Some More from Batfink

rdA while ago I mentioned that myself and a colleague are trying to keep one another sharp by reading Herman Bavinck’s Prolegomena – that’s vol. 1 of the four volume Reformed Dogmatics. Well, last week we met for the second time – that’s right folks – two get-togethers in 4 months – and we’re now almost 80 pages in – this could take a while. Anyhow, here’s a stimulating snippet from the next section. Bavinck is, in essence, pointing out that there’s no such thing as neutral theology – all of us have a context and we need to be aware of that lest we impose cultural (worse, unbiblical) ideas onto the text:

“While it [any given school of theology] thinks that it is completely unbiased in relating to Scripture and that it reproduces its content accurately and objectively, it forgets that every believer and every dogmatician first of all receives his religious convictions from his or her church. Accordingly, theologians never come to Scripture from the outside, without any prior knowledge or preconceived opinion, but bring with them from their background a certain understanding of the content of revelation and so look at Scripture with the aid of the glasses that their churches have put on them. (p. 82)



Pedagogically the church is prior to Scripture. But in the logical order Scripture is the sole foundation of church and theology. In case of conflict between them, the possibility of which can never be denied on a Reformational view, church and confession must yield to Scripture.” (p. 86)

One Reply to “Some More from Batfink”

  1. Martin, I enjoy following your blog as I find your reading discipline very challenging. I have never read Bavinck’s works but I identify with his quote mentioned above. If you take it out of the arena of the dogmaticians to the lay people, whether in the church or not I find the same difficulties. I don’t think it’s the churches that teach them their initial theology so much as their culture. I encounter so many people that have their opinion of who God is and how He relates to us based on their “perception” of God rather than what He has revealed to us in His written revelation. I’m afraid that we are so often like the men referred to in Jeremiah, “every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood and there is no breath in them.” They carve out their God based on what they think He should be. Oh, how relevant today is the exhortation “to earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints.”

    One of the saddest men I have ever encountered was a young man whose father was a gospel preacher. When I met him he was living in a cheap, rundown apartment house, given to alcohol and living a wasted life. I tried to talk to him about the Lord but he was consumed with rage and anger. He just could not believe that a Holy God would destroy men, women and children in a flood as written in the book of Genesis. I’m not sure who the man is in the iron cage of Bunyan’s great work, Pilgrim’s Progress, but I have never met a man any more shut up unto himself as this young man. My conversation with him still haunts me today when I look back on the magnitude of his raging soul.

    As iron sharpens iron, your posts help me keep my edge on the West side of the Atlantic!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s