afterlife

Linked Glossary of Terms
(references to De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee, unless indicated. See concordance for correlation with pages in the New Critique. The concordance is in pdf format.)

afterlife
death First response to curators, April 27, 1937
Third response to curators, March 19, 1938
hereafter II, 493

Our experience of the hereafter is hidden “as to its positive character.” (II, 493). By this, Dooyeweerd means that we can say negatively that the hereafter is not temporal. We have an apophatic knowledge. Our faith relates to what is beyond the limits of time, the eschatological.

There is a life to come, but it is not bound to cosmic time. At the death of his friend Kohnstamm, Dooyeweerd said that there was a “gliding over” out of the temporal and into eternal life (Steen, 130, 137). Popma said that the supratemporal must therefore be another not known order of time Steen 157). And this is so–the order of time that applies to us after death is the same that applies to our supratemporal heart during life–the aevum, the “created eternity” that is between cosmic time and the eternity of God. The aevum is also time, but not cosmic time.

The idea of “gliding over” occurs in Dooyeweerd’s article “Neo-mysticism and Frederik van Eeden.” Dooyeweerd uses the phrase in reference to others, but does not adopt it as his own idea. He uses it in two places. The first is in reference to introspection. He refers to Schopenhauer’s understanding of the Buddha’s “dying to the sensory world of daily life in order by means of introspection to glide over to that life in which the soul loses itself in God.” The second use of the phrase “gliding over” is in reference to van Eeden’s description of the death of his son, Paul:

But as he, disheartened, sits at the deathbed [of his son Paul], by the white flowers that have no scent, and he sees his beloved son with folded hands, in devoted prayer, glide over from out of the temporal into the timeless [42] then he sees again clearly in inner intuition [aanschouwing], or rather he feels the reality of the higher suprasensory world, in which now Paul’s soul is light and rarefied, free from the impurity of life in the body.

It seems to me that Dooyeweerd later adopts this idea of “gliding over” in his own view of death. We have to contrast this with Vollenhoven, who denied the existence of a supratemporal selfhood, and who believed that at death nothing remained of our existence until the resurrection. Dooyeweerd’s view is much more comforting.

For Dooyeweerd, our present existence is both within and out of cosmic time. We have an earthly body, but our true self is in the ‘heavenly’ realm. At death, our temporal existence in cosmic time ceases. Dooyeweerd does not speculate on what the afterlife  is like, although he does indicate that it will continue, apparently with a new ‘body’ or nature. For if the supratemporal is not static, but dynamic, there must be a way that our continuing central selfhood can express itself. The need to actualize itself is part of the created structure of our selfhood. It occurs whenever our religious self consciousness is active in religious concentration, even in an apostate direction, when it seeks the eternal in time. (“Het tijdsprobleem en zijn antinomieën op het immanentie-standpunt,” Philosophia Reformata (1939), 4). Now if we can seek the eternal in time, can we not seek to actualize ourselves outside of time? He does not speculate about the nature of our new body, although he does refer to the medieval discussions about the necessity of even angels having a body.

In dit leven is de aevum-toestand dus steeds aan den tijd gebonden. Een speculatie over den aevum-toestand bij de scheiding van ziel en lichaam, of bij de engelen, is wijsgeerig onvruchtbaar.

[In this life the aevum condition is always bound to time. A speculation about the aevum condition at the separation of soul and body, or with respect to the angels, is philosophically unfruitful].

Baader thought that there was such a nature even within God in which God expresses Himself. Baader says that in the redeemed creation there will also be a new “nature” in which we express ourselves. For Baader, the separation of body and soul at death is temporary (Werke 4, 272ff; 10, 228ff). The body we obtain is a fulfilled body. it will not be less.

The visible comes from the visible, but man doesn’t usually see that the not seen, not heard, not understood, unmoved is not only not nothing, but is not less than the visible, audible, understandable, movable, but more than these. It is the Seeing, Hearing, Understanding and Moving. [Philosophische Schriften und Aussätze I, 323; my translation]

This emphasis on the Seeing, Understanding and Moving of the selfhood is similar to the HIndu view of the selfhood as the Unseen Seer.

