19 October 2010

The One Single Chord

In volume 3 of his Reformed Dogmatics Herman Bavinck discusses the doctrine of salvation and the gospel's subversive announcement of grace, which is in contradistinction to every other religion. Along the way Bavinck footnotes a fascinating excerpt from a speech given over 100 years ago by professor Max Muller (pictured) before the British and Foreign Bible Society:
I may say that for 40 years, as at the university of Oxford I carried out my duties as professor of Sanskrit, I devoted as much time to the study of the holy books of the Easy as any other human being in the world. And I venture to tell this gathering what I have found to be the basic note, the one single chord, of all these holy books--be it the Veda of the Brahmans, the Purana of Siwa and Vishnu, the Qur'an of the Muslims, the Sendavesta of the Parsis, etc.--the one basic note or chord that runs through all of them is salvation by works.

They all teach that salvation must be bought and that your own works and merits must be the purchase price. Our own Bible, our sacred book from the East, is from start to finish a protest against this doctrine.

True, good works are also required in this holy book from the East, and that even more emphatically than in any other holy book from the East, but the works referred to are the outflow of a grateful heart. They are only the thank offerings, only the fruits of our faith. They are never the ransom of the true disciples of Christ.

Let us not close our eyes to whatever is noble and true and pleasing in those holy books. But let us teach Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims that there is but one book from the East that can be their comfort in that solemn hour when they must pass, entirely alone, into the invisible world. It is that holy book which contains the message--a message which is surely true and worthy of full acceptance, and concerns all humans, men, women, and children--that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
--Quoted in Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 3:491 n. 1


Gary Horn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gary Horn said...

Oh, this is so good and so important. Thanks, Dane.

Zak Verry said...

I love this. I love this. Freedom is mine. He is good.