce Wearne with two Japanese professors: Professors Eiichi Yamamote and Michiya Murata on the All of Life redeemed website. It gives a fascinating insight on Christianity in Japan.

Professor Eiichi Yamamoto, who teaches economics at Kwansei (on the right) Gakuin University in Nishinomiya to the east of Kobe, and Professor Michiya Murata (on the left) , teaches sociology of religion and ethics at Hannan University in South Osaka.

Tuesday, 29 August 2006

A brief biography of Herman Dooyeweerd

A brief biography of Herman Dooyeweerd 7th October 1894 – 12th February 1977

Dooyeweerd loved art and music and was an accomplished pianist, he enjoyed detective stories and was a supporter of Ajax, the famous Amsterdam football team, but it is not for these things that Dooyeweerd is remembered. He was the pioneer of the school of ‘the philosophy of the cosmonomic principle’ or more simply reformational philosophy.

He has been described as one of the foremost philosophers of the Netherlands. Dr. P.B. Cliteur, [1] wrote in 1994: ‘Herman Dooyeweerd is undoubtedly the most formidable Dutch philosopher of the 20th century. ... As a humanist I have always looked at “my own tradition” in search for similar examples. They simply don't exist. Of course, humanists too wrote important books, but in the case of Herman Dooyeweerd we are justified in speaking about a philosopher of international repute.’

G.E. Langemeijer, attorney general of the Dutch Appeal Court and chairman of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences, wrote in the Trouw [2] that Dooyeweerd was ‘the most original philosopher Holland has ever produced, even Spinoza not excepted’.

Giorgio Delvecchio, an Italian neo-Kantian philosopher, viewed Dooyeweerd as ‘the most profound, innovative, and penetrating philosopher since Kant’. [3]

More recently philosopher Alvin Plantinga stated that “Dooyeweerd's work was comprehensive, insightful, profound, courageous, and quite properly influential.” [4]

Dooyeweerd was born on 7th October 1894 in Amsterdam to Hermen Dooijeweerd, an accountant, (1850-1919) and Maria Christina Spaling (1862-1948). Maria was Hermen’s second wife, his first had died leaving him three daughters. Herman was the only boy of a family of five children.

Dooyeweerd’s father was greatly influenced by Abraham Kuyper and Dooyeweerd, who became a Christian at a young age, was immersed in kuyperian thought and neo-calvinism. He would have heard Kuyper’s newspaper articles read aloud at home and he attended a Christian school whose headmaster Dr J. Woltjer was an associate of Kuyper.

In 1912 he attended the Free University (Vrije Univeriteit, VU) in Amsterdam. There he studied law. He was disappointed with the VU as he expected to get a good grounding in the kuyperian worldview. The VU had been founded in 1880 by Kuyper and in Dooyeweerd’s time there were only three faculties. The law faculty only had three professors: Fabius, Anema and Diepenhorst. In 1917 he received his doctorate for a thesis entitled: ‘De Ministerraad in het Nederlandsche Staaatsrecht’ (Cabinet Ministers under Dutch Constitutional Law’).

He then took up the post of an assistant tax collector in Friesland. In 1918 he moved to Leiden where he had the post of an assistant to a municipal councillor. He was then asked to become the deputy head of the Public Health department in The Hague.

During this time, he studied independently legal philosophy. He found that there was much conflict between the different approaches to legal philosophy and this made him convinced that there was a need for a ‘genuinely Christian and biblically based insight and foundation’. [5]

Dooyeweerd began to correspond with his brother in law D. H. Th Vollenhoven – Vollenhoven, also a graduate of the VU, had married Dooyeweerd’s sister in 1918. In these correspondences Dooyeweerd expressed a desire to ‘work out the philosophical foundations of science and of developing a theistic position, along Calvinist lines’. [6]

In May 1921 Vollenhoven became a pastor in The Hague and this gave the two more time to talk together and develop their ideas.

In October 1922 the newly founded research institute of the Ant-Revolutionary Party, a party associated with Kuyper, appointed the 27-year-old Dooyeweerd the first director. This gave Dooyeweerd the time and opportunity to develop his philosophical ideas. [7] He married on Jantiena Wilhelmina Fernhout on 19th September1924.

