Upcoming Dissertations

James Eglinton, New College, University of Edinburgh

Topic: Organic Thinking: The ‘Organic’ Motif in Bavinck’s Theology

Description: I am currently completing a PhD on Bavinck’s use of the ‘organic’ motif. My thesis attempts to prove that this ever-present motif is, for Bavinck, (1) the revelational consequence of God’s triunity, and (2) an essential continuation of Calvin’s earlier theology. As such, my work represents a new reading of Bavinck – one which departs from previous assertions that he drew the organic idea from Hegel, Schelling, the Dutch Ethical Moderns, the History of Religions School, et al. My reading of Bavinck is shaped by the relationship drawn between theos and cosmos in his thought: ‘Trinity ad intra’ leads to ‘organism ad extra’.

Supervisors: Professor David Fergusson, Dr Paul Nimmo

Wolter Huttinga, Kampen Theological University (Broederweg)

Topic: ‘Radical Orthodoxy and Herman Bavinck’.

Description: I am analyzing the ontology of the so-called “radical orthodoxy” (i.e., John Milbank, et al.) and am bringing this line of scholarship into conversation with Bavinck’s thought. The main question is this: How do the respective positions conceive of the relation between the being of God and creation? Within this focus upon “theological ontology” I will give special attention to the way Thomas Aquinas’ thought is appropriated by the radical orthodox and by Bavinck.

Supervisor: Professor B. Kamphuis

The Reformed Dogmatics on Logos Bible Software

If Bavinck would never have imagined that his magnum opus would be translated into English (see TBR 1 (2010) pp. 1-3), then he would have been overwhelmed to learn that Baker Academic’s four-volume English translation of his Gereformeerde Dogmatiek is being published in an electronic, searchable, cross-referenced format by Logos Bible Software!

Logos describes the electronic edition’s features as follows:

With your Logos Bible Software the entire Reformed Dogmatics set is fully searchable and easily accessible. Scripture references are linked to your favorite Bible translations and original texts, and important theological concepts are linked to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and the wealth of resources in your digital library.

The digital format takes Bavinck scholarship to a whole new level. Every mention of a particular Scripture reference throughout the Dogmatics, e.g., can be found with just couple of clicks. Readers attune to Bavinck’s frequent usage of Latin technical terms from 16th and 17th century Reformed orthodoxy, moreover, will appreciate how the Logos edition facilitates the ability to quickly

Discounted Pre-Publication Pricing

A friend from Logos has informed us that the production of Bavinck’s electronic text is nearing its final stages, thus the work is due to be released shortly. This means that time is limited for securing the pre-published discount price.

(NB: Academic discounts will be available for professors and students after the publication date; however, the lowest price tends to be the pre-pub price.)

Other Bavinck Works Published by Logos

Announcing The Edinburgh Bavinck Conference 1-2 September 2010

The New College School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam cordially invite you to attend the Edinburgh Bavinck Conference 1-2 September 2010 at the New College. James Eglinton, a New College PhD student who is researching Bavinck’s “use of the ‘organic,'” is facilitating the conference, and the lineup of speakers and topics looks stimulating.

The two-day schedule, which is intentionally patterned after Bavinck’s theology (i.e., theology precedes ethics), is as follows:

Wednesday, September 1st: Bavinck on Theology

Opening Address
by Professor David Fergusson
Bavinck’s use of Wisdom Literature in Systematic Theology
by Professor John Bolt
Bavinck’s concept of the divine call to grace in relationship to Reformed Orthodoxy
by Dr. Henk van den Belt
Bavinck’s employment of Augustine as an antidote to Ritschl
by Dr. Mark Elliot
Bavinck, Barth and the Uniqueness of the Eucharist
by Dr. Paul Nimmo

Thursday, September 2nd: Bavinck on Culture and Ethics

Bavinck and Islam
by Professor George Harinck
Bavinck on ‘The Imitation of Christ’
by Dr. Dirk van Keulen
Bavinck and Christian Certainty
by Professor Donald Macleod
Nationhood in question: Welsh devolution between Rowan Williams and the Dutch Reformed tradition
by Dr. Carys Moseley

Conference Details

HT: HB.org, Tony, Rodney, Guy

New Biography of Bavinck Coming in June

Dr. Ron Gleason, a Bavinck scholar (see Gleason, Ronald N. “The Centrality of the Unio Mystica in the Theology of Herman Bavinck.” Ph.D. Diss., Westminster Theological Seminary, 2001), is publishing the first English biography of Herman Bavinck: Herman Bavinck: Pastor, Churchman, Statesman and Theologian. The new biography is set to be released by P&R in June of this year.

In a pre-release review Joel Heflin provides a concise overview of the new book and gives a hearty recommendation.

Details from P&R Publishing

List: $29.99
Pages: 512
ISBN: 9781596380806
Binding: Paperback
Publication Date: June 2010

This is a much needed work on the life and theology of Dr. Herman Bavinck, an increasingly important influence on the church landscape and one of the finest and best theologians that Holland ever produced. Gleason describes Bavinck’s education at Leiden University, his first and only pastoral ministry in the Friesian village of Franeker, his fruitful time in Kampen as professor of the Theological Seminary there, and his eventual transfer to the Free University. This is a thought-provoking portrait of an influential man written by one of the leading authorities on his life and ideas. Gleason takes you on a journey with Bavinck through his whole life until the events surrounding his death in 1921.

View the full P&R Press Release (.PDF)

(HT: HermanBavinck.org, twice!)

Welcome to the New Bavinck Institute Web Site

Thanks to the assistance of the wonderful IT department at Calvin Seminary, we are pleased to announce the publication of our new web site. Several new features are worthy of note:

  1. Follow our latest updates with your favorite blog reader, Twitter account, or e-mail.
  2. Connect with fellow scholars, pastors, and students and receive discounts on Bavinck books by joining the Bavinck Society.
  3. Discover the latest in Bavinck scholarship by reading our new e-journal, The Bavinck Review.
  4. Join the Bavinck Institute Zotero Group to collect the comprehensive Bavinck Bibliography organized by primary and secondary sources.

We have even more great features in the works, so subscribe to our feed for the latest updates.

Two Recent Publications

Henk Van den Belt, The Authority of Scripture in Reformed Theology: Truth and Trust (Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2008).

A revision of the author’s PhD dissertation at the University of Leiden (2006), this study of αὐτόπιστος /αὐτόπιστια centers in on the heart of Bavinck’s understanding of Scripture and faith. Henk van den Belt is a pastor in the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN) and an assistant professor in systematic theology at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam.

Hans Burger, Being in Christ: A Biblical and Systematic Investigation in a Reformed Perspective (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock 2009).

This is a superb study which brings together biblical-theological insight from the Johannine and Pauline writings, the historical-systematic riches of John Owen and Herman Bavinck,  usinging it all to engage contemporary theologians Oliver O’ Donovan and Ingolf Dalferth. Refusing to set “representation” over against “participation,” the author brings them together in a fuller portrait.

Both books are reviewed in the inaugural issue of TBR.

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