23 October 2010

What Were Bavinck's Lectures Like?

A former student recounts:
His classes met in the morning. Before he began his lecture, usually at 9 a.m., he stood near the stove and we gathered around him and asked him questions. We touched upon all kinds of subjects--an article by Dr. Kuyper, a novel that appeared recently in one of the modern languages, socialism, psychology--anything. And when he answered us he proved to be well informed, and usually he placed the subject in the light of the great principles of the Word of God. Then we were treated to a brief improvisation and learned much. After that, glancing at his watch, he would say, 'Gentlemen, it is time to begin.' Then he led us in prayer, and lectured dogmatics.

He spoke in such a way that we often forgot to take notes as we were supposed to do . . . and just listened to his enthusiastic presentation of the subject.
--account given by Idzerd Van Dellen in his In God's Crucible: An Autobiography (Baker 1950), 42-43; quoted in Eric Bristley, Guide to the Writings of Herman Bavinck (Reformation Heritage 2008), 14

I love that last sentence.

1 comment:

Mike Jeshurun said...

A lot of folks in Reformed circles are not too happy with Bavink, because he found fault with both Supra and the Infralapsarian positions.

In finding fault with the Infra position he says –
1.God's justice does not explain the decree of reprobation. The ultimate ground of reprobation is God's sovereign will.
2.In order to maintain reprobation as an act of God's JUSTICE infra places reprobation after the FALL as if in the decree of reprobation God figured only with ORIGINAL sin and not also with ACTUAL sins.

As objection to the Supralapsarian position he says –
1.Supra is correct when it maintains that God's glory is the final goal of all God's works, but the manner in which that goal will be realized is not thereby given; it is incorrect to say that in the eternal perdition of the reprobate God reveals his justice only and that in the eternal salvation of the elect he reveals his mercy exclusively.
2.According to supra the decree of predestination has for its object possible men and a possible Redeemer; but just how are we to conceive of a decree concerning possible men whose actual future existence has not even been determined?
3.Supra makes the damnation of the reprobate the object of the divine will IN THE SAME SENSE as the salvation of the elect. This position is not sustained by Scripture.

But I have personally studied Bavinck’s works and find them VERY INSIGHTFUL AND DEEP. His writings are sure to grip any lover of Reformed Theology. A MUST READ I must say.

But his most remarkable and profound words were uttered on his deathbed. He said, “My learning does not help me now; neither does my Dogmatics; faith alone saves me”!

“These words should not be misinterpreted. They did not imply that this humble child of God retracted anything that he had written or that he was trying to express regrets. The statement simply means that a system of doctrine, however necessary and valuable, is of no avail in and by itself. It must be translated into Christian living. There must be genuine faith in the Triune God as manifested in Jesus Christ. Now, Dr. Bavinck was, indeed, a man of faith, a faith which in his case was working through love”. [William Hendriksen]