Hero 2014: The Dogmatician

Herman BavinckI don’t believe the Bible is a book of heroes. The Bible does have heroes in it, but that is not what it is about. It is a book about the Hero. Nonetheless, I do believe in having heroes, and I believe it is Biblical to have them.

Heroes are not perfect, and thus they point us to Christ in three ways. Their faults (weaknesses and sins) point us to the Savior that they, and we, all need. With this foundation we learn two further truths concerning their strengths. First, they are a result of God’s gifting and working in them such that He gets all the glory. Second, their strengths also point us to Jesus by whom they are graded – Jesus is the ultimate curve breaker. All heroes are judged in relation to Him.

Every year I single out one hero to study in particular. This year I will study the life and works of Herman Bavinck.

Herman Bavinck (1854-1921) was a Dutch Reformed theologian. Early in his career he acted as a pastor for one year. Thereafter he began teaching at Kampen Theological Seminary where he remained for 20 years before moving to the Free University of Amsterdam.

Theologian extraordinaire, still he loved the church and always served her, and constantly preached for her. He was especially well loved by his students, understood the arguments of those with whom he disagreed, stated the truth clearly, and sought peace insofar as he could.

His magisterial work, Reformed Dogmatics will be the focus of my reading this year; only recently has the full translation of which been made available in English. John Frame says it is “by far the most profound and comprehensive Reformed systematic theology of the twentieth century.” Richard B. Gaffin Jr. writes that it is, “Arguably the most important systematic theology ever produced in the Reformed tradition.”

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