This good English translation, based on a researched critical Dutch edition, of Vollenhoven's text, Introduction to Philosophy, presents a cornerstone of theory in philosophical reflection germinated at the Free University of Amsterdam during the past three generations. All those foreigners like myself who spent years in doctoral study there with Vollenhoven, Zuidema, Dooyeweerd, Mekkes, K.J. Popma and Van Riessen, cut our Dutch teeth on this primordial, skeletal text. It had a confusing simplicity, a lingual scrupulosity, and quiet biblical earnestness that both captivated and frustrated us early North Americans who were in a hurry to become christian philosophical thinkers. Vollenhoven takes time to be understood.
The fact that Dirk H. Th. Vollenhoven was a pastor of a congregation and wrote a Ph.D. dissertation on the philosophy of mathematics gives an indication of the range and stature of the man who began to teach systematic philosophy at the university in the faith-thought tradition of Abraham Kuyper. Vollenhoven's Introduction to Philosophy is a philosophical text; it is not worldviewy. Vollenhoven has a chaste love to be exact in word precision when he writes philosophy. His meticulous prose is not colorful. A good teacher of this introductory text will fill out its terse distinctions with concrete life examples. And if one makes the effort to follow slowly and plumb the visionary wisdom in Vollenhoven's conceptual leadership, the result is a humbled redemptive orientation in the philosophical task.
Other building blocks Vollenhoven, with colleagues, offered toward construction of an on-going Scripturally directed christian philosophy are now also available in the English language. They are mentioned in the fine introduction to this volume by Anthony Tol. My hope is that many christian college instructors, who may be looking for a radically Bible-true (but not biblicistic) effort to give a new generation of students good direction for thinking through matters in their varied disciplines, will examine this basic introductory text. For those who are able to be patient to do justice to Vollenhoven's slowly unfolding analysis of the creatural world we inhabit, which belongs to God revealed in Jesus Christ, there is a surprise coming: the blessing which makes one thankful that our local stories and philosophical reflections can share in the certain, enduring, worldwide promise of the Lord's Rule coming in God's historically troubled but well-ordered creation.
Calvin Seerveld, emeritus
Institute for Christian Studies, Toronto