Rubha nam Bràithrean - Brothers' Point

Schaeffer’s debt to Dooyeweerd

I’m most grateful for Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh’s comment on my last blog. He draws to my attention how greatly influenced Shaeffer was by Dooyeweerd’s philosphy. Hans Rookmaaker and Schaeffer were close associates and Rookmaaker was an insider, as it were, to the thinking behind the L’Abri community. The following quotation from Rookmaaker, therefore, which Fearghas posted as comment is most apposite for illustrating some of the connections between Shaeffer’s and Dooyeweerd’s thinking. I’ve taken the liberty of posting this again (in case anybody missed Ferghas’s comment). I’ve broken up the extract and added headings to make it more accessible.

‘Difficult vocabulary’

“In the course of the years [Francis] Schaeffer and I discussed many things, among which philosophy and particularly Dooyeweerd’s philosophy were favourite topics. Dooyeweerd’s ideas have had an influence on Schaeffer and L’Abri in that way. Of course Schaeffer incorporated these ideas in his own thinking and continued on. Neither of us is a slavish pupil of Dooyeweerd. I make quite an effort not to use his difficult terminology, which in a way belonged to the style of the 1930s. So you will not find Dooyeweerd’s vocabulary in our discussions at L’Abri, but his thoughts are there just the same.”

Quiraing from Rubha nam Bràithrean

Western thought

“Dooyeweerd himself wrote a good and short introduction to his work called [In] The Twilight of Western Thought. In the first part of that book he asks the question how Western thought is to be approached. Is it really Christian and if not, what is it? Escape from Reason is Schaeffer’s version of what Dooyeweerd develops in those chapters. They both talk for instance about nature and grace and about the influence of Greek concepts.”

Basic answers to basic questions

” Dooyeweerd tries to trace the various ways of thinking in Western history to their starting points. A starting point can be defined as the basic answers that are given to basic questions like: What is the world? Who is God? or What is the source of this world? The answers given to those questions colour the answers that are given to all other questions.”

A Christian approach to reality

“The second part of Dooyeweerd’s book deals with a truly Christian approach to reality. Firstly it is basic to such an approach that we begin with a world that is created. Secondly we hold that this world is fallen, it is not perfect. But thirdly we say that this is not the end, there is redemption as Christ came to redeem this world. On the basis of these truths we can try to grasp reality and analyse how this world is made. Dooyeweerd then proceeds to give such an analysis.” (Hans Rookmaaker ‘A Dutch view of Christian philosophy’ The Complete Works of Hans Rookmaaker edited by Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker Vol 6 Part III The L’Abri Lectures. Piquant, 2005).