In 1918, Herman Bavinck published an articled entitled Philosophy of Faith in the Annuarium of the Societas Studiosorum Reformatorum; thirty one years later, Dirk Vollenhoven presented a paper entitled Faith: Its Nature, Structure, and Significance for Science at a Roman Catholic conference about faith and learning. The two essays are strikingly similar in subject matter and demonstrate interesting continutites and discontinuities between Bavinck's Reformed-theological perspective and Vollenhoven's Reformational-philosophical perspective.
Bavinck and Vollenhoven immediately command attention when it comes to the subject of faith. Both men were notable for attempting to extend the influence of religion to every sphere of life, Bavinck as a pioneer of neo-calvinism, Vollenhoven as a champion of reformational philosophy. Both also practiced the world-immersion they preached. Vollenhoven wrote his doctoral dissertation about the possibility of a Christian philosophy of mathematics, and he felt no compunction at moving from pastoring to teaching in the Free University. Bavinck wrote copiously on such subjects as education, psychology, aesthetics, and philosophy, and he served as chairman of the Anti-Revolutionary Party for a time.
[...] An Historical Critique of Functional Dualism One prominent difference between Bavinck's essay and Vollenhoven's is that Bavinck offers an historical overview of Christian conceptions of faith before systematically proposing his own. This method has the virtue of showing the relevance of his eventual conclusions by showing how those conclusions are reactions, contextualizing the orthodoxy Bavinck propounds. In general, however, this is a short-coming of Vollenhoven, who often manages to appear as if he is systematically pursuing his philosophical goals in a vacuum. [...]
[...] "Philosophy of Religion (Faith)." In Essays on Religion, Science, and Society, John Bolt, 25-31. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic Vollenhoven, Theodore. "Faith: Its Nature, Structure, and Significance for Science." In Unpublished Manuscript Translation, John Kok, Sioux Center, Ia.: Dordt Print Shop “Philosophy of Religion 25 Bavinck, Herman. "Psychology of Religion." In Essays on Religion, Science, and Society, John Bolt, 61-80. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic Ibid. 61-62 “Philosophy of Religion “Faith: Its Nature, Structure, and Significance for Science” “Faith: Its Nature, Structure, and Significance for Science” Although, as we will see, their differing views of the role of the heart in the faith-function imply that they are using Scripture differently—or at least using different portions of it. [...]
[...] The faith of man at one time (Adam's time) had a representative and decisive function, but with the fall that office passed to Christ who exercised (and exercises) the faith- function in his life for the salvation of men. The Content/Law of Faith: Revelation At the end of their discussions, Bavinck and Vollenhoven draw closer together again (before diverging). The internal questions that lead them to this new parallelism are these: what belongs to the faith-function? And to what object does faith bind us? [...]
[...] As for the origin of this governing principle, both men claim the authority of Scripture as the basis for the anthropological claim they make about the heart. We may characterize their philosophical conceptions, therefore, as scriptural. Although Bavinck distinguishes between the subjective and objective genetive faith/religion”—labelling his essay an investigation of the latter—yet because of the heart-centered, scriptural nature both of his own and of Vollenhoven's philosophical frameworks, both essays demonstrate a philosophy of faith in the subjective genetive sense as well. [...]
[...] Individual, Communal, and Genetic Functions of Faith Vollenhoven discusses the nature of faith for the individual, for the community, and genetically. While faith is primarily a function of individual humans, he asserts that societal structures (communities) also function in any number of the same ways that humans function. The highest function of a societal structure is its “purpose.” Also, Vollenhoven believes that all humans, by virtue of the universality of the faith-function, participate in communities of faith (in societal structures which highest function is the faith function). [...]
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