It was during this time that he developed the idea of the religious root of theoretical thought – the idea that all the sciences are dependent on pre-theoretical presuppositions.

He worked for the ‘Kuyper Institute’, as it was known, for four years. He then accepted an offer to become professor of law at the VU, a position he held for 40 years until his retirement in 1965 at 70.

His brief at the VU was to teach ‘Introduction to the Science of Law’, the ‘History of traditional Dutch law’ and ‘Jurisprudence’. He replaced the ‘Introduction’ with an ‘Encyclopaedia of Legal Science’.

It was at the VU that Dooyeweerd completed his De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee (Amsterdam: 1935-36). This was translated into English in 1953 as The New Critique of Theoretical Thought. This translation contained extensive revisions and additions. His next planned project was Reformation and Scholasticism in Philosophy [8] and then the Encyclopaedia of Legal Science. [9] He was not able to complete these fully during his lifetime.

He founded and was editor in chief (1936-1976) of the journal Philosophia Reformata.

After the Second World War he travelled extensively to Switzerland, South Africa, France, Belgium, the United States – including several times to Harvard University - and Canada. It was the lectures during one of the tours to North America that formed the basis of In the Twilight of Western Thought (1960).

During 1945 to 1948He wrote a series of articles in the weekly Nieuw Nederland these formed the basis for his book Roots of Western Culture (1979).

In 1948 he was inducted into the Royal Academy of Dutch Sciences.

Dooyeweerd was a prolific author and wrote around 200 articles and books. The last article he wrote was for Philosophia Reformata in 1975.

Dooyeweerd’s son had this to say of him:

Dooyeweerd was a gifted man but in ways of a very down-to-earth person with his feet on the ground. We in the family loved him dearly and are, we think justifiably, proud of him. We remember him as someone who was humble before his God and always strove to be in his service. In the days just before his death I personally witnessed how he struggled greatly with the fact that in his own eyes he had not done all that he seemingly felt God had called him to do.


1. President of the `Humanist League' in The Netherlands and professor of philosophy at the Technical University of Delft. Cited in Witte Jr.

2. October 6, 1964. On the occasion of Dooyeweerd’s 70th birthday. Cited in Witte Jr.

3. Cited in Witte Jr.

4. In ‘Christian philosophy at the end of the twentieth century’.

5. Dooyeweerd Jr p. 107.

6. Henderson p. 27.

7. According to Witte Jr: “His work in these four years culminated in five major articles, including a fifteen-part tract ‘In the Struggle for a Christian Politics’ [Herman Dooyeweerd, "In den strijd om een Christelijke Staatkunde. Proeve van een fundeering der Calvinistische levens- en wereldbeschouwing in hare Wetsidee," I Antirevolutionaire Staatkunde (henceforth A.R.S.) 7-25 62- 79, 104-118, 161-173, 189-200, 228-244, 309-324, 433-460, 489-504, 528- 542 581-598, 617-634, (1924-5); 2 A.R.S. 244-65, 425-445 (1926). A.R.S. was the monthly journal of the Dr. Abraham Kuyper Foundation, which Dooyeweerd edited for several years. This work will appear as volume B5 of the Collected Works of Dooyeweerd.] and an important monograph ‘Calvinism and Natural Law’ (contained in volume B1 of the Collected Works of Dooyeweerd).”

8. The three volume work has now recently been published by Edwin Mellen Press as A5, A6 and A7 of the Collected Works of Herman Dooyeweerd series.

9. The first volume of this has now been published (translated by Robert D. Knudsen) by Edwin Mellen as A8. A9-11 will appear shortly.


Witte Jr., John, ‘Introduction’ in A Christian Theory of Social Institutions, by Herman Dooyeweerd, trans. Magnus Verbrugge. (Paideia Press: Ontario, 1986)

Herman Dooyeweerd Jr, ‘Herman Dooyeweerd – a biographical sketch’ in Herman Dooyeweerd Christian Philosophy and the Meaning of History (Edwin Mellen Press: Lewsiton,1996).

