This is a transcription of the WeeklyTech Podcast interview with Dr. James Eglinton. Subscribe in your favorite podcast app to get new episodes each Monday morning or listen online.
Jason: Today, I’m joined by my friend, Dr. James Eglinton, who’s the senior lecturer of Reformed theology at the University of Edinburgh. We talk about the work of Herman Bavinck and how Bavinck can help us to think wisely about the modern challenges to our faith. Dr. Eglinton is the author of Bavinck: a Critical Biography and Trinity and Organism. He has written for Christianity Today, The Times, The Herald, The Scotsman, as well as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. He’s also a graduate of the Universities of Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Dr. Eglinton, thank you so much for joining us here. As we get started, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what started on this path of studying Herman Bavinck?
Dr. Eglinton: Thanks, Jason. It’s great to be here on a WeeklyTech. I’m James Eglinton and I teach at the University of Edinburgh. I’m a senior lecturer here in Reformed Theology, which is, I guess, senior lecturer in the American system, would be something like associate professor and have been here for the last seven years teaching. I’m from Scotland as you can probably tell by my accent, and how did I discover Herman Bavinck? Well, when I was at seminary about a decade ago, it was just around the time that his Reformed Dogmatics were being released in English.
I discovered him then I started reading him in our systematic theology class and I was really hooked from the beginning. I thought, this is great theology. It’s so wide ranging and having its own interests and his ability to articulate the whole system of Christian doctrine. And he does so in a way that is so rigorous and his engagement with scripture, but also so fluent in talking about how these texts, scriptural texts have been understood across the history of Christianity. And then how do you articulate them in your own day and age as well. So I started reading him about a decade ago, and so I’m still here, still reading him and enjoying engaging with them and learn from them every time I open one of his books.
Jason: I know that there’s been a resurgence in Bavinck studies and translations, especially into English, recently. And so he’s kind of seen a resurgence within, especially in the American context of folks studying him, being really interested in his thought. Can you tell us a little bit about why you wanted to write a biography of Bavinck and kind of the process of going into a critical biography, which I think is different than a lot of biographies that people might have encountered over the years?
Dr. Eglinton: Yes, well, Bavinck was a truly fascinating person. I think a lot of people imagine the theologians have incredibly dull lives because we’re such a bookish crowd. You know, we live in ivory towers and so on. That may be true of some theologians, but it wasn’t a culture of Herman Bavinck. So he had a fascinating life anyway. And you have intellectuals like Bavinck who have extremely interesting lives in terms of the works that they produce, but also the people they meet and that they interact with and the places they go. And those kinds of figures tend to attract a lot of biographers. So I’m not the first person to think, you know, Herman Bavinck really needs a biography and I’ll try and provide one. So there are two main Dutch biographies, one of which came out very shortly after Bavinck died and was written in quite a hurry. And there’s a much longer biography that came out about 40 years or so after Bavinck died and they both have distinct strengths and weaknesses. The first one is quite speculative. As I said, it was written in a real hurry by one of his former doctoral students. And there are lots of parts of the book that aren’t how I understand Bavinck and there are quite a few parts of his biography that are just demonstrably impossible, the things that could not possibly have happened in Bavincks life. So there are quite a lot of issues for that biography that’s very valuable in many respects. And in the biography that came out four decades after that is very academically careful and responsible. It’s a really polished piece of work.
But also it’s very much Bavinck as a public figure. It’s, you know, the politicians he interacted with or who were the main church figures he interacted with. But it doesn’t really get under his skin so much. Ah, tell you about his friendships with people who weren’t major public figures, and that’s a very significant part of his life. So those are the two main Dutch biographies. And then there’s one prior English biography that came out a decade or so ago that’s in essence an English language amalgam of the two Dutch biographies. So it’s not so much based on lots of primary source of research or anything like that. That’s really what the two Dutch biographies offer you woven together into one book. But I tried to provide quite a different thing in providing a critical biography because I’ve done so much reading in Bavinck over the last decade of my life. I thought I had things to say and things that I could see in Bavinck’s life that weren’t in the Dutch biographies and therefore also that weren’t in the previous English biography, because the previous English biographies horizons are largely set by what the Dutch biographers could see.
So if you’re in my position and you’ve spent years reading through the diaries and the letters of unpublished manuscripts and the newspapers, it gives you a very different picture. So I wanted to provide that and that I think that makes my biography the first original biography based on primary source research in the English speaking world. So it’s critical, not in the sense of wanting to tear down Herman Bavinck or point to all the ways that he was terrible it’s critical in terms of historical research. So it’s a biography that’s based on original research and primary sources and that takes a critical posture towards the kind of received history Herman Bavinck.
There are all kinds of things that you may have heard about Bavinck. I think if you’re familiar with an English speaking world, a lot of which are kind of mythological and really problematic, like when I first started to read them as a students, I remember one older pastor, my denomination told me, oh, you know, I’ve heard of Herman Bavinck, and you know, it’s good that you’re reading him, so enjoy it, but don’t get too into it because didn’t you know that he lost his faith and his old age and he died as a really miserable kind of shell of his former self. And so that was a kind of oral history of Bavinck that was common amongst pastors of a certain age in my denomination here in Scotland, people who couldn’t read Dutch, who hadn’t read the Dutch biographies, but somehow, you know, there’s this kind of oral history of Bavinck thats actually something you can trace back to the first biography in Dutch, which has a very particular take on the later years. So I took a really critical posture to all of those claims to ask, are they reliable? Are they true, for example? So it’s critical in that sense and thinking about what we think we know about Bavincks life and then tries to put together an account that’s, I think, reliable because it’s born out by the sources, because that’s what my claims are based on.
Jason: I know there have been a number of people who have reviewed the biography and talk about how helpful it is and how much they enjoyed reading it. But I know for myself it’s very, very readable, which I think is a big accomplishment. Often when you read kind of big, thicker biographies, they can at times become a little dry. They just kind of regurgitate history. But you’ve done a really good job kind of pulling all of Bavincks life together and kind of making it very readable and approachable for readers. And I really enjoyed it. I know one of the things that I also really enjoyed about Bavinck in the biography was that he was kind of a bit of a polymath in the sense and that he wrote and studied on various topics, come across the wide ranging, and it wasn’t just theology, it wasn’t just ethics. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the areas that he studied and what do you think was kind of his motivation going into having such wide ranging interest in writing on them?
Dr. Eglinton: Yes, I think it’s something that’s important to point out as well. In addition to that is he didn’t just study all of these other things, he actually practiced them, which makes the story even more interesting. So he wasn’t just a theologian who had a theoretical interest in journalism, for example, he was actually a journalist and was a national newspaper editor for a couple of years. You know, he didn’t have an abstract interest in politics. He was a member of parliament for decades and he was the leader of a political party for a couple of years. So his life is really rich and all of the different things that he does. And so I mentioned there the journalism, politics, he himself was a biographer, he was a traveller in a period when travel was a new thing, you know, rather than emigration and never to come back, you could actually just get on a boat in Rotterdam and then sail to America, and then within not too long you could be back in the Netherlands. And so the traveller in that period was also a distinct kind of calling in life and a travel writer on the basis of that as well. He was a pioneer in psychology and educational theory. He was a Bible translator. So his life takes in a lot of different things that are both theory and practice for Bavinck, which is really interesting.
I think, you know, trying to show the world that he was a polymath. I’m actually trying to overturn some of the older impressions in the folk history of Bavinck that I encountered, at least when I first started reading him, which was that at the beginning of his life, he’s this very committed theologian and he writes The Reformed Dogmatics, this incredibly good four volume, dogmatic theology or systematic theology. But what I was told by some people when I first started to read him was that he then gave up on all of that and then he just tried his hand at lots of different things. But there’s a real divide between the theological phase and then, you know, the time as a politician and as a pedagogical theorist and as a traveller and so on. But what I’ve tried to do in the biography is actually, that is a very artificial divide. And in fact, what you have with Bavinck is one figure who tries to live in a holistically Christian way across all of these different dimensions of human life, but he tries to embody all of that in a single person and the kind of life that he lived.
That’s why I call him in the book a polymath. And he’s the kind of polymath who’s led to that kind of a life where he’s trying to be all of these different things, because fundamentally, he held beliefs about life that are shaped by what he thought about Christianity itself, that Christianity is a Catholic faith, a universal faith, universal in the sense of being for all of life. So for Bavinck, God is not just the large of some parts of your life that are very disconnected from the rest. So he’s not just the God of your Sunday mornings at church or, you know, the half an hour that you spend each day, you know, praying and reading the Bible on your own or something like that. Actually, God’s lordship, Christ’s lordship extends to every square inch, to use a kind of neo-Calvinist, Kuyperian term, every square inch of your human existence and of your life. So for Bavinck that means that Christianity has to be able to address every single aspect of human existence, whether that’s, you know, that you’re a sports person or a politician or whether you work in technology or whether you’re a journalist or whether you’re a schoolteacher. Christianity, it’s not just that it has something useful to add. It actually profoundly informs all of those things if you are a Christian.
So Bavinck has this zeal for God. This view of piety that says that piety expands out, you know, leavens the whole of your life, and that I think in this case led him to be a polymath, which is just really fascinating that Christianity is this faith for all of life and that actually for him as a reformed Christian as well as a reformed tradition, he thought aims to reform, not just the church so that it’s no longer under the leadership of the pope or something like that. If you go back to 16th century Geneva or reforming its doctrine so that we now know that we’re justified by faith alone and we’re saved by grace alone, it actually aims to reform all of life around that. So there’s this ripple effect of the reformation of the church, the reformation of doctrine that becomes the reformation of all of life. So in this case, that’s part of what makes his own unique life story so interesting, is that he’s actually positioned to have a really good go at reforming all of these different aspects of life in his own life and pursuing a polymathic kind of existence.
Jason: I want to pick up on one thing that you said when you were talking about kind of the way that Bavinck is historically understood by some of being kind of this: two Bavincks. You have this orthodox Bavinck, of the one who believes in the word of God, who’s thoroughly Christian, who wrote Reformed Dogmatics. And then you have this modern Bavinck. And I noticed you talk a little bit about in the biography, but also in some of your other works about how these two Bavincks are often pitted against one another. But you just beautifully explained how it’s kind of this whole of life understanding of the way that God’s word applies to all of our lives. It’s not just theology. It’s not just ethics, but kind of a vision, a cultural vision of engaging all of culture with our belief and understanding of who God is and what he’s done. What was the kind of situation that Bavinck found himself in at the turn of the century, that kind of led where he had a lot of questions surrounding science and morality and these issues that in many ways we’re still facing today. What was kind of this situation that he was inhabiting and the environment that he was inhabiting that led to this kind of two Bavinck theory and kind of how does that play out and how we might think about kind of a broader social and cultural vision for Christianity?
Dr. Eglinton: That’s an excellent question. So, as you say, for quite a large part of the 20th century, especially the latter half of the 20th century, a lot of people, if they talked about Bavinck, would talk about him as a Jekyll and Hyde figure, as somebody who could never decide which of the two aspects of his identity was the one that he really wanted to go with. I think that part of why that way of thinking about Bavinck, the wrong approach, but part of why it developed was that Bavinck set himself quite a hard task in life so he didn’t choose an easy lifestyle and trying to hold things like that together at the beginning of the 20th century. He came from a church tradition, from a denomination that was theologically conservative. But Bavinck thought growing up in it that there were two branches within that church, I guess the two directions, one of which said that the world is a sinful, fallen place and we have to keep ourselves pure from it. So we hold it at arm’s length. And in doing so, we guard the holiness of the church and we make sure that we’re very distinctive from the modern world.
But there was another movement within his denomination that said, but Christianity is a Catholic faith that addresses all of life, and we have to be much more in the world, even if we’re not of it. And the young Bavinck growing up, thinks “why is there some either-or effect?” And he wrote about wanting to hold these two things together without being distinctive and obviously intentionally Christian, but at the same time seeing Christianity as a faith that does address all of life and he didn’t want that just to be an abstract concern. He actually wanted to step forward, quite boldly and confidently into the modern age with all of his big questions and issues and see Christianity as the thing that the modern age really needs. So nd that’s something that a lot of people around him at the time didn’t get. So there were some modern thinkers who would, in effect, say that orthodoxy and all these things that Bavinck was committed to, those are just long gone. You can’t maintain that anymore, that we believe the scripture is authoritative, that God reveals himself, that the supernatural exists or is possible. So if you believe those things, you cannot be a modern person. So he sets himself quite a hard challenge, I guess, in convincing those people that actually being orthodox and being modern, they’re not oil and water. And I think what you see in Bavinck is more that he views modern culture and the modern world as a place where there are trade-offs in everything. It’s a constant game of give and take. It’s all about negotiation. So there are some parts of the modern world that he accepts really gladly. There are other parts that he does push back on, for example, in what he believes about the supernatural.
So, quite an unusual life that he tries to set for himself in some ways in his own context, and it’s something that I think later generations, as they look back on him, just struggle to get sometimes. So they would say, well, he tries to hold these things together, but we still assume that they can’t really be held together. So which of these voices in his head do we like to align ourselves with? The Orthodox voice of the modern voice? So, in the biography and in my first book, I really try to move away from that and say, no, this is actually how he viewed the world and the Christian faith and what he was trying to do within it, which I think is much more interesting. That’s more challenging to read as well, because it makes you face up to the kind of questions that he tried to answer. And you’re asking there, how does this then shape what he says about social, cultural engagement? What can we learn from them? Well, he has a very rich theology of culture in the first place. And I think that’s what gives them the confidence to step out into the modern world and say the thing that you guys need is actually Christianity. That’s what answers the questions, the longings of the modern heart and that rich theology of culture grows out of a very rich theology of creation, the world as created by God. It’s not created as a freeze frame, as like a static picture of a bunch of people, who aren’t moving or doing anything.
Instead, it’s made us a world on a world of time and space where God commands the first humans to change that world, to go out and be fruitful and multiply and spread over the face of the earth. So that for Bavinck is a command to culture, that’s a command to humans to inhabit culture, to produce it, to take it with them where they go and also to change it. And that basic feature of culture is something that constantly changes for Bavinck as fundamentally a good thing. It’s actually the way that God set up the world with a diversity in the first place that was set to grow and expand. So there’s a potentiality in the world as God makes it, but that also exists along cultural lines. And within that whole package, the only thing that the Grace opposes, Bavinck thought is sin. So culture and cultural change is not itself inherently bad. Sin is bad, but grace isn’t anti culture, inherently. So I think that basic insight gives a lot of confidence to step out into a changing modern world and shapes all the practicalities of how he thought about and interacted with cultural change in his own day in art, in science, in society, politics, even though he travels across cultures of his life, for example, by traveling to North America a couple of times and travelling out of European culture.
Jason: To pick up on some of those kind of modern and scientific challenges and changes in Bavincks day: what were some of those that he sought to navigate as a believer in this kind of rapidly shifting culture?
Dr. Eglinton: So the major issue that he faced, I think, run through all of his adult life around science, the modern world, the Christian faith is the question of whether we all have assumptions that are not really scientifically demonstrable. You can’t prove them, and yet we all have them. They’re arbitrary or a priori, and we live on the basis of things that we cannot prove. So the kind of opposite view that Bavinck faced across this life was the view that the empirical materialist science is self evidently true, and it doesn’t rest on assumptions. In fact, it’s all about scientific investigation in a way that’s reliable and then you reach your conclusions on the basis of a foundation that isn’t arbitrary.
