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.)

created I, 5, 6, 62, 66

NC I, 4 (meaning is the being of all that has been created);

creation I, 48, 56-58, 61 (unity of creation), 64-65, 83 (fallen)
II, 495NC I, 33 (days of creation, and “in the beginning” are to be understood as beyond the limits of cosmic time); 52 (Scripture’s statement of creation transcends all theoretical thought), 174 (Divine Providence both on law and subject sides; subject-side is hidden to us)NC II, 559Twilight, 125

32 Propositions on Anthropology,’

creation order II, 490-91

NC II, 559

Creation, Fall and Redemption [The Christian Ground-Motive]
creative will I, 66, 75 (sovereign will), 77 (God’s creative sovereignty)
Creator I, 57, 62, 64, 74-75, 124, 131
II, 491-92

The Christian Ground-Motive is that of Creation, Fall and Redemption. Many Christians will fail to understand Dooyeweerd’s meaning here, because they interpret these words in a dualistic way. But Dooyeweerd emphasizes that this Ground-Motive can only be understood with the “key of knowledge”–the supratemporal selfhood and religious root (Twilight of Western Thought, 125). The Christian Ground-motive is “radical and integral,” and this means that everything is related to God in its religious root (Roots, 38).

Creation is of the root, as an undifferentiated unity. The fall is in this root; that is why temporal reality fell with man. And redemption is of the root; that is why Christ was required as the New Root.

If we look at the first point, creation in the root, several points must be emphasized.

(1) The creation is outside of time. It was “in the beginning,” “in principio.” The “days of creation” transcend cosmic time (NC I, 33).

The order of creation was present in God’s plan before the foundation of the world. Dooyeweerd cites Acts 2:23 (NC II, 559).

Baader also holds that creation was outside of time. Because God did not create in time, it is meaningless to ask the how or the why of creation. Creation is the boundary of our knowledge (Werke 10, 318; V 260).

(2) The supratemporal creation was complete [voltooid]. It is only being “worked out” in time.

Want hoe kon de mens binnen de tijdelijke orde tot een “levende ziel” worden, wanneer God niet in den beginne Zijn scheppend woord gesproken had, dat het hele mensdom in zijn totaliteit, gerepresenteerd in zijn stamvader en stammoeder, tot aanzijn riep, een aanzijn dat eerst in het wordingsprocess binnen de tijdsorde zou uitwerken? (“Schepping en evolutie,” 115-116, cited by Steen 61-62)

[For how can man become a “living soul” within the temporal order, unless God had not spoken His creative Word in the beginning, that called all of humanity to existence [aanzijn] in its totality, represented in its original father and mother, an existence that could only be worked out within the becoming process within the temporal order?]

Another reference for the completion of creation is in “De leer van de mensch in de W.d.W.” Corr. Bladen V (1942), p. 143. This has been translated as “The Theory of Man: Thirty-Two Propositions on anthropology.”[’32 Propositions’]. It refers to the creation of man as body and soul, which according to Scripture was fully completed [volkomen voltooid]. See also “Na vijf en dertig jaren,” Philosophia Reformata 36 (1971),1-10 at 9.

(3) Dooyeweerd emphasizes that the creation by God “in the beginning” was not a temporal event. But this does not mean an ideal pre-existence in the Spirit of God. The finished creation exists as created. (“Schepping en evolutie,” 116).

(4) Creation was of humanity as an undifferentiated totality. Man’s embodiment was a second stage. There is therefore a “double creation.” However, Dooyeweerd speaks of the second stage not as a creation, but as the forming of a previously existing and created material. He says that Gen. 2 speaks of becoming “living souls”–that is the bodily forming process. That is not creation, but giving form to “an already existing material present in the temporal order.” This distinction between creation and becoming is wiped out by a historicistic interpretation that sees creation as a temporal event:

…het principieel verschil tussen schepping (Gen. 1) en wording (formering uit reeds voorhanden materiaal, Gen. 2) vervalt in dat de schepping, als boven-creatuurlijk tot aanzijn roepen door het Goddelijke Woord, binnen het creatuurlijk kader van het historisch tijdsaspect wordt getrokken. (“Na vijf en dertig jaren,” Philosophia Reformata 36 (1971),1-10 at 9)

[…the principal difference between creation (Genesis 1) and becoming (the forming out of an already existing material, Gen. 2), falls away in that the creation as a supra-creaturely calling to existence [aanzijn] by the Divine Word, is brought within the creaturely category of the historical aspect of time].

