Herman Bavinck is my Homeboy

200px-hermanbavinckbigOnly in the last couple weeks have I been able to read some of the works of Herman Bavinck, and I have to admit, I am hooked already.  The English translation of Bavinck’s 4-volume Reformed Dogmatics was completed last year, and so the English-speaking church is only now benefitting from Bavinck’s thoroughly-Reformed and massive work . 

His magnum opus treats a full range of systematic categories  and  consists of stellar theological formulations that attend to biblical theology, detail historical theology, contend with modern philosophy and other aberrant doctrinal systems, and argue for a biblically saturated and God-glorifying Calvinistic doctrines.  In its incredible length, each chapter begins with summary that can be used as a navigational compass in the vast expanses of his theological output.  

In perusing his work, I have already benefitted; I look forward with expectation to learning more from this great theologian.  For that reason, I say “Herman Bavinck is My Homeboy.” (For more online information on and resources from this Reformed Theologian see: hermanbavinck.org ).

Let me close with this sweeping quote:

God’s self-revelation to us does no come in bits and pieces: it is an organic whole, a grand narrative form creation to consummation.  All nature and history testify to God the Creator; all things return to him.  Fallen humanity sees this revelation only in part and with blinded eyes.  A special revelation is needed that is provided in grace.  In this revelation God makes himself known to us as the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  This revelation is historical and progresses over the course of many centuries, reaching it [sic] culmination in Jesus Christ, the Mediator of creation and redemption.  From this history we discover that revelation is not exhaustively addressed to human intellect.  In Christ, god himself comes to us in saving power.  At the same time we must not make the opposite error and deny that revelation communicates truth and doctrine.  Revelatory word and deed belong together in God’s plan and acts of salvation (Found on page 324 in Reformed Dogmatics: Prolegomena, vol. 1).

Sola Deo Gloria, dss

4 thoughts on “Herman Bavinck is my Homeboy

    • Reformed,

      I just finished a rough draft of a blog post I will put up in a day or two to answer your first question. In short, the answer is yes and no. I think Bavinck would agree with an incarnational analogy to help understand what the Bible is, but I don’t think he would define it the same way as Enns.

      Concerning the McGrath Article, sadly I think Prof. McGrath’s post is filled with rhetoric and dismissive rejoinders. He questions Beale’s understanding of cosmology. Has he not read or seen the 300+ book Beale wrote on the Temple and The Church’s Mission. Moreover, his appeal to Ptolemaic cosmology as a ‘dome-like’ (my words, not his) cosmology–something Beale discounts–is from centuries after Abraham, Moses, and David. I am NOT a scholar on this subject, but McGrath will need to present more data than this latter cosmological reference to dismiss Beale’s scholarship here. (Perhaps, there are others who have and he is simply picking up their line, but that article was not appealing).

      Moreover, the attach on Beale’s biblical-theological hermeneutic and his arguments via biblical cross-references is understandably chastised because it wreaks of circularity, but in the end every epistemic system carries with it some kind of circularity, and I am simply going to go with the Bible on that one–call me fundamentalist :-)

      Finally, to get to your question, I don’t know why McGrath would say that. Clearly, Beale’s intent is to defend inerrancy as an inerrantist. If you believe in authorial intent, his purpose-driven argument seems clear. As to the reason he gives for the statement, applying phenomenological language to everything, simply misreads the Bible. There are countless modes of discourse in the Bible–phenomenological, imperatival, emotive, proverbial, to name a few. Each carry different kinds of truth claims (cf. Vanhoozer), but each speak the truth of God. All biblical language is analogical navigating between univocal and equivocal language. Pressed to the wall, either extreme will misrepresent God.

      In illustrating his point by saying that the cosmos is a temple, phenomenologically speaking, leads to saying things like “Jesus death was like a sacrifice” confuses the issue because he does not recognize the differences in language (at least in his comments) and he does not realize that “Jesus death on the cross was like a sacrifice!” Sacrifices were done in the temple, on the altar, by the priest, with animals. Christ’s death was done on a cross, outside the city, by the hands of Roman soldiers. In this way, Jesus crucifixion was not a sacrifice; yet by eyes of faith we see that Jesus death was indeed like a sacrifice (John 1:29; Heb. 9-10). In this way, it was an even greater sacrifice because it was not like other sacrifices. Phenomenologically, Jesus death was a criminal punishment; typologically it was a sacrifice. McGrath does not make sharp enough distinctions here.

      Enough for now. I hope that answers the question. I definitely think that Beale is a friend of inerrancy. How could you write a book knowing the evangelical milieu of the day and the backlash it would receive, unless you were a true friend?

      In Christ, dss

  1. Pingback: Herman Bavinck and Peter Enns on an Incarnational Analogy of Scripture « Via Emmaus

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