samedi 4 octobre 2014

Drawing a Line in Shifting Sands

Drawing a Line in Shifting Sands
Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

(First published on Gobha-uisge ri Plubraich 1 June 2012)

Intro.
           Suddenly I find myself stumbling along a storm-smudged strand of churning, crashing waves and windborne, stinging sand. What am I doing here? This was not on my itinerary. Yet here I am. Squinting into the horizons. Leaning into the squalls. Time defeating me. One volte face already . . .
     I thought my proposed answer to the Scottish Government’s Consultation on Same Sex Marriage was settled. It was to be ‘Yes’. And for good reasons. Scripture censures homosexual practice, sure, but a democratic Christian should nonetheless concede space to diverse groupings. Anticipating reciprocity, of course. Our pluralist society is in various stages of theological freefall. Some spectacular. So what’s new? Why attempt a ‘line in the sand’ on this fraught issue in particular?
     What changed my mind? The realization that my notion of ‘reciprocity’ was an illusion. I had made a serious category error. This was no exercise in pluralism. Far from it. This was liberalist despotism. The proposed law would not reinforce choice in society but reduce it. That was its entire, if sotto voce, point. Ecclesiastical opt-out clause? As well inscribed on tidal sand. And a diversion from the real deal on the street (and in schools) where opt-out would be outlawed. So do I fault our politicians? Not really. I think by-and-large they are being honourable and high-minded. They are simply doing what politicians do. Conforming to a changing landscape. Democracy in action, folks. (1)
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(1) NOTE: This was written before Nicola Sturgeon's disgraceful 'postmodernist deconstruction' of the SNP's own consultation returns, which showed a two-thirds majority against change. In order to conjure up the desired result, all signatories to a common statement of conviction (as well as postcard returns) were outrageously shrugged off [David Cameron and Westminster of course went on to do exactly the same]. To be rather melodramatic but nonetheless very much to the point: so much for Scotland's 1320 Declaration of Arbroath, England's Magna Carta, America's Declaration of Independence, etc). Calls for a referendum on the issue were immediately rejected. Apparently if the majority are 'off message' they should not be hearkened to but simply "led" into the "light".
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The bigger question then is: what subterranean dynamics have so strikingly transmuted our landscape? Ah! The fascinating ‘plate-tectonics’ of Western Thought! How deep does it all go? Very.

Dooyeweerd’s ‘Ground-motives’ 
[religieuze grondmotieven]
     I suggest we take as our ‘speleological’ guide the great Dutch Christian philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-1977). His central insight was that all thought is ultimately ‘religious’ in the sense that it betokens a pre-commitment of one’s deepest selfhood to God or a false god (the latter being any absolutisation of that which is relative). Idol summons counter-idol, as reality resists dis-equilibrium. Entire civilizations can thus become gripped by a dialectical ‘dunamis’ (to use a Pauline word – cf. Rom. 1:16), oscillating between the polarities of absolute and counter-absolute, spellbound by each in turn. Deeper even than philosophy, such a dialectic is uncritically premised as self-evident reality. Dooyeweerd identifies four major 'ground-motives' (2) (three are dualistic):
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(2) NOTE: 'It should be clear that the religious ground-motives or ethos types are by no means to be identified with theoretical schemas or theological classifications. They are total and central communal attitudes in life and thought, supra-personal spiritual motives and powers. We cannot treat them purely theoretically as intellectual motifs or presuppositions, nor modify them to fit this purpose or otherwise grasp them with our understanding. It is the other way round. These communal attitudes and ground-motives, these attitudes to life and (therefore) to thought have us in their grasp. They guide or determine the basic direction of our life and thought, and as regards thought: they first of all control the way we analyze, think and experience reality in everyday practice, and thence also our theoretical-scientific thought. They lead our thought time and again to the same or related dualistic, "dialectical", "high-tension" problems.' (Andree Troost, What is Reformational Philosophy? An Introduction to the Cosmonomic Philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd, Translated by Anthony Runia, Paideia Press 2012, pp 209-210)
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Ground-Motive 1:
Matter-Form
     First we are led down to the fractured bedrock of Hellenistic thought with its irreconcilable polarities of ‘Matter’ and ‘Form’:  
The Aristotelian view of nature was no more independent of religious presuppositions than any other philosophical view. It was completely ruled by the dualistic religious basic motive of Greek thought, namely, that of form and matter . . . It originated from the meeting between two antagonistic Greek religions, namely, the older nature religion of life and death, and the younger cultural religion of the Olympian gods. Nietzsche and his friend Rhode were the first to discover the conflict between these religions (3) in the Greek tragedies. Nietzsche spoke of the contest between the Dionysian and the Apollonian spirit. But in fact here was at issue a conflict in the religious basic motive of the whole Greek life and thought. The pre-Olympian religion of life and death deified the ever-flowing stream of organic life which originates from mother earth and cannot be fixed or restricted by any corporeal form. It is from this formless stream of life that, in the order of time, the generations of beings separate themselves and appear in an individual bodily shape. The corporeal form can only be maintained at the cost of other living beings, so that the life of the one is the death of the other. So there is an injustice in any fixed form of life which for this reason must be repaid to the horrible fate of death, designated by the Greek terms anangkè [ἀνάγκη - force, constraint, necessity, inescapability] and heimarmenè tuché [arbitrary fate]…This is the original sense of the Greek matter-motive…The religious form-motive, on the other hand, is the central motive of the younger Olympian religion, the religion of form, measure and harmony, wherein the cultural aspect of the Greek polis was deified. (Herman Dooyeweerd, In The Twilight of Western Thought, Craig Press, Nutley, New Jersey, 1968, pp. 163, 164.) (New edition!)
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(3) NOTE: 'See A.P. Bos in his In de greep van de titanen: inleiding tot een hoofdstroming van de Griekse filosofie [In the grip of the titans: introduction to a main current in Greek philosophy] (Amsterdam, 1991). His criticism of Dooyeweerd's theory of the Greek ground-motive of form and matter seems plausible because current scholarship no longer credits what Dooyeweerd took to be the religious origin of the ethos type "form and matter". In my view, however, this does not seriously detract from the correct element in Dooyeweerd's description of the divided Greek ethos with its "ground-motive" of "form and matter". Cf. also Bos' criticism in his "Dooyeweerd en de wijsbegeerte van de outheid", in H.G. Geertsema et al., Herman Dooyeweerd 1894-1977. Breedte en actualiteit van zijn filosofie (Kampen, 1994), pp. 197-227.' (Andree Troost, What is Reformational Philosophy? An Introduction to the Cosmonomic Philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd, Translated by Anthony Runia, Paideia Press 2012, p 204, footnote 81)
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     The Greek Tragedies reference is indeed pertinent, since the ‘dunamis’ (power, influence, authority) of drama over our consciousness impinges on our discussion. For example, we can even glimpse, I would suggest, these Form-Matter polarities in 21st century cinema’s genres of superhero (neo-Olympian ‘deified cultural forces’) and zombie (pitiless, dreadful, anangkè). And, of course, in relation to the status of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, the Establishment is now increasingly composed of those whose views have been incalculably influenced by Hollywood and by agenda-laden broadcasting networks such as the BBC. By and large, for this generation, answers in these matters are now self-evident (and bathed in a golden aura). Discussion is redundant (reservations are "prejudice"). Un-nuanced snap endorsement is mandatory. Imposition is ferocious, both legally and clandestinely. This astounding "progressivist" totalitarianism is self-justified by non-negotiable assertions such as "It's the right thing to do". Contrariwise, of course, Scripture is oftimes asserted in no less arbitrary-sounding fashion. A glance back to NOTE (2) is worthwhile.

