© J. Glenn Friesen 2003-2008
Glossary of Terms
Dooyeweerd says that the idea of our supratemporal selfhood as the religious root is the "key of knowledge." We cannot understand the rest of his philosophy without this idea. Even the Christian Ground-Motive of creation, fall and redemption cannot be understood apart from the Idea of religious root. For creation, fall and redemption are all in the root. Nor can the modal aspects be understood apart from the religious root. In 1975, two years before his death, Dooyeweerd wrote his last article, “De Kentheoretische Gegenstandsrelatie en de Logische Subject-Objectrelatie,” Philosophia Reformata 40 (1975) 83-101. He says that the ideas of the irreducibility of the modal spheres and their coherence are not to be separated from the transcendental idea of their root-unity in the religious center of human existence.
See my extensive discussion of these issues in my article “Imagination, Image of God and Wisdom of God: Theosophical Themes in Dooyeweerd’s Philosophy,” (2006). The article discusses the Wisdom tradition within which Dooyeweerd's philosophy is situated. One of these ideas is the religious root, and Christ as the New Root.In Appendix A to that article, I show how some of these theosophical ideas can also be found in Calvin, although he has generally not been interpreted that way. In Appendix D, I have compiled a list of refrences from Dooyeweerd's In the Twilight of Western Thought, showing how the supratemporal selfhood as the reliigous root is the key of knowledge. And in Appendix E to that article, I list some other references to New Root from other Protestant sources. .
Our creation in "the image of God" is an expression of God's image. Just as the temporal world is an expression of our supratemporal selfhood, so our selfhood is an expression of God. Our existence is an ex-sistere in God (NC I, 58, 59). And as we are God's image, the temporal world has its existence only in us. Humans are the religious root of temporal reality. He says that there is no natural reality in itself, independent of man:
There is a "radical individual concentration of temporal reality in the human I-ness" (NC II, 417).
Only humans have existence in the sense of ex-sistere:
Dooyeweerd says the ‘earthly’ cosmos is transcended by Man in his full selfhood where he partakes in the transcendent and supratemporal root (NC II, 593). The unity of our self-consciousness partakes in either the religious root of creation directed to God, or in the case of apostasy, directed away from God (NC II, 560).
In his 1930 "De Structuur der rechtsbeginselen en de methode der rechtswetenschap in het licht der wetsidee," Dooyeweerd refers to the refraction of meaning by cosmic time from out of the root of the human race that transcends all temporality (Cited by Verburg, 123).
In "De Theorie van de Bronnen van het Stellig Recht in het licht der Wetsidee," (1932), Dooyeweerd says that our selfhood, which is broken [geborken] into temporal meaning functions, is found in our heart, the religious root of our existence, which individually pariticpates in the religious root of the whole human race. (Verburg 156).
Dooyeweerd says that we cannot make a distinction between and impersonal I-it relation and an existential I-thou relation. His reason for this is very interesting. He says that it is un-Biblical. He then says,
In other words, Buber's impersonal world of I-It fails to relate the temporal world to its religious root. It eliminates the relation of nature to the central religious sphere. Now it may be debated whether Dooyeweerd's interpretation of Buber is correct; Buber has also been interpreted in a nondual way. What is important here is Dooyeweerd's rejection of any dualistic separation between nature and humanity in its religious root.
The heart is related to our creation as image of God:
The whole meaning of the temporal world is integrally (i.e. completely) bound up and concentrated in this unity (Roots 30). Our temporal world, in its meaning differentiation and coherence, is bound to this religious root of humanity; it has no meaning and therefore no reality apart from this root (WdW I, 65). Or as the NC translates this passage,
To say that the temporal world has ‘no reality’ apart from its root in humanity means that it can be said have ‘inexistence’ (or what Baader and Brentano refer to as ‘Inexistenz’).
Because we are its religious root, creation fell along with humanity in the Fall. Since the Fall, the image of God is only revealed in its true sense in Jesus Christ (NC III 69). Christ was required as a New Religious Root of the temporal cosmos (NC I, 506). Dooyeweerd says that in Christ, sin is really propitiated.
Dooyeweerd sometimes refers to temporal reality as the 'earth.' Genesis chapter I distinguishes the 'earthly' from the 'heavens.' The 'heavens' means the "temporal world concentrated in man" (NC II, 53 ft 1). The temporal is concentrated in man as the supratemporal root.
In his first response to the curators of the Free University (April 27, 1937), in response to Hepp's complaints, Dooyeweerd wrote that the WdW makes a radical break with immanence philosophy in its idea that it understands that our whole temporal human existence proceeds from out of the religious root, the heart. And the fall consisted in the falling away of the heart from its Creator. That is the cause of spiritual death [geestelijken dood]. This spiritual death cannot be confused with bodily [lichamelijken] death nor with eternal [eeuwigen dood]. The acknowledgement of the spiritual death as the conseuence of the fall is so central to the WdW that if it is denied, no single part of the WdW can be understood. (Verburg 212).
In "De Zin der Geschiedenis in de 'Leiding Gods' in de Historische Ontwikkeling" (1932), Dooyeweerd said that the Christian religion has always taught that the supratemporal creaturely root of creation is not found in temporal reality nor in the temporal function of reason, but in the religious root of the human race. For out of the heart (which he says is the religious root of existence) are the issues of life. (Verburg 149)
The transcendental direction of thought points to the religious root of our cosmos, in which the selfhood participates, and to the religious fulness of meaning that forms the foundation of all its modal refractions in cosmic time (NC II, 53-54).
These same ideas of selfhood as temporal root, and the substitution of Christ as the new religious root had been previously developed by Baader. Baader also speaks of our Existenz, and the fact that we have no being in ourselves. Man is the root-unity [Wurzel-Einheid] of nature. Man is not just a postscript to the rest of creation (Weltalter 280). We are God’s final creation [Schlussgeschöpf] (Werke I, 299, 432; IV, 33).
The idea of religious root is related to the fact that we are the image of God (Weltalter 184). St. Paul says that Heaven and earth ‘live and move and have their being’ in God [Acts 17:28]. Because our central, supratemporal selfhood is the image of God, humans are truly the center of the material world (Werke V, 31; XI, 78; Begründung 48). Baader speaks of humans as originally a "cosmic virtuality," combining in themselves heaven and earth, as mediator, by virtue of the indwelling of God. But there is a false, usurping self-mediating, self-constituting desire. (Philosophische Schriften II, xxviii note).
Baader says that man was created in God’s image, with a task to perform as the root of the rest of creation. In this first state, Man was above time and space. Humans were destined to have direct and full community with God (Zeit, 39). Man was placed in a nature that was already disturbed due to the previous fall of Lucifer. The human assignment was to free this nature and to reunite it. This responsibility gave to humans an incomprehensible dimension [unübersehbare Ausdehnung] within time [Elementarbegriffe 551]. As the root unity of the temporal world, Man was given stewardship [Verwaltung] over the temporal domain.
Baader says that God’s central action occurs above time; this is the central action of the Word. It produces rays [Strahlen] within temporal reality. The original human task was to return those rays into their unity. This task was not done, and a new root was required. In its present temporal state, there is no focus point, and the dispersed light does not warm (Weltalter 97). Similarly, Dooyeweerd says that apostate humanity has lost the focus (Brandpunt) of its existence (WdW I, 25, 26).
Baader says that creation fell with Man just as a kingdom falls with its king. Baader cites Romans 8:19-22, where Paul speaks of all creation groaning for redemption (Susini 286). This redemption can be done only by God Himself, because only God himself can unite us again with our root [Wurzel] (Werke XII, 226; cited by Betanzos 124). Because the center of creation was Man, redemption required a new human root was required; this is the reason for Christ’s incarnation (Weltalter 188).
For Dooyeweerd, our supratemporal reality is not individual, but is the root of individualization:
What is noteworthy here is that Dooyeweerd uses the prism analogy to show not only the different modal aspects of our life, but also of individuality itself, and the emergence of individuality structures from a central unity.
Dooyeweerd intended Volume III of Reformatie en Scholastiek in de Wijsbegeerte to set out the religious root-unity of human existence in creation, fall and redemption in Jesus Christ. (Verburg 269).
Baader also uses the prism analogy to say that true humanity is not individual. No individual is completely and perfectly Man. The true humanity, or the divine within us, is divided among all. The one divine ray is broken into millions of colours; these are only fractions of the same Oneness and Image of God (Weltalter 52). Each individual being is like a central point, receiving from all the other beings outside of the infinite periphery that constitutes his horizon, all that he can receive, and he sends in turn all that he can send. But for all the different particular centers, there is a general center, and a principal ray uniting each the first to the second. All the force of the influences of each individual on the others is channeled in the ray towards the center and then sent again to the points. Everything that is emanated from God is directed eternally towards Him, and nothing perishes of what He has expressed, and He is all in all (1 Cor. 15:28) (Werke XI, 42).
Dooyeweerd generally avoids proof texting. There are some Biblical references with respect to this idea of humanity as the religious root, especially in Christ:
Heb. 2: 8 "Thou hast put all things in subjection
under his [man's] feet."
Kuyper also saw the selfhood as the root of the cosmos; this concentration of the temporal in our selfhood brings with it a responsibility for the temporal world. Kuyper says that humans were created in the image of God, as the root of the cosmos, and called to consecrate the cosmos to God's glory. This was disturbed by sin, and a new root was required:
Christ as the second root restores our mystical union with God. This union is of an organic nature:
Gerard van Moorsel cites another reference from Kuyper that has a bearing on this discussion. In Het werk van den Heiligen Geest (Kampen, 1927), Kuyper says (pp. 402-3, van Moorsel's emphasis):
Van Moorsel then comments, linking Kuyper's ideas to Hermeticism:
Van Moorsel's brief comment raises many interesting points that require further research, especially since Dooyeweerd refers to Kuyper's view of the centrality of the heart. Van Moorsel's interpretation of Hermeticism may be open to question, but among his many interesting comments I note:
1. Hermeticism emphasizes a radical spirituality, the transformation to the new man. It uses metaphors of the upward journey of the soul (anodos psuches) , rebirth, eucharist and reasonable sacrifices. The ascent to the higher spheres is a kind of deification. There is a divine indwelling by which material man becomes spiritual. This upward ascent occurs even before death. Van Moorsel notes that even Calvin used the metaphor of a present anodos. See Op. Calv. 23, 247, cited by Van der Linde, p. 126, note 3.
2. Hermeticism is radical in not sacramentalizing the process of the journey, and it is also opposed to magic. There is no baptism, communion, confession of sins, laying on of hands, no purifications. Sacrifice and magic are absorbed; asceticism is stripped of its effectuating character. It is powerful humility (Tauler). This gnosis is ‘inner magic’. Christ as true sacrifice : transformation of notion of sacrifice and yet maintaining it. The interior and cosmic elements coincide; as in Indian theosophy or Greek Orthodox Hesychasm.
3. “Hermeticism is a species of mysticism after all. So it had to manifest the tendency towards actualisation innate in mysticism which finds its classic expression in the works of Eckehart and Tauler." (page 103)
4. Hermeticism is neither dualistic nor monistic:
By 'semi-Gnosticism,' he means a gnosticism without dualism.
5. In Hermeticism, the world is a mighty wonder worthy of adoration and love; by close and pious perception of the world we can attain the true vision of God. Jonas calls is "an ontologic idealisation of the cosmos."
Even if New Age ideas refer to Hermeticism, that should not automatically discount Hermetic thought. It may even have influenced Calvinism and Kuyper. Of course, the narcissism and magical tendencies of New Age ideas, and its quest for personal power are to be avoided. Van Moorsel's book seems to indicate that they are not found in Hermeticism itself.
An interesting introduction to Hermeticism is the book by "Anonymous" [Valentine Tomberg]: Meditations on the Tarot: a Journey into Christian Hermeticism, tr. Robert Powell, (Tarcher, 1985). It has nothing to do with magic or divination. There are fascinating parallels with Dooyeweerd, but that is not surprising since, as Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar says in his Afterword, it is written in the tradition of Franz von Baader.
Notes revised Jan 29/08