Articles

Revisiting Bavinck and the Beatific Vision by Cory C. Brock

Revisiting Bavinck and the Beatific Vision Cory C. Brock Cory Brock (PhD, University of Edinburgh) is an assistant pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Mississippi. He serves as lecturer in Christian thought at Belhaven University, and he is the author of Orthodox yet Modern: Herman Bavinck’s Use of Friedrich Schleiermacher (Lexham Press, 2020). Introduction This current year, 2021, marks the centenary death of Herman Bavinck—a season in which the world lost several superior theologians. With such an occasion, one reflects on the most noteworthy and meaningful contributions of the Dutch theologian with such magisterial influence in the discipline of theology as well as the life of the church. As Bavinck’s readership rises in the twenty-first century, it has been common for readers to reflect on the doxological character of his dogmatics, his irenic, catholic spirit that accompanied his catholic theological vision, and his unflinching commitment to biblical and confessional dogmatic logic. In all these ways and in all his efforts, his writing is a typically Godward, theological theology, to borrow a phrase from Webster, where dogmatics proceeds according to its own principia despite the modern turn to Wissenschaft.[1] Bavinck defined his theological project commensurate with the history of Christian theological…

Dogmatics: A Progressive Science? by Cameron Clausing

Dogmatics: A Progressive Science? Cameron Clausing Cameron Clausing (PhD University of Edinburgh) is Lecturer in Applied Theology and Missional Engagement at Christ College, Sydney, Australia. Introduction In an interview with economist, Russell Roberts, John Maynard Keynes’ biographer, Robert Skidelsky, stated, “Economics is not a progressive science.”[1] By this Skidelsky was asserting that economics, unlike physics or chemistry, is not a science in which the body of knowledge has seen growth on a macrolevel. One wonders if this provocative comment about the science of economics could be made about the theology as a science. To what extent is theology a progressive science? To what extent does the body of knowledge grow?[2] Herman Bavinck (1854–1921) was unequivocal in his assertion that the science of dogmatics includes a progressive quality. In one article Bavinck asserted that dogmatics has a characteristic of “being progressive and striving for perfection.”[3] For the contemporary reader this statement does not seem to be radical. The obvious appeal, at least in the Reformed tradition, that the church is ecclesia reformata semper reformanda is taken for granted. There is a sense in which the church is striving for perfection. However, the assertion that dogmatic theology is progressive in nature was…

Bavinck’s Doctrine of God: Absolute, Divine Personality by Gayle Doornbos

Bavinck’s Doctrine of God: Absolute, Divine Personality Gayle Doornbos Gayle Doornbos (PhD, University of St. Michael’s College) is an Associate Professor of Theology at Dordt University. She has also taught in Calvin Theological Seminary’s distance program. She lives in Sioux Center, IA. Introduction[1] Given the Dutch Reformed Theologian Herman Bavinck’s insistence on the centrality of the doctrine of the Trinity and the serious debates surrounding the doctrine at the turn of the twentieth century, it is surprising that there remain few extended treatments of Bavinck’s doctrine of God within secondary scholarship, especially those situating his theology proper within his theological and philosophical context. While there remains a widespread recognition of the trinitarian nature of Bavinck’s theology as well as examinations of the triniform structure of various doctrines,[2] the structure, shape, sources, and context of Bavinck’s doctrine of God remains underexamined (at best) and unexamined (at worst).[3] Why is this? Syd Hielema’s treatment of Bavinck’s doctrine of God in his 1998 dissertation “Herman Bavinck’s Eschatological Understanding of Redemption” illuminates at least two potential reasons in older scholarship. First, describing the doctrine of the Trinity, Hielema claims that Bavinck’s treatment is “certainly not remarkable or unusual in any way.”[4] Second, describing Bavinck’s…

Jesus the Law Restorer: Law and the Imitation of Christ in Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Ethics by Jessica Joustra

Jesus the Law Restorer: Law and the Imitation of Christ in Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Ethics Jessica Joustra Jessica Joustra (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary, Free University of Amsterdam) is assistant professor of religion and theology at Redeemer University and an associate researcher at the Neo-Calvinist Research Institute at the Theological University of Kampen (NL). She is an editor and translator of Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Ethics: Created, Fallen, and Converted Humanity and associate editor for the Bavinck Review. Introduction “Jesus matters,” asserts Reformed philosopher James K.A. Smith.[1] A seemingly innocuous claim in Christian scholarship, one might assume he was lauding the Reformed, specifically neo-Calvinist, tradition for its well-known insistence that “there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human life of which Christ, who is Sovereign of all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”[2] Smith’s claim, however, is a critique, not a praise of the Reformed tradition. He continues by offering an important insight into an area of theological deficiency, speaking specifically of theological ethics: “in the Reformed tradition, we also speak more about creation than we do cross, and we speak more about law than we do Jesus.”[3] In other words, the Reformed tradition needs to continue to mine its own resources—and…

Encyclopedia Bavinck: The Case of the History of the Theological Encyclopedia by Gregory Parker Jr.

Encyclopedia Bavinck: The Case of the History of the Theological Encyclopedia Gregory Parker Jr. Gregory Parker Jr. is a Ph.D. student in Systematic Theology at the University of Edinburgh, New College, Mound Place, Edinburgh, UK. He is a co-editor and co-translator of Herman Bavinck’s The Sacrifice of Praise (Hendrickson, 2019) and Guidebook for Instruction in the Christian Religion (Hendrickson, 2022). Introduction A familiar scene in the kids’ books Encyclopedia Brown is the arrival home of the befuddled chief of police, Mr. Brown. He is troubled by a case. His son Leroy “Encyclopedia” Brown takes up the case that is puzzling his father. The cases are often worked out on account of some sort of wide-ranging trivia type knowledge that Leroy has gathered. “Encyclopedia” Brown’s encyclopedic knowledge is how he garnered his nickname. In modern parlance this is often how we think of the encyclopedia. It is a distended dictionary of sorts, swelling with far too much information. Alternatively, many think of the Encyclopedia Brittanica sitting somewhere in their parent’s homes sold to them by a travelling salesman years ago. This picture or understanding of the encyclopedia as strictly a set of information is novel to the twentieth century.[1] In the…

Planting Tulips in the Rainforest: Herman and Johan Bavinck on Christianity in East and West by James Eglinton

Planting Tulips in the Rainforest: Herman and Johan Bavinck on Christianity in East and West James Eglinton James Eglinton is Meldrum Senior Lecturer in Reformed Theology at the University of Edinburgh. His most recent book, Bavinck: A Critical Biography, won The Gospel Coalition Book of the Year for History and Biography in 2020, and was a finalist for the 2021 ECPA Christian Book of the Year in the Biography and Memoir category. Introduction In my earlier Bavinck: A Critical Biography,[1] I argued that the development of Herman Bavinck’s life and thought is best understood in two distinct phases: the two decades spent as a professor at the Theological School in Kampen (in the 1880s-90s), in which he wrote the first edition of the Reformed Dogmatics;[2] and in the following two decades at the Free University of Amsterdam (from 1902 until 1921), in which he revised the Dogmatics extensively, and was engaged in a multipronged effort to promote the importance of Christianity to the viability of a dechristianising Western culture.[3] These phases can be described in various ways. Bavinck himself spoke of the first phase as corresponding to the “age of Renan,” to which I have added a follow-on “age of…

Herman Bavinck on Antirevolutionary Politics by George Harinck

Herman Bavinck on Antirevolutionary Politics George Harinck George Harinck (PhD, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) is Professor of History at Theological University Kampen and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and Director of the Neo-Calvinism Research Institute at Theological University Kampen. He published widely on the history of the Neo-Calvinist tradition.   Introduction Though Herman Bavinck is well known as a theologian, he also played a substantial role in Dutch politics. He was a member of the Antirevolutionary Party, he served as manager and president of the Central Committee, the executive board of this party, and the last decade of his life he was a Senator, a member of the Dutch First Chamber or Senate. In his context, other theologians were also active in politics and served as representative in city councils, provincial or national polities bodies: Abraham Kuyper in the first place, but also his former fellow student in Leiden, professor Gerrit Wildeboer, his Kampen colleague Maarten Noordtzij, Rev. A. Syb Talma, and the Leiden professor Bernard D. Eerdmans, to name a few. Bavinck played a larger political role than most of his contemporary theological colleagues. However, evaluating his activities in the political domain, obituaries and historical publications have not stressed his work as…