Ground-Motive 2: 
Creation, Fall, and Redemption

     The second ground-motive which shaped the landscape is the non-dualist one of ‘creation, fall, and redemption through Jesus Christ in the communion of the Holy Spirit’:

Already in its revelation of creation the Christian religion stands in radical antithesis to the religious ground-motive of Greek and Greco-Roman antiquity. Through its integrality (it embraces all things created) and radicality (it penetrates to the root of created reality) the creation motive makes itself known as authentic divine Word-revelation. God, the creator, reveals himself as the absolute, complete, and integral origin of all things. No equally original power stands over against him in the way that Anangkè and Moira (blind fate) stood over against the Olympian gods. Hence, within the created world one cannot find an expression of two contradictory principles of origin. (Herman Dooyeweerd, The Roots of Western Culture: Pagan, Secular, and Christian Options, Wedge Publishing Foundation, Toronto, 1979, p. 28. (Purchase new edition SEE HERE or download old edition free HERE)

     Historically, however, Christian thought has struggled to escape the prevailing dualistic ground-motive of society at large.

Ground-Motive 3: 
Nature-Grace

     A new dichotomy arose from the attempted synthesis of the two preceding ground-motives by Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274). (4)
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(4) NOTE: However, Theodore Plantinga in his essay "The Reformational Movement: Does It Need a History?questions whether the default neo-Calvinist interpretation of Thomas Aquinus is after all valid. Regarding the "Nature/Grace" split, Theodore Plantinga has the following to say -
It should be noted that there has been some revision on this score of late. Quite a number of years ago, Arvin Vos of the University of Western Kentucky, who attended Calvin (College) as an undergraduate but was never an (Evan) Runner man, already argued that the kind of criticism of the tradition of Thomas Aquinas and nature/grace thinking that one commonly finds in Calvinistic and reformational circles is unfair to Aquinas. In effect it attributes to Aquinas certain objectionable views that were held by self-styled followers of his some centuries later. [The Vos thesis is presented in his book Aquinas, Calvin, and Contemporary Protestant Thought: A Critique of Protestant Views on the Thought of Thomas Aquinas (Washington: Christian University Press, 1985). Wrote Vos: "... many have criticized Aquinas for making a distinction between nature and grace. They maintain that such a split inevitably leads to a dualism from which nature emerges as an independent, self-sufficient order, and grace emerges as a superfluous option. In fact, however, this is a position that Aquinas combatted with all his energy throughout his life; he always held grace preeminent over nature." [Pages 162-163] Vos explained further: "... new scholarship on the Middle Ages produced during the past century has convincingly shown that later Thomists departed significantly from Aquinas's original teaching some time during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and that in fact the later Thomist tradition resembles fairly closely the position that Protestants have long attributed to Aquinas himself." [Pages 152-153] Versions of the Arvin Vos criticism have been uttered more recently by Edward Echeverria as well, and their validity is being acknowledged more and more openly in reformational circles.[Theodore Plantinga, "The Reformational Movement: Does It Need a History?(See paragraph headed Emphasis on the antithesis)]
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 Most obvious in Catholicism (5)this motive also pervades much evangelical thinking (through a stalling of reformational philosophy):

Like the Greek form-matter motive, the ground-motive of nature and grace contained a religious dialectic which drove life and thought from the natural pole to the supranatural pole. The naturalistic attitude summoned the ecclesiastical truths of grace before the court of natural reason, and a supranatural mysticism attempted to escape ‘nature’ in the mystical experience of ‘grace’. Ultimately this dialectic led to a consistent proclamation of the unbridgeable rift between nature and grace; nature became independent, losing every point of contact with grace. (Roots of Western Culture p117. Purchase new edition SEE HERE or download old edition free HERE)
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(5) NOTE, however, Dooyeweerd’s comment regarding mid-twentieth century developments: “And now, now the nouvelle théologie arose . . . they spoke about the religious center of man. Yes, so at once Volume II of my book Reformation and Scholasticism immediately lost its basic foundation, for the Roman Catholics would be able to say, ‘What do you mean? We live in a changed time, and neo-scholasticism has for quite some time grown out of that old standpoint’.” (Center and Periphery: The Philosophy of the Law-Idea in a changing world, Herman Dooyeweerd, 1964 Lecture at the annual meeting of the Association for Calvinistic Philosophy. PDF of original Dutch text HERE. PDF of English translation by Dr J. Glenn Friesen HERE. (Quote can be found on page 17 of pdf.)
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     Of particular interest to us, given our current consideration of ‘State’ and ‘marriage’, are Dooyeweerd’s following comments:

