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Herman Dooyeweerd’s Approach to Culture

This entry is part 8 of 20 in the series

"Christ the Sanctifier of Behavior"

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The first of Kuyper’s direct followers to explicitly transition away from the Reformed doctrine of two kingdoms was Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-1977). Building on Kuyper’s ambiguity, and parallel to Barth’s own views, Dooyeweerd further develops the idea of worldview as the center of antithesis1 and roots the Son of God’s relationship to cultural matters in redemption rather than in creation.2 Thus he understands there to be only one kingdom of God in Christ manifested in different spheres. He establishes a new “Christocentric” basis for common grace and develops the Creation-Fall-Redemption paradigm for understanding God and man’s work in the world.3 Involvement in the civic and culture spheres for Dooyeweerd is redemptive work for the sake of God’s kingdom. In fact, he calls for Christians to “strive for the consolidation of power in organizations that aim at applying Christian principles to society.”4

The impact of Dooyeweerd’s thoughts cannot be overestimated with relation to the church’s responsibility toward culture. Dooyeweerd’s heritage is evident especially in North American Neo-Calvinism, largely through the influence of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI. This begins first with Henry Stob (1908-1996), a student of Dooyeweerd and a professor at Calvin College. Stob agrees with Niehbuhr’s categorization of Calvin as a transformationalist and ignores the Christ and Culture in Paradox paradigm altogether.5 He strongly influenced his students Cornelius Plantinga and Albert Wolters, both who later returned to Calvin to teach and influenced Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen.

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About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is director of doctoral worship studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

  1. Herman Dooyeweerd, Roots of Western Culture (Toronto: Wedge, 1979), 5–6, 14–15. []
  2. Ibid., 137–47. []
  3. See Dooyeweerd, Roots of Western Culture. []
  4. Ibid., 66–67. []
  5. Henry Stob, Theological Reflecteions: Esssays on Related Themes (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981), 129–30, Theological Reflections. []