Herman Bavinck als Dogmticus (Herman Bavinck as Dogmatician), published by J.H. Kok, N.V. Kampen, the Netherlands. Price f 18.75.
This is, for me, a very interesting book, not only because the author, Dr. R.H. Bremmer, evidently made a very thorough study of the subject he develops in this book, but even more because he compares Bavinck with others and by doing so he goes into the history of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands of the latter part of the nineteenth and the early part of the twentieth century. At the time I was a child and a young man and at an early age I became interested in that history. I was a son of the Afscheiding (Separation) but at the same time I was very much interested in the “Doleantie,” that is, the group of Reformed Churches which, under the leadership of Dr. A. Kuyper, expressed their grief about the condition of the State Church and organized a separate group of churches. Later (1892) these two groups of churches were united under the name “Gereformeerde Kerken.” However, although these churches were synodically united, locally they were not. Especially in the city in which I lived they were not really one as was evident from the fact that they were designated as the Gereformeerde Kerken A (the churches of the “Afscheiding”) and B (the churches of the “Doleantie”). Interesting for me is also the long correspondence that is quoted in the book between Bavinck and Ten Hoor on the question whether Theology is the queen of sciences (Kampen) or must be placed on a par with the other sciences (Amsterdam, the Free University). When I came to America I attended the Theological School in Grand Rapids where Ten Hoor was professor at the time. He was still full of the question above mentioned and maintained that Theology was the queen of sciences. He was a very keen mind and well able to defend his position.
However, this is not the sole reason why I was interested in the book by Dr. Bremmer. The author, to my mind, also ably develops the subject on which he is writing: “Bavinck as Dogmatician.” I recommend this book especially to al! students of Dogmatics.
Barth, by Dr. A.D.R. Polman, translated from the Dutch by Calvin D. Freeman. Published by the Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Mich.
This book or booklet (68 pages) is one of a series of “An International Library of Philosophy and Theology.” Anyone that is interested in Barth, as no theologian can afford not to be, will do well to obtain and read this book by Dr. Polman. The writer, after a general introduction, discusses Barth’s view on Scripture, on Predestination, and on Creation. Barth is a very voluminous writer. His Dogmatics alone covers thus far ten volumes, each volume hundreds of pages, much of it in small print. Secondly, Barth is a writer that is difficult to read. He does not mind to write all kinds of contradictions. Besides, his language, German, is often dark and ambiguous and, personally, I often wondered whether this ambiguity is not intentional. Thus, for instance, although Barth does not believe that Scripture is the written Word of God, yet he often quotes it as if it were. The same is true in regard to his conception of the doctrine of predestination: although his development of that doctrine leaves the impression that he believes in universal salvation (Christ being the sole reprobate), yet he denies that this is his conception. His so-called commentary on Paul’s epistle to the Romans, which is probably the most widely read of all his books, is no commentary at all. He merely expresses his own views and uses the text as a pretext.
However, it is not difficult to read Dr. Polman’s book on Barth. Hence, I gladly recommend this book to all theologians who are interested in the study of Barth. I am not inclined to agree with the author in the praise he bestows on Barth in an introduction to the chapter that discusses Barth’s conception of predestination which is developed in the third volume of his dogmatics. He, Dr. Polman, speaks of his increasing admiration of Barth’s originality and genius as he repeatedly read the monumental volume of his Church Dogmatics concerning election. I, too, studied that volume, but I cannot subscribe to this praise. For fact is that Barth denies election and reprobation.