In conformity with Greek thought, Thomas held that the state was the total, all-inclusive community in the realm of nature. All the other life spheres were merely its subservient parts. Thomas therefore conceived of the relationship between the state and the other natural spheres of life in terms of the whole-part relation. Certainly he would not defend a state absolutism that would govern all of life from ‘above’. The modern totalitarian regimes of national socialism and fascism would have met an unwavering opponent in Thomas, as they did among the modern Thomists . . . Both the individual and marriage (in its sacramental superstructure) participated in the supranatural order, and the jurisdiction of the state did not extend beyond the natural. (Roots of Western Culture p124. Purchase new edition SEE HERE or download old edition free HERE)

     The Thomistic synthesis prevailed insofar as papal authority was able to suppress dissent. However, the incisive critique of English Franciscan William of Ockham (c. 1280-1349) initiated a profound and ongoing split:

Denying any point of contact between nature and grace, this movement exposed the deep rift between the Christian religion and the Greek view of nature. Western culture seemed presented with two options: it could either pursue the ‘natural’ direction which ultimately would lead to a complete emancipation of man from the faith of the church, or return to the pure ground-motive of Scripture, namely, creation, fall, and redemption through Jesus Christ. The Renaissance movement, the early forerunner of humanism, followed the first path; with more or less consistency, the Reformation followed the second. (Roots of Western Culture p149. Purchase new edition SEE HERE or download old edition free HERE)

     To better grasp the crisis provoked by Ockham, we should here note the key conundrum of ‘normativity’. If the laws of physics, for example, are creational rather than consensual, what of the laws of logic? Physical? Hmm. Consensual? Problematic. They can clearly be infringed. But fruitfully? Alright, so are there creational laws or principles with a bearing on ‘State’ and ‘marriage’? Dooyeweerd would maintain there are:

In his common grace God first of all upholds the ordinances of his creation and with this he maintains ‘human nature’. These ordinances are the same for Christians and non-Christians. God’s common grace is evident in that even the most anti-godly ruler must continually bow and capitulate before God’s decrees if he is to see enduring positive results from his labours.(6) (Roots of Western Culture. p37. Purchase new edition SEE HERE or download old edition free HERE)
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(6) NOTES ON CREATIONAL ORDINANCES: 

"The life of man, singly and collectively, is a process of positivizing the principles of God's law of life for man and cosmos. In this cosmic law-order God has also set the principle of historical formative control, by virtue of which mankind is called to give form to life and thus to positivize normativity. In order to form the normative guidelines for concrete patterns of behavior or actions, man(kind) must fill in the normative principles as if they were dotted lines or chalk marks. Humanism of course also recognizes this aspect of human life, but it absolutizes it. Man certainly can and should freely give form and shape to life, but he must do so response-ably, following all the principles of the divine law-order, thus not autonomously. He must not willfully exclude certain aspects of normativity, such as the aspect of faith, or divine revelation, or the moral aspect, the economic aspect, the logical aspect, and so on." (Andree Troost, What is Reformational Philosophy? An Introduction to the Cosmonomic Philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd, Translated by Anthony Runia, Paideia Press 2012, p272)
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Marcel E. Verburg in his book "Herman Dooyeweerd: The Life and Work of a Christian Philosopher" (English translation Paideia Press 2015, pages 133, 134) writes:
     When he discussed legal principles, Dooyeweerd drew attention to some serious misunderstandings with regard to this subject. He pointed out that legal principles are not created through the functions of reason but discovered, and also that they have no transcendent validity but only an immanent validity within the cosmic meaning-coherence. An important misunderstanding that Dooyeweerd mentions is the notion that some people have that genuine principles must be of eternal value - elevated above time. This view, he stressed, has a pagan and humanist origin:
"The greatest danger that the objectionable metaphysical conception of legal principles for the view of law is this, that while we are genuflecting devoutly before eternal principles "that are not subject to time", our temporal legal life comes to be understood in a non-principled way on the basis of an attitude toward the creation of law (rechtsvorming) that is at bottom utilitarian. The concept of "supra-temporal legal principles" must be recognized as internally contradictory. "Principle" (beginsel) means "beginning," and all beginnings are within time.  
     It is not the principle that is supra-temporal but only the eternal, religious meaning of the law; in the same way all normative principles, including the logical, the historical, the social, the linguistic, the aesthetic, the economic, the moral, and the pistical are to be understood in terms of the temporal meaning-articulation (zinbreking) of the eternal meaning of the law (wet) as it is revealed to us through Christ. Sin in its supra-temporal religious sense is not a meaning-functional transgression of norms but touches the heart, the root of the human race; it means a rejection of the eternal meaning of the law, the service of God. Yet it manifests itself in time in a rebellious attitude toward the meaning-functional ordinances, which God the Lord has established for every law-sphere." (De structuur der Rechtsbeginselen en de methode der Rechtwetenschap in het licht der Wetsidee, 1930). 
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“From the logical sphere onwards the modal laws are only given as regulative principles which cannot be realized on the subject-side without rational consideration and distinction . . . In the pre-logical aspects of reality the modal laws are realized in the facts without human intervention . . . We must hold fast to our insight into the nature of a normative principle. In the historical and post-historical aspects the laws acquire a concrete sense through human positivizing of Divine normative principles . . . The distinction between ‘absolute’ and ‘empirical’ norms is untenable . . . Arbitrariness can never be elevated to a norm, to an obligatory rule of conduct.” (Dooyeweerd, New Critique, Vol. II pp. 237-240, my emphasis. Download English and Dutch versions free HERE)

We should note an important sentence we have just read: "In the pre-logical aspects of reality the modal laws are realized in the facts without human intervention". 

Thus in Vol 3 of "A New Critique of Theoretical Thought"  (p 305) Dooyeweerd writes:
  "The marriage bond is by nature incapable of any change in its individual members; it is essentially a bi-unity of husband and wife entirely dependent on the individuality of the persons united in this communal bond.
     In polygamy these things are essentially unaltered. The husband is not united with more wives in one marriage bond, but in as many marriage bonds as he has wives. This is striking evidence of the fact that polygamy is against nature." 

