Bavinck’s Travel Journal of North American Visit Wins Prize

Congratulations are in order for Bavinck Society member and VU University of Amsterdam Professor Dr. George Harinck. The Royal National Dutch Library (Koninklijke Bibliotheek; Nationale Bibliotheek van Nederland) announced on 25 November 2010 that Herman Bavinck’s Mijn Reis Naar Amerika, transcribed, annotated, and introduced by Dr. Harinck, has been awarded the prize as the Best Dutch Travel Narrative.

A portion of Dr. Harinck’s publication of Bavinck’s travel journal has been made available as a PDF at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek web site. The original hand-written manuscript resides in the Bavinck archives of the Historisch Documentatiecentrum voor het Nederlands Protestantisme at the Free University, Amsterdam, which Dr. Harinck directs.

The journal dates back to 1892 when Bavinck travelled to the United States and Canada primarily to deliver an address to the Fifth General Council of the Alliance of the Reformed Churches holding the Presbyterian System, Toronto, 1892: “The influence of the Protestant Reformation on the moral and religious condition of communities and nations.” Bavinck’s conclusion to this volume is of interest:

Let American Christianity develop according to its own law. God has entrusted America with a high and great calling. Let it pursue that in its own way. After all, Calvinism is not the only truth.

The occasion of the award is the public launch of a volume on Dutch travel literature by Jan Blokker, De Nederlandse Reisliteratuur in 80 en Enige Verhalen (Koninklijke Biblotheek en Prometheus, 2010). Here is Blokker’s description of Bavinck’s journal:

The travel narrative of dominee Bavinck is decidedly unprejudiced and written with astonishment and admiration. He travelled through the United States at a time when the continent was truly “new” for Europeans. His judgment about the religious life of Americans (a topic close to his heart) bears witness to a great openness. This account is an intellectual tour de force.

Congratulations to Dr. Harinck, and our best wishes for him and for the Documentatiecentrum.

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