Runner Reader

The new Reformational Publishing Project is planning a Runner reader.  Details are here

The Runner Reader Page represents the second significant focus of this site. Here we intend to make available all of the published and unpublished writings of H. Evan Runner, first in hard copy, and then through the standard digital media. All of Prof. Runner’s writings will be published through Paideia Press. Eventually we hope to make this web site the most complete repository of material relevant to the life and work of Prof. Runner. Those readers who have a long term association with the Reformational Movement will be familiar with the Runner–Paideia Press connection, perhaps most significantly through Dr. Runner’s translation of the great Reformed classic Promise and Deliverance (4 vols.).

Throughout his teaching career at Calvin College Runner was the preeminent North American representative of the work of Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven. Although Runner began his work at the Free University as a student of Vollenhoven, and in fact always taught a course on Classical Greek thought using Vollenhoven’s method, he had nevertheless familiarized himself with Dooyeweerd’s work through the encouragement of Prof Cornelius Van Til at Westminster Theological Seminary before he travelled to Amsterdam. That Runner possessed a significant grasp of Dooyeweerd’s fundamental ideas prior to his work at the VU is evident from his four page letter to Werner Jaeger in 1946 explaining why it was imperative for him to go to Amsterdam. While   Vollenhoven is described as the man he will work with specifically, it is Dooyeweerd’s position that takes center stage as it is this new Christian philosophy that has captured his attention and that is redirecting his whole way of thought. Indeed, it was Dooyeweerd’s transcendental critique that provided Runner with the sought for entrée into the nature of philosophical activity that had chronically occupied so much of his attention beginning with his early Wheaton days. From this foundation he was able to address himself to the whole range of the special sciences in his teaching, writing, and public lectures. By the mid to late fifties he both thought and acted in terms of Dooyeweerd’s transcendental critique.

As his teaching career developed, it was Dooyeweerd’s systematics that that took on greater and greater prominence not only in his teaching, but also in his writing. The astute observer of Runner’s public lectures, for example, will note that most of his illustrations of the particular theme at hand are in fact modal-analytical in nature, even when expressed in very plain language. Runner’s public lectures covered an inordinately broad range of topics from the nature of Men’s Societies, to Labor Union organizations, to pragmatic politics, the history of legal and political philosophy, the development of Christian political parties, the place of academic institutions in the life of the Christian community, as well as the complex problem of the practice of the Christian faith in the midst of an unbelieving world. It became quite clear to Runner very early on, that each of these latter questions are best served through a modal-analytical approach. Indeed Runner became so adept at expressing various forms of modal analysis in plain language that it is not typically understood that he was in fact employing Dooyeweerd’s systematics.

Similarly, those students who took the full complement of Runner’s courses will no doubt recall that almost all of his standard lectures on such topics as reductionism, scientism, immanentism, etc., etc., were all explained in a modal-analytical fashion. Sometimes, in the midst of explaining a difficult point in his Ancient Greek philosophy course where he would routinely employ Vollenhoven’s distinction between God and His creation, and the Law of God for creation, as a way of demonstrating how a given Greek thinker had confused numerous issues, he would actually unpack the substance of the confusion with modal-analytical examples. In his retirement years I pursued the question of the use of Vollenhoven and Dooyeweerd “as though they were basically on the same page.” He replied that, “Well, basically they are. But that is not to say that there aren’t considerable differences between them.” The differences, of course, while certainly very real and  important, were not the object of Runner’s attention in the classroom. He saw his central task as conveying the essence of the “new Christian philosophy” inaugurated on basis of the specific expression that the Reformed faith had taken from the Reformers through Groen Van Prinsterer, and Abraham Kuyper. A circuitous route to be sure, and one in which there were elements quite foreign to the results as exhibited in the works of Dooyeweerd and Vollenhoven. Nevertheless, Runner had learnt from his revered teacher Vollenhoven, that when you are attempting to begin such a new endeavor as they had set for themselves, you do not make a point of one’s differences even when your brother-in-law may differ with you on what appears to be major systematic points, providing that you are both traveling in the same religious direction. Regardless of the differences between them, Vollenhoven and Dooyeweerd were personally convinced that at the religious root of their lives there was at least a unity of spirit, and an absolute commitment to the scriptures as their final authority. It was in this same spirit, then, that H Evan Runner conducted his classroom activities. As the complexity of the task before him grew, and as his own vision broadened, he was, in effect, forced to embrace Dooyeweerd’s systematics in order to account for the reality before him. Hence, while he taught “Vollenhoven’s method” in his classroom throughout his entire career, the really fundamental problems of the order of human experience in God’s world tended more and more to be articulated in modal-analytical terms. And while some of his students would later realize in graduate school that there was in fact a difference in systematic articulation, in his Calvin College classes, Runner remained true to to the paradigm that he had seen so elegantly demonstrated by his teachers.

Both the published and unpublished writings of Prof. Runner will be made available in two separate volumes. The first volume, Rudder Hard Over: The Collected Writing of H. Evan Runner, will be approximately 630 pages. The second volume will be approximately 350 pages. This latter volume will bring together in one place the various works that have already been published under separate imprints.

We would like to invite all those who would like to contribute articles, lectures, photos, tapes, reminiscences, or references of significance regarding H. Evan Runner, to post them on the Runner Reader page. As time and resources permit, PDFs, CDs, DVDs, and Streaming Data files will be made available in the standard digital formats.

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One Comment on “Runner Reader”

  1. Dr. Charles A McIlhenny Says:

    Dr. Runner was my mentor for my doctorate at Westminster Seminary in Calif. I am very enthusiastic for this project. I never met him personally but we talked on the phone many times. I encouraged him always to keep working on his papers, memoirs, journal, etc. He was and is still most influential in my Reformed philosophy. I am now a medical chaplain in central Los Angeles and am introducing Dr Runner’s notions and Christian philosophy into my work and teaching….I am anxiously awaiting these volumes.

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