Richard Mouw, President of Fuller Theological Seminary, is a knowledgeable and wise man. So, it is gratifying to take note of his high praise for Herman Bavinck in his September 9, 2009 blog entry.
He speaks of a “Bavinck revival” (of sorts), compares him with his neo-Calvinist contemporary Abraham Kuyper, praises his “kinder and gentler orthodoxy,” notes that his observations on Islam remain relevant and, highlighting Bavinck’s caution to Protestants against excessive critique of Roman Catholic “works righteousness,” cites the following gem from Bavinck’s The Certainty of Faith:
[W]e must remind ourselves that the Catholic righteousness by good works is vastly preferable to a protestant righteousness by good doctrine. At least righteousness by good works benefits one’s neighbor, whereas righteousness by good doctrine only produces lovelessness and pride. Furthermore, we must not blind ourselves to the tremendous faith, genuine repentance, complete surrender and the fervent love for God and neighbor evident in the lives and work of many Catholic Christians. The Christian life is so rich that it develops its full glory not just in a single form or within the walls of one church.
“If [Bavinck’s] way of being “orthodox Reformed” were to take hold here in North America, we might have a real revival on our hands!”
To that we can only say, “Amen and Amen!”
At its June 5, 2009, meeting faculty of Calvin Theological Seminary approved the establishment of the Bavinck Institute at Calvin Theological Seminary with a mission “to promote Reformed theological scholarship in the Herman Bavinck tradition” and a purpose “to further communication among scholars, teachers, pastors, and students interested in the theology of Herman Bavinck and the Bavinck tradition and to encourage scholarship in it.” Its immediate goals are to establish a web page on the CTS website, begin a Herman Bavinck Society, initiate restricted internet discussion forums on topics of Bavinck scholarship, create an electronic journal, The Bavinck Review, and continue to make Bavinck’s writings in English available online.
This idea for such a web-based vehicle of communication and Bavinck scholarship arose from a meeting of key Bavinck scholars after the “A Pearl and a Leaven: Herman Bavinck for the 21st Century” conference at the Calvin College Prince Center, September 18-20, 2008. There was virtual unanimous agreement among the twenty or so present that the enthusiasm for the conference (just over 200 attendees) and the positive reception of the English translation of the Reformed Dogmatics represented an opportunity for the worldwide Reformed Church and the theological training needed for the 21st century and that the internet was an appropriate vehicle for advancing the cause of good Reformed theology in the Bavinck tradition. The undersigned was given the responsibility to attempt to create such a vehicle and is profoundly grateful to his CTS faculty colleagues and students for their continuing support for this project and my zeal for Bavinck, as well as to the friends and colleagues who indicated a willingness to serve in an unofficial advisory capacity. A hearty thanks also to the CTS IT team, especially to Brian Krygsman, for stellar work.
Calvin Theological Seminary is undertaking a major overhaul of its entire curriculum including a shift from the quarter system to the semester system.
In the new curriculum, starting in the fall of 2009, a two-semester sequence in Reformed theology, using the four-volumes of Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics, taught by Professor John Bolt, will be offered annually as a Th.M. elective in systematic theology. The course is open, by permission, to M.Div. and M.T.S. students who may take it as an alternative to the regular two-semester core sequence in systematic theology.