Baader says that there is no way to show others the immortality of their Existence than to enable them to develop true Life within themselves:

Übrigens gift es keinen anderen Weg, dem Menschen die Unsterblichkeit seines Daseins zu beweisen, als ihn zu vermögen, das wahre Leben in sich zu entwickeln. (Zeit 23 ft 3)

Dooyeweerd opposed the traditional view that we are composed of a body and a soul. He says that the body that is put off at death is the whole earthly existence of man in all temporal spheres of life, as this existence is interwoven in individuality structures. Bodily death is in fact the unbinding of all earthly bonds. It is not just a material body that is given up, a body that is conceived as being closed up in the physical-chemical aspects of temporal reality. And the soul, which Scriptures assure us continues after death, must not be understood as any part of this temporal earthly existence, nor as the theoretical abstraction of a substance that has only psychical and normative functions. The soul is rather the full human selfhood, one’s heart, in the sense of the center of one’s whole existence, of which the body is only the temporal organ. (March 19/1938 response to Curators; cited Verburg 226-227).

The temporal body which we put off at death is the entire “mantle of temporal functions” [functiemantel]. (“Het tijdsprobleem en zijn antinomieën op het immanentie-standpunt,” Philosophia Reformata (1939), 4-5). That does not mean that the afterlife is static. As I understand it, although there are no temporal functions, there is a fullness of functions. Our spiritual existence transcends all temporal structures (NC III, 89). And it continues after death.

It is unclear whether Dooyeweerd believed that the afterlife is governed by a different law, or whether it is the same central law which now is being expressed in the diversity of laws of the temporal.

From Dooyeweerd’s view that the need to express ourselves is given at creation, I believe it is reasonable to infer that we receive a new body or nature in the afterlife. This seems to be confirmed by his statement,

Hiermede is allerminst de belijdenis van de wederopstanding des vleesches en de principieele identiteit von den functiemantel na de opstanding prijsgegeven (“Kuyper’s Wetenschapsleer,” Philosophia Reformata (1939) 193-232, p. 204 ft. 13).

[By this we have not at all given up the confession of the resurrection of the flesh and the identity in principle of the mantle of functions after the resurrection.]

The religious center of the law-side is the central revealed law, just as the religious center of the subject-side is the heart (“Das natürliche Rechtsbewusztsein und die Erkenntnis des geoffenbarten göttlichen Gesetzes,” February 28, 1939, ctied by Verburg, 251).

In his first response to the curators of the Free University (April 27, 1937), in response to Hepp’s complaints, Dooyeweerd wrote that the WdW makes a radical break with immanence philosophy in its idea that it understands that our whole temporal human existence proceeds from out of the religious root, the heart. And the fall consisted in the falling away of the heart from its Creator. That is the cause of spiritual death [geestelijken dood]. This spiritual death cannot be confused with bodily [lichamelijken] death nor with eternal [eeuwigen dood]. The acknowledgement of the spiritual death as the consequence of the fall is so central to the WdW that if it is denied, no single part of the WdW can be understood. (Verburg 212).

Bodily death is the freeing from all earthly relations [losmaking van alle aardsche banden]. It is not just the putting off of a problematic material body whose existence is closed up in the physical-chemical aspects of temporal reality. And the “soul” whose continued existence is assured to us beyond doubt by Scripture and the confessions, may not be understood as a part of temporal earthly existence, or as the theoretical abstraction of a “substance” that has merely psychical and normative functions. It is rather the full human selfhood, man’s heart in the meaning of the center of the whole of his existence, of which the “body” is the temporal instrument [organon]. (Third response to curators, March 19, 1938; Verburg 226).

Baader says that after the goal of our embodiment has been completed, the completion of a higher and now unauflösbare [cannot be dissolved] permanent embodiment (in the sense that it cannot be dissolved it is ‘unauflösbare] has been completed, the scaffolding collapses after the house is built. He cites 2 Cor. 5:1:

For we know that, if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Baader says that this new house cannot be less than our old earthly body. If the temporal is that which can be sensed, heard, touched, and moved, the new body is in the realm of that which sees, hears, touches and moves. (“Über den Begriff der Extasis (Verzücktheit) als Metastasis (Versetztheit),” Philosophische Schriften I, 323).

Notes revised Jan 2/05; Dec 23/16

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