And in Vol 3, p 309) Dooyeweerd writes:
"As soon as the juridical viewpoint acquires the leading role in the conjugal relationship, it is by nature an external legal viewpoint. And if the marriage-partners give to an external legal order the leading role in their communal relationship, this is a clear evidence of the complete ruin of their inner bond. Nor can a civil or canon legal order be the foundation of marriage in its inner structure. This foundation is of a bioticnot of a juridical character. No doubt the juridical structural aspect of the marriage-institution cannot be eliminated, but this holds good for all its other structural functions." [ie the "marriage-institution" - like every other "thing" - functions in all fifteen modalities (see also here and here), though it is "founded" in only one and is "qualified" by one other. Thus Dooyeweerd argues that the "marriage-institution" is founded in the "biotic" aspect, and qualified by the "ethical" aspect ("self-giving love"). - FMF]
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(That ends NOTE 6)
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     As essentially a nominalist (denying ‘universals’), Ockham would disagree that there are creational laws or principles with a bearing on ‘State’ and ‘marriage’. He emancipates ‘nature’ from Aristotelian metaphysics, but crucially also uncouples it from the Creator’s ordinances, deeming these to be arbitrary rather than integral. Nature is brute. Hence our unease when hearing the great reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546) assert: ‘I am of Ockham’s school’:

Luther, however, was influenced by Ockham’s dualism which established a deep rift between natural life and the supranatural Christian life. In Luther’s case this conflict expressed itself as the opposition between law and gospel . . . With respect to the truths of faith reason was hopelessly blind. But in matters of secular government, justice, and social order man possessed only the light of reason. It was Ockham’s rigorous dualism that sustained Luther’s separation of natural reason and the Christian religion. (Roots of Western Culture, pp 140-141. Purchase new edition SEE HERE or download old edition free HERE)

     Dooyeweerd argues that the ‘Nature-Grace’ dichotomy is discernible in (mainly the early) Karl Barth (1886-1968) and Emil Brunner (1889-1966):

Whereas the Roman Catholic Church accepted the Greek view of nature in a positive sense by attempting a reconciliation with the Christian creation motive [scheppingsmotief], [the early] Barth allowed the creation motive to recede from sight, sacrificing it to the motives of fall and redemption in Jesus Christ. The great master of dialectical theology had no use at all for creation ordinances that might serve as guidelines in our ‘natural life’ (7).
According to Barth the fall corrupted ‘nature’ so thoroughly that the knowledge of the creation ordinances was completely lost. Brunner was of a different mind on this point. He believed that the creation ordinances were valid as expressions of ‘common grace’. At the same time, however, he depreciated these ordinances by placing them in a dialectical polarity with the divine love commandment which he understood as the ‘demand of the hour’ [Gebot der Stunde]. Because of their general character, the creation ordinances are cold and loveless. They form the realm of the law which stands in dialectical opposition to the freedom of the gospel in Jesus Christ who was free from the law. In Brunner too one clearly sees the continuation of the Lutheran contrast between law and gospel. This contrast is merely a different expression of the dialectical opposition between nature and grace which in this form – gospel vs. law – had made its first appearance already in late-medieval scholasticism. For Brunner the law, the cold and rigid framework in which God confines sinful ‘nature’, must really be broken through by the evangelical commandment of love. This commandment knows no general rule and is valid only in and for the moment. For example, marriage – a creation ordinance – cannot be dissolved; but the command of love can break through this rigid, general structure as the ‘demand of the hour’ [Gebot der Stunde]. Brunner held that God is indeed the author of the creation order, but as ‘law’ the creation order is not the authentic [eigenlijke] will of God, which manifests itself only in the evangelical love commandment. Thus it is still the same ground motive of nature and grace which brought division even within the camp of dialectical theology. (Roots of Western Culture. p. 146. Purchase new edition SEE HERE or download old edition free HERE)
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(7) NOTE: Dutch: “Deze grootmeester der dialectische theologie wil nets meer weten van scheppingsordinantiën, die ons in het „natuurlijk leven" tot richtsnoer zouden kunnen strekken.” It should be noted that Dooyeweerd significantly tempered this view in subsequent years: In his Kirchliche Dogmatik Barth has relinquished the extreme dualism of his earlier writings . . . There are really masterly and magnificent traits in Barth's reflections on Christian faith (New Critique, Vol. II pp. 301, 302). Nonetheless, Dooyeweerd’s perspective continued to constrain him from any plenary acquittal of Barth. Cf also:
 It is a gladdening symptom of a re-awakening biblical consciousness, that under the influence of Augustinianism an increasing number of Roman Catholic thinkers, belonging to the movement of the nouvelle théologie, have begun to oppose this dualistic view [inherent in the scholastic basic motive of nature and supra-natural grace]. They agree with the Reformed philosophical movement in the Netherlands in advocating the necessity of a Christian philosophy. On the other hand, we must observe that the Barthian view of theology, as the exclusive Christian science and of its negative relation to philosophy, is still entirely penetrated by this dualism. This is a baffling fact, since, in sharp opposition to Roman Catholicism, Barth claims for his theology a radical biblical character. How is this to be explained? The reason is that Barth, though sharply opposing the synthetic Thomistic view of nature and grace, did not abandon this dualistic theme as such, which in the Augustinian view was still unknown. He merely replaced its synthetical conception, according to which nature is the autonomous basis of the supra-natural sphere of grace, by an antithetical one which denies any point of contact between the corrupted autonomous nature and the divine work of grace. Thus philosophy was excommunicated as such, because by nature it would be an autonomous product of natural thought which is corrupted by sin. Among all sciences only dogmatic theology was supposed to be capable of being permeated by the Word-revelation. In my opinion, this dualistic view betrays the after-effects of the Occamistic Nominalism, which has especially influenced the Lutheran view concerning the impossibility of a Christian philosophy. However, if the possibility of a Christian philosophy is denied, one should also deny the possibility of a Christian theology in the sense of a science of the biblical doctrine. (Herman Dooyeweerd, In The Twilight of Western Thought, Craig Press, Nutley, New Jersey, 1968, pp. 141, 142) (New edition!)
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     It is conspicuous that in Romans 1 Paul does not fault homosexual behaviour for being contrary to Scripture (i.e. no mention of Leviticus) but rather for being contrary to Nature (cf 1 Cor 6:11 – “For such were some of you”). This attests creational parameters, and also arguably ‘common grace’. It was in the context of the latter that Dooyeweerd interestingly commended historical Humanism for its record on human rights. Indeed Paul himself endorses ‘humanist’ thinking, as it were, when in his Acts 17 Areopagus speech he favourably quotes pagan poets. And John Calvin (8) forcefully argued that all truth comes from God, whatever the conduit:
"Therefore, in reading profane authors, the admirable light of truth displayed in them  should remind us, that the human mind, however much fallen and perverted from its  original integrity, is still adorned and invested with admirable gifts from its Creator. If we reflect that the Spirit of God is the only fountain of truth, we will be careful, as we would avoid offering insult to him, not to reject or condemn truth wherever it appears. In despising the gifts, we insult the giver. (Institutes 2:2:15-16).
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(8) NOTE:“The scholastic motive of nature and grace is not found in Calvin’s thought, nor is there any trace of the spiritualistic contrast between the divine Law and the Gospel, (as) found in Luther.” New Critique, Vol. II p. 517 
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     Paul was invited to speak by the opposed Stoics (9) and Epicureans. Dooyeweerd suggests a Semitic influence [Roots of Western Culture, p. 26.] behind the Stoic emphasis on the natural freedom and equality of all men, a strand of Hellenistic philosophy picked up by Roman civil law and thence adopted by Germanic countries in the late middle ages with lasting effect on Western jurisprudence. Of course the Biblical revelation that all men are made in the image of God, and therefore equal before God, also informed more directly, for example, the anti-slavery movement.
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(9) NOTE: The following comments from Robert A. J. Gagnon are pertinent here:
     Paul’s nature argument in Romans 1:24-27 does not lend itself to distinctions between exploitative and non-exploitative manifestations of homosexual behavior but rather to an absolute rejection of all homosexual bonds. By para phusin (“beyond nature” in the sense of “contrary to, against nature”) Paul meant that the evidence from the material structures of creation—here the complementary embodied character of maleness and femaleness—gives clear evidence of God’s will for human sexual pairing.
     Some have argued that this could not have been what Paul intended by his nature argument, despite Paul’s clear statement in Rom 1:19-20 that such matters are “transparent” and have been so “from the creation of the world . . . being mentally apprehended by means of the things made.” As it is, the historical context also confirms this way of reading Paul. According to Thomas Hubbard, a classicist at the University of Texas (Austin) who has written the premiere sourcebook of texts on homosexuality in ancient Greece and Rome: “Basic to the heterosexual position [against homosexual practice in the Greco-Roman world of the first few centuries C.E.] is the characteristic Stoic appeal to the providence of Nature, which has matched and fitted the sexes to each other.” (Thomas K. Hubbard, Homosexuality in Greece and Rome: A Sourcebook of Basic Documents, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.)...
     Some Greek and Roman moralists condemned all homosexual acts on the grounds of a nature argument. “Literature of the first century C.E. bears witness to an increasing polarization of attitudes toward homosexual activity, ranging from frank acknowledgment and public display of sexual indulgence on the part of leading Roman citizens to severe moral condemnation of all homosexual acts” (Ibid., 383). 
(Truncated Love: A Response to Andrew Marin’s Love Is an Orientation Part 1 pp 19, 22, Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D., Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, 2010, pdf download)
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Ground-Motive 4: 
Nature-Freedom
The fourth [ground-motiveis that of Nature and Liberty, introduced by modern Humanism, which originates in an insoluble conflict between the religious cult of human personality in its liberty and autonomy and the desire to dominate reality by modern natural science, which seeks to construe it as a rational and uninterrupted chain of causes and effects. This humanist motive has absorbed into itself the three earlier fundamental motives, secularising the Christian motive and the [Thomistic] Catholic motive. [Herman Dooyeweerd, Introduction to a Transcendental Criticism of Philosophic ThoughtEvangelical Quarterly XIX/1, Jan. 1947.]
      We now enter strikingly familiar terrain. In the wake of Ockham, modern Humanism is born. Autonomous humanity harnesses natural laws. But if Man himself is a product of deterministic laws, whence his freedom? Enter Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) with his ‘fact/value distinction’. A sensory realm of Science (phenomena) is sharply distinguished from a suprasensory realm of Freedom (noumena). The latter is the domain of ethics. Freedom is not provable by Science, but is a ‘reasonable idea’ in which ‘to have faith’(10). 
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(10) NOTE: Translation and transcription of a response by Dooyeweerd to a post-lecture question in 1964:

