Review of Creation Regained by Albert M. Wolters

Creation Regained, Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview by Albert M. Wolters, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985, 98 pages.
Al Wolters writes Creation Regained from the “Reformational” tradition of the Dutch philosopher, Herman Dooyeweerd. While I’ve found Dooyeweerd’s works to be nearly unreadable, Wolters has put together a concise and well-written book.
This Reformational movement is greatly influenced by Abraham Kuyper. In Creation Regained, Wolters has not only the Kuyperian “every inch of the earth belongs to God” Christian worldview, but extends God’s sovereignty to those non-physical elements of civilization as well: marriage, culture, arts, politics, etc. God’s created law includes not only the laws of physics, but extends to normative laws.
I must credit Wolters with proper humility when he speaks of his view as “a biblical worldview” rather than “THE Biblical worldview” as some Christian authors are known to say. This is not to say that the Bible has a plurality of meanings, but only that the reader, not the author, should judge whether the view presented is “THE” Biblical one.
In this particular Christian worldview it seems to me that Wolters gives an unjustly high place to so-called “General Revelation.” He has it that experience or empirical study in the world can “make known” God’s will; and not only generally, but for each specific person. (p. 31) How he might surmount the is-ought problem the reader is left to guess. And while he has it that God’s will for each man can be known via general revelation, he says “we can discern creational normatively best in the light of Scripture.” (p. 32) But since knowledge is already said to be the result of general revelation, is there some category of supra-knowledge that we should use for those better discernments of special revelation? His example is ridiculous. He writes:
“The Scriptures teach us to look for God’s norms in our experience and also serve to greatly improve our vision. … Scripture is like a miner’s lamp, which lights up the world wherever we turn to look at it. Miners working in an unlighted underground mind shaft cannot do their work without the lamp fitted to their helmets; they are helpless without it and therefore must take great care to see that it functions properly. Yet their attention while they work is turned to the rockface, not to the lamp. The lamp serves to illuminate the environment in which they are called to work, to enable them to discern the nature of what lies before them: earth and rock, ore and gangue. The Scriptures are like that. “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.(Ps. 119.105)” (p. 33)
Since on Wolters view the Scriptures illuminate the creation from which we then learn, he has ultimately made knowledge to come not from the lamp (i.e. the Bible) but from one’s feet!
Other points of interest are that Wolters seems to hold to a Privation Theory of evil (p.48) and that he rejects the liberal view of the Genesis creation story. (p. 51)
Like the Kuyperian focus on redeeming culture, Wolters emphasizes the redemption of all of creation. But, while this focus is rightly related to or even part of the Gospel, its emphasis tends to distract from the central Gospel message of personal salvation in Jesus Christ.

1 thought on “Review of Creation Regained by Albert M. Wolters”

  1. I remember reading this in seminary and enjoyed it for the most part. I do think the Kuyperian emphasis on redeeming culture has ended up being baptizing culture without changing it.

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