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Bavinck and Vollenhoven on faith

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  1. Introduction
  2. The fundamental issue
  3. The psychological reduction of faith
  4. Vollenhoven's historical critique
  5. Important structural point in Vollenhoven's essay
  6. Individual, communal and genetic functions of faith
  7. The content/law of faith: Revelation
  8. Conclusion
  9. References

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. [...]

[...] Bavinck refers to the seed of religion in Calvin, an image that supports his notion of faith as an out-growth rather than a ?blind faith forced by authority,? or a ?mood or inclination.?[20] Having started with the idea of the heart of man as his central unity, this is what Bavinck concludes about the origin and nature of faith: One can then, without danger of error, describe faith as a habit or act of consciousness because it arises out of regeneration [and] is always a loving faith in principle distinguished from what is [popularly] called ?faith.' Faith is the light that comes to one's life, because it is born from this life. [...]

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