     And now the question of sociology as a science in a narrower sense, thus as a non-philosophical science, well yes, there we have this unhappy fact that the traditional view of sociology is that sociology exclusively investigates our factual societal relationships, in order to explain them in a causal way, leaving the normative views of these matters outside the field of sociology. They then say that these norms belong to legal science, or to ethical theory, and so forth. Now I have tried to show that this view is in conflict with social reality – that such a reality does not exist. The whole social reality as such, what we call social facts, can only be ascertained by the application of norms and lines of responsibility. For example, if I say that there is a marriage between A and B, then I undoubtedly have a social relationship in view, which also has its juridical aspect. But it is a real social relationship. It is a social fact that this is a marriage. But I cannot establish that fact without the application of norms. How else would I be able to distinguish marriage from concubinage or from a relationship of free love? And so on. If I say that someone is a minister, then without a doubt I am relating a social fact. But can I establish that without applying a norm? Being a minister presupposes qualifications, it presupposes an office. Yes, these are all things that I can only establish by applying norms.       
     In other words, this is the dilemma for sociology: is it a true science in the sense of wetenschap or is it ‘science’ in the English sense? Americans are presently much broader in their understanding of ‘science,’ for they understand it to also mean normative science. But the English have not yet come that far, for they sharply distinguish between science and the arts. And they say, okay, legal science as a normative science, and ethics, the ethical science – those are arts but not science, for science concerns reality as it really is, the facts. And the arts, they can of course say how things ought to be. That’s the way these two areas are, and they should be that way; they should not be mixed up with each other. All right, but then I must state that it cannot all be reduced to social reality. For if from out of social reality, we try to abstract social norms in the broadest sense of the word from out of social reality, then we do not retain any single social fact. And here, where sociology concerns itself as a non-philosophical science, and concerns itself with facts – here is now a point where from a Christian standpoint, I believe we are forced to also make our Christian voice heard.       
     And in my view what we must say is this, that this whole dualism of what is and what ought to be [sein en sollen], which ever since Immanuel Kant has established itself as a kind of dogma, that this can be shown to derive from a dualistic religious Ground-motive. The humanistic Ground-motive is what I have sketched out as a motive of nature and freedom. On the one hand, there is the motive to control nature by means of scientific causal thought, and on the other hand there is the area of morals, ethics in a broader sense and the area of belief, as the domain of the autonomous freedom of the human personality. These two domains were separated from each other and now it is put forward as a scientific axiom that there are sciences and there are the arts, fine arts [kunst] therefore, and skills [kunstvaardigen]. They say that fine arts have to do with practical things and therefore also with norms, but that the sciences have to do exclusively with how things are [met het zo zijn], with facts and not with norms. And now the Christian voice must be heard, the Christian answer in my opinion. But that cannot be reduced to social reality.
Extract from “Center and Periphery: The Philosophy of the Law-Idea in a changing world” by Herman Dooyeweerd (Discussion, pages 10-11).  
PDF of original Dutch text HERE. PDF of English translation by Dr J. Glenn Friesen HERE(Quote can be found on pages 37-38 Dutch pdf & pages 38-39 English pdf.)
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     Dooyeweerd summarises: “In Kant’s thought the chasm dividing science and [humanistic] faith runs parallel to the chasm separating nature from freedom." [Roots of Western Culture, p. 172.]
     Let us now relate this more closely to our discussion. Christianity, which still in the second half of the twentieth century retained at least a tenuously formal status as ‘Fact’, has in our day been re-assigned to the subjective ‘Value’ side (in a ragbag labelled: ‘Faith Groups’). In contrast, homosexuality has been re-categorised from the ‘Value’ side, i.e. from being a subject about which public opinion could legitimately differ, to the ‘Fact’ side of objective scientific truth. In other words, it is no longer deemed to be a ‘moral’ matter but one of physics and chemistry (‘just how I am made’). Within this mindset, any attempt to treat it as if in the ‘ethical’ arena (i.e. as a subject for debate) is an anachronism which State legislation must therefore address forthwith. In the run-up to the last Westminster general election, Liberal leader Nick Clegg stated that homosexuality is “normal and healthy”. On which basis (let us observe) dissent cannot be a moral choice, only immoral prejudice (11). But note also that the current campaign is about far more than the normality of homosexuality. It is about the normality of homosexuality, heterosexuality, and everything in between (i.e. every transgender condition and transvestite whim) (12).
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(11) NOTE: History reveals (eg French Revolutionism, Marxism) with what astounding facility and self-righteousness (and however paradoxically) leftist libertarians (those cheerleaders of the 'Personalist Freedom' polarity) can when in governance disdain democracy and invoke iron-handed Statist Law ('Mechanistic Nature' polarity) to universally enforce their views. Obsessive subverters of all 'bourgeois' values, the libertarian left, having long gained hegemony in broadcasting, now manifest as political establishment. Via the unlikely Monty Python*, via sick-making 'edgy' comedians, via BBC couch-'anointings' of new model citizenry, we find ourselves entering a Through the Looking Glass world in which 'human rights' seem to function less as schiltron against State omnipotence and increasingly as cudgel of State coercion.