To give us some examples of this: When he was a student in the 70s at the University of Leiden, he was studying in the theology department. But then in the middle of a student years, the Dutch government passed a law that said that we don’t do theology anymore, at our state universities, because theology is based on all these unprovable assumptions about metaphysics and about God existing, and God reveals himself from the Bible, which is based on supernatural revelation. And we can’t prove any of that with science. So the theology department has to change and become a religious studies department and the faculty members have to reinvent themselves in terms of discipline. They have to become religious study scholars, in essence, some kind of anthropologist of religion or people who just study texts and the literature or the Bible is like any other kind of literature, so produced by humans and that’s the only thing that we can say empirically about it. So that’s the kind of culture that Bavinck becomes a student in, where the cultural assumption is that the empirical materialist science perspective is self-evident. It doesn’t rest on any kind of a priori arbitrary assumptions. It’s just what you get to if you think clearly about the world. And it’s really authoritative because it doesn’t rest on anything that’s arbitrary or unprovable.
But Bavinck thought as a student, even, that’s really philosophically naive because we all assume things that we can’t prove. Everyone thinks on the basis of a priori assumptions. If you don’t have any a priori assumptions, you can’t live. You know, you assume that you exist, you assume self-consciousness. You mean later on philosophers will talk about how you assume the existence of other minds, for example, we can’t prove any of these things. And yet it’s reasonable to go on living on the basis of these things that we can’t prove. So for Bavinck this is the big issue in terms of the place that Christians have to live and think and speak Christianly in the modern world. So for Bavinck the challenges that we need to prove to other people, especially people who buy into empiricists materialist scientism, that actually they, too, have all kinds of arbitrary foundations that inform how they view the world and if you privilege one arbitrary commitment over another, then it’s just unjust for society. It’s not tolerant. It doesn’t really enable diversity in terms of outlook on the world.
So you find that when he’s a student, but it also carries on throughout his life, particularly in one key friendship with a friend who was not a Christian. And he always pushes Bavinck to say, you know, your works, they’re really interesting, i’ve read them. But the thing is, you always privileged scripture. You always say that scripture is your authority. But that’s arbitrary. Why should this one book get so much authority and how you view the world and how you think? You can’t prove that with science and Bavinck always tries to push back on his friend and say, but what about all the other things that you believe in, that you can’t prove with science either and you live out your faith and those things? So that challenge is I think that’s the consistent one, actually, and how he responds to science. It’s not that he’s anti-science in any sense, but he’s more anti, what we might call scientism. And his argument is always to help people realize that they have presuppositions and biases and that actually we need those as humans, as knowers.
Jason: Yeah, I think there’s a lot, especially in that relationship that he had with his friend, that we can learn today and kind of model in the way that we seek to engage kind of our modern culture and a lot of the cultural presuppositions that we have. Is there any specific ways that Bavinck used scripture to navigate these challenges of modernity? As you said, he did prioritize it. It obviously was kind of the metaphysic and it was something that he relied upon on how he saw the world. But was there anything else unique in the way that he approached Scripture and applied it to kind of the modern situations and dilemmas?
Dr. Eglinton: Well, I think what’s quite instructive, actually, about the way he uses scripture in navigating the challenges of modernity is that he was very aware that scripture was his firm ground. It’s the rock on which he stood and he recognized that everyone stands on some kind of ground or other. Nobody stands nowhere. No one lives and thinks in a vacuum. No one doesn’t have a starting point that I assume so for him, scripture was a starting point. And it’s very much his, you know, here I stand, I can stand nowhere else point. But he was also very aware that not everyone in the modern world takes that starting point. Other people stand somewhere else.
