When a person looks at the world round about him for the first time, a multitude of questions throng in upon him from all sides. For the questions that we are concerned with in our lives are innumerable and most of them are so insoluble that, after once having come to grips with them, we seem to feel unable to withdraw from the contest. Indeed, it is not strange that all the peoples of history have voiced their vexation at being confronted by the very questions which at the moment confront us and which we cannot shake off.
The centuries preceding the French Revolution (1789) are in many ways different from the epoch that followed. The radical change of direction introduced into the life and thought of the nations by this tremendous event shattered the continuity of history. We can project ