The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Posts Tagged ‘Herman Bavinck

When deepness goes deep

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Herman Bavinck on the witness of the Holy Spirit, in a way that makes most of us realise that we actually don’t think that much:

This threefold testimony is one and from the same Spirit. From Scripture, through the church, it penetrates the heart of the individual believer. Still, in each of these three forms, it has a meaning of its own. The testimony of the Holy Spirit in Scripture is “the primary motive toward faith or the principle by which, or the argument on account of which, Scripture become regulative (κανονικον) and non-apodictic (άναποδεικτον).” The testimony of the Holy Spirit in the church is “the other motive or instrument though which we believe. It is introductory (εισαγωγικον) and supportive (ύπουπγικον).” The witness of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer is the “efficient cause of faith, the principle by which or through which we believe. It is originating (άπχηγικον) and effecting (ένεργητικον).”

Given these distinctions, also the charge of circular reasoning usually advanced against the testimony of the Holy Spirit is invalidated. For, strictly speaking, the testimony of the Holy Spirit is not the final ground but the means of faith. The ground of faith is, and can only be, Scripture, or rather, the authority of God, which comes upon the believer materially in the content as well as formally in the witness of Scripture. Hence the ground of faith is identical with its content and cannot, as Herrman believes, be detached from it. Scripture as the word of God is simultaneously the material and the formal object of faith. But the testimony of the Holy Spirit is the “efficient cause,” “the principle by which,” of faith. We believe Scripture, not because of, but by means of the testimony of the Holy Spirit. Scripture and the testimony of the Holy Spirit relate to each other as object truth and subjective assurance, as the first principles and their self-evidence, as the light and the human eye. Once it has been recognized in its divinity, Scripture is incontrovertibly certain to the faith of the believing community, so that it is both the principle and the norm of faith and life.

Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 1: Prolegomena (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Academic; 2003), 597-598.

via The Old Guys.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 8 December 2012 at 23:36

Posted in Pneumatology

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The fight to believe Scripture

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We know this fight.

A Christian believes, not because everything in life reveals the love of God, but rather despite everything that raises doubt. In Scripture too there is much that raises doubt. All believers know from experience that this is true. Those who engage in biblical criticism frequently talk as if simple church people know nothing about the objections that are advanced against Scripture and are insensitive to the difficulty of continuing to believe in Scripture. But that is a false picture. Certainly, simple Christians do not know all the obstacles that science raises to belief in Scripture. But they do to a greater or lesser degree know the hard struggle fought both in head and heart against Scripture. There is not a single Christian who has not in his or her own way learned to know the antithesis between the “wisdom of the world” and “the foolishness of God.” It is one and the same battle, an ever-continuing battle, which has to be waged by all Christians, learned or unlearned, to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).

Here on earth no one ever rises above that battle. Throughout the whole domain of faith, there remain “crosses” (cruces) that have to be overcome. There is no faith without struggle. To believe is to struggle, to struggle against the appearance of things. As long as people still believe in anything, their belief is challenged from all directions.

Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 1: Prolegomena (Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Academic, 2003), 441.

via The Old Guys.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 23 March 2012 at 12:21

Posted in Revelation

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The believer’s confidence in Christ increases along with their confidence in Scripture and, conversely, ignorance of the Scriptures is automatically and proportionately ignorance of Christ

Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 1: Prolegomena (Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Academic, 2003), 440.