[*"For centuries, human beings have made sense of their lives by constructing over-arching stories which explain why we are here and why we are important. We talked of God's design, fall and salvation, finding our true purpose and so on. But we can't believe this any more…Like postmodernists, the Pythons think the age of 'grand narratives' is over." (Julian Baggini, "Life’s what you make it in the not-so-grand scheme of things" , The Herald, 21 March 2008). Baggini rehearses here postmodernism's defining assertion that there is no "grand narrative", no "Big Story". Objective reality cannot ultimately be known since we are all locked within our own personal distorting - or at least unable to be validated - subjectivities. To assert that one's own view is a definitive "overview" is therefore a presumptuous social faux pas. It unacceptably "privileges" one subjective view over the equally valid many. Two brief retorts: 1) To insist that there is "no over-arching narrative" is self-refuting, since the statement itself is a universal claim. 2) Western society and global academia patently DO subscribe to an utterly sacrosanct "Big Story" or over-arching "grand narrative". It is commonly known as Neo-Darwinism. The reference to Kant's "Fact/Value distinction" above helps to explain its secure hegemony, indeed its status as uncontestable paradigm. We unthinkingly categorize "Story" as an imagination-generated product of the Personal Freedom polarity. "Science", on the other hand, (ostensibly) adhering rigorously to the Mechanistic Natural Law polarity, is credited by the public with shunning all subjective narrative and scrupulously presenting only objective evidence ("That's a scientific fact, right?") In this regard I was interested to hear one Sunday morning on Radio Scotland a couple of years ago arch-evolutionist Professor Steve Jones (Almost Like a Whale: The Origin of Species Updated, 2000) in an interview with Ruth Wishart pointing out how funding largely drives research, and laudably lamenting also how newspapers invariably reproduce scientific press releases uncritically, an adulatory approach not accorded political press releases (of course the interview was obviously prior to the current independence referendum campaign, during which BBC Scotland and the Scottish press have shown themselves only too happy to reproduce Unionist propaganda verbatim!)]
     We might mention here another interesting glimpse of 'polarity dialectic' in relation to Prof Richard Dawkins. Though an undoubted champion of the 'Mechanistic Nature' polarity (cf. The Selfish Gene), Dawkins salutes 'Personalist Freedom' in advising that humans have reached a stage where they can begin to choose the direction of their 'evolution'. Of course this implied eugenic 'free choice' could overnight through government legislation become a draconian imposition and so we would be back to the "Mechanistic Nature" polarity with a vengeance. Regarding a different 'Freedom-polarity' cultural manifestation, Dawkins (with considerable justification) enthusiastically endorses a lampoon of a prominent strand of postmodernist writing (though do I detect a whiff of "Francophobia"?):
http://richarddawkins.net/articles/824-postmodernism-disrobed

(12) NOTE: Cf a recent France Culture radio discussion citing a 2009 international athletics gender-testing case as evidence of the "arbitrariness" and "absurdity" of sexual norms (“Qu’est-ce qu’un test de féminité?”). It is “very difficult to submit all our bodies, all our ways of existing, to only two categories defined in opposition”. The suicides of young homosexuals suggest "an inability to define themselves in terms of these dominant norms". Imposition of this problematic “binarité”, or bi-categorisation, is an impoverishment which neglects “la plasticité de nos corps, la perversité de nos désirs”. (Les Nouveaux chemins de la connaissance: Transgression 2/4 : la norme du sexe - travestissement et transgenre, France Culture, 06.12.2011)]

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     The Fall is of course forgotten. And with it the perspective that in the light of creational normativity we all without exception struggle with personal ‘abnormality’: 
Cultural education cannot change the male structure into a female one, nor the other way round. Only a fundamental encroachment upon the biotic structure of the human body would be able to accomplish such a structural alteration because sex difference has a typical biotic foundation. As long as psychology continues to speak of a male and a female feeling-structure, it will be in need of a normative structural principle which itself is independent of the concrete historical development. To point out effeminacy in a man’s emotional life implies a normative structural principle lying at the foundation of this statement. [Herman Dooyeweerd, New Critique of Theoretical Thought, Vol. III pp. 326-7. Download English and Dutch versions free HERE)
     If nothing can conceivably be abnormal, normativity vanishes. Society becomes entirely self-referential. This is post-modernism. Dada revisited (13). Historicism (14). Heraclitus (15). 
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(13) NOTE: Cf. David Locher: Unacknowledged Roots and Blatant Imitation: Postmodernism and the Dada Movement Electronic Journal of Sociology (1999).

(14) 'In modern times historicism or historical relativism is the main philosophical opponent of Reformational philosophy, not just in its approach to marriage and family but also in its view of the state, the business firm, associations, churches, and so on. This school of thought says that all societal relationships are purely human inventions and constructions which are determined by tradition and can be changed according to our needs and desires. By contrast, Reformational philosophy acknowledges that life in the various societal structures, including the state, cannot be organized at will, just to suit ourselves. Our philosophy recognizes supra-arbitrary principles, called structural principles. These are at the core of the various concrete types of human society.

     '...Marriage can be defined as the binary love community between a man and a woman for the duration of life and on the basis of gender difference. In the light of this definition a polygamous marriage is not one marriage with several women, but a plurality of simultaneously existing marriages that one man has contracted with several women...Our definition of marriage located its founding function in the gender polarity of man and woman, so in the biotic modality. For this reason a homosexual friendship can never be called a "marriage", and any civil recognition of this relationship in a contract or by some other legal instrument cannot transform it into "another type of marriage", no more than its consecration by a clergyman can.  To legislate "equality before the law" of a civil union and a marriage is a simplistic solution.' (Andree Troost, What is Reformational Philosophy? An Introduction to the Cosmonomic Philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd, Translated by Anthony Runia, Paideia Press 2012, pp 229, 230, 224, 225, 226)

More from Dooyeweerd on the rise of historicism:

     "The impulse to dominate nature by an autonomous scientific thought required a deterministic image of the world, construed as an uninterrupted chain of functional causal relations, to be formulated in mathematical equations...Nature was conceived as a central unity under the absolutized mechanistic viewpoint. But now the inner dialectic of the Humanist basic motive began to reveal itself in modern philosophy. The mechanistic world-image constructed under the primacy of the nature motive, aiming at the sovereign domination of the world, left no room for the autonomous freedom of the human personality in its practical activity. Henceforth Humanist philosophy was involved in a restless dialectical process. With Rousseau, the primacy is transferred to the freedom-motive and the central seat of human freedom is sought in the modal aspect of feeling. Kant's critical philosophy led to a sharp separation of the realms of nature and freedom... As in Rousseau the religious primacy was ascribed to the freedom-motive. But the central seat of human freedom was now sought in the moral aspect of the human will. Post-Kantian idealism seeks to overcome Kant's critical dualism by a dialectical mode of thought which was supposed to bring about an ultimate synthesis of nature and freedom. The mathematical science-ideal, born from the impulse to dominate nature, is replaced by another philosophical pattern of thought, oriented to the historical aspect of experience. This gives rise to a historicistic view of the temporal world, which reduces all the other aspects of our experience to the historical one...But in the middle of the last [19th] century the German freedom-idealism broke down, and gave place to naturalistic positivism. The nature-motive regained the upperhand...Meanwhile, historicism, no longer checked by the belief in eternal ideas of the human reason, began to display its relativistic consequences, resulting in a spiritual uprooting of Western thought. The former Humanistic belief was viewed as mere historical phenomenon, the perishable product of our Western cultural mind. The transitory influence of neo-Kantianism and neo-Hegelianism could not stop this process. Both contemporary logical positivism and its polar opposite Humanistic existentialism testify to a fundamental crisis of Humanist philosophy." (Herman Dooyeweerd, In The Twilight of Western Thought, Craig Press, Nutley, New Jersey, 1968, pp. 49-51(New edition!)

(15) NOTE: "The Ionian philosophers of nature and HERACLITUS, who deified the matter-principle of the eternally flowing stream of life, could never ask for an unmoved Mover as prime cause of empirical movement. This was not a logical mistake on the part of these thinkers, but is to be explained only in terms of their holding to the religious precedence of the matter-motive." (Herman Dooyeweerd, New Critique of Theoretical Thought, Prolegomena p72)

