Our church’s coffee group (I can’t seem to settle on a name for our little tribe, since our reading material doesn’t stick to a single genre or theme) met last night to chat about the first chapter of Herman Dooyeweerd‘s Roots of Western Culture. Dooyeweerd was one of the driving intellectual forces in Neocalvinism, and his work provides a solid philosophical foundation to Biblica Christianity. Several folks in the group (myself included) had never read Dooey, and one of our members had read quite a bit, so he suggested we examine this book as a good introduction to Dooey’s thought without getting bogged down in the particulars. Most of the time was spent discussing the introduction, wherein Dooyeweerd lays out his plan for the book (tracing the religious roots of Western Culture through the Greeks, the Romans, the Catholic church, and the humanists) and his analytical methods. The rest of the time was spent examining the “Creation Fall Redemption” ground motive in more detail. We’ve decided to reread the piece for next month, due to both the absence of several people and the density of the work.

One side note — Ian, our resident Dooey expert, pointed out that this book was originally written as a series of essays for a Dutch Reformed journal in the years following World War II, when the Netherlands was facing difficult decisions about its future. While the essays were important philosophically, there were also meant to be practical instructions for the reformed Dutch community as they faced an uncertain future. One of favorite passages underscores this:

In this apparently chaotic stage of transition the West’s older and spiritually consolidated cultural powers, Roman Catholicism and the Reformation, have again joined the spiritual fray. This time they fight with modern weapons. Their aim is not just to defend the christian foundations of modern civilization but to reclaim leadership for a future which is still so unknown and bleak.