For example, this friendship that I mentioned with this guy who was kind of an agnostic European liberal skeptic who became a Muslim at one point in his life and then he would flip in a night of a skeptical Western identity and Muslim identity at different points in his life. What you see across Bavinck’s friendship with him is that although Bavinck is really committed to the authority of scripture and just treating scripture as the very firmest possible ground in which he could stand and having knowledge of God and knowing God, Bavinck didn’t think that he could use that just to throw proof texts at his friends and think that that would be convincing. Instead, Bavinck, because he was aware of his own presuppositions about scripture and that that itself is an act of faith in God, that God has really spoken in scripture, Bavinck also then very aware that his friends didn’t have those presuppositions and actually began with the starting point of unbelief, that God probably hasn’t spoken in scripture.
So if you’re aware of that, and I guess you see that it’s not likely to be all that fruitful if you just whack your friend over the head with the Bible every day and just give him lots of proof texts. And so for Bavinck, you have to be more subtle and nuanced in engaging with the presuppositions in the first place. So I think that that’s quite an instructive thing. It’s still something that’s quite common in Dutch culture, that people are more open about their presuppositions and also about the arbitrariness of different worldviews as well. I think in the English speaking world, we’ve lost a lot of that. Certainly, I think this is the case in the UK for a lot of people, the impression is that it’s also very similar in the United States as well for a lot of secular people today, also maybe for a lot of religious believers as well, there is the strong temptation to treat the way that we view the world as just obvious. And if someone doesn’t see the world the way you do, it is harder to understand why they might do that and you’re not really well conditioned in questioning or thinking about becoming aware of your own presuppositions and then thinking about the presuppositions that other people bring to the, you know, the narratives that they form about the world and life and so on. So, I think it’s really instructive to look at Bavinck as someone who thought in deeply scriptural ways, but who was very nuanced in engaging with people who didn’t.
Jason: When we talk about technology, we often think of like computer technology and kind of our modern gadgets and things like that. But Bavinck himself faced a lot of technological advancements in the 1800s, in the 1900s and sought to engage these things both ethically and theologically. How do you think he viewed technology as a whole and what were some of the kind of technological challenges or innovations of the day that he may have written upon? I know early on when I invited you on the podcast, you had tweeted saying that you were digging into kind of his polymathic tendencies of how he wrote on weapons of war and all different types of technologies of the day. Were there any specific technologies that he saw as challenging or that he wrote upon extensively? And how do you think he viewed it? Was it more of like a tool based approach or was it more of a kind of a broader force approach of saying that technology is shaping humanity towards some type of end? How did he think about technology and some of those challenges?
Dr. Eglinton: It’s a very nuanced question, a really good one. There are so many aspects of technology that Bavinck touches on that. You actually wrote a really great post on your website recently on the question of why we should read old texts to understand modern technology, which I thought was great, really insightful. And that’s very much what I think the worth in reading Bavinck with a view to technology as well. So he interacts with so many forms of technology and they really inform his life as well. So things like the steam engine or weapons of war or the place of technology in the home. These are all really significant questions for him. He very much thought technology as within the context of culture as well that I mentioned before. So there are some things that the culture just produces consistently where humans are and where they gather together and live together. There are some things that you get. So for Bavinck that includes things like sports, fashion, but also technology. So people build tools and they work out ways to use what’s in their environments, to master their environments and to fulfill the creation mandate, or at least to be carried along by this command to be fruitful and multiply and subdue the earth. But I think for the young Bavinck, I think he very much took a tool based approach, as you said. Very much so. But there’s a change that happens in the later Bavinck, which is really interesting, where he starts to see that the society in the 20th century is on the verge of a technological revolution, that will mean that we have to rethink a lot of our theological ethics, particularly in terms of the family and society.
