Bavinck: A Critical Biography
Dutch Calvinist theologian Herman Bavinck, a significant voice in the development of Protestant theology, remains relevant many years after his death. His four-volume Reformed Dogmatics is one of the most important theological works of the twentieth century.
James Eglinton is widely considered to be at the forefront of contemporary interest in Bavinck's life and thought. After spending considerable time in the Netherlands researching Bavinck, Eglinton brings to light a wealth of new insights and previously unpublished documents to offer a definitive biography of this renowned Reformed thinker.
The book follows the course of Bavinck's life in a period of dramatic social change, identifying him as an orthodox Calvinist challenged with finding his feet in late modern culture. Based on extensive archival research, this critical biography presents numerous significant and previously ignored or unknown aspects of Bavinck's person and life story. A black-and-white photo insert is included.
This volume complements other offerings on Bavinck's theology, worldview, and ethics.
"In James Eglinton, Herman Bavinck has the biographer he so richly deserves, his own Scottish James Boswell. Using fresh archival sources, Eglinton provides new insights into the man, the churchman, and the thinker who was, alongside Abraham Kuyper, the most important figure in the revival of Dutch Calvinism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Through careful historical research Eglinton places Bavinck in his broader intellectual and spiritual context as a modern person and effectively challenges some of the oft-repeated myths about him and his secession Christian Reformed community. This will be the definitive Bavinck biography for generations."
--John Bolt, Calvin Theological Seminary (emeritus)
"Here is an elegantly written and intimate portrait of a theological giant in the Reformed tradition, based on a thorough reading of all of Bavinck's published and unpublished writings. Eglinton superbly documents Bavinck's intense personal, spiritual, and intellectual wanderings and wonderings that ultimately led him to the creation of his four-volume masterwork on Christian dogma. This book is destined to be the standard biographical introduction to Herman Bavinck for years to come."
--John Witte Jr., Emory University
"Doctrine is forged on the anvil of life, and thus any attempt to understand a theologian's works must factor in the foundry of personal history. Devotees of Herman Bavinck can celebrate that they now have a biography that serves this task. Eglinton has written an exceptionally well-researched account for anyone seeking to understand Bavinck and the modern Reformed tradition. Eglinton pairs in-depth research with insightful analysis. Readers will not be disappointed with the fruit of his outstanding labors."
--J. V. Fesko, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi
"Eglinton's critical biography of Herman Bavinck is the first that gives an in-depth account of the unity-in-diversity and diversity-in-unity of the theologian's thought and life. I can hardly express how grateful I am for this publication. I cannot wait to see how Eglinton's biography reshapes our understanding of Bavinck's life, as well as our conceptions of Christian scholarship in particular and Christian calling in general."
--Shao Kai Tseng, Institute of Religious Studies, Zhejiang University, China
"Impeccably researched and thoroughly readable"
"When it comes to theologians that contemporary church leaders should be reading, I don't know of a more important one than Herman Bavinck. No one can grasp the theology of an Augustine or Aquinas, a Calvin or Luther, without knowing their life and context. James Eglinton has provided this in his new critical biography of the greatest Reformed theologian of the twentieth century. A very important yet highly readable volume."
--Timothy Keller, pastor emeritus, Redeemer Presbyterian Church of New York City
"Impeccably researched and thoroughly readable, James Eglinton's biography of Herman Bavinck deserves a wide readership. As Eglinton invites us into Bavinck's faithful and creative engagement with pluralism, psychology, Nietzsche, education for women, evangelism, missions, racism in America, and politics, we see that we still have much to learn from this member of the great cloud of witnesses."
--Kristen Deede Johnson, Western Theological Seminary
"Eglinton demonstrates that Bavinck was a brilliant, creative theologian. For those who are discovering that brilliance in Bavinck's writings newly translated into English, we now have the gift of a wonderfully readable and informative narrative of Bavinck's spiritual and theological journey. This important book confirms what many of us have been convinced of for some time now: Bavinck's time has come as a world-class theologian for our own day."
--Richard Mouw, president emeritus, Fuller Theological Seminary
"Eglinton is the modern biographer Herman Bavinck deserves. Eglinton is a theologian who is inspired by Bavinck's search for an orthodox engagement with the modern world, knows this world and Bavinck's works well, reads them in Dutch, has researched Bavinck's papers meticulously as a historian, and composes and writes smoothly, as Bavinck himself did. What a treat that Bavinck has this kindred spirit as biographer."
--George Harinck, historian, The Neo-Calvinism Research Institute, TU Kampen
"Eglinton's biography of Bavinck is outstanding. Scholarly but accessible, it offers an account of Bavinck's life and work in its historical context. The picture that emerges here is neither that of a reactionary conservative nor that of a man divided against himself, as others have claimed, but that of a churchman navigating the waters of modernity with the tools of a deep and devout theological tradition. A wonderful companion volume to the Dogmatics."
--Carl R. Trueman, Grove City College