Muller: Rethinking The Relation Between Kuyper, Bavinck, And Scholasticism

One writer notes that “Kuyper reflected critically on what he perceived as an increasing emphasis on natural theology through the early centuries of the Reformed tradition,” while another indicates that Kuyper’s views on common grace opened up a place for natural theology. One study of Bavinck’s views on natural theology critiques his negative assessment of Thomist understandings of nature and natural theology as “foundationalist rationalism” from an ecumenical Roman Catholic perspective. Another study finds a significantly positive appreciation Thomism and Bavinck’s thought. Bavinck is also declared to be a precursor of Cornelius Van Til, despite Van Til’s rather pointed criticisms of Bavinck. And yet another essay indicates that Bavinck’s reception of Aristotle, Reformed orthodoxy, and neo-Thomism remains to be assessed.

A more detailed analysis of Kuyper’s and Bavinck’s view of natural theology with a closer examination of their backgrounds, sources, receptions, and critiques can lead to some resolution of these rather diverse readings of their thought. When the relationship of Kuyper and Bavinck  to the Reformed tradition is examined a significant divergent appears within the Dutch Reformed tradition itself, given the direction taken philosophically by Herman Doyeweerd and D. H. Th. Vollenhoven and theologically by Cornelius Van Til, a direction strenuously opposed to Bavinck’s recourse to the older scholasticism in general and Aquinas in particular. There is also a similar difference between the Reformed theology of Kuyper and Bavinck and the neo-orthodox reading as found, notably, in the works of Karl Barth and Otto Weber. Read more»

Richard A. Muller | “Kuyper and Bavinck on Natural Theology” | Bavinck Review 10 (2019): 5–6 (HT: Kim Riddlebarger)


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