Amsterdam, April 4, 1939
In response to your letter of March 28 of this year, I have the honour to bring the following to your attention:
For the sake of our University, I am extremely sad that the missive from the theological faculty dated November 18 1938 is still a subject of concern for you, although it does mainly traverse the method you have set out to discuss the remaining differences. For we are not yet a university when a faculty believes as a matter of fact that it has the right to set aside a declaration that has already been published by the Curators.
In fulfillment of your request I will certainly try to clearly define my point of view over against this article [of the theological faculty]. In doing this it will certainly not be possible to avoid all repetition, although in order to prevent such repetition as much as possible, I will refer to my previous notes and propositions for more detailed information.
For the sake of clarity, I will first discuss the two main points separately in section I. After that, I will discuss the note of the faculty as a whole in section II.
I. Concerning the two main points, the questions (A) concerning the view of the “soul” and (b) concerning the “anhypostatos,” I have the following to add:
A. Concerning the “soul”
1. Where I refer in my work in an adverse way to “the” dichotomy, I always am referring to the dichotomy in the functionalistic-substantialistic sense as proposed in pagan and humanistic philosophy. But I maintain the dichotomy itself between soul and body, as appears from the various passages cited from my work by the faculty [of theology]. Because of this, the way that the faculty formulates this point of difference in its missive is unacceptable. And, in light of the various exchanges of notes of its members, as known by your college, it is surprising.
2. Their question of what “remains’ [overblijft] of the soul in this conception, if this term does not refer to the analytical, ethical and pistical functions, clearly demonstrates that the [theological] faculty continues to think of “soul” only in terms of theoretical abstractions. For if we begin our philosophy not with the functions, but with the heart, this question has no meaning. For the soul is then the center of life, out of which are both of the issues of this life—good as well as evil—so that all functional life is religiously concentrated in it . As the religious center of the will in the Scriptural sense, it is the point of application of God’s grace for our rebirth, and the point of departure for our conversion from dead works not only in practical life but also in science. It is not an abstraction from out of temporal existence, but comprises the full unity of awareness of God and of self-consciousness. As the “inner man,” it also continues to exist after death, and with awareness of Christ it also exists outside of Him. We could really rather ask what “remains” of the soul after death if the soul is identified with an abstract complex of functions in what is called the concept of substance . And with respect to life on this side of the grave, the identification of the heart with one or more of the said functions leads irrevocably to rationalism, ethicism and fideism or to a combination of these.
3. Concerning immortality, I note that with respect to human immortality we are agreed that this is something conferred on man. The question is then only whether it is worth naming the soul as immortal in its sense of the center of life. For the Holy Scriptures expressly teach us that man is by the wrath of God subject to death not only as a living soul but also with respect to his center. That man cannot kill the soul (in this sense) is no counterexample for this teaching.
B. Concerning anhypostatos
With respect to this point may I refer to the declaration that I already made to your College on June 29, 1936, in the presence of Messrs. Anema, Dooyeweerd, Grosheide and Kuyper, that I, as a member of one of the Gereformeerde Churches in the Netherlands accept the confession of these churches concerning the Mediator without any reservations. And, in order to avoid any conflict over words, I also have no objections to the term ‘anhypostatos’ is the meaning of this term indeed coincides with the meaning of the confession in an unambiguous and unquestionable way.
One therefore cannot speak of any attempt on my part to “replace” a statement in the confession by some other statement. I fully assent to “two natures in the unity of the person.” The Nestorian view, which the faculty is trying to suggest to your College applies to me, is radically different than my view, as appears from my writings. And although further study has already allowed me to give the prospect of a clearer formulation of certain related passages, the main lines of the conception I have proposed are so much in conflict with all subjectivism, and thus also with Nestorian subjectivism, that I may simply say that I have never even come close to this error.
Moreover, the [theological] faculty has given no single argument other than its conclusion with respect to this point [anhypostatos], a point that is historically so heavily burdened. The faculty has really not advised from which premises it has derived this conclusion. Whereas from my side I have been able to give various grounds that have never been refuted for the proposition that anhypostatos could never have been intended by the Council of Constantinople!
If what I have said does still not answer what you have intended, then may I in a friendly but urgent way suggest that the College orally set out its questions in a more precise way, so that from my side the greatest possible clarity can be reached.
II. Concerning the faculty’s article as a whole, I would like to make two remarks.
The first is most closely related to what I have already written: The faculty speaks about confessional objections. But the differences concern dogmatic terms that do not appear in either Holy Scripture or in the Confession. In fact, the history of dogma shows that the Confession intentionally avoided using this term! This method [of the theological faculty] does not only result in an unnecessary sharpening in the discussion of the remaining questions, but it also hides a confusion of science and dogma. The distinction between the two is a vital question for the Free University, for the [present method] will in future undermine the appreciation of the nature of true nature dogma.
As a second remark may I add that the faculty’s missive is not clear to me on various points. For the sake of brevity, I will only name some of them:
1. What does the faculty understand by “impersonal human nature?” One looks in vain in their missive for a more precise definition of this term, which is not in the least unambiguous and which is most important for this debate. Unfortunately, I cannot suppose that this omission is unintentional, for shortly after the publication of the third brochure of my colleague Hepp, it was publicly demonstrated that members of the faculty have used this term in two wholly different meanings. Perhaps the faculty can take the trouble to determine to what extent the presuppositions of this double usage of the word coincide with each other and to what extent they are mutually contradictory. They will in this way come to the discovery that, although to my joy no one in their midst defends Nestorianism, in both cases, the presuppositions of “anhypostatos” lie closer to those of Nestorius than they do to the presuppositions of the Philosophy of the Law-Idea.
2. In what sense does the faculty use the term ‘dichotomy
of body and soul?’ Here, too, it appears from the publications
of various members of that faculty that they are far from unanimous
in their view.
Now the Philosophy of the Law-Idea does not in the least claim to have solved all problems. But it may well be said that there is simply no place in it for the said contradictions. Because of that it has also never involved itself in this conflict. Yet from its side it should have been able to expect something other than that men would terminologically mask their own mutual divisions and resort to forming a negative front over against the Philosophy of the Law-Idea. For they know that if they can succeed in silencing this conception, the mutual conflict must necessarily be revived.
I hope that the above sufficiently answers your request.
Furthermore, I do not want to hide from you that it does not seem to me to be in the further interest of our University to have further correspondence concerning articles of the theological faculty when they have not subjected themselves to your declaration.
But with respect to your College, I remain, as I have said, ready to provide further information.
After the explanations that I have now for already three years repeatedly and now once again given, I really hope that your College can now view this matter as concluded, at least as concerning the facts, and that you will regard this as the time for a public restoration of the honour of Prof. Dooyeweerd and me, and that you will openly denounce the treatment to which we have been exposed from various quarters for what has already been many years.
To the Curators of the Free University.
 JGF: Note that whereas for Dooyeweerd, the “issues” [uitgangen] of life include all the functions of our life, which are the expressions of our supratemporal selfhood within our temporal mantle of functions [functiemantel]. Vollenhoven seems to limit these issues to two directions, which he also calls the “right” and the “left” directions. See my discussion of Vollenhoven’s merely pre-functional and temporal view of the heart in the Introduction to these responses.
 Note by Vollenhoven: Scholastic philosophy, which viewed the soul in the sense of “anima intellectiva” as the substantial form of the body, had difficulties here. According to scholasticism the actuality of the human life of the soul is dependent on its being united with the body. This holds for the sensitive function of the soul, but it also holds indirectly for “reason.” According to Thomas (following the line of Aristotelian philosophy), reason was created in us from outside, in contrast to the sensitive function of the soul. It would be better for the theological faculty to first solve this problem for itself, instead of endorsing its difficulty over to me. For I have never accepted the way of posing the question that flows forth from this difficulty.