The Reason For No Season

I love the distinctiveness of each meteorological season in the MidAtlantic. You typically get summers in the 100s, winters in the 30s, springs and autumns in the ascending and descending betweens.

Winter can be cheery and cozy indoors, with special food and drink to get us through the colder, shorter days. Often distant family and friends vacation from work, and we gather from the four corners with time to enjoy fellowship undiluted. All this I love, and would never derogate. These things are what really matter at the turn of each year.

However, all pretended ritual or sacred significance in this or any other month or day is a worthless fantasy and a product of foolish imagination. Indeed, the incarnation (and birth) of our Savior finally culminated in His re-birth, putting an end to all the shadows.


Discussing God, Etc.

I sometimes recommend to you an article, book, film, or artist. But this appeal goes beyond my highest recommendation. If you've ever found any interest in our existential discussions, please get a copy of Roy Clouser's Knowing With The Heart.

I'm addressing quite a few people really. Whether you're a believer or not, whether we are friends or were brief acquaintances, if we met in the past twelve years in either Baltimore, D.C., Harrisburg, California, Chattanooga, Prague, Amsterdam, Japan, or Canada… we probably had a philosophical conversation or two. And this book explains several key ideas I tried to articulate.

Did you ever read C.S.Lewis' Mere Christianity ? Although not written in the same kind of literary style, Clouser's book is honestly superior in content and is written in clear, nontechnical, immensely readable language. The primary theme of the book is religious experience and belief in God, and you'll find its implications as broad and deep as life itself.


Sympathy For The Damned Secularists?

Sure, you're not permitted to publicly practice any theistic religion in all of France. But hey... you can smoke everywhere!

(you can't imagine how closely the degree to which I despise anti-smoking fascism approaches the amount of abhorrence I have for anti-religious totalitarianism.)


Researching Ramus

About four years ago a friend mentioned how Ramist logic was in vogue at the Westminster Assembly. I never heard this before, and was quite curious. But only recently have my thoughts turned back to Ramism. I'm hoping to discover more.

Pierre de la Ramée (Petrus Ramus 1515-1572, not to be confused with Rudolf Grossmann who took the name as an alias) was a Huguenot scholar killed at the St. Bartholomew Massacre. Ramus worked to reform the Liberal Arts in a particular anti-Aristotelian manner.

He was perhaps the most influential thinker upon Calvinist scholars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Ramist thinking is reported to have heavily influenced the likes of Milton, Shakespeare, Bacon, and Althusius, in addition to many Puritans from Sir William Temple to Jonathan Edwards.

I hope to acquire three major works on Ramus by F.P. Graves, W.J. Ong, and J.V. Skalnik.


Strange Fellow

In my experience, the words "calvinist philosophy" do not tend to inspire enthusiasm in other people. But if the idea of exploring the depths of human experience is at all interesting to you, give it a chance.

A wonderfully strange fellow, Glenn Friesen, gives us a window into his life and reflections on his new site concerning Christian Nondualism. The site is a significant resource, but I must highlight the (comparatively insignificant) fact that he has two photos of Dooyeweerd here that I have wanted to post for months.

Caveat: I'm fairly certain that the term "mystical" as Friesen applies it to Dooyeweerd must not be understood as any kind of supra-creational spiritualism.


Philosophical Terms

On Aug. 21 I gave a sort of definition for continental philosophy. For those more interested in the subject I heartily recommend Scott Moore's Notebook. It is quite extensive.

Being a fan of extensivity (and you know I love dictionaries) let me also mention The Ism Book. Perhaps "Dooyeweerdianism" will be included in the next version, despite its reformational anti-reductionism(!) and critique of most "isms."



Gary North once wrote: "Every revolution needs slogans. Here is mine: politics fourth" (sidebar p.575). One point here, among others, is that Jesus being Lord of every part of life does not mean there are political fix-alls or shortcuts in the Christian cultural task. And yet we certainly have work to do in the political sphere.

Some of that work involves legal scholarship. I was encouraged to read Andree Seu's article recommending that Christians work to wrest jurisprudence from its secular captivity and bring it to its biblical roots. Holding up Kuyper as an example, Seu suggests that it might be time to establish a Christian School of Law in the U.S. that will labor to go beyond "generically conservative analyses to engage in a distinctively, self-consciously, rigorously biblical undertaking."

Similarly, Bruce Green (Dean of Liberty University's School of Law) writes about progress in founding a new Christian law school and mentions reading Dooyeweerd (via Strauss via Reeves). Certainly, if any would take up Seu's challenge to "revive Kuyper's proposal," they ought to avail themselves of the tremendous head-start provided in Dooyeweerd's writings.


American Thanksgiving

During this annual feast I like to reflect on Washington's proclamation. It is not a particular temptation of mine to mistakenly identify God's Kingdom and this nation, or even "western civilization," however, it is genuinely humbling to acknowledge the transgressions of the these communities to which I also belong.

On a more trivial note, I was hoping for a goose this year. Alas. The meal (nonetheless delicious and bountiful) was a small "only-part-of-the-family" affair. Afterwards I went up to my sister's in Northumberland, PA. I played a lot of Nintendo with brother Jeff.


Evening's Aesthetic Discussion

The question(s) at the end of the evening was:

"What work induced your most intense response?"
(& did this occur in your childhood or more recently?)


The Unknowing God

A few friends have returned from the latest Evangelical Theological Society conference. I had heard that Clark Pinnock and John Sanders, advocates of "Open Theism," were up on charges.

Their memberships were retained, perhaps rendering the word "evangelical" even more ambiguous than it already is in popular usage. It's not like ETS required anyone to be a professing Christian to begin with, which is fine. But it's sad to see practically useless doctrinal requirements.


Even Tastier Pancakes?

At Betsy's recommendation, I got a copy of Nourishing Traditions for my mother. Now all I have to do is find out where they still sell real organic lard.

