Who would you say you have been helped by in the past? Have you been helped by the Dutch thinker Herman Dooyeweerd?
I am a pupil of Dooyeweerd. In fact, I am a pupil of a pupil of Dooyeweerd, namely of Professor J.P.A. Mekkes. What Dooyeweerd has discovered has given a better answer to many things than most other philosophies because it is more open; it is not such a narrow description of reality. Most philosophies try to approach everything either from history or from physics or from morality, etc. But in his philosophy all things have their own place. It is very wide and it is great for that reason. I do not think that all Christian philosophers should follow his exact terminology and system. But it is good to work in the same direction.
How exactly did he help you? .
There are two sides to Dooyeweerd. Firstly he gives an interpretation of the history of philosophy, and secondly he made his own philosophy. When I became a Christian just by reading the Bible while I was a prisoner of war, there was nobody around to help me. At the same time as reading the Bible I was studying philosophy. So I came to the point where I said: ‘Well the Bible gives me all the answers I need, but Kant is very interesting. If I become a Christian, can I also be a Kantian?’ In a way, this was the problem of the relationship between thinking and starting from the Bible.
Then somebody [J. P. A. Mekkes] pointed out, ‘Why don’t you read Dooyeweerd?’ His first twenty pages utterly convinced me that Christianity was right, because they showed me that Kant had his own religious starting point. He was not just a neutral thinker using a neutral logic; he started from a point of view just as Christianity does. Knowing this liberates one to make an honest choice between points of view. I am very thankful to Dooyeweerd for this insight. I have worked along his lines rather freely.
Another man who has been important to me is someone whose books were never published in English, which is a surprise, for he was known in England. He gave lectures there. That was Groen van Prinsterer. He wrote a book in 1848 on revolution and unbelief, on the background of the French Revolution. In a way the thesis of my book [Modern Art and the Death of a Culture] is the same as his. He was warning the people of his day not to think that the French Revolution was over, for it was still around because the same mentality was still around, but that there would be many more revolutions to come. His book now reads like a prophecy.
From 'Articles and interviews' in Complete Works of Hans Rookmaaker vol 6. Interview first published in Crusade magazine April 1972.