HT The Old Guys.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 16 March 2012 at 08:05

Opposing Scripture

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If Scripture is the account of the revelation of God in Christ, it is bound to arouse the same opposition as Christ himself who came into the world for judgement and is “set for the fall and rising of man” [Luke 2:34]. He brings separation between light and darkness and reveals the thoughts of many hearts. Similarly Scripture is a living and active word, a “discerner” of the thoughts and intentions of the heart [cf. Heb. 4:12]. It not only was inspired but is still “God-breathed” and “God-breathing.” Just as there is much that precedes the act of inspiration (all the activity of the Holy Spirit in nature, history, revelation, regeneration), so there is much that follows it as well. Inspiration is not an isolated event. The Holy Spirit does not, after the act of inspiration, withdraw from Holy Scripture and abandon it to its fate but sustains and animates it and in many ways brings its content to humanity, to its heart and conscience. By means of Scripture as the word of God, the Holy Spirit continually wars against the thoughts and intentions of the “unspiritual” person. By itself, therefore, it need not surprise us in the least that Scripture has at all times encountered contradiction and opposition. Christ bore a cross, and the servant [Scripture] is not greater than its master. Scripture is the handmaiden of Christ. It shares in his defamation and arouses the hostility of sinful humanity.

Herman Bavinck in Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 1: Prolegomena (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Academic; 2003) p. 439-440.

via The Old Guys.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 13 March 2012 at 15:42

Posted in Revelation

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Concerning the Word of God

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John Murray:

There is no situation in which we are placed, no demand that arises, for which Scripture as the deposit of the manifold wisdom of God is not adequate and sufficient.  It is the Scripture that provides the equipment, the furnishings, the investments, that prepare us for the kingdom of God, ’till we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ’ and are ‘filled unto all the fulness of God’. (Works, 3:261)

Herman Bavinck:

The imperative task of the dogmatician is to think God’s thoughts after him and to trace their unity. His work is not finished until he has mentally absorbed this unity and set it forth in a dogmatics. Accordingly, he does not come to God’s revelation with a ready-made system in order, as best he can, to force its content into it. On the contrary, even in his system a theologian’s sole responsibility is to think God’s thoughts after him and to reproduce the unity that is objectively present in the thoughts of god and has been recorded for the eye of faith in Scripture. (Reformed Dogmatics, 1:44)

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 26 September 2011 at 12:51

Penal substitution

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Martin Downes has been waxing strong concerning penal substitution in recent days: he gives us Warfield & Machen on the same; some gold from Herman Bavinck; thoughts on the victory over Satan; makes some helpful connections with the broader Biblical narrative; and, addresses its relationship to divine love.  All good and insightful stuff.

Update: John Owen and Martin Luther have joined the gang.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 14 April 2009 at 16:29

Socinus redivivus

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Martin Downes has an insightful post on the methodological heritage that open theists derive from Socinianism.  He quotes from Clark Pinnock denying that there can be such a thing as true freedom of will if there is a “fixity of future” known in concrete terms by God, and then points us to Charles Hodge and Herman Bavinck.


The Socinians, however, and some of the Remonstrants, unable to reconcile this foreknowledge with human liberty, deny that free acts can be foreknown. As the omnipotence of God is his ability to do whatever is possible, so his omniscience is his knowledge of everything knowable. But as free acts are in their nature uncertain, as they may or may not be, they cannot be known before they occur. Such is the argument of Socinus. This whole difficulty arises out of the assumption that contingency is essential to free agency. (Systematic Theology Vol. 1, p. 400-1)


In a later period the Socinians taught the same thing. God knows all things, they said, but all things according to their nature. Hence, he knows future contingent (accidental) events, not with absolute certainty (for then they would cease to be accidental), but as contingent and accidental; that is, he knows what the future holds insofar as it depends on humans, but not with infallible foreknowledge. If that were the case, the freedom of the will would be lost, God would become the author of sin, and he himself would be subject to necessity. (Reformed Dogmatics Volume 2: God and Creation, p. 197. Emphasis added)

Martin’s helpfully lucid conclusion is as follows:

The connection between open theism and Socinianism is not literary but methodological. They share the same convictions and have arrived at the same conclusions concerning the relationship between human freedom and divine foreknowledge.

Sound reasoning, a sombre conclusion, and a sober warning.  All are needed in days when the old errors once more stalk the land.

(More on this from Martin here.)

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 17 January 2009 at 22:50

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