Give this book to your mother for Christmas. Next time you visit for a meal, you won't be sorry. This book also makes a good gift for all your poor, misinformed vegan friends.


The Little Things

I finally got my driver's license renewed... after four trips to the MVA, many phone calls, checks sent, receipts received and faxed, etc., etc. I feel like a free man again --not that I actually own a vehicle, mind you.


Religion And Theology

In an earlier post (Why I Am A Dooyeweerdian) I confessed to being a former “embryonic rationalist.” However, I came to believe that rationalism is at odds with true religion. Some thoughts (provoked by a recent conversation) may elucidate this further.

There is perhaps a sort of rational-theoretical certitude (in "analytical" statements. eg., all bachelors are unmarried). And there is a kind of psychological conviction and feeling of assurance.

But I think faith has its own confidence, and it can only come from God's Spirit witnessing with&by the Word. In matters of biblical teaching (in addition to the life-or-death message of salvation) regenerate persons can have the confidence of faith in those teachings which God may illumine their hearts to see are truly taught in the Scripture. And this sort of faith can have no other object than God as He has revealed Himself, and truths of His Word.

There is a crucial distinction here between (faith-) confession and theology (which is a scientific-theoretical affair). This distinction is too often unappreciated, even within covenantal-reformed circles. However, this distinction does not diminish the importance of theology, rather it gives it a proper place and keeps us from holding theoretical thought as autonomous… even when it addresses Scriptural doctrine.


Saevio Adversus Machina
a confessional moment

Today was a day for contemplating Self-Actualization.

When I feel like I'm failing, I want to blame the System. "Sane people should find themselves completely at odds with life in a dsytopia. Success is really a sign that you've lost your humanity."

Then the character on the other shoulder says something about taking personal responsibility, facing the absurd, being the sum of my choices.

Which voice do you suppose is the devil's?


American Veterans Day

Previously called Armistice Day, commemorating the signing of the armistice that ended the first world war on this day in 1918 at 11am. In the United States it was proclaimed as an annual day of mourning by president Wilson in 1919. The name was then changed to Veterans Day in 1954 to honor all U.S. Veterans, especially those who died in battle.

You may find this summary of just war principles of interest.

It is also noteworthy that the Mayflower Compact was signed on this day in 1620.


The Continuing Un-reformed Episcopals

The Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Province of America are now betrothed, the wedding is set for sometime around 2008. One wonders how this is happening, since the REC (historically) stands on one side concerning the romanizing Oxford Movement, and the APA stands on the other.

But an REC friend tells me the prevailing attitude is: "who cares about the vestments debate in the face of overwhelming modernistic liberalism?" They are willing to sacrifice their calvinistic distinctives in hopes of maintaining their "conservatism," forgetting that it was the "re-catholicized" church that went liberal.
Back In Bloom County

From about 1983 to 1989 I clipped it each week from the Sunday paper and taped it to my bedroom wall. I wasn't such a devotee of Outland, but read it frequently until the end, circa 1995.

Rumor has it that Opus has returned.


Grad Zine

The graduate students in philosophy at Villanova, with the editorial advisement of Caputo, have begun an academic journal. There's postmodern gobbledygook galore, but I figure I better start getting used to it.

I mean, if secularistic naiveté is wearing-off... that's great. We should do our best to take advantage of the times.


Here's To The Humanities

The "human sciences" have a general bum rap in our society. This is typically exemplified in the reaction I get when someone discovers I'm a philosophy student. It comes across as a mix of pity and fear. No one seems quite sure what philosophy is, what it's good for, or why anyone would care. Many seem suspicious that whatever philosophy may be (other than totally boring and irrelevant) it is most likely bizarre or dangerous.

Well, thanks to the Kluge Center, we now have our own version of the "nobel prize." The first recipient is Leszek Kolakowski. One can only hope that this may contribute to a broader societal appreciation of philosophy and the other "human and social" sciences.


All In The Family

As a sort of postscript to "Reformation Day," I thought I would mention a few resources for your historical education: a Dutch Reformed Timeline, an Overview of U.S. Presbyterianism, a History of the Reformed Church, and a Dictionary of the Presbyterian & Reformed Tradition in America.


One For Sorrow, Two For Joy

Friday afternoon I rode with Jason, Betsy, and young Eli to Lancaster, PA for the weekend. We stayed with our friends Keith, Debbie, and little Jonathan (who had an ear infection, poor kid). That night we dressed-up and handed out treats. We watched the crowds build outside a church down the street. "You've been to the haunted houses," a sign read, "...but have you ever seen HELL?"
Keith remarked that there was a long line waiting to get into hell.

Later that evening after the kids were in bed, not being able to find Luther at the local video store, we opted for "The Hours" instead. I think Betsy summed up our collective response when she said, "I didn't suppose that each minute would be as unbearable as it was."

Saturday morning the boys went to Market, while the girls went thrift shopping. Nearby, I visited the Oldest Tobacco Shop in the U.S. for a few necessities. That afternoon we all went to the Greek Fest at Keith's church. I was happy to get some good coffee. The highlight of the weekend was a concert that evening with The Innocence Mission. It's difficult to overstate how melodiously wonderful their music is.

On the Lord's Day we visited Westminster PCA, where Debbie is considering membership. I noticed the church is studying Hart&Muether's With Reverence And Awe. We had a very tasty lunch, then I fell asleep on the couch before the ride home again.


The Accidental BAUS

There are several persons on the web with the last name Baus. Most are native Germans, some are German-Spaniards, some are German-northAmericans, some are German-LatinoAmericans. Sadly, I'm not aware of my exact genealogical relation to any of these persons.

