The Dogmatician: A Deist Is…

A Deist is a person who in his short life has not found the time to become an atheist. —Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics

The Dogmatician: The Son of God vs. Sons of God

This, in turn, applies also to man. Like the Son, so also man as such is altogether the image of God. He does not just bear but is the image of God. There is this difference, of course, that what the Son is in an absolute sense, man is in only a relative sense. The former is the eternal only begotten Son; the latter is the created son of God. The former is the image of God within the divine being, the latter outside of it. The one is the image of God in a divine manner, the other is that in a creaturely manner. —Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics

The Dogmatician: Blessed Trinity

[T]he doctrine of the Trinity is of incalculable importance for the Christian religion. The entire Christian belief system, all of special revelation, stands or falls with the confession of God’s Trinity. It is the core of the Christian faith, the root of all its dogmas, the basic content of the new covenant. …The profoundest question implicit in every Christian creed and system of theology is how God can be both one and yet three. Christian truth in all its parts comes into its own to a lesser or greater extent depending on how that question is answered. In the doctrine of the Trinity we feel the heartbeat of God’s entire revelation for the redemption of humanity. Though foreshadowed in the Old Testament, it only comes to light fully in Christ. Religion can be satisfied with nothing less than God himself. Now in Christ God himself comes out to us, and in the Holy Spirit he communicates himself to us. The work of re-creation is trinitarian through and through. From God, through God, and in God are all things. Re-creation is one divine work from beginning to end, yet it can be described in terms of three agents: it is fully accomplished by the love of the Father, the grace of the Son, and the communion of the Holy Spirit. A Christian’s faith life, accordingly, points back to three generative principles. “We know all these things,” says article 9 of the Belgic Confession, from the testimonies of holy Scripture, as well as from the operations of the persons, especially from those we feel within ourselves.” We know ourselves to be children of the Father, redeemed by the Son, and in communion with both through the Holy Spirit. Every blessing, both spiritual and material, comes to us from the triune God. In that name we are baptized; that name sums up our confession; that name is the source of all the blessings that come down to us; to that name we will forever bring thanksgiving and honor; in that name we find rest for our souls and peace for our conscience. Christians have a God above them, before them, and within them. Our salvation, both in this life and in the life to come, is bound up with the doctrine of the Trinity; yet we grant that we cannot determine the measure of knowledge—also of this mystery—needed for a true and sincere faith. —Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics

The Dogmatician: The Wonders of the Trinity

Only by the Trinity do we begin to understand that God as he is in himself—hence also, apart from the world—is the independent, eternal, omniscient, and all-benevolent One, love, holiness, and glory. —Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics

The Dogmatician: The Deity of the Holy Spirit

The choice is clear: either the Holy Spirit is a creature—whether a power, gift, or person—or he is truly God. If he is a creature he cannot in fact and in truth communicate to us the Father and the Son with all their benefits; he cannot be the principle of the new life either in the individual Christian or in the church as a whole. In that case, there is no genuine communion between God and humans; God remains above and outside of us and does not dwell in humanity as in his temple. But the Holy Spirit is not, nor can he be, a creature. For he is related to the Son as the latter is to the Father and imparts to us both the Son and the Father. He is as closely bound up with the Son as the Son is with the Father. He is coinherent in the Son as the Son is coinherent in him. In substance he is the same as the Son. He is the Spirit of wisdom and truth, of power and of glory; the Spirit by whom Christ sanctifies the church and in whom he communicates himself and all his benefits: the divine nature, the adoption as children, the mystical union. He who gives us God himself must himself be truly God. —Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics

The Dogmatician: Father

This name of ‘Father,’ accordingly, is not a metaphor derived from the earth and attributed to God. Exactly the opposite is true: fatherhood on earth is but a distant and vague reflection of the fatherhood of God (Eph. 3:14-15). God is Father in the true and complete sense of the term. Among humans a father is also someone else’s son, and a son in turn becomes a father. Here, too, a father cannot bring forth a son by himself; fatherhood is temporary and accidental, not essentially bound up with being human. It starts relatively late in life; it also ends rather soon, in any case at death. But in God all this is different. He is solely, purely, and totally Father. He is Father alone; he is Father by nature and Father eternally, without beginning or end. For that reason also generation has to be eternal, for if the Son were not eternal, the Father could not be eternal either. The eternity of the Father carries with it the eternity of the Son.  Addressing God as Father, one by implication also addresses the Son. —Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics

The Dogmatician: Trinity means Unity and Diversity

“The glory of the confession of the Trinity consists above all in the fact that that unity, however absolute, does not exclude but includes diversity. God’s being is not an abstract unity or concept, but a fullness of being, an infinite abundance of life, whose diversity, so far from diminishing the unity, unfolds it to its fullest extent.” —Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics

The Dogmatician: How Unbiblical Terms Help You Be Scriptural

Furthermore, reflection on the truth of Scripture and the theological activity related to it is in no way possible without the use of extrabiblical terminology. Not only are such extrabiblical terms and expressions used in the doctrine of the Trinity but also in connection with every other dogma and throughout the entire discipline of theology. Involved in the use of these terms, therefore, is the Christian’s right of independent reflection and theology’s right to exist. Finally, the use of these terms is not designed to make possible the introduction of new—extrabiblical or anti biblical dogmas, but, on the contrary, to defend the truth of Scripture against all heresy. Their function is much more negative than positive. They mark the boundary lines within which Christian thought must proceed in order to preserve the truth of revelation. Under the guise of being scriptural, biblical theology has always strayed farther away from Scripture, while ecclesiastical orthodoxy, with its extrabiblical terminology, has been consistently vindicated as scriptural. —Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics

The Dogmatician: The Essential, Foundational Trinity

The confession of the Trinity is the heartbeat of the Christian Religion. …

The doctrine of the Trinity makes God known to us as the truly living God, over against the cold abstractions of Deism and the confusions of pantheism. A doctrine of creation—God related to but not identified with the cosmos—can only be maintained on a trinitarian basis. In fact, the entire Christian belief system stands or falls with the confession of God’s Trinity. It is the core of the Christian faith, the root of all its dogmas, the basic content of the new covenant. The development of trinitarian dogma was never primarily a metaphysical question but a religious one. It is in the doctrine of the Trinity that we feel the heartbeat of God’s entire revelation for the redemption of humanity. We are baptized in the name of the triune God, and in that name we find rest for our soul and peace for our conscience. Our God is above us, before us, and within us. —Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics

The Dogmatician: The Blessed God

Now, when ascribed to God blessedness has three components. In the first place it expresses that God is absolute perfection, for blessedness is the mark of every being that is, and to that extent it is complete; in other words, blessedness is the mark of every being that lives and in living is not hampered or disturbed by anything from within or without. Now, because God is absolute perfection, the sum total of all virtues, the supreme being, the supreme good, the supreme truth (etc.); in other words, because God is absolute life, the fountainhead of all life, he is also the absolutely blessed God. In Scripture ‘life’ and ‘blessedness’ are very closely related: life without blessedness is not worthy of the name, and in the case of God’s children eternal life coincides with blessedness. Second, implied in the words “the blessed God” is that God knows and delights in his absolute perfection. …God absolutely delights in himself, absolutely rests in himself, and is absolutely self-sufficient. …God’s delight in his creatures is part and parcel os his delight in himself. —Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics