The Divine Meaning of Progress: The Triumphs and Trials of Theology in the Dooyeweerdian Tradition
This paper proposes that such a model may find rich contributions in the Kuyperian tradition. It focuses especially on the implications of Herman Dooyeweerd’s groundbreaking theory of modal aspects.
Faced with the disintegrative challenge of revolutionary rationalism, both Kuyper and Bavinck constantly emphasised the organic quality of all human life, including the Church and its theological task. They viewed theology, and its body of doctrine, as a growing organism, continuously unfolding more of itself as it comes to expression in history.
Dooyeweerd grounds this organic motif in his modal aspect theory by arguing that all normative modes are founded in the biotic aspect, and thus must develop themselves over time with the inner necessity of a law of nature. An ahistoric theology which does not grow but remains frozen in time is therefore not merely undesirable; it is impossible in this reality. Theology must grow; the only question is: will it progress or regress?
While theology does not belong to the historical mode but the logical–theoretical, Dooyeweerd’s norms of cultural opening may present a compelling line of analysis for also uncovering a supra–arbitrary standard of progress within the special science of theology itself. This paper examines whether theology can similarly find a norm for progress in the idea of differentiation and integration, and explores the insights and challenges of Dooyeweerd’s unique definition of theology as a special science dedicated to studying the faith aspect of reality.
While it is not without genuine challenges, the Dooyeweerdian tradition continues to offer profound insights into the reformational character of all aspects of life, including theology.
Zane A Richer, Liberty University