As Dr. Koyzis noticed, b.a.u.s. is also an occasional acronym. Here are a few favorites:

British Association of Urological Surgeons
Buddhist Association of the United States
Blindern Akademiske UndervannssaelSkab


Linus, Last Of The Believers

It's getting fairly autumny, and I'm enjoying the perfume of dead leaves in the cool, damp air. Tonight I watched Charlie Brown's "It’s The Great Pumpkin." Strange how different the sensibilities of children's entertainment were back-in-the-day. Of course the soundtrack is superb. And the theme of the film is religious sincerity in the face of disappointed eschatology in a hedonistic society with reference to the first World War. Can you imagine anything approaching this being produced these days?

Anyway, here are a few favorite Harvest Songs for your edification:

For The Beauty Of The Earth
Let All Things Now Living
Come, Ye Thankful People
Now Thank We All Our God
Our Redeemer-Creator / We Gather Together
Jazz And All That

So brother Gary just finished playing in his second Cork Jazz Fest... this year with Fusty and his VS&B trio. He says it went well, except that Guinness made all the performers sign a contract stipulating that during the festival they would only drink Guinness products. Gary says that in southern Ireland, Murphy's is a staple.

Supposedly, he's taking a class or two at some music school and he's been DJ-ing classic swing nights at a pub. But I'm sure le garçon is still busking when he can.


Holy Culture

In their lastest issue, Catapult magazine (the online publication of *cino) posted a brief article I wrote last year.

And keep an eye on Neocalvinism Today. We expect 2004 to bring new things.


To The Nth Degree

I don't much care for certain peculiarities of the internet, like instant messaging or chat rooms. However, I am now on the "Friendster" network. It works on a 4 "degrees of separation" model (I think). Anyway, if we're friends and you're also on Friendster, you can add me to your group. If you'd like to join in, send an email to [my alternate address] ideologAThotmailDOTcom and I'll add you.

It's easy, free, and harmless. What more (or less) could you want?


Self Medicating

I've experienced a little insomnia lately, so I took Melatonin for a few nights. Instead of helping me get a good night's rest, I've been waking up in a cold sweat. These dreams are disturbing... but they're so interesting that I am forced to get out of bed and write them down.

I've had enough adventure for one week. I'm switching back to Vodka.


Drumroll Please

And did I forget to mention... Ladies and Gentlemen... the annual event cellulophiles have been waiting for?


Brother Luther

So I finally saw the Luther film. I heartily recommend it. The criticisms I read that accused Fiennes of "underplaying" the character were unwarranted. And various commentators' complaints about "not enough passion" between Luther and Katie I now see to have been mere prurience.

When I first heard about the film a year ago, I had supposed it was Osborne's play (of which I am a great fan). But I'm glad it turned out to be a new telling. Of course, there are things I would have done differently. Passage of time was not well articulated in parts. And I would have added about 15 to 30 minutes of Luther's "conversion" to a biblical understanding of salvation by grace, particularly as he learned it from his study of the Scriptures. But this was not entirely unrepresented in the film.

Every "Reformation Day" I like to dress up like Satan, eat too many candy corns, and do a little public reading from Luther's writings. From now on I may be adding a film-viewing to the party.


"Vigilantes" of Love, Labor, and Justice

The Ontario Student Solidarity Local (a university chapter of CLAC) is sponsoring an event called Live Justice this Friday. Bill Mallonee is playing... for which I'll happily take some credit, since no one else had heard of him and I insisted like a whining baby that they book him.

Also see Gideon's "Cuba" post of 13 October.
Being Polish

My brother, Jeffrey, and I are planning on reading and discussing Norman Davies' "God's Playground" together. It's part of our attempt to learn more about our Polish heritage. Fortunately, there's a decent Polish community in Baltimore for us to engage.

There are quite a few Poles in the U.S. From Pulaski to the PAC, our influence is ubiquitous... which is good for everybody, because who doesn't love Polka? Listen to the world's favorite music right now.


Raised In A Barn

New York writer friends from college are calling for contributions for an up-coming publication of contemporary "religious" sonnets. I hope Aaron Belz (also a writer friend from college) will have something represented.

From Weeping Rivet :
“We hope that by juxtaposing 40 modern writers working in an antiquated literary form we can create a forum for exploring whether religion itself has become an antiquated form.... Both sonnets and religions are necessarily restrictive and dogmatic to a degree; will our modern writers be able to wear these forms gracefully, annunciating something living and active within?”

Now, I don't pretend to be a John Donne or anything. But here's my honest contribution.

The rebel-creature does the truth suppress
exchanging knowledge for a foolish lie
denying Me in his unrighteousness
I give him over to his lust to die
Although he knew the penalty for this
his conscience bearing witness to his guilt
he thought himself to be autonomous
inventing his own law: "do what thou wilt"
And so do all before me stand condemned
for no one can their own selves vindicate
who then are you to cry this does offend
that I each sinner would predestinate
I hated Esau, Jacob loved have I
to demonstrate both grace and wrath are mine.

Some poets may think commenting on one's own work is somehow inauthentic, but I don't think it necessarily takes away from a poem to "explain" it. It all depends on how you explain it, I guess. Anyway, here is something of an explanation: The theme is, obviously, "predestination" --being a conspicuous element of Calvinism. I drew heavily upon the Apostle Paul's language in Romans***, reflecting the pauline orientation of much calvinistic theology. I cast it in "first-person divine," indicating that the Scriptures are the very Word of God. While some might derogate calvinism as a peculiar species of the religious humanism of late medievalism (when sonnets originated), the final couplet (but a near-rhyme) is chiasmic (both in the first line of the couplet, and in the couplet itself), which is characteristic of Hebrew poetry --a subtle statement of calvinism's biblical character.


On Doubt

A few friends recently mentioned struggling with doubt. Of course, there are many kinds of doubt. Some doubts constitute certifiable existential crises. Often, one can become profoundly inconsolable in doubt. Paradoxically, we begin to take comfort in our uncertainties. We can become attached to our doubts and fearful of what their assuagement might imply. Worse, we might try to rationalize irresponsibility and sin by appealing to overwhelming doubt.

