The Bavinck Institute’s First Publication Now in Preparation

The Bavinck Institute’s first publication is now in preparation: The J.H. Bavinck Reader: Essays in Missiology and Religious Psychology (not a final title). The new work is being translated by James A. De Jong, President of Calvin Theological Seminary, emeritus. The volume will be edited by John Bolt, James D. Bratt and Paul Visser, and it will be published by the William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

The following writings of Johan Herman Bavinck, the nephew of Herman Bavinck and long-time missionary to Indonesia and professor of missiology in the Dutch Reformed Church, will be included:

  1. Religious Consciousness and Christian Faith by J. H. Bavinck“Proclaiming Christ among the Nations” (Christusprediking in de Volkerenwereld [Kok, 1940])
  2. “General Revelation and the Non-Christian Religions,” Free University Quarterly 4 (1955): 43-55.
  3. “Religious Consciousness and Christian Faith” (Religieus Besef en Christelijk Geloof [Kok,1989])
  4. Five Chapters from Christus en de Mystiek van het Oosten (Christ and Eastern Mysticism):
    1. Chapter III: God en Wereld (“God and Cosmos”)
    2. Chapter IV: Microcosmos en Macrocosmos
    3. Chapter V: De Wereldorde (“The World Order”)
    4. Christ and Eastern Mysticism by J. H. Bavinck Chapter VI: Het Wonderlijke Spel van het Menschenleven (“The Amazing Game of Human Life”)
    5. Chapter VII: De Weg der Verlossing (“The Way of Salvation”)

Also included will be a significant introduction to the life and thought of J.H. Bavinck, by Paul Visser, pastor of the Bethlehem Church (Protestant Churches in the Netherlands) in The Hague. Visser is a world authority on J.H. Bavinck and author of Heart for the Gospel, Heart for the World: The Life and Thought of Reformed Pioneer Missiologist Johan Herman Bavinck [1895-1964] (Wipf & Stock, 2003).

This translation project is made possible by equal grants from the Heritage Fund of Calvin Theological Seminary, the Center for Christian Scholarship at Calvin College, and the Dutch Reformed Translation Society. Anticipated publication date: late 2010 – early 2011.

Richard Mouw Praises Bavinck

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.

Mouw concludes:

“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!”

Bavinck Institute at Calvin Theological Seminary Approved by CTS Faculty

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.

–John Bolt

Herman Bavinck at Calvin Theological Seminary

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.