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February 21, 2018

Too Much or Not Enough?

Too much or not enough? That is always the challenge when we look to church history, historical theology and the history of biblical interpretation. How much credence do we give to the reflections and conclusions of those who have gone before us. The Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck is really helpful :

The history of dogma and dogmatics is therefore to be regarded as a mighty attempt to appropriate the truth of God revealed in Christ and to fully understand the essence of Christianity. In evaluating that agelong dogmatic labor, people have erred both to the left and to the right and in turn been guilty both of overestimation and underestimation.[1]

So the trick is to find the right balance: not too much but not too little.  Part of this includes the humility to recognize that we aren’t the first people to look at theological questions. As Bavinck says:

Processing the content of Scripture dogmatically, however, is not just the work of one individual theologian, or of a particular church or school, but of the entire church throughout the ages, of the whole new humanity regenerated by Christ. [2]

How is your view of the biblical and theological conclusions of those believers who have gone before you? How much weight do you give to their opinions?

Too Much or Not Enough?

[1] Herman Bavinck, John Bolt, and John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics: Prolegomena, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 116.

[2] Ibid. 116–117.

About Clint Humfrey

Pastor of Calvary Grace Church in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I'm married with three sons. Views expressed on this blog are my own.