Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bavinck on Truth and Catholicity

"Scripture is not designed so that we should parrot it but that as free children of God we should think his thoughts after him. But then all so-called presuppositionlessness and objectivity are impossible. So much study and reflection on the subject is bound up with it that no person can possibly do it alone. That takes centuries. To that end the church has been appointed and given the promise of the Spirit's guidance into all truth. Whoever isolates himself from the church, i.e., from Christianity as a whole, from the history of dogma in its entirety, loses the truth of the Christian faith. That person becomes a branch that is torn from the tree and shrivels, an organ that is separated from the body and therefore doomed to die.... For just as the Son of God become truly human, so also God's thoughts, incorporated in Scripture, become flesh and blood in the human consciousness. Dogmatics is and ought to be divine thought totally entered into and absorbed in our human consciousness, freely and independently expressed in our language, in its essence the fruit of centuries, in its form contemporary." [1]

"It is not apart from the existing churches but through them that Christ prepares for himself a holy, catholic church. Nor is it apart from the different ecclesiastical dogmas but through them that the unity of the knowledge of God is prepared and realized. In the same way the dogmatician will best be able to work fruitfully for the purification and development of the religious life and the confession of his church.... This significance of the church for theology and dogmatics is grounded in the link that Christ himself forged between the two." [2]

[1] Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 1, (John Bolt [ed.] & John Vriend [trans.]), (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), 83.
[2] Ibid., 84.


  1. Very true! God is leading a Church (universal) and not stray individuals here and there. God put apostles, prophets, pastors, evangelists and teachers in the Church for her edification and growth towards unity in the faith. I believe one of the ways God is leading the Church into all truth is through Church dogmatics. All dogmas have their strengths and weaknesses. With all the conflicting dogmas in the Church, the truth probably lies in all their strengths put together.

  2. Amen. That's a great quote from Bavinck. I don't agree with the doctrine of common grace. But other than that Bavinck is a great theologian.


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