And in ‘32 Propositions‘ (De leer van den mensch in de W.D.W., Corr. Bladen 5 (1942), he states:

A sharp distinction must be made between the creation of man and his temporal becoming. For the creative act of God is not subject to time like the bodily becoming of man. The days of creation must be understood in terms of pistic time, not in terms of the physical time measure of the earth’s rotation. Unlike Gen. 1:27, Genesis 2:7 does not deal with the creation of man, but with the temporal process of becoming (‘32 Propositions,’ Proposition XXIX, p. 9).

Steen says that this becoming of man to a living being presupposes that man already was created and gives clear indication that becoming follows creation. Body is the expression of an undifferentiated unity and fullness, refraction of a root. The body, the functie mantel, finds its concentration point in the heart. (Steen, 63).

It is within individuality structures that the temporal becoming of creatures takes place (‘32 Propositions,’ Proposition XXIX, p. 9).

(5) I believe that it is at this second stage that man was “fitted into” [ingevoegd] the temporal order.

(6) Now these two stages may also imply that the fall preceded the fitting into the temporal order. Without the fall, man’s “nature” or “body” would have been different. That is certainly Baader’s view. It also seems to be Dooyeweerd’s view. Dooyeweerd also says that we fell into time. In the fall, the human selfhood “fell away into the temporal horizon.” (NC II, 564).

(7) It is true that man’s appearance “in time” does not occur “until the whole foundation for the normative functions of temporal reality has been laid in the creation” (NC II, 52). But this temporal priority does not refer to our creation as the supratemporal religious root and creaturely fullness of meaning. For he goes on to say,

…and at the same time: in man the whole ‘earthly’ temporal cosmos finds its religious root, its creaturely fulness of meaning. Adam’s fall into sin is the fall into sin of the whole ‘earthly’ world, which is not independent of the religious basic relation between God and the human race (in any of its temporal functions) (NC II, 52).

And Dooyeweerd adds,

According to the temporal relationship between foundation and superstructure in the cosmic world-order, man is not there before the things of inorganic nature. But, viewed from the supertemporal creaturely root of the earthly world, this inorganic nature, just as the vegetable kingdom and the animal kingdom, has no existence apart from man, and man has been created as the lord of the creation. (NC II, 52, 53).

(8) Man as the image of God is the expression of God (I, 6). We do not find in Dooyeweerd an emphasis on “creatio ex nihilo” (creation out of nothing). I believe that that doctrine refers to our dependence on God. Baader’s view is that creation out of nothing refers to the “spontaneity” of creation, creating out of nothing except oneself (Philosophische Schriften I, 71). God was under no necessity to create the world. If by ‘nothing’ it intends to refer to a principle outside of God, so that our existence does not derive from God, then that would be a dualism. Dooyeweerd makes this point:

But it is well known that the words ex nihilo have turned out to be not entirely harmless in Augustine’s theological exposition of the doctrine of creation, since they foster the idea that nothingness would be a second origin of creaturely being bringing about a metaphysical defect in the latter (“Cornelius Van Til and the Transcendental Critique of Theoretical Thought,” Jerusalem and Athens, p. 459, fn15).

And in his Response to the Curators, Dooyeweerd says that the idea of a boundary between God and creation is a reference to our deep dependance on God, and not a separation between God and creature:

The creature on the other hand stands under the law. That means the deep dependence and limitation of the latter. Calvin keenly carries through this basic idea with respect to human knowing, as in his Inst. I, 10,2 and I, 5,7 he takes the field against the “vacua en meteorica speculatie” about the substantial being of God (“quid sit apud se” in opposition to the “qualis erga nos”). The idea of a boundary breaks through here clearly and brightly.


And that Mr. Hepp should subscribe to the remark made from a certain side, that the law boundary is a separation [scheiding] between God and creature, which would be in conflict with the community with God in Christ, is just as unlikely to be accepted.

(9) Dooyeweerd emphasizes here that the fullness of meaning particularizes itself into the diversity of meaning. This is what he means when he says that the temporal is an expression of the supratemporal fullness. Steen comments:

It is thus this finished existing creation that now becomes in the great becoming process.[…] The temporal body functions comprehended and undifferentiated in the created heart now unfold in their rich diversity in the temporal becoming process.…all reality as it exists now is the expression or openbaring of its prior existence as created undifferentiated totality. (Steen, p. 66)

This view of differentiation has not been emphasized by Reformational philosophers who claim to be adherents of Dooyeweerd. I suspect that this is because they begin with a different view of creation, preferring to see creation of an original diversity and individuality of meaning. I believe that this is the fundamental cause of dualistic thinking in contemporary American evangelicalism. Similarly, to say that God is Wholly Other than creation is to ultimately base creation on some principle outside of God. But to say that we are the expression of God does not necessarily imply a monism. I see it in terms of nondualism.