     Cf the following from Beat poet Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) in a late interview (mix of French and English): "I don't think there is a heaven or a hell! I would not want to be condemned to go to heaven for ever! That sounds like a monstrous...that sounds like hell! C'est une condition de stasis permanent...d'immobilité permanente. Tous les choses sont impermanents. C'est claire!... C'est moi, Allen Ginsberg qui a lu Héraclite! On ne peut pas entrer le même fleuve UNE fois...! (France Culture, La poesie n'est pas une solution: Une anthologie parlée d'Allen Ginsberg, États-Unis, par Frank Smith 01.08.2012 - 15.00)
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Conclusion
     Reality is [now deemed to be] but a flux of shifting sands. Dada was an irrational (‘Freedom’) reaction to the authoritarian and mechanistic (‘Nature’) carnage of the First World War (16). Freudianism and Surrealism ensued, Truth sought in dreams, the subconscious, drugs. Then followed World War 2. The Holocaust. Hiroshima. Vietnam. Apocalypse Now.
     Film is ‘dunamis’. Broadcasting is spellcasting. From Neo-Classical versus Romanticist painting, to the machine versus human in the Terminator and Matrix trilogies, the Nature-Freedom motive pervades. The mechanistic Nature polarity generates cinematically jaw-dropping but insistently materialist television. The personalist Freedom polarity interrogates normativity via postmodernist multi-narrative labyrinths, as in Reservoir DogsInceptionSource Code. Electronic mediation (screening) of reality fast approaches ‘total immersion’. Humanism’s reductionist materialism, internalized by society, is ‘lived’ as default actuality. Through the media it has become the arena, the very ‘boxing ring’ of life. There is no ‘pluralism’ in this sense. To be allowed to ‘slug out’ ideas on mainstream radio or tv, participants must bow and enter the confines of humanistic ropes and accept the arbitration of humanistic referees. These are the rules. The alternative is marginalisation. Off mike. Off air. Talked about rather than to, by gurus and guests who DO respect the rules. Scripture is unacceptable. Incomprehensible. Offensive. Out of kilter with society not just in terms of content, but also as a category of discourse. Thus the virtue of homosexuality is no longer in question. That of Christianity most certainly is. As for Dooyeweerd, he bids us find footing within a Christ-rooted, non-dualistic reality; within a creational normativity deeper than self, than society, than physics:
The ground-motive of the divine Word-revelation is an indivisible unity. Creation, fall, and redemption cannot be separated . . . Did God reveal himself as the creator so that we could brush this revelation aside? I venture to say that whoever ignores the revelation of creation understands neither the depth of the fall nor the scope of redemption. Relegating creation to the background is not scriptural. Just read the Psalms, where the devout poet rejoices in the ordinances that God decreed for creation. Read the book of Job, where God himself speaks to his intensely suffering servant of the richness and depth of the laws which he established for his creatures. Read the gospels, where Christ appeals to the creational ordinance for marriage in order to counter those who aimed at trapping him. Finally, read Romans 1:19-20, where the creational ordinances are explicitly included in the general revelation to the human race. Whoever holds that the original creational ordinances are unknowable for fallen man because of the effects of sin, does basic injustice to the true significance of God’s common grace which maintains these ordinances. Sin changed not the creational decrees but the direction of the human heart. [Herman Dooyeweerd, Roots of Western Culture, p. 59. Purchase new edition SEE HERE or download old edition free HERE)
     The shoreline seethes. The dunes are browbeaten, winnowed by the winds. But eventually we all must reckon with the rock beneath the sands. ☐
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(16) NOTE: ...léirscrios an Chéad Chogadh Mór a d'fhág cúig mhilliún Francach marbh - agus na milliúin eile leonta loite. Maraíodh an méid céanna Gearmánach, agus suas le 18 milliún Rúiseach. Ní bheadh cúrsaí mar a chéile go deo aríst. D'fhág iarmhairt an chogaidh marc ar shícé phobal na hEorpa is an domhain fré chéile...Le teacht na síochána tháinig filí, scríobhnóirí, drámadóirí, síceolaithe agus socheolaithe faoi scáth an taghd éadóchais iarchogaidh. Tháinig deireadh leis an tsiúrailteacht a bhíodh sa saol, agus loiceadh ar an urraim a bhíodh do na seandéithe agus na seanchinnteachtaí, go háirithe an creideamh....Céard é mar thuargain a baineadh as muintir na Fraince aríst eile nuair a teilgeadh isteach i gcomhrac eile iad ach ar ionsaigh na Gearmánaigh an tír i mBealtaine 1940 agus ar thit Páras....Isteach sa gcoire guairdill seo tháinig fáthach intleachtúil le fealsúnacht agus dearcadh nua a d'fheil thar barr do luaineacht na haimsire. Ba é sin Jean-Paul Sartre. Bhí foinse ghluaiseacht an eiseachais ann cheana i scríbhinní Søren Kierkegaard agus Edmund Husserl, ach ba é Sartre a chuir a shainmharc féin air mar fhealsúnacht. Le fada an lá b'eol dá lán go raibh Dia marbh agus gur chruthaigh an duine é féin. Ba í an tsaoirse bunchloch na fealsúnachta nua seo, a bhí le fáil ina shaothar L'Être et le Néant (An Bheith is an Neamhní)...Le deireadh an chogaidh bhí an Eoraip scriosta. Bhí daoine ag dúiseacht ón mbraighdeanas, má ba go mall féin é. Chaithfí gach rud a atógail ó bhonn aníos. D'fhóir fealsúnacht Sartre don athnuachan agus don atógail seo, le go bhféadfaí saol níos sona a chaitheamh. Ní raibh teora lena raibh i ndán don duine. Ba é an t-eiseachas an creideamh nua ina raibh slánú le fáil. (Réamhrá, An Strainséara le Albert Camus, aistrithe le Diarmuid Ó Gráinne) 

Translation of the above by F MacFh:

     ["...the destruction of the First World War, which left five million French dead - and millions more wounded and disabled. A like number of Germans were lost, and around 18 million Russians. Things would never be the same again. The war left a mark on the psyche of the people of Europe and the entire world. In the wake of peace, poets, writers, dramatists, psychiatrists, sociologists, reflected the mood of post-war despair. Any assuredness in life ended, and deference to the old gods and certainties, particularly faith...Then the crushing blow as the French were again thrust into conflict with the German invasion in May 1940 and the fall of Paris. Into this whirlpool stepped an intellectual giant with a philosophy and a fresh perspective that entirely fitted the insecurity of the times. He was Jean-Paul Sartre. The sources of the existentialist movement were already apparent in the writings of Søren Kierkegaard and Edmund Husserl, but Sartre put his own stamp on the philosophy. He had been long aware that God was dead and that man had created himself. Freedom was the foundation stone of this new philosophy, articulated in his work L'Être et le Néant (Being and Nothingness). By the end of the war Europe was in ruins. People awoke from their servitude, albeit slowly. Everything had to be rebuilt from the ground up. Sartre's philosophy contributed to this renewal and reconstruction, aspiring to a happier life. There were to be no limits on what was in store for humankind. Existentialism was the new faith in which would be found salvation. (Preface to An Strainséara, translation into Irish by Diarmuid Ó Gráinne of Albert Camus's L'Étranger, Coiscéim, Baile Átha Cliath, 2012)] [But cf Dooyeweerd's "What is Man" (20 page pdf)]
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This article "Drawing a Line in Shifting Sands" (with fewer notes) forms the epilogue to the multi-authored book "Embracing Truth: Homosexuality and the Word of God" published by Handsel Press.