Appreciative and faithful? Karl Barth’s use of Herman Bavinck’s view of God’s incomprehensibility

Ximian Xu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article is intended to assess Karl Barth's appreciative use of Herman Bavinck's view of God's incomprehensibility in Church Dogmatics II/1. The main argument is that despite Barth's appreciative gesture, Barth in fact offers an unfaithful or mistaken reading of Bavinck's view. Whereas Bavinck makes God's knowability the presupposition of the divine incomprehensibility, Barth renders the veracious knowledge of God predicated upon God's incomprehensibility, which is in turn grounded in God's hiddenness. In any event, Barth's appreciative gesture toward Bavinck should not cover up their divergent lines of reasoning in demonstrating the doctrine of God's incomprehensibility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-46
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Reformed Theology
Issue number1
Early online date12 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • God's hiddenness-revelation
  • God's incomprehensibility
  • God's knowability
  • Herman Bavinck
  • Karl Barth


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