Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Being is becoming in Bavinck

I've just finished reading Bavinck on 'Revelation in Nature and Holy Scripture' in Reformed Dogmatics: Volume One. The great Dutch theologian anticipates the language of Karl Barth, who famously suggested that 'God's being is in becoming.' Bavinck rightly relates the being and becoming of God to the enfleshment of Christ,
"The incarnation is the unity of being (ἐγὼ εἰμί, John 8:58), and becoming (σὰρξ ἐγένετο, John 1:14). - p. 380.

12 comments:

Jason Sexton said...

James Eglington at New College has done some work on precisely this - and has done quite a good job, from what I have seen.

Exiled Preacher said...

Cool! Can you access his stuff online?

Jason Sexton said...

I don't think so, but I'll be he'd be happy to shoot you some of it if you gave him a jingle: http://www.div.ed.ac.uk/pub/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=247&a=1447

Exiled Preacher said...

Thanks for that. I'll drop him a line. From the web page you gave me, seems like he's something of an expert on good ol' Bavinck.

Jon said...

That's an interesting quote - to what extent does Bavinck locate this unity within the doctrine of election?

Exiled Preacher said...

Jon,

Bavinck is reflecting on God's self-revelation rather than discussing election. The section on election is in Vol 2 and I haven't got there yet.

Jon said...

So how does he get around the problem of God's being being in becoming? What is the safeguard? Or is he just quiet about the matter in this section?

Exiled Preacher said...

It's only a very brief reference to being and becoming. He doesn't develop the thought here. But I don't think that it is a problem for HB because he roots being and becoming in the incarnation rather than in the being of God as such.

Patrick Hamilton said...

Here is a great link to some Bavinck stuff. An excellent starter is piece by Dr. Ron Gleason. Further down is a list of audio by various speakers.

http://hermanbavinck.org/

Jon said...

So how does the incarnation relate to the being of God for Bavinck?

Exiled Preacher said...

Thanks Patrick.

Jon,

As I said earlier Bavinck made the statement quoted in the context of God's self-revelation. He doesn't develop the point any further. He doesn't discuss the incarnation per se, until Vol 3 & I'm only 3/4 of the way through Vol 1!

Exiled Preacher said...

James Eglinton comments:

Hi Guy,

Thanks for your message. I have indeed done some work on this area, I gave a paper ("To be or to become: that is the question. 'Being' and 'becoming' in the theology of Herman Bavinck") on this at the Bavinck Conference @ Princeton two weeks ago.

Basically Bavinck's ontology is quite radically different from that of Hegel, who set the 'being in becoming' wheel in motion. For Bavinck, God does 'being' (his essence is immutable) and the cosmos does 'becoming' (its essence is mutable). Bavinck's constant refrain is, 'in God's being there is no becoming'.

Bavinck applies that creator-creature divide quite strictly. He only makes two exceptions, both of which occur when the divide image is expressed: (a) the creation of humanity, and (b) the Incarnation of Christ.

The Incarnation is the perfect union of being and becoming, for Bavinck, as Christ perfectly and most fully represents God to man, and man to God.

As Bavinck's ontology is so different from Hegel's, it is also therefore quite different from Barth's - as Barth, according to Eberhard Jungel at least, stands in Hegel's tradition on this.

James' blog: http://themetrocalvinist.wordpress.com/