When I was a second-year college student in 1993, I read Os Guinness' "Faith In Two Minds: The Dilemma of Doubt." It has since been re-published (and revised, I think) as "God In The Dark." I appreciated most things he had to say in the book, and I recommend it to you all. I found it helpful in thinking through the issue in general, and my own doubts in particular. I also refer you back to my post on assurance, of 24 September.

Doubt is not, in every case, a bad thing. It largely depends on what is being doubted, and what effect this doubting has. When it concerns God and Scripture, we must keep in mind that "whatever is not of faith is sin."

It may be helpful to consider that doubting may be based in opinion. That is, sometimes we confuse doubt with not having an opinion on a matter. And, I think, doubt is often related to probability. That may be obvious, but it may be helpful to seek resolution to doubts in terms of examining "relative likelihood." And remember that God never doubts because, in the most ultimate sense, there are no probabilities.


Je Suis Un Vagabond

So my time in northern Virginia has come to an end. I will be heading back to Baltimore at the end of this week. There are things I'll miss about being closer to Washington, DC. and friends down here. But I suppose it will be nice to enjoy familiar charms.

"He was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God."*


Sine Qua Non

The biblical teaching of Sola Scriptura is perhaps the most central pillar of the Christian religion to be rejected and/or misunderstood (after the proper worship of God and the gospel) by "professing-Christians." There also appears to be a tragic lack of informed appreciation of this teaching in various reformed communities. Indeed we have been like Esau, selling our birthright for a bit of bloody stew. Let's consider our way and seek repentance while we may.

Here are several resources one might find helpful in understanding Sola Scriptura: several articles and books are linked here. Also consider the Cambridge Declaration, and additional articles by Warren, Bennett, and Webster. For more academic readers, Kline's "Structure of Biblical Authority," and Ridderbos' "Redemptive History and The New Testament Scriptures" are especially helpful in connecting canonics and hermeneutics.

Certainly broad cultural renewal will only come with a deepened comprehension of this teaching, for only by Holy Scripture does the Spirit bring genuine reformation in the spectrum of cultural affairs. Needless to say, there is a tremendous disdain of this foundational teaching in the "new ecumenicism."


Denying the Good News

Of course, the most common way (among so-called "professing Christians") of rejecting the true gospel is believing that Christ's atonement was not 100% efficacious. That is, many say they believe Jesus "died for everyone" and that His death did not guarantee salvation. This is a false gospel.

The true gospel is that Jesus did everything necessary to secure the salvation of His people. All those for whom Jesus died will be saved. God's Spirit will grant genuine faith and repentance to all those whom Jesus represented.


My Only Hope

Not only is there much ignorance of the proper worship of God in communities that claim a reformational heritage, but there has also been an abandonment of the essential gospel. Among some, "what the gospel is" has been exchanged for "what the gospel does," if you will. Stripped of the gospel's actual content, the gospel as “the power of God” becomes nothing more than Man's action and glory. Among others, the meaning of the gospel has been exchanged for a mere narrative. But, stripped of their God-given meaning, those events would mean nothing, no matter what supposed "meanings" some might imagine for themselves.

The true gospel is God's promise to completely save His people. This salvation is conditioned exclusively on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, and is given to those whom He represented, totally apart from their action. The gospel is not God's power or the fact that Jesus lived, died, and rose again, considered apart from the meaning of these truths.

Here are various articles on this gospel for your edification: Everlasting Life, Essential Gospel Doctrine, The Gospel --What It Is, True and False Gospel.


I Was A Teen-Age Übermensch

This evening was the 3rd season premierer of the one TV show I try to watch regularly. Why do I enjoy Smallville? Based on my admittedly limited experience of other contemporary programs (particularly on the WB), I think it possess a rare artistic irony about its own conventions. More than that, the (post)modern legend this show re-tells is a classic expression of the Freedom / Determinism dialectical religious ground-motive.


Kimchi Fest

I love Bavaria, sauerkraut, and Oktoberfest, but last week at Han Ah Reum was "kimchi fest!"

Apparently, fermented food is very healthy. Fermentation, among other things, produces enzymes that aid digestion.


Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi... Lex Vivendi
The law of prayer (worship) is the law of belief (faith/doctrine)... is the law of life (way of living)

It is an ancient insight that the way we worship determines what we believe. Those who worship like pagans --despite an initial Christian profession-- eventually believe like pagans. Similarly, in his work The Necessity of Reforming The Church, Calvin wrote:
“If it is asked by what things the Christian religion exists (and maintains its truth) among us, we will say these two things (which comprehend under them all the other parts, and consequently the whole substance of Christianity):
First, a knowledge of the way in which God is properly worshipped; and,
Second, a knowledge of the source from which salvation is obtained.”

In his own peculiar fashion Kuyper suggests the inescapable connection between worship and worldview. It is not just one's "dogma" that is corrupted by unbiblical worship, but one's whole way-of-life. My professing Reformed friends who are either ignorant of biblical-regulative worship or have abandoned it for a form predicated on an opposite principle ought to heed Kuyper's warning. It is vain to suppose that a (community-) life committed to God's revelation can be maintained while it is principially undermined in liturgical practice.

Here are a few more articles for your edification, by T. David Gordon, G. I. Williamson, Greg L. Price, Wes Bredenhof, and Gregory Rickmar.


Sunday School Online

A friend of mine is teaching a senior high class at his church on Christ in the Old Testament. Some of the book discussion and other resources are on the class website. Stop by and discover how rich and wonderful God's Word is.

And while I'm on the topic of the Bible, if you are looking for a helpful introduction to faithful interpretation, I recommend "Let The Reader Understand" by McCartney and Clayton.

Here are a few other helpful articles on biblical hermeneutics by Michael Horton 1, 2, 3; D.A. Carson; Steven Baugh.


Lost In The Cosmos

Recently, I watched two films that resonate with each other. The first is The Beach (not to be confused with On The Beach) from 2000, directed by Danny Boyle (of Shallow Grave and Trainspotting). The second is Lost In Translation from this year, directed by Sofia Coppola (no introduction necessary).

The resonance of these two films is not only in the "theme" of lost-ness (and related themes) but in a "world-ethos," I think. The films are quite different, but somehow they could occur in the same universe. It's an ethos that holds up a mirror to certain disturbing realities, then walks away and forgets what they look like. But I don't want to forget.


Antidote To Apathy

There has been some talk about apathy among the student crowd (so I've heard). I'm assuming that this apathy is particularly related to "social conscience and activism." One may suppose there are no easy answers. But we can take courage. While the answers are not easy, there are answers.

Diagnosising "causal" factors in apathy is always important. Surely there may be many diverse factors involved. However, one thing we can be certain of is that there is indeed a spiritual root to this apathy. I suggest that the spiritual dynamic involved here is well addressed in an understanding of "assurance."

Each of the three following "essays" --Joel Beeke's [pdf], Peter Jensen's, and Bill Baldwin's-- they all point to the gospel, and its objective claims, as the rock-solid basis of assurance. However, even if one has assurance by the true gospel as an individual believer, a biblically-faithful church is normative for the maintenance and growth of biblical assurance. Let's face it, a proper understanding of the gospel will lead many to become critical of their current "confessional communities," and rightly so. But be forewarned: many others will put their hands to the plow and then turn back.

In any case, the primary message here is that only the real gospel will produce real assurance. Only real assurance will produce a biblical social conscience and activism.


Philosophical Anthropology In Transcendental Criticism

Generally speaking, my blog is for a general audience. In this entry, as perhaps in the last, the language is more jargoned. If you don't understand what I'm talking about, think of it in terms of learning about my "professional" side.

An anthropology is important to transcendental criticism if such a critique of theoretical thought is to account for the nature of abstraction which involves a thinker (ie, Man). Dooyeweerdianism holds that humans are more than the sum of their modal functions. There is indeed a supratemporal dimension of Man. There is much to say about this, but its import for transcendental criticism is particularly apparent in theoretical "synthesis."

When, in abstraction, any given modality is set overagainst the analytic modality, and thus theoretically isolated, it requires synthesis --analogical relating to the other modalities-- to be grasped conceptually, otherwise it remains ambiguous as a modal-nucleus "limiting idea." For theoretical synthesis to occur, the person doing the abstracting must in some sense stand "above" the array of modalities in order to have a comprehensive grasp of them. The person must stand as a "supratemporal unity" in his concrete act of thought for the abstraction to maintain a unity.

I realize this is much contested. Some would prefer to posit an exclusively temporal unity, making humans no more than the sum of their functions. But I am not persuaded that this allows for a genuine transcendently-directed pistic function. Others attempt to do away with the neccessity of synthesis altogether by positing that the abstracted modality is not set overagainst the analytic modality, but rather against the concrete act of thought. However, as Dooyeweerd maintains, this would remove the very possibility of actually thinking it! Furthermore, I don't see how a transcendental critique that skips the anthropological step actually accounts for the nature of abstraction itself.

More On Anthropology...

Not yet knowing exactly what import this may have for transcendental criticism --I am persuing the connection between Meredith G. Kline's categories for the Imago Dei in Man: "official" and "ethical," and Al Wolters categories of "structure" and "direction."

The theological works of Kline have greatly stimulated my philosophical thinking concerning both the temporal/supratemporal distinction in creation, and a (supposed) non-"religiously neutral" sacred/secular distinction in temporal culture. I think Kline's work holds great promise for Dooyeweerdian scholarship.


Why I Am A Dooyeweerdian

Disclaimer: One does not need a philosophy to be a Christian. I take philosophy to be an academic discipline. I certainly recognize that one can be a Christian and have nothing to do with theory or scholarship.

In this atypically long entry, there are several things I would like to address: a rough definition of Dooyeweerdianism, a bit of the story of how I became a Dooyeweerdian, and an indication how I subscribe to this school of philosophy.

When others ask me to explain what philosophy is, I often say something like: “well, different academic fields look at reality in different specific ways. For instance, biology is concerned about 'the organic' and 'how things are alive,' and it asks biological sorts of questions --about photosynthesis, for example. Sociology, on the other hand, is concerned about 'groups' and 'how people behave and relate,' and it asks questions about that. Aesthetics, however, is concerned about 'art' and 'how things are symbolic,' and it asks artistic sorts of questions. All the various disciplines ask their own specific types of questions. But philosophy is broader. It wants to looks at the big picture; the totality. Philosophy asks questions about asking questions, you might say.”

Philosophy is the "totality" science (theoretical discipline). It is about analyzing the whole structure of temporal creation. It often involves a great deal of categorical and conceptual clarification.

Dooyeweerdianism --as represented in Dooyeweerd's work "A New Critique," for example-- approaches philosophy in three major divisions:
1) transcendental criticism, in which the religious foundation, orientation, and pre-commitments of all theory and philosophy is explained;
2) modal theory, in which the "multi-aspectual" character of temporal reality, in its diversity and coherence, is explained; and
3) individuality-structure theory, in which the nature of "entities," in their various composition, is explained.
Amidst the prolegomenal and cosmological discussion in the New Critique, Dooyeweerd also suggests a philosophical anthropology and social philosophy.

Dooyeweerdianism is concerned to approach philosophy, its several sub-disciplines, and the full array of theoretical fields from a non-scholastic, non-synthesis, non-rationalist, radically biblical (calvinistic) and critical manner. Dooyeweerdianism is opposed to all reductionism and ideologies.

In early high school I was profoundly influenced by G.I. Williamson's study on the Westminster Confession of Faith. This was a great milestone in maturity for me in my understanding and appreciation of the Reformed Faith in which I was raised. I then read Calvin's Institutes and the works of F.A. Schaeffer. By the end of high school, I had read a bit of Cornelius Van Til. I knew then that I wanted to be a philosopher, and my mouth was watering for a comprehensive system that took seriously the idea that the Christian religion provides a unique basis of its own for genuine philosophy.

In college I was introduced to various Christian approaches to philosophy, but I found Kuyper and Dooyeweerd most compelling. I sensed that Wolters and Walsh&Middleton possessed what I was looking for. I was very curious about this much-maligned "Dooyeweerd" fellow.

In my second year I got a copy of L. Kalsbeek's book. The following summer, I read it over and over; making notes, struggling with questions. By the end of the summer I felt as though the ground had been pulled out from beneath me. That summer I experienced a conversion. That may sound suspicious or kooky, but I think the language is appropriate. Unbeknownst to me, I had been an embryonic rationalist. However, Dooyeweerdianism showed me how this was fundamentally incompatible with my religion. I felt reborn into a new theoretical consciousness. Someone once said, “No one has a philosophy. A philosophy has you.”

I continued to read and contemplate whatever Dooyeweerdian material I could find. (Perhaps I will list some works I found helpful in another entry). The most difficult part about progressing in my philosophical understanding was that I was horribly alone. Dooyeweerdians often speak of the crucial importance of laboring (theoretically or otherwise) in community. It took me quite a while to find a few kindred spirits.

Despite isolation and misunderstanding by others I continued to embrace and grow in this school of thought for at least two main reasons:
1) Dooyeweerdianism takes the revelation of God in Jesus Christ with utter seriousness, and seeks to submit its theories at every turn, with total abandon, to His commanding Lordship;
2) Dooyeweerdianism has tremendous explanatory power for the temporal creation in its overwhelming diversity and coherence.

In Dooyeweerdianism I have come to better understand my very self, and that, of course, is a dictum for the pursuit of wisdom. If you are interested in discovering more about this school of philosophy, I recommend to you the Dooyeweerd Pages. And keep an eye out for a future post on other helpful materials.

Also consider the comments of Gideon Strauss, Macht B., and David Koyzis on being Dooyeweerdian.


Water, Oil, and Wine

This past Lord's Day, I witnessed an "Exaltation of the Holy Cross" feastday baptism at a Greek Orthodox Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The service included a chrism/myron and communion. You can read a pamphlet [pdf] roughly describing the ceremony here.

Following the service we went to my friends' home and ate, drank, smoked... but no one discussed religion, really. The group was quite spiritually eclectic. And I think, on the occasion of a baptism, everyone felt that making "religion" the riotous debate topic it usually is at good parties would have been in bad taste. So, instead, we discussed the savory food, and the importance of quality neighborhood restaurants (preferably within walking distance).

Anyway, I picked up some Conciliar Press propaganda at the church to entertain me for a while.


Amsterdam Afterall?

In 1997 I visited the Free University of Amsterdam, exploring the possibility of studying there. The requirement of being fluent in Dutch was daunting. But now they are offering a one year Interdisciplinary Masters in Christians Studies in the English language:

"...for persons who are preparing for leadership positions within social and political organizations, and for teachers and staff members in [universities and research]... for the development of a relevant Christian presence within contemporary and societal debates."
Chatting With Merchants

In a local strip-mall, near the coffee shop where I'm working, there is an old fellow who sells Polish wooden boxes. On my lunch break he introduced me to three-way chess. Crazy. And I was surprised to learn that there is even a way to play chess with three players on a standard board, called "foreign policy" chess.


Fightin' Words

On this anniversary, let us once again take note that Islam officially advocates war with non-muslims. From the Qur'an:

"And fight with infidels until... religion should be only for Allah" (8:39).

"Fight those who do not believe in Allah,... nor follow the religion of truth" (9:29).


Having Answers

Not long ago I received a fairly personal rejection. I was dismissively waved-off by a certain group for --get this-- “being the sort of person who has answers.” I don't challenge the accusation, but the slight was personal and I was actually wounded by it. I was hurt that this group was so blatantly prejudiced. I was hurt because, previous to this incident, I had been fooled into thinking this group had integrity and that it shared various commitments I hold dear.

At best, the criticism was a euphemism for "not being open-minded." Nonetheless, I did seriously consider the insinuation that I am not properly or sufficiently self-critical. I had to do this because being self-critical is one of my most valued principles, and that very fact means that I take such aspersions to heart. In the end, partly through the encouragement of more objective witnesses, I realized this group was being hypocritical and petty. They felt threatened, and their rejection amounted to saying: “you don't think the way we do. go away.”

To be ever seeking the truth, but never finding it; ever questioning, but never answering is hubris and cowardice in the extreme. Those who would be genuinely open-minded and self-critical should consider Chesterton’s reflection that “the object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid” (Autobiography. Collected Works Vol. 16, p. 212).


Buffalo Soldier

Kenn Blanchard is arming citizens in D.C. and Baltimore for self-defense, and educating for a new culture. God bless the pistol-packing preacher.


Eschaton and Apocalypse

For those of you who have asked me about a biblical view of "last things/end times," here are some recommendations. Much like the theme of God's Kingdom, eschatology is actually more basic than salvation. Creational eschatology is the context in which redemption is set. Not all of the following articles or books focus on that point, but it should not be neglected.

For many excellent articles on amillennialism and the book of Revelation consider The Highway and The Mountain Retreat. You may also enjoy Riddlebarger's book on the "amil" view, and Hendriksen, Poythress, and Johnson on Revelation, all written for a general audience.

