06 July 2006

dooyeweerd on nouvelle theologie

dooyeweerd on nouvelle theologie

In a forthcoming contribution to a larger volume, Nancy Pearcey points out in a footnote that Dutch Reformed philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd gave a positive assessment of the 20th century Roman Catholic movement known as the nouvelle theologie, leaders of which included figures such as Henri de Lubac, Jean Danielou, and Hans Urs von Balthasar.

Dooyeweerd had critiqued much of Western thought as promoting various dualisms: form and matter, nature and freedom, facts and values, and (in the case of late medieval thought) nature and grace. It is this nature/grace dualism, particularly in its 19th century scholastic form, that the nouvelle theologie critiqued and attempted to move beyond, drawing upon the church Fathers. In this way there is a definite resonance between Dooyeweerd's thought and that of these Catholic thinkers.

After critiquing Roman Catholic nature/grace dualism, Dooyeweerd writes:
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 so-called nouvelle theologie, have begun to oppose this dualistic view. They agree with the Reformed philosophical movement in the Netherlands in advocating the necessity of a Christian philosophy. (In the Twilight of Western Thought 141)
While Dooyeweerd does recognize the pernicious effects of an Ockhamistic nominalism upon Christian thought in promoting dualisms, his appreciation of the nouvelle theologie doesn't lead Dooyeweerd to recognize that he largely misreads Aquinas through the lens of a later Thomism that was reshaped by and refracted through the lens of nominalism. It's an interesting question how Dooyeweerd, had he lived today, might re-assess Aquinas in light of the seismic shift in Aquinas interpretation that emerged from the nouvelle theologie.