Reformed Dogmatics, Abridged in One Volume, by Herman Bavinck, ed., John Bolt, Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2011, 847 pp.
Well, that took a while to read.
I generally liked Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics but can’t really give it a special place in my heart. It is at the same level of the systematic theologies of say Charles Hodge and Louis Berkhof. It has an orthodox Reformed viewpoint and shows the great learnedness of the author. But often times Bavinck doesn’t fully answer the question. For example, a mention of the Marrowmen (p. 462) does not clearly state whether their view on God willing the salvation of the non-elect is correct or not. Likewise, his discussion on faith (among other subjects) lacks clear definitions. He speaks of Christ having an “impersonal human nature” (p. 418) but never explains what “personal” is and what Christ’s human nature is lacking so as not to be personal.
I wearied not only with the length of this volume but also the constant references to Lessing, Kant, Schleiermacher, Ritschl, etc. It is of some value to know the views of these thinkers, but mostly as a contrast to bring out the truth of the Scriptural view.
Highlights included his sections on the Trinity, angels, the ascension, and opposition to Chiliaism.
The book is probably best used as a reference when studying a particular topic. Bavinck should be included in the top ten or so theologians one consults; no doubt his work is impressive.