Dooyeweerd on Neocalvinism


I was re-reading the last chapter (entitled "What Is Man?") of "In the Twilight of Western Thought" by Herman Dooyeweerd and happened upon this passage, which appears to me to be an excellent description of neocalvinism: "God does not speak to theologians, philosophers and scientists, but to sinners, lost in themselves, and made into His children through the operation of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.

In this central and radical sense, God's Word, penetrating to the root of our being, has to become the central motive-power of the whole of the Christian life within the temporal order with its rich diversity of aspects, occupational spheres and tasks. As such, the central theme of creation, fall into sin and redemption, should also be the central starting-point and motive power of our theological and philosophical thought."He goes on, "I am afraid that many Christians have only a theological knowledge of creation, fall into sin and redemption by Jesus Christ, and, that this central theme of the Word-Revelation has not yet become the central motive-power of their lives."Many Christians speak about worldviews and, in a sense, speak about the Biblical theme of Creation-Fall-Redemption. In the rest of the chapter, Dooyeweerd goes on to talk about how many Christians over the years have professed to believing this Biblical theme, while at the same time holding onto dualistic notions of what man is. In that way, we can have theological knowledge without really having that knowledge "grip us": "The history of dogmatic theology proves that it is possible to give an apparently orthodox theoretical explanation of the articles of faith pertaining to the threefold central theme of the Holy Scripture, without any awareness of the central and radical significance of the latter for the view of human nature and of the temporal world. In this case theological thought does not really find itself in the grip of the Word of God."For Dooyeweerd, the Word of God is more than just the text of the Bible, "God's Word is spirit and power; these must work through your whole life and manner of thinking. God's Word Revelation sets you to work. It wants to seize your whole existence, where death and the desire for comfort are now in command; it wants to wake you to new life."So, going back to the original quote in this blog entry, I think a neocalvinist is somebody who has more than just a theological knowledge of the Biblical theme of Creation-Fall-Redemption.

It is somebody who has been seized by the Holy Spirit and is "set to work" with this theme as a starting point. The neocalvinist recognizes that Creation is "the temporal order with [a] rich diversity of aspects, occupational spheres and tasks." This created structure has Fallen and is now full of sin, pain, evil, grief and agony. The neocalvinist is thankful that Christ came to redeem sinners AND (the neocalvinist cannot stress that "AND" enough) the fallen creation. Just as God uses us as agents for the redemption of sinners, so too God uses us as agents for the redemption of the fallen creation.

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