Dutch Calvinist theologian Herman Bavinck, a significant voice in the development of Protestant theology, remains relevant many years after his death. His four-volume Reformed Dogmatics is one of the most important theological works of the twentieth century.
James Eglinton is widely considered to be at the forefront of contemporary interest in Bavinck's life and thought. After spending considerable time in the Netherlands researching Bavinck, Eglinton brings to light a wealth of new insights and previously unpublished documents to offer a definitive biography of this renowned Reformed thinker.
The book follows the course of Bavinck's life in a period of dramatic social change, identifying him as an orthodox Calvinist challenged with finding his feet in late modern culture. Based on extensive archival research, this critical biography presents numerous significant and previously ignored or unknown aspects of Bavinck's person and life story. A black-and-white photo insert is included.
This volume complements other Baker Academic offerings on Bavinck's theology and ethics, which together have sold 90,000 copies.
"When it comes to theologians that contemporary church leaders should be reading, I don't know of a more important one than Herman Bavinck. Because so much of his corpushas only recently been translated, we in the English-speaking world have not yet had the full benefit of Bavinck's rich thought, which seems unique in how it stays fully biblical while taking into account the history of the church, of philosophy, and of social currents. But no one can grasp the theology of an Augustine or Aquinas, a Calvin or Luther, without knowing their life and context. James Eglinton has provided this in his new critical biography of the greatest Reformed theologian of the twentieth century. It is a very important yet highly readable volume."
Timothy Keller, pastor emeritus, Redeemer Presbyterian Church of New York City
"James Eglinton's biography of Bavinck is outstanding. Scholarly but accessible, it offers an account of Bavinck's life and work in its historical context, resisting the temptation to co-opt him to, or interpret him via, the concerns of later theological parties and conflicts. The picture that emerges here is neither that of a reactionary conservative nor that of a man divided against himself, as others have claimed, but that of a churchman navigating the waters of modernity with the tools of a deep and devout theological tradition. A wonderful companion volume to the Dogmatics."
Carl R. Trueman, Grove City College
"In James Eglinton, Herman Bavinck has the biographer he so richly deserves, his own Scottish James Boswell. Using fresh archival sources, Eglinton provides new insights into the man, the churchman, and the thinker who was, alongside Abraham Kuyper, the most important figure in the revival of Dutch Calvinism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Especially illuminating is the additional material on Herman's father, Jan Bavinck; the young Herman; Herman's wife, Johanna Schippers-Bavinck; and the legacy of their daughter and grandsons, all noteworthy on their own. Through careful historical research Eglinton places Bavinck in his broader intellectual and spiritual context as a modern person and effectively challenges some of the oft-repeated myths about him and his secession Christian Reformed community. This will be the definitive Bavinck biography for generations."
John Bolt, Jean and Kenneth Baker Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology, Calvin Theological Seminary
Introduction: Prolegomena Part 1: Roots 1. The Old Reformed Church in Bentheim "From the farmhouse to the town" 2. Jan Bavinck and Geziena Magdalena Holland "At that time, we were still pariahs." 3. Herman's Childhood and Schooling: 1854-72 "The modern youth has come under the influence of the modern society." Part 2: Student 4. Kampen: 1873-80 "The education there did not satisfy me." 5. Leiden: 1874-80 "O God, protect me in Leiden!" Part 3: Pastor 6. Franeker: 1881-82 "It is quite a big and, for an inexperienced candidate, fairly difficult congregation." Part 4: Professor in Kampen 7. Gathering Materials: 1883-89 "My books are my true company." 8. Writing a Modern Reformation: 1889-1902 "It is the theology needed by our age." Part 5: Professor in Amsterdam 9. Christianity in the Age of Nietzsche: 1902-9 "In reality there are only two worldviews." 10. Showing His Colors: 1910-20 "Mr. Chairman! Our modern culture and Christianity are inseparable." 11. Bavinck's Final Years: 1920-21 "Do not put it in the newspaper; that does not befit me!" Postscript Appendix 1: "My Journey to America" Appendix 2: "An Autobiographical Sketch of Dr. H. Bavinck" Appendix 3: "Propositions: The Concept and Necessity of Evangelization" Key Figures, Churches, Educational Institutions, and Newspapers Index
Watch or listen to our podcast episode with James Eglinton here: