earthly/heavenly

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.)

dispensation [bedeeling] II, 493
earth NC II, 593
earthly NC II, 33, 53 ft 1, 548-549 (‘earthly’ cosmos); 559-60; 561 (earthly dispensation), 593 (man transcends the temporal ‘earthly’ cosmos in all its aspects)
NC III, 88, 559 (horizon of the full ‘earthly’ reality, ‘earthly’ creation), 560 (horizon of ‘earthly’ reality), 783 (man as the personal religious creaturely centre of the whole earthly cosmos)

“Van Peursen’s Critische Vragen bij “A New Critique of Theoretical Thought,” Philosophia Reformata 25 (1960), 97-150, at 139: the whole temporal earthly world is contained in a religious root-unity.

heavenly NC II, 53 ft 1;

Dooyeweerd sometimes refers to temporal reality as the ‘earth.’ Genesis chapter I distinguishes the ‘earthly’ from the ‘heavens.’ The ‘heavens’ means the “temporal world concentrated in man” (NC II, 53 fn1).

Man, in his full selfhood, transcends the temporal ‘earthly’ cosmos in all its aspects, and partakes in the transcendent root of this cosmos (NC II, 593).

But man is created after the image of God, as the lord of the “earthly” temporal world (NC III, 88).

The temporal is concentrated in man as the supratemporal root. That is why the earth fell with humanity in the fall. The earthly is imperfect, and seeks redemption and fulfillment:

Although the fallen earthly cosmos is only a sad shadow of God’s original creation, and although the Christian can only consider himself as a stranger and a pilgrim in this world, yet he cannot recognize the true creaturely ground of meaning in the apostate root of this cosmos, but only in the new root, Christ.(NC II, 34)

Since God has created the ‘earthly’ world in a concentric relation to the religious root of human existence, there cannot exist an ‘earthly’ ‘world in itself’ apart from the structural horizon of human experience. (NC II, 549)

The a priori horizon of human experience is thus the Divine order of the ‘earthly’ creation istelf, in which man and all things have been given their structure and order in the cosmos. (NC II, 559)

There are levels or a priori horizons of our human experience, and we “descend” into cosmic time (NC II, 552). In this temporal life or dispensation [bedeeling], we are bound to this perspective horizon.(NC II, 561)

The cosmic order of time is “the limit to our ‘earthly’ temporal cosmos” (NC II, 3). Cosmic time determines the structure of reality in its diversity of meaning, both as regards its modal and typical laws and its subjectivity, including its subject-object-relations.”

The earthly cosmos does not allow a fully unhampered influence of sin. The law has a restraining effect. Dooyeweerd does not speculate on what the full effect of unrestrained sin would be like. But it will be meaning “in the absolute subjective apostasy under the curse of God’s wrath” (NC II, 33).

With respect to human existence, our body, which we give up at death, is the whole earthly existence of man in all temporal spheres of life, as this existence has been interwoven in individuality structures. Bodily death is in fact the unbinding (‘losmaking’) 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).

In a video interview of Dooyeweerd, he mentions the impact made on him when he first read Kuyper’s Pentecost Meditations (“Dagen van goede boodschap: op den Pinksterdag”).

In this Pentecost meditation, Kuyper speaks of the difference between our temporal world and our true home, which is a created eternity. He calls this created eternity “heaven” in contrast to the temporal ‘earth.’

Een geschapen hemel dus, die zijn ordeningen en afmetingen, zijn aanwezen, aard en wezen heeft, zijn eigen huishouding en bestaanswijs, evengoed als deze aarde, en die niets gemeen heeft noch met het uitspansel, dat pas op den tweeden dag aanzijn verkreek, noch met den starrenhemel, dien God opriep, dat hij zijn zou, den vierden dag.(p. 18)

Therefore, a created heaven, which has its ordering and bounds, its existence, nature and being, its own administration and mode of being, just like this earth, and which has nothing in common with the firmament, which only came into existence on the second day, nor with the starry heavens that God called into being on the fourth day.

The heavens, the world above, is the real world, whereas the temporal world is a drably lit cellar (p. 14).Earth is a lower creation (p. 21). Things on earth are led from heaven (“Van boven, niet van de aarde, gaat het word uit, dat over den loop der dingen beslist”) (p.32). This created heaven is not merely spiritual, but is more real than this world in which we live (p. 124).

There is a considerable overlap with Dooyeweerd’s use of the terms heaven and earth,’ as well as his idea of the aevum as a created eternity.

From where did Kuyper get these ideas? I would suggest from Franz von Baader, although Dooyeweerd is a more faithful follower of Baader. Whereas Kuyper believes that we cross over to this created eternity only at death, Dooyeweerd recognizes that even now we simultaneously live both in the aevum as well as in the temporal world.

Revised May 6/06