Herman Bavinck on the Dialectic Catholicity of Reformed Theology

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Herman Bavinck (1854-1921), the leading neo-Calvinist theologian, underscores the catholicity of Reformed theology. It is worth noting that he defines the catholicity more than in the sense of universality. Rather, his view of Reformed catholicity should be characterized as dialectic. On the one hand, Reformed theology should be undertaken by one who is in relation to a particular visible church and thus in relevance to a specific tradition. On the other hand, Reformed theology is always moving outside, and should engage not only with other theological traditions but also with the other sciences. The twofold aspect of Bavinck’s Reformed catholicity can be formulated as follows: Bavinck’s standing in the Reformed tradition is standing in the background, whereas his moving towards the outside is present in the foreground. The dialectics can be understood by a centrifugal movement. His own Reformed tradition is the centre, from which theology is moving towards and going beyond the borders of Christianity to reach the ends of the world. “The Gospel is a joyful tiding, not only for the individual person but also for humanity, for the family, for society,for the state, for art and science, for the entire cosmos, for the whole groaning creation.” In such doing, theology glorifies God within the dogmatician’s own tradition, in the territories of Christianity, and more importantly, around the world.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2019
EventOxford Symposium on Religious Studies - Somerville College, Oxford, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 Dec 20194 Dec 2019


SymposiumOxford Symposium on Religious Studies
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Herman Bavinck
  • Reformed Catholicity
  • Neo-Calvinism
  • Reformed Confessions


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