Sophia, Androgyny and the Feminine in Franz von Baader’s Christian Theosophy

My article “Sophia, Androgyny and the Feminine in Franz von Baader’s Christian Theosophy” has been published in “Adyan/Religions”, a bilingual Arabic/English journal based in Doha, in its issue devoted to the topic “Women and the Feminine in World Religions.” Click on the link for the online copy of this journal.
Baader’s view of humanity’s original androgyny is a good counterweight to the early church’s wrongheaded emphasis on asceticism and denial of female sexuality.  Baader’s “40 Propositions Taken from a Religious Philosophy of Love” celebrates the ecstasy of sex. It is not quite Christian tantra, but it does provide the basis for a positive appreciation of marriage. His views on the inner feminine and masculine also anticipate Jung by almost a century. But of course Jung read Baader.
The Reformed theologian J.H. Gunning, Jr. adopted Baader’s views, and regarded Jesus as having been androgynous. Abraham Kuyper followed many ideas of Gunning and Baader, but disagreed on this point. Dooyeweerd was silent on this and most other theological issues.

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Nabokov’s advice

If I had known in 1970 what I know now of reformational philosophy, it is very, very doubtful that I would have pursued it. I was unaware of the bad blood, political infighting at the Free University of Amsterdam, and its atmosphere of theological narrowness. And, like everyone else, I wrongly assumed that Vollenhoven and Dooyeweerd were saying the same thing. Nevertheless, I am not sorry that I have spent such a large part of my life studying Dooyeweerd, learning Dutch, and studying at various institutions. I am comforted by what Nabokov told his students:

“The more things we know the better equipped we are to understand any one thing and it is a burning pity that our lives are not long enough and sufficiently free of annoying obstacles, to study all things with the same care and depth as the one we now devote to some favorite subject or period. And yet there is a semblance of consolation within this dismal state of affairs: in the same way as the whole universe may be completely reciprocated in the structure of an atom,…an intelligent and assiduous student [may] find a small replica of all knowledge in a subject he has chosen for his special research….and if, upon choosing your subject, you try diligently to find out abut it, if you allow yourself to be lured into the shaded lanes that lead from the main road you have chosen to the lovely and little known nooks of special knowledge, if you lovingly finger the links of the many chains that connect your subject to the past and the future and if by luck you hit upon some scrap of knowledge referring to your subject that has not yet become common knowledge, then you will know the true felicity of the great adventure of learning, and your years in this college will become a valuable start on a road of inestimable happiness. “

I have indeed found many interesting byways and branching paths. By concentrating so much of my work on Dooyeweerd, perhaps I have found a small replica of all knowledge. I have discovered the sources of his philosophy in Christian theosophy, and I have been able to relate many of his ideas to nondualism. I hope that my work will be of help to others.