The Unaccommodated Bavinck And Hodge: Prolegomena With Natural Certainty -- By: Philip J. Fisk

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 30:1 (Spring 2009)
Article: The Unaccommodated Bavinck And Hodge: Prolegomena With Natural Certainty
Author: Philip J. Fisk


The Unaccommodated Bavinck And Hodge:
Prolegomena With Natural Certainty

Philip J. Fisk

Philip J. Fisk is research assistant in historical theology and Ph.D. candidate at the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit, Leuven Belgium, and serves with EFCA-ReachGlobal.

I. Introduction

An enlightened modernist impulse has collapsed transcendence into immanence, identifying the working of the Spirit of God with humanity, with the real Christ being mankind itself.1 But after the evil of two world wars, divine immanence was incomprehensible, leading to a modern crisis in theology. This essay establishes a particular historical context leading up to this collapse by exploring a little traversed link between Herman Bavinck (1854-1921) of old Kampen and Charles Hodge (1797-1878) of old Princeton and by asking why their chief interlocutors represent intellectual projects that were fast waning at the end of the nineteenth century, to wit, Baconian science, the Scottish Common Sense tradition, and the positivism of Auguste Comte (1798-1857). What is new in this essay is an English translation and therefore a fresh look at key parts of Bavinck’s inaugural address of (1883) to the Kampen school of theology (De Wetenschap der Heilige Godgeleerdheid, ‘The Science of Sacred Divinity”) where he identifies the claims of secularization in the university and defends the rightful place of theology as the queen of the sciences. That is, it is not that there are some qualities to glean from theology that may be of use to the sciences, but there are qualities about all the sciences that can only be explained by the queen mother of all the sciences—theology.

Thanks, now, to the online “project neocalvinisme” we have addresses and essays of Bavinck easily accessible, albeit, only within grasp of readers of Dutch.2 Moreover, in English, we now have in

four volumes his massive Gereformeerde Dogmatiek.3 What fascinates us is why Bavinck throughout his address at Kampen cites the prolegomena material in the introductory volume of Hodge. There he gives exposition to introductory material: “method, theology, rationalism, mysticism, Roman Catholic doctrine concerning the rule of faith, Protestant rule of faith,” and though at p. 191 he calls part one “theology proper,” he continues with prolegomena to p. 364, with these themes: “origin of the idea of God, theism, anti-theistic theories, and knowledge of God: ‘Can God be known?’”You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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