(10) Man in turn expresses himself in the coherence of his temporal functions (I, 6).

(11) We are created as the supratemporal root of temporal reality. Temporal reality does not have existence except in this root.

(12) We are not identical with God. The law is the boundary between the Creator and creation (I, 57). But Dooyeweerd disagreed with Vollenhoven as to the place of the law. For Vollenhoven, the law is outside the cosmos. for Dooyeweerd, it is a side of the cosmos.

(13) It is questionable whether Dooyeweerd’s philosophy is compatible with Creation Science. Some have used his work to argue that reality cannot evolve from prior aspects to later aspects, and that there can be no evolution from one realm of being [inorganic, organic, animal] to another.

However, a letter from Dooyeweerd seems to show that he himself took no position on this issue. He writes to Prof. Dr. JJ. Duyvené de Wit of Bloemfontein, South Africa. De Wit had written to him about creation science. Dooyeweerd says in a letter Feb. 11, 1964:

Ik dacht dat van te voren voor lezers en hoorders dit duidelijk moest zijn: òf er een genetsiche lijn loopt van een eencellig wezen via meercellige organismen tot de eerste mens, daar kunnen we geen ja èn geen nee op zeggen. Het antwoord op de vraag “how God geschapen heeft” ligt buiten onze menselijk-creatuurlijke wetenschappelijke mogelijkheden. En wie hièr ja òf ook nee gaat zeggen, meent als mens naast God, wat dan meestal neerkomt op: op de plaats van de Schepper, te kunnen gaan staan.

[I thought that it should be clear at the outset for readers and listeners: whether there is a genetic line that runs from a one-celled being via multi-celled organisms to the first man–about this we can say neither yes nor no. The answer to the question “how God has created” lies outside our human-creaturely scientific possibilities. And whoever says yes or no to this pretends to stand as human next to God, which usually is the same as to stand in place of the Creator.]


Wanneer we tegen hen die een “macroëvolutie” met behulp van de “mechanismen der microëvolutie”, mutaties e.d. die we vandaag kunnen waarnemen, opwerpen: Mijne heren, op deze manier wordt de “genenpot’ alleen maar minder en kan nooit méér worden dan is dat wetenschappelijk van groot belang maar bewijst niet en kàn niet bewijzen dat er geen macroëvolutie heeft plaats gehad.

[Whenever we try to oppose “macroevolution” with the help of the “mechanisms of microevolution,” such as mutations and so on that we can observe today, we may say, “Gentlemen, in this way the “gene pool” can only grow smaller and can never become greater.” That is of great importance scientifically, but it does not prove, and cannot prove that there has been no macroevolution.]

Whether we say that science can show that there is a phylogenetic relation from the first cell to man, or whether we deny such a relation–both arguments will lead to a falsification of science, to speculative philosophy and to false prophecy. Dooyeweerd says that it is hard for a scientific person to acknowledge that he stands here before a boundary (grens). Remarkably, Dooyeweerd places this boundary question in the context of the Cross of Golgotha.

Kuyper was familiar with Baader’s view of a double creation. Kuyper refers to Baader’s Fermenta Cognitionis. Kuyper discusses the nature of beauty in relation to the situation before and after man’s fall into sin. Kuyper says that there is a question as to what existed in Paradise before the fall–whether the ‘Tohu Wa Bohu’ refers to a still unformed chaos or whether it refers to the result of a destruction that had already occurred. He says that Baader’s theosophical position on this is ‘well known,’ as is Milton’s position. His reference is to Baader’s view of a double fall and a double creation. (“Calvinism and the Arts” [Het Calvinisme en de kunst: rede bij de overdracht van het rectoraat der Vrije Universiteit op 20 October, 1888], (Amsterdam: J.A. Wormser, 1888). See Werke 9, 83 for Baader’s discussion on the ‘Tohu Wa Bohu.’ It is significant that Kuyper does not regard these views as necessarily unorthodox; he merely says that nothing further can be proved.

As already pointed out, Dooyeweerd distinguishes between a Gen. 1 creation and a Gen. 2 forming. He says that we are supratemporal beings that are called to existence [aanzijn] by God’s Word. The idea of a double creation, with an intervening fall, is suggested by his Inaugural address (Oct 15/26), where he says that God created the cosmos out of chaos, light out of darkness.

Baader emphasizes that creation is not by chance, but the result of a plan willed and established by God; those who see only chance and disorder hate the light (Werke 11, 6).

Notes revised Sept. 8/07; Dec 23/16