The Reformed Dogmatics Of Kersten Compared With Those Of His Older Contemporaries, Abraham Kuyper And Herman Bavinck -- By: Pieter L. Rouwendal

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 01:2 (Jul 2009)
Article: The Reformed Dogmatics Of Kersten Compared With Those Of His Older Contemporaries, Abraham Kuyper And Herman Bavinck
Author: Pieter L. Rouwendal


The Reformed Dogmatics Of Kersten Compared With Those Of His Older Contemporaries, Abraham Kuyper And Herman Bavinck1

Pieter L. Rouwendal

After the eighteenth century, the pursuit of Reformed dogmatics languished in the Netherlands for many years. Reformed Orthodoxy had lost its majority position in the Dutch Reformed Church and systematic theology treatises were hardly published anymore. The seven-volume work of Bernardinus de Moor (1709-1780), a professor at Leiden university, is the last extensive systematic theology produced by Reformed Orthodoxy in the Netherlands.2 More than half a century later, the theological climate at Leiden, as well as at other theological academies, had changed significantly. At this point in time, J. H. Scholten published his work about the doctrine of the Reformed Church—a decidedly modern work, but when compared to current modern theology, entirely old-fashioned.3

Among the Seceders, hardly anyone engaged in dogmatic studies. In any event, hardly any extensive works were written during the initial decades. Instead, the Seceders would use older Reformed writings as a benchmark.

Among the Dolerenden,4 however, things were different. Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) was dogmatically inclined. It is a historical paradox that the modern work of Scholten in some measure precipitated the emergence of neo-reformed systematic theology. Kuyper had studied under Scholten and thus become thoroughly acquainted with the confessions. Kuyper later distanced himself from the modern interpretation of Scholten and began to focus more on older systematic theologies. Kuyper himself did not author a Reformed systematic theology, but he did teach systematic theology at the university he founded, the Free university of Amsterdam. His lectures were recorded and enhanced by his students and later published. Though they are not a word-for-word rendering of Kuyper’s lectures, their accuracy was such that Kuyper gave permission to publish them.5

Herman Bavinck (1854-1921) contemporaneously emerged as a prominent figure among the Seceders. He initially studied at the theological school of the Secession movement, located in Kampen, but later also at the university of Leiden. In 1882, he became professor of systematic theology at Kampen. He subsequently took on the task of fostering unification with the Dolerenden. The result of his dogmatic labors is his Reformed Dogmatics, consisting of four vol...

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