Another writer, on both the Kingdom and the Eschaton, is George Eldon Ladd. He was a historic (non-dispensational) "premillennialist," but had a lot of good things to say.


Kingdom of God

I've read it twice now. I highly recommend to anyone who is interested in exploring the Kingdom of God, John Bright's book. It is amazingly entertaining to read, tremendously educational, and wonderfully edifying.

The other two books I really benefited from on this topic are more academic, but still recommendable: Ridderbos and Vos. If you must read something on the Kingdom this very moment, try Riddlebarger.


Can't Get Enough

Thursday night I attended an informal "ideas" discussion group. We are useing How To Think About The Great Ideas as a springboard. We discussed the first chapter on Truth. I had the opportunity (in everyday language) to argue transcendentally. To really explain my non-technical proposal would involve too much explanation about the comments to which I was responding. But the basic notion was about how we can't think philosophically about truth and what-is-true "purely rationally" apart from fundamental "faith" commitments. The group seemed responsive to the alternative definition of "faith": that it is not believing something "implausible" that we can't really "know," but that it is genuinely taking something as certain. The "something" here requires qualification to fill out what I was saying.

Anyway, I was really pleased to be understood. And it was a thrill to chat with sincere peers about ideas.


Labor Day

Appropriately, I began my new job at a coffee shop today. Although I despise the heretical Wesley (prefering his contemporaries Whitefield and Toplady), I refer you to these comments to mark this important day.
No Help, No Harm

Some of my earliest memories are of dreams. Devastating night-terrors, really. Some dreams can be more powerful or meaningful than experiences in waking life, and you never forget them. A few years ago I woke myself in a bout of loud, uncontrollable weeping. I was shook-up for days.

Anyway, last night I dreamt...


Lessons in Counterculture

The 40th anniversary of the civil rights "March on Washington" brings to mind a book I need to read again: The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual.

My interest in the civil rights movement and black radicalism was first piqued during my years at an afrocentric highschool. Later, this interest was encouraged by professor Stephen Kaufmann [CV pdf], who draws inspiration from the black struggle and powerfully relates it to our struggle as marginalized neocalvinists.

I want to advance a sort of calvinistic "negritude," a calvitude, if you will. This calvitude is an "awareness" in the midst of suffering which rejects assimilation, synthesis, and the corrupting influence of the sub-biblical; maintaining and cultivating our biblical peoplehood, understanding, and action.


Renew Urbanism

I'm a city-lover. Recently, I've noticed various conversations about New Urbanism.

When I think about "traditional neighborhoods," I can't help seeing all the gorgeous run-down buildings and streets throughout Baltimore. In my mind's eye, I see these places fixed up through Christian community and economic development --like Sandtown.

After being away last year, I don't think I got my fix of Charm City this summer. Maybe I'm a little homesick.


A Few Heroes

It looks like Roy Moore is getting royally borked. He's absolutely right about constitutional law and federal tyranny, and his principled stand is an inspiration.

My thoughts are often drawn to them, but today was a particular day for reflecting on heroes: Abraham Kuyper and J. Gresham Machen, among others.
Activist Ice Cream

Political Science professor, David Koyzis, mentions his health-motivated resolve to avoid ice cream. But ('though summer is nearly over) we all might put our consciences at ease if we could justify splurging for a good cause. I used to live a block away from Sylvan Beach Café, the best ice cream parlor in Baltimore.


Continental Drift

I'm looking into the program at Villanova. They specialize in the "continental" tradition that I am most interested in. Here is a brief statement on the two major "styles" or methods of philosophy by Jamie Smith, a Dooyeweerdian graduate of Villanova's Ph.D. program.

"Continental" and "analytic" philosophy are distinguished by "a certain “method” of doing philosophy which is undergirded by certain prephilosophical commitments regarding human nature, ontology, etc. In fact, we might say that what distinguishes continental from analytic philosophy is precisely the fact that the former recognizes the formative power of prephilosophical commitments and the contextuality of philosophizing, whereas analytic philosophy (largely) proceeds on an assumption regarding the ahistoricity of propositions."


Coffee or Activism

In my job hunt I've applied to a coffee shop, and it looks like they will be offering me a (part-time?) position. However, I've also put in an application through the Leadership Institute's employment placement service. The L.I. also recommended that I consult the Heritage Foundation's job bank.

Despite the "tough job market" there seem to be many opportunities for social and political activists in D.C., especially if you're willing to "intern" for pennies.

Speaking of activism, I finally saw Children of the Revolution. I definitely recommend it.


Upperclass Pretensions

The air was scented with expensive perfume and... citronella. Last night I attended an Army vs. Navy polo match. (I didn't know the U.S. armed forces had polo teams.) The outing was sponsored by my friend's company, which meant free food and drink! So, I ate lots of shrimp and drank Shiraz (a favorite). After an Army victory (alas, I rooted for Navy) the USO girls performed an obviously well-rehersed medley.

Tonight we are cooking out on the grill. I made the tastiest coleslaw ever.


Gainful Employment

I have just moved down to northern Virginia, temporarily perhaps. I am living with some good friends, searching for work. Can't say how long I'll be down here. But beside whatever job opportunities the Lord may provide, over the next several months I'll be looking in to graduate schools and applying (DV) to Masters programs in philosophy.

ps. my archives have disappeared on my old blog, so I just posted all the entries at once. If you wanted to catch up on what I was doing last year... enjoy.



Assuming that my comment system is now operational... please feel free to comment on my posts.
Beyond Legality

Marriage has civil and ecclessial dimensions. States can recognize it, and churches can sanction it, but a marriage is not founded upon either. The Creator instituted marriage in Eden, and a marriage is properly enacted in the mutual commitment between a man and a woman.

However --legal or not--, as with divorce and extra-marital sex, homosexuality is not only destructive to society it is also destructive to individual persons.

I recently attended a presentation by the Baltimore- D.C. area Regeneration Ministries. They are a member of Exodus International, a worldwide network of services to people overcoming homosexuality. I recommend them to anyone with sexually related struggles, and to those who want to learn more about homosexuality and how to help homosexuals.

I also recommend this informative book by Orthodox Presbyterian pastor Charles McIlhenny.


Perfectly Righteous

Although He had no house of His own, He never coveted the house of anyone, but He was jealous for His Father’s house. He had no wife, but He never coveted any man’s. He had no servant and He Himself came to serve, and He did not covet other people’s servants. He had no ox or donkey, having to borrow a colt to ride to His own death. He had no earthly possessions to speak of, and He was content to give up all He had in glory. Always rejoicing at the good of others, and fully satisfied with His lowly condition, He was envious for nothing but the Father’s will.

Jesus Christ obeyed God’s law on behalf of His people to the smallest detail, even in the slightest inclinations of His desire. “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).


Radio Days

I began listening to the radio on a regular basis when I was about nine years old. I soon became enamored with a number of classic radio programs. (Conscientious parents should note: these are a mind-stimulating alternative to TV and videos.) I also discovered the joys of Saturday public radio. If you've never heard "Whad'ya Know?," give it a try. The host, Michael Feldman, has a witty Dick Cavett, Bob Newhart sort of style. And there is excellent, original jazz on the program by John Thulin, Jeff Hamann, and Clyde Stubblefield.


Old School

Without a comment system of my own yet, I managed to arouse a few objections to my view of the 2nd commandment. I invite debate on that or any of my views expressed here, and if/when I get a comment system you all can tell me what a dolt I am ad infinitum. But, look... I'm a hard-core, old school calvinist, OK? Let it be known. If you want to read the confessional summary of scriptural teaching on the commandment in question, check out the WLC (scroll down to #s 107-110), and the Heidelberg (scroll down to "Lord'sDay 35" #s 96-98).


Signs of the Time

"...and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years" (Genesis 1:14).

One of the most timeless elements of human culture is calendar building. I humbly and gladly subscribe to the era designation of "A.D." (although various estimations of our Lord's Incarnation suggest that our current dating is miscalculated by between 4 to 7 years. Furthermore, my Christology would suggest the Resurrection as the "turning-point"). Nonetheless, this does not render useless other measurements...

Although "fictional," I particularly enjoy discussion about the StarTrek system of stardates.


A Big Party

There are approximately fifty political parties in these united states. You know the big two. But guess who is number three (according to voter-registered affiliation)...

The Constitution Party is the largest third party in the U.S.! (that's more voters than the Libertarian Party, more than the Reform Party, more than the Green Party) ...so we claim anyway. I couldn't find any official statistics. But I hope the CP national committee is correct about this because that would make us the "Wendy's" of political parties.
Old Time Religion

Today was a day for contemplating Antiochene hermeneutics. I can't help thinking that had it not been for the very early unbiblical development of episcopacy (in distinction to original presbytery), the councils would not have been able to argue for orthodoxy against heresy on the basis of an appeal to "tradition" and "office," and consequently would not have erroneously condemned sola scriptura and faithful interpretive method (ie. Antiochene). I can not understand those who balk at the thought that Christian theology and practice were significantly corrupted within a generation of the apostles.


Ireland and Scotland

My brother, Gary, plays (saxophone) on a new "house" album released worldwide last week. The group is Fusty, the label is Siesta Music, and the track is "Swing While The Band's Still Swinging." They are from Cork, Ireland.

For all you Shakespeare fans and film lovers, check out Scotland, PA... a MacBeth "remake" set in middle Pennsylvania in the mid-70s. I enjoyed it immensely.


Unite and Conquer

This weekend I am visiting friends in The Old Dominion. We were going to watch a polo match yesterday evening, but sadly it got rained out. Anyway, in the course of conversation the topic of the Free State Project arose.

I like the idea. If they ever accomplish their goal, and the region does not become a den of prostitution, pornography, drug use, casinos, etc... I might consider moving there.


Talk About The Passion

The second commandment forbids, among other things, making any kind of representation of Jesus. So of course I don't approve of His portrayal in film, especially films with "evangelistic" intent (it makes for bad film and worse evangelism). However, the latest film about our Lord and Savior, The Passion, seems to be getting-up everyone's dander because it isn't politically correct... so it's probably, more or less, historically "faithful." I'm bracing myself for the flood of "conservative Christian" gushing that the film is bound to induce.

The film is in Aramaic, Latin, and Hebrew, however, so maybe the evangelicals will stay home.


Hope is Dead

The recent death of Hope... that is, Bob --you know, the entertainer-- has led me to reflect on the nature of grief. Not that I was particularly attached to the celebrity or anything. I mean, I thought he died a long time ago. But I was disappointed that I didn't hear anyone make an obvious joke out of the headline.

Anyway, here is my own construal of the "Five Stages of Grief":

shock / denial
anxiety / panic
hostility / anger
guilt / humiliation
depression / despair

Of course, these "stages" may be experienced as overlapping, often accompanied by a general confusion, and may persist indefinitely.


Beyond Metaphysics

Today was a day for contemplating the pataphysical, if such a thing is possible.
I fear that I have always been, and will remain, too perturbable.


In The Neighborhood

Last night Baltimore’s annual ArtScape began. I took in the funkadelic stylizations of the All Mighty Senators while eating a pickle about the size of my forearm. I was also pleased to see The Book Thing doing their thing in one of the tents.


I Know What You Mean

“I am like a ripe stool, and the world is like a gigantic anus, and so we’re about to let go of each other.”

--Martin Luther, commenting to his wife Katie over dinner
[Table Talk, Winter 1542/43, No. 5537, WA. TR 5.222; LW 54.448.]



Look around. Stay a while.


current photo of Gregory Baus


Support Badges