spiritualize

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.)

asceticism
pietism
spiritualistic II, 493

NC II, 561

spiritualizing

Dooyeweerd is opposed to any spiritualization that would deny the importance of our embodiment in the temporal cosmos. This kind of spiritualization is an absolutization of the spiritual. An extreme spiritualization leads to acosmism.

Dooyeweerd sometimes refers to this spiritualization as “mysticism,” using the word in a negative way, as implying a dualism. Dooyeweerd sometimes uses the word ‘mysticism’ in a positive way. For example, he says that the rationalism of Leibniz was “mitigated” by his mysticism (NC I, 308). I believe that Dooyeweerd’s philosophy is mystical in its own nondual way, but he is opposed to any mysticism that separates knowledge of God and Self from the temporal world:

In the Christian experience the religious fullness of meaning remains bound up with temporal reality. Every spiritualistic view which wants to separate self-knowledge and the knowledge of God from all that is temporal, runs counter to the Divine order of the creation. Such spiritualism inevitably leads to an internally empty idealism, or to a confused kind of mysticism, in spite of its own will or intentions (NC II, 561)

A dualistic view of world-flight prevents us from living as full a life as we can in this temporal world. Dooyeweerd does not advocate world-flight. But he also emphasizes that this temporal world is fallen, and he does not hesitate to speak of our sojourn here as pilgrims and strangers:

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).

See my discussion of Dooyeweerd’s rejection of spiritualization, found in my article article “Imagination, Image of God and Wisdom of God: Theosophical Themes in Dooyeweerd’s Philosophy,” (2006). The article discusses the Wisdom tradition within which Dooyeweerd’s philosophy is situated, and how that Wisdom tradition differs from those kinds of mysticism that attempt to flee the world. In contrast to such a flight from the temporal world, Dooyeweerd’s philosophy fits within the theosophical tradition of seeking a relation to God’s wisdom as it has been revealed in the structure of the world, and using that knowledge in order to assist in the redemption of the world. Our imagination is dependent on our being created in the image of God. In our imagination, we discover the figure, the anticipation of what an individuality structure in the temporal world may become, but which is presently only a potential reality. In finding the figure within the temporal world, and in realizing it and embodying it, we form history, and we fulfill the reality of temporal structures. God’s law or Wisdom gives the connection between this internal figure of our imagination and the modal aspects in which our body and other temporal structures of individuality function.

Baader also opposed spiritualization. Spiritualization can take the form of an ascetic denial of the necessity of our embodiment. Or it can take the form of a pietistic rejection of rationality. Baader was opposed to both forms of spiritualization. He regarded asceticism as a kind of self-castration.

Kuyper greatly appreciated Baader’s opposition to spiritualization. The most important of Kuyper’s references to Baader is in his article ‘Het Modernisme: een Fata morgana op Christelijk gebied.’ Amsterdam: H. de Hoogh & Co. 1871). Kuyper says,

Although I am not unaware of the dangers that his [Baader’s] ideas have in the direction of Rome, I nevertheless maintain that we can conceive of no better counterweight against the ravings of modernism.

Kuyper says that modernism had tried to defend the ideal world against the materialist view of ‘realism’ where only the visible world is real. But modernism had done this by a ‘spiritualizing flight of the spirit in abstract thought.’ This kind of spiritualizing necessarily involves a dualism, and Kuyper emphasizes that Baader was opposed in principle to all dualism. Kuyper says that the Scriptures place themselves above the dualistic conflict between matter and spirit, by pointing to the origin from which they both diverge. Kuyper expresses the wish that modernism would have allowed itself to be led by Baader to the “Biblical realism” of the Incarnation, as expressed in the life-giving proverb ‘Embodiment is the goal of the ways of God.’

The original of this maxim is by Friedrich Christoph Oetinger (1702-1782), one of Baader’s influences. Oetinger refers to the ‘works’ of God instead of the ‘ways’ of God: ‘Leiblichkeit ist das Ende der Werke Gottes.’ Benz says that Oetinger’s idea is that God is not the complete, definable God of the theologians, who has placed a completed humanity in a prefabricated world, but one who out of the dark ‘Urgrund’ reveals himself in the realization and embodiment of Himself. This revelation is also realized in the development of the physical world; salvation extends to the cosmos. The idea of embodiment was disputed by some Protestant theologians because they thought it implied pantheism. Ernst Benz, Schöpfungsglaube und Endzeiterwartung. Antwort auf Teilhard de Chardins Theologie der Evolution(München, 1965), 185.

But Kuyper says that Baader’s ideas only had effect in a limited domain, and so the one-sided spiritualistic idealism that he opposed was able to continue among academics, in the national literature and culture and even among the people themselves through such literature, lectures and preaching. ‘Confidentie: Schrijven aan den Weled, Heer J.H. Van der Linden,’ (Amsterdam: Hoveker & Zoon, 1873), 56.

Kuyper is correct that Baader opposed any dualistic spiritualizing. Baader opposed both rationalism (which affirmed science but rejected the spiritual) and pietism (which affirmed the spiritual but rejected science). Baader said that both rationalists and supernaturalists confuse the transcendent with something that is against nature or against reason. But instead of being separated from nature, they should rather acknowledge the importance of embodiment [Leibwerdung, Naturwerdung].Über die Begründung der Ethik durch die Physik (Stuttgart, 1969), 35, 499, 66. He says, ‘Embodiment is the fulfillment of the development of a being.’ Concerning the Concept of Time (Darmstadt, 1975), 38, fn. 18. And, ‘It is pure arrogant pride to want to be before God without a body.’ Die Weltalter, 199.

Baader believed that there is embodiment even within God. He did not follow Schelling’s idea that God was required to reveal Himself in the temporal world. Rather, God’s expression of his ‘nature’ is within the Trinity.It is evident that Kuyper was familiar with Baader’s ideas about the Trinity. Abraham Kuyper: ‘De verflauwing der grenzen,’ (Amsterdam: J.A. Wormser, 1982).

Revised June 29/06; Dec 24/16

Advertisements