Introduction to Herman Bavinck (1854-1921): A Centenary Celebration by N. Gray Sutanto and Justin McLendon

Introduction to Herman Bavinck (1854-1921): A Centenary Celebration N. Gray Sutanto and Justin McLendon N. Gray Sutanto is Assistant Professor of Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, Washington D.C. Justin McLendon is Associate Professor of Theology at Grand Canyon University and serves as a Managing Editor of JBTS. The Journal of Biblical and Theological Studies (hereafter, JBTS) is a broadly evangelical, interdenominational journal committed to publishing current scholarship across biblical and theological disciplines. Biblical and theological themes have been the focus of every issue to date. Within biblical studies, examples include the Israelite Monarchy and Pauline Studies, and within theological studies, examples include Christianity and the Philosophy of Science and the Catholicity of the Church.[1] This iteration, JBTS 6.2, marks the first volume dedicated exclusively to a Christian theologian and scholar.[2] This shift in focus prompts at least two questions: why dedicate a volume to a singular figure, and why focus upon Herman Bavinck? Read the full article: Introduction to Herman Bavinck (1854-1921): A Centenary Celebration [1] Open access to every JBTS issue can be found on jbtsonline.org. [2] Though JBTS will continue its primary focus on biblical and theological themes in forthcoming volumes, the editorial team has goals to dedicate future issues…

The Growing Tree of the Global Church: Review Article of Robert F. Rea and Steven D. Cone, A Global Church History: The Great Tradition Through Cultures, Continents, and Centuries by Michael McClymond
Articles , Church History / December 28, 2021

The Growing Tree of the Global Church: Review Article of Robert F. Rea and Steven D. Cone, A Global Church History: The Great Tradition Through Cultures, Continents, and Centuries (London: T. & T Clark Bloomsbury, 2019), pp. xxviii + 847. Michael McClymond Professor of Modern Christianity, St. Louis University When I attended a Protestant seminary in the 1980s, our assigned text for general church history was the venerable work by Williston Walker, D.D., L.H.D., Ph.D. (1860–1922), who had graduated from Amherst College in 1883, from the Hartford Theological Seminary in 1886, from Leipzig University (PhD) in 1888, and then taught and Hartford Seminary, before proceeding to Yale University, where he taught after 1901.  By the time I first encountered it, Walker’s book had already been revised and updated by a team of three scholars from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, first in 1956 (2nd ed.), and then again in 1970 (3rd ed.). A side-by-side comparison between the 1918 and third (1970) editions shows that the essential framework of the original 1918 book—published as soldiers battled in the trenches of World War I—had not appreciably altered, except within the final section of the six-hundred-page book.  “English Unitarianism” was expanded…

The Beginning of Days: A Response to Jeremy Lyon’s “Genesis 1:1–3 and the Literary Boundary of Day One” by John B. Carpenter
Articles , Old Testament / December 28, 2021

The Beginning of Days: A Response to Jeremy Lyon’s “Genesis 1:1-3 and the Literary Boundary of Day One John B. Carpenter John B. Carpenter Carpenter (BA Samford University, MDiv Fuller Theological Seminary, ThM Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, PhD The Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago) is the founding pastor of Covenant Reformed Baptist Church in Danville, Virginia Abstract: Jeremy D. Lyon, in his essay “Genesis 1:1–3 and the Literary Boundary of Day One,” claimed that Genesis 1:1-2 is meant to be read as part of day one and that this interpretation “reflects the grammar and syntax in the most straightforward manner” and is supported by “inner-textual commentary” (that is, other parts of the Bible). He helpfully focuses on the most crucial issue for young earth creationists: whether Genesis 1 allows for long periods of time between the creation ex nihilo (out of nothing), in Genesis 1:1, and the beginning of the days, in 1:3. Following the work of Weston Fields, Lyon offers a grammatically impressive defense of a crucial issue for defending Young Earth Creationism (YEC), that Genesis 1:1-2 is “circumstantial;” that is, that it describes the circumstances at the dawn of day one. However, his conclusion about the circumstantial…