God speaks—but how? Philosophers and theologians have attempted various answers to this question for dozens of centuries, and their rhetoric has sharpened dramatically in the wake of nineteenth century liberalism. Herman Bavinck offers a Reformed perspective on divine revelation in The Philosophy of Revelation, which incorporates the content of his Stone Lectures at Princeton Theological Seminary during the academic year of 1908–1909. These lectures were first published under the direction of Geerhardus Vos and B. B. Warfield, and have profoundly influenced the Reformed understanding of divine revelation during the twentieth century.
Bavinck evaluates divine revelation in light of various philosophical schools of thought contemporary to his own time and still influential in ours—such as naturalism, pragmatism, and nihilism. He defends the credibility of theism and the tenability of divine revelation against these philosophical trends, even before the influence of nineteenth century intellectual giants had begun to wane: the naturalism of Charles Darwin, the pragmatism of William James, and the nihilism of Frederick Nietzsche. Bavinck’s experience with liberalism during his time as a student at the University of Leiden also makes him well-equipped to counter skepticism about divine revelation, mystery, and supernatural events.
In The Philosophy of Revelation, Bavinck shows that religion in general and Christianity in particular allows individuals to know certain truth through the phenomenon of divine revelation. Bavinck’s classic work constitutes an important addition to the libraries of philosophers, pastors, and theologians—especially Reformed theologians.
Herman Bavinck was born in 1854 in the Netherlands. He studied at Kampen Theological Seminary and the University of Leiden, and graduated in 1880. Bavinck returned to Kampen in 1881 as the newly-appointed Professor of Dogmatics. In 1902, Bavinck moved to Amsterdam to teach at the Free University, and was also appointed to the parliament in the Netherlands.
Along with Abraham Kuyper, Bavinck figured prominently in the nineteenth century Dutch Calvinist revival and contributed to the resurgence of Reformed theology. He was a prolific writer, and published numerous books and articles. His most well-known publications include his 4-volume Reformed Dogmatics and The Philosophy of Revelation.
Herman Bavinck died in 1921.
“The Reformation brought a change in so far as it endeavored to transform the mechanical relation between nature and grace of Rome into a dynamical and ethical one.” (Page 3)
“All deistic thought tended towards making revelation superfluous, and all action of God in the world unnecessary” (Page 8)
“But Deism, springing up in England, emancipated the world from God, reason from revelation, the will from grace” (Page 7)
“The transcendence which is inseparable from the being of God is not meant in a spacial or a quantitative sense” (Page 21)
“In self-consciousness God makes known to us man, the world, and himself.” (Page 79)