The photos in today’s blog were taken a few years ago in the island of Quessant, Brittany. Quessant is Ushant in English and Enez-Eusa in Breton.

Coast of Quessant, Brittany

How should we serve Christ?

Some people appear to think that if you’re a Christian you shouldn’t tussle with intellectual matters. You should just have a simple faith. For example, they make a separation between science and faith. I believe people who think along these lines are profoundly mistaken. Jesus taught us that the first commandment of all was ‘… to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength …. (Mark 12:30) Mind here is dianoia, ‘intellect, full or thorough mind’. In our context today, that means confronting, understanding and, where necessary, opposing the philosophies of our time – most urgently, secular humanism and all other dualistic philosophies.

A rejection of dualism

In this context the study of Herman Dooyeweerd, who I mentioned in my last blog, is important. Dooyeweerd was a profound thinker and theologian and the following snippets can only give a very brief taste of his thinking. He goes back to the roots of western culture and powerfully analyzes the origins of secular humanism. He is totally against dualism of any kind, for example the matter – form dualism of the Greeks, the nature – grace dualism of the Scholastics and the nature – freedom dualism which has dominated the modern era.

What Dooyeweerd puts in place of dualism

It is impossible in a short blog to do justice to the width and depth of Dooyeweerd’s thinking. But, briefly, what he puts in place of dualism is an integrated vision of the human condition based on the Biblical revelation in Jesus Christ. It’s not dualistic but tripartite – creation, fall and redemption. The following quotations from his essay The Secularization of Science will give a glimpse of where he is coming from. Anyone who wishes to investigate his work further, or to understand the motives and presuppositions of today’s secular humanism, will find much about him on the internet.

Shoreline, Quessant

The following quotations from his essay The Secularization of Science will give a glimpse of where he is coming from.

Science as a satanic power

“It is forgotten that the secularization of life would have been impossible apart from the secularization of science, and that this scientific secularization has taken place under the overwhelming influence of the religious secularization effected by post-Renaissance humanism.

That is because science, secularized and isolated, has become a satanic power, an idol which dominates all of culture.

It is a vain illusion to suppose that Christian faith has regard only to the world beyond and has nothing to do with science! Secularized science profoundly affects the human heart. From the very moment we accept it, it accompanies us when we read the Scriptures and when we says our prayers.

Nature and Grace motive

… it is also necessary to recognize how influential was the central nature-and-grace motive of Catholic Scholasticism in preparing the way for this later secularization.

The central motive – creation, fall and redemption

From the biblical point of view we must establish first of all that divine revelation has a central motive, which is the key to knowledge, and that, because of its integral and radical character, this motive altogether excludes any dualistic conception of man and of the world. This motive is that of creation, fall, and redemption in Christ Jesus in the communion of the Holy Spirit. This motive is in no way a doctrine that can be accepted without its working powerfully in our hearts.

It is above all a motive force in the very centre of our being, the key to the knowledge of God and of the self, which can open up to us the revelation of God in the Scriptures and in all the work of his hands. It is a motive so central that it is the foundation even for the scientific exegesis of the Scriptures themselves.

This motive is threefold; nevertheless, it is of one piece. It is impossible to understand the truly biblical meaning of sin and redemption without having grasped the true meaning of creation. In revealing himself as Creator, God reveals himself as the sole origin of all that is.

The concentration point of temporal existence

Just as all of the creation is centred in God as its unified, integral origin, so God has created within man a unitary centre, which is the concentration point of his temporal existence with all of its diverse aspects and powers. This is the heart, in the religious sense of the word, the source from which radiate the streams of life, the soul or the spirit of our temporal (that is to say our bodily) existence.

God reveals the radical unity of existence

We could not establish any area of terrestrial life as an asylum for our autonomy with reference to the Creator. He has the right to all of our life, to all of our thought, and to all of our action. No sphere of life may be divorced from the service of God. In revealing himself as Creator, God has at the same time disclosed to mankind the meaning of our own existence. We are created in the image of God. Taking care to disengage ourselves from all of the Greek-inspired speculations of Scholastic theology, this is to say that God here reveals to us the radical unity of our existence.

Common grace

Neither is there a dualism between common grace and special grace, as if the realm of common grace were separate from the realm of Christ. There is no grace apart from Jesus Christ, the new Root of humanity.

For us there are only two ways open, that of Scholastic accommodation, which by reason of its dialectical unfolding results in secularization, or that of the spirit of the Reformation, which requires the inward, radical reformation of scientific thought by the driving power of the biblical motive.”

This essay was presented at the first congress of the International Association for Reformed Faith and Action (Montpellier, France, 1953). The original French version was published in La Revue Réformée (Vol. V, 1954, pp. 138- 157). This translation, with notes, was made by Dr. Robert D. Knudsen of Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia.

Village in Quessant