Book Review: Saved by Grace by Herman Bavinck

Bavinck, Herman. Saved by Grace: The Holy Spirit’s Work in Calling and Regeneration. Translated by Nelson D. Kloosterman. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2008. $30.00.

Herman Bavinck was a Dutch theologian who lived from 1854-1921. He served as professor of systematic theology at Kampen Theological Seminary (Germany Netherlands) from 1882-1902. He then succeeded Abraham Kuyper, serving again as professor of systematic theology at Free University in Amsterdam. He is known today more for his 4 volume Reformed Dogmatics which is the customary text for anyone studying Reformed theology.

Having been translated by Nelson D. Kloosterman and edited by J. Mark Beach, Saved by Grace offers an excellent perspective on the means by which God brings sinful man to a saving faith found in Christ Jesus. Because this work is anachronistic (Bavinck writes to a specific audience), it is with much delight that Beach’s 50+ page introduction to the work sheds some much needed light on what was happening in The Reformed Churches of the Netherlands around the time Bavinck wrote this book. For most, the introductory essay is more important than the writing itself since one will better appreciate the heart and fervor in which Bavinck originally wrote this book.

As a Baptist, I heartily disagree with his understanding of why infants ought to be baptized, but given his theology and understanding of Scripture, Bavinck offers an excellent apologetic for infant baptism. Regardless of one’s theology, Bavinck succinctly explains that the God we serve is a God of means. The baptism of the child is one means by which God will work to save a soul. Ultimately; however, it is the work of the Holy Spirit that calls and regenerates the sinner unto salvation.

Saved by Grace ought to be read by all pastors who proclaim the Gospel. One will see the glory of God on each page as Bavick explains that it is God alone through faith in Christ alone that anyone may be saved. The biblical means by which the Triune God sets apart His elect is through the calling and regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. It is certainly a must read for any who claim Reformed theology.

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Terry Delaney
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Written by Terry Delaney