R. D. Henderson Illuminating Law: The Construction of Herman Dooyeweerd’s Philosophy 1918-1928 (Vrije Uiversitet: Amsterdam, nd.)

Herman Dooyeweerd ‘The Last Interview of Dooyeweerd’ in J.M. van Dunné, P. Boeles and A.J. Heerma van Voss (eds): Acht civilisten in burger (Zwolle: W.E.J. Tjeenk Willink, 1977). (Translated for study purposes by Dr. J. Glenn Friesen)

H. Evan Runner Dooyeweerd’s passing and appreciation The Banner 1977

Monday, 28 August 2006

In the Twilight of Western Thought

I have recently updated my blog/study guide on Dooyeweerd's In the Twilight of Western Thought - chapter 8 'What is man [sic]?' is now up.

I have also put on All of life Redeemed Paul Otto's paper on the different versions of Twilight as a pdf:
Paul Otto 'In the twilight of Dooyeweerd's corpus: the publishing history of In the Twilight of Western Thought and the future of Dooyeweerd studies' Philosophia Reformata 70 (2005) 23-40.
Also, Gregory Baus has made available here two audio lectures by Henk Geertsema, he discusses some of the issues that arise out of the first two chapters of Twilight

Sunday, 27 August 2006

Some useful free on-line tools

If you are looking for a book in a nearby library then try World Cat.

According to WordCat there are only seven copies of Roy Clouser's excellent book The Myth of Religious Neutrality (2nd edn) in British libraries! Two at the British library in Wetherby, and copies at Cambridge, Oxford, London and Leeds Universities and one at West Malling in Kent.

And there is - according to WordCat - only one copy of Yong Joon Choi's Herman Dooyeweerd's Transcendental Critique in a UK library: Edinburgh University.

Though I must admit I was pleased to see that a copy of a book I once I co-wrote The Earth is the Lord's is available in six libraries - including Dublin, Oxford and Cape Town!

Google have recently released two new useful tools: notebook and writely a web word processor that enables sharing of documents and collaboration on documents.

Saturday, 26 August 2006

George Coyne - "replaced "?

According to Beliefnet Revd George Coyne has been replaced as the director of the Vatican Observatory.
Pope Benedict XVI has appointed a new director of the Vatican Observatory, replacing the Rev. George Coyne, a long-serving Jesuit astronomer and a vocal opponent of "intelligent design" theory.

It was unclear if the replacement of Coyne, the observatory's director since 1978, reflected a sense of disapproval within the Vatican over his opposition to intelligent design -- the idea that the world is too complex to have been created by natural events alone.

Book meme

Paul Otto and Russ Reeves have both responded to my tag on the book meme. Both note that the Bible fits each of the categories. Paul writes:
Before I answer the questions (see below), I’ll offer the disclaimer that the Bible fits almost every category (and I’m not a pietist!): it changed my life; I’ve read it more than once (or I’m trying to); I’d want it on a desert island (but I like to pose the question, what five books of the Bible would you pick if you had to?); it makes me laugh; it makes me cry; while I can’t wish it had been written, I often wish it included more; sometimes I wish it hadn’t been written because of the demands it places on me (ignorance is bliss, they say); I’m currently reading it (currently in the Psalms); and, yes, I’ve read and am reading the Bible, but I so often find myself ignorant of much of the wisdom, mystery, and knowledge of the Scriptures that I share the sentiment that we sometimes have about books we’ve been meaning to read.

Friday, 25 August 2006

C. T. McIntire pages

I have now added the Thomas McIntire pages to the All of Life Redemeed website.

Thomas is a historian who taught for a while at the Institute for Christian Studies, Toronto and is now a professor at the University of Toronto.
He is currently writing a World History of Modern Christianity and has recently published a book on Herbert Butterfield: Herbert Butterfield: Historian as Dissenter (Yale University Press)

Sunday, 20 August 2006

At last!

After a little subtle encouragement Rudi Hayward - a philosophy teacher - is now blogging at Intermezzo. Rudi is another prerson who has come to the reformational movement via Richard Russell’s Christian Studies Unit.

Friday, 18 August 2006

Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals: true or false? This simple question is splitting America apart, with a growing proportion thinking that we did not descend from an ancestral ape. A survey of 32 European countries, the US and Japan has revealed that only Turkey is less willing than the US to accept evolution as fact.
'Why can't America believe in evolution?' New Scientist 19 August 2006.

Creation/evolution survey

In an article 'How did we get here?' in The Guardian, Harriett Swain reported the following:

In a survey last month, more than 12% questioned preferred creationism - the idea God created us within the past 10,000 years - to any other explanation of how we got here. Another 19% favoured the theory of intelligent design - that some features of living things are due to a supernatural being such as God. This means more than 30% believe our origins have more to do with God than with Darwin - evolution theory rang true for only 56%.

The survey in question was carried out by OpinionpanelResearch. The full results are available here.
What is interesting is the narrow range of options given for question 1:

People have different explanations about life on earth and how it came about. Which of these statements best describes your view?

The 'evolution theory' - Humans developed over milliosn of years from less advanced forms of life. God has no part in this process (56%)

The 'creationist theory' - God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years. (12%)

The 'intelligent design theory' - Some features of living things are best explained by the intervention of a supernatural being, e.g. God. (19%)

Don't know/ other (13%)

the church and postmodern culture: conversation

A new blog has started the church and postmodern culture: conversation. It's hosted by Baker Academic and hosted by Geoff Holsclaw. At present they are discussing at Jamie Smith's book Who's Afraid of Postmodernism? That's another one of those books that I haven't yet read but mean to. [HT jonnybaker]

Wednesday, 16 August 2006

I've been tagged - book meme

Gideon Strauss has tagged me. I've been a little slow in responding - and blogging - as I've been in Germany visiting my brother and his family.

1. One book that changed your life: Creation Regained by Al Wolters.

2. One book that you’ve read more than once: Knowing With The Heart by Roy Clouser

3. One book you’d want on a desert island: Assuming that the Bible is included, then The New Critique of Theoretical Thought by Herman Dooyeweerd -to give me time to read it carefully.

4. One book that made you laugh: Any of the Disc World books by Terry Pratchett. The first page of the fist book I read of his (Reaper man ) had my sides aching:
The Morris dance is common to all inhabited worlds in the multiverse.

It is danced under blue skies to celebrate the quickening of the soil and under bare stars because it's springtime and with any luck the carbon dioxide will unfreeze again. The imperative is felt by deep-sea beings who have never seen the sun and urban humans whose only connection with the cycles of nature is that their Volvo once ran over a sheep.

It is danced innocently by raggedy-bearded young mathematicians to an inexpert accordion rendering of "Mrs Widgery's Lodger" and ruthlessly by such as the Ninja Morris Men of New Ankh, who can do strange and terrible things with a simple handkerchief and a bell.

And it is never danced properly.

Except on the Discworld, which is flat and supported on the backs of four elephants which travel through space on the shell of Great A'Tuin, the world turtle.

And even there, only in one place have they got it right. It's a small village high in the Ramtop Mountains, where the big and simple secret is handed down across the generations.

There, the men dance on the first day of spring, backwards and forwards, bells tied under their knees, white shirts flapping. People come and watch. There's an ox roast afterwards, and it's generally considered a nice day out for all the family.

But that isn't the secret.

The secret is the other dance.

And that won't happen for a while yet.

5. One book that made you cry: The Hobbitt by J. R. Tolkein

6. One book that you wish had been written: Dooyeweerd for Dummies by Mark Roques, Richard Russell or Roy Clouser.

7. One book that you wish had never been written: Can't think of anything specific - but anything that degrades sex.

8. One book you’re currently reading: The Man Who Smiled by Henning Mankell and The Myth of Religious Neutrality by Roy Closer (again)

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read: Rainbows for a Fallen World by Calvin Seerveld - I know, I know I should have read it years ago.

10. Now tag five people: Paul Otto and Elbert Bass- in an attempt to get them blogging again, Russ Reeves, Maggi Dawn, Kenn Hermann and Gregory Baus (who said I could count?).