After World War II, his family left the Netherlands for Canada. He studied in the preseminary program at Calvin College, despite being an agnostic at the time of his application. While in the program, he converted to Christianity, citing one of his professors, H. Evan Runner, as a major influence. As part of his conversion, he concluded that his calling was not towards the ministry, but towards philosophy. Consequently he returned to the Netherlands and studied the history of philosophy at the Free University in Amsterdam, where he wrote a dissertation on Plotinus before moving back to Canada.
His first teaching job was in philosophy at the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto. Notes from his lectures there were transformed into Creation Regained (1985), which became heavily influential in reformational philosophy and was successful in South Korea. From there his research moved towards biblical studies, and he was hired by Redeemer College, a university he had previous associations with. There his work has focused on the Dead Sea Scrolls, particularly the Copper Scroll. His current projects include work on the book of Zechariah.
He is one of few people with access to the actual Dead Sea Scrolls and is fluent in Dutch, Friesian, German, English, Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic,and other languages. He enjoys reading Swedish novels for fun.