You do have a lot of social changes that happen, particularly around World War One. But also you have a lot of questions about the role of women in society because of World War One, when millions of young men were dead all of a sudden. So the women they would have otherwise married don’t have prospective husbands and the labor market now has millions of empty spaces. So you have a lot of questions in society then about what does this mean for women? For example, should they take these jobs? We kind of need them to because we have production lines. We need workers for the factories. But then if these women who now have careers, does that mean that they can no longer marry or have children, for example? So if you look at the young Bavinck, and even actually towards the later years, for him he says, there’s no reason that a woman isn’t capable of doing the same job as a man in society. If she enters the labor force and he actually becomes very engaged, he and his wife together in helping young women think about jobs and do kind of vocational discernment, I guess, for these young women who are entering the labor market. But he still thought that the demands of the domestic environments, the practicalities of it meant that women couldn’t have it all. She could either get married and be a wife and a mother and run a household, or she wouldn’t get married and wouldn’t become a mother, but she could have a career.
And for Bavinck, he couldn’t see how you could combine those two things unless, some one book that he wrote towards the end of his life on the role of women in contemporary society, he says, for example, that there are no electric washing machines that are being developed. And if they can become affordable, we will have to rethink everything because the the role of technology in the home will completely change society. And everything that I’ve written on the role of women in society will have to be completely reconsidered and revised because the technology that directs you to live in a certain way will have changed so radically. So I think there when he looks forward to the 20th century, which the rest of it, which he didn’t live to see, obviously, because he died within a couple of years of writing, that he looks forward quite provisionally realizing that actually, rather than a tool based approach, technology is reaching a point where domestically it will reshape the family unit and reshape what women could achieve. For example, they could aim to have in life, that it may not be an either-or between marriage and a career. So he shifts quite a lot there, or at least he’s aware that there is a big shift that is about to happen or that could well happen.
Jason: As we close out our time today. I want to give listeners some book recommendations. If someone is new to Bavinck and wanted to start reading some of his work, obviously, there are a number of English translations out. Is there somewhere outside of your biography that you would say, “hey, this would be a really good starting off point.” Because I think sometimes we look at like Reformed Dogmatics or even Reformed Ethics, and it’s a very large work and it can be kind of overwhelming for someone who might not be a reader themselves or who is a reader, but hasn’t really dived into something like a systematic or dogmatic theology like that. Is there a place that you would recommend people starting off at, whether it’s a book or an essay or something like that that could be a good jumping off point into Bavinck’s thought?
Dr. Eglinton: I think the very best starting point in that kind of a situation is his book, The Wonderful Works of God. It’s a one volume systematic theology made up of lots of short chapters. So you can read each chapter in 15 minutes there. They’re so beautifully put together. They’re theologically rich and it really sings. You know, this is doctrine that preaches. It’s doxological. Every chapter makes you lift up your eyes to God. It’s a great, great work and it’s very accessible. I think it’s an excellent starting point. Bavinck wrote that for non-specialist. So for non-theologians, he was quite aware that his Reformed Dogmatics wouldn’t be accessible to everyone. But that wasn’t the point of the book. It was to really, you know, hit the high register for scholars so they would have a resource that would give them this comprehensive take on theology in the modern age. It’s kind of hard to get a copy of that because it’s so in demand. Westminster Seminary Press released the new edition of it a year or so ago, and it flies off the shelves. I get emails from people quite often asking, can I source them a copy? Do I know where they can find one, but they sell out pretty much as soon as they’re printed, so if you find a copy that’s available, you have to snap it up.
Jason: Well, we’ll definitely make sure to link to that in the show notes and hopefully folks can grab a copy. I thankfully did grab a copy last year. And so it’s actually sitting here on my desk. So I’m kind of excited to dig into that as well as some of other Bavinck’s work. But, Dr. Eglinton, thank you so much for joining us here on WeeklyTech obviously, this is a fascinating conversation, something that I’m very interested in myself. And obviously there’s a lot more that we could dive into in Bavinck’s thought. But I really appreciate the work that you’ve done and also the way that you approach it, and the way that you approach not only your biography, but other works that you’ve done on Bavinck. So thank you so much for joining us.
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