The Reformational Digital Library (RDL) is a resource-base rooted in the tradition of the reformational Christian philosophy developed by the Dutch polymath Herman Dooyeweerd. Specific attention is given towards literary works in which the systematic articulation and coherent advancement of this tradition is demonstrably evident.
It is the central mission of the RDL to publish the best works of Dooyeweerd’s colleagues, students, and followers in order to elaborate and advance these revolutionary insights through books, articles, special lectures and speeches. Our emphasis is placed on those works within this new Christian philosophy in which there is demonstrable evidence of a self-conscious employment of the systematic analysis articulated in the Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea. We have adopted the general rubric “The Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea” which, in the contemporary Anglo-American arena, specifically identifies the form of analysis taken by this new Christian philosophy, rather than the older expression “The Philosophy of the Law Idea,”that was a translation of the title of Dooyeweerd’s three volume publication of 1935-36, De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee. By limiting the scope of our initial endeavors (at least in principle) to the more important systematic works, we hope to considerably narrow the parameters of the nevertheless daunting task before us.
We believe that the Philosophy of The Cosmonomic Idea represents the first attempt in the history of the church to develop a systematically coherent, biblically-driven philosophy that is in fact self-consciously non-synthetic in nature. We are convinced that this Christian philosophy can provide a significant foundation for a coherent analysis of the entire diversity of the creation order.
While there have been numerous attempts by a broad range of writers to develop what has been purported to be a “Christian Philosophy,” almost every attempt thus far could be characterized as either philosophies whose central informing spirit was “borrowed” from extra-biblical sources, or “Christian Philosophies” whose general aim typically did not include the comprehensive grounding of the special sciences in a unified view of creation.
It is the singular genius of the Philosophy of The Cosmonomic Idea that it claims to be grounded in the central biblical themes of creation, fall, redemption and renewal of all things through Jesus Christ, the incarnate word of God. Secondly, it also claims that its primary concern is the coherent analysis of “the totality of meaning of our temporal cosmos.” In this latter respect, this philosophy is not only unique, it is truly epoch-making in that it attempts to lay bare in the course of its procedure, the transcendental basic questions regarding the coherence, the unity, and the origin of the temporal order of creation.
Indeed, it is precisely (i) the cosmic scope of this philosophy, and its (ii) attempt to gain entry into the rich diversity of creation by means of a systematically coherent analysis of every square inch of this creation order, that sets it apart from all other attempts thus far.
Therefore, it is imperative that this material be made available to the English-speaking world while there are still colleagues alive who have had close personal contact with Dooyeweerd, and can provide insight into his more difficult expressions. Many readers will have had first hand experience of trying to comprehend the systematic conceptions of various outstanding thinkers who are removed from the contemporary scene by many generations, many years, or, in the case of numerous notorious examples (Plato, Augustine, Hegel) many centuries. The further away from the contemporary scene a given thinker is, the more difficult it is to recapture the animating spirit of his time. Thus, this important historical moment must be seized.
The body of work developed by those committed to the Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea is of course, not without its detractors. There have also been some, even within the broader confines of this movement, that have suggested that this particular form of systematic expression has perhaps seen its best days. Furthermore, others have suggested from time to time that it is precisely the enormous scope and systematic complexity of the position that renders it inappropriate to deal with the contemporary condition. We believe, on the contrary, that not only are its best days yet to come, but that this particular form of systematic expression is relevant precisely because of the complexity and confusion of the contemporary condition, and precisely because of the failure of most of the alternative positions to demonstrate viable solutions to the enormously complex problems of our current condition.
It is singularly instructive to observe that at roughly the same time in which Dooyeweerd was producing his enormously well-informed systematic and historical works, another scholar, who was described by one far-sighted individual as perhaps the new “Toynbee” in the making, was similarly producing works of enormous systematic and historical insight, and was also being summarily dismissed as irrelevant because of the entirely unique vocabulary and systematic complexity that the work exhibited. I refer, of course, to the work of the great German polymath, Eric Voegelin. In 1986 a small group of Voegelin’s followers finalized plans to translate and publish his collected works. Before the Summer of 2007, the last of the thirty five volumes of the collected works were expected to be published. The presence of this body of work has precipitated a significant world-wide interest in, and development of Voegelin’s work. It should also be pointed out that the current revival of interest in the work of Jonathan Edwards is largely the result of the publication of a critical edition of his work by Yale University that is still incomplete at forty-five volumes.
The Body of Christ will be similarly served, as indeed will the whole of God’s creation, by the publication of this body of work. As with the works of Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Thomas, Newton, Kant, Hegel, Gödel, or Voegelin, the work of Dooyeweerd and his systematic expositors will remain not so much as monuments to the greatness of these individuals, but as perpetual sources of unique insight into the universal condition of the experience of all mankind Coram Deo.
The RDL hopes to nurture this “great treasure” as the Lord provides us with the insight and opportunity to develop and disseminate this “feast” that he has so richly placed before us. As a section of the minutes from our historic first formal meeting reads, “…we are guided by the conviction that God’s work is not to be found in the lightning and the thunder, the sound and fury of much talk and activity, but in His still quiet voice speaking to those whom He will choose. Hence, we are agreed that we will pursue our work in the sure knowledge that if we so work in the way of the Lord, such work will not return void.”
We would like to request that all those who share a similar concern for these works to join with us in actively suggesting titles for inclusion in this project, assisting in the search for hard copies of these titles, and finally donating their time and expertise in the rendering of selected titles into digital form for transmission in the standard digital formats.
Dooyeweerd’s work is perhaps best expressed in his five volume, Encyclopedia of the Law Sciences, his three volume, A New Critique of Theoretical Thought,and his Reformation and Scholasticism in Philosophy, 3 vols. Many other important books such as The Struggle for A Christian Politics, and dozens of highly significant journal articles, all combine to produce a pearl of such great worth, that perhaps only the great insights God poured out upon the sixteenth century Reformers are of similar significance.
As many readers already know,The Collected Works of Dooyeweerd, are presently in process of being translated and published by the Dooyeweerd Center (DC) under the leadership of Prof. Danie Strauss, general editor, and Prof. Harry Van Dyke, director of the Center. While there is no official relationship between the RDL and the DC, we maintain a relationship of close mutual support and encouragement.
In effect then, the RDL will work in parallel with the Dooyeweerd Center by producing those works of Dooyeweerd’s adherents who represent the best attempts to systematically and coherently develop the insights contained in his writings.
The monumental work of Dooyeweerd’s brother-in-law D. Th. Vollenhoven, for example, has already received special attention, and numerous publications such as his Isagôgè Philosophiae: Introduction to Philosophy, and Vollenhoven’s Problem-Historical Method, by Kornelis Bril, are now available at www.dordt.edu/dordt_press through the highly dedicated and competent endeavors of Kornelis Bril, Tony Tol, and John Kok. We will continue to work towards maintaining links to all such Vollenhoven endeavors and all endeavors that are working within the same general framework as this new Christian Philosophy.
Kerry John Hollingsworth
Updated by Digital Curator 03.01.2019
Steven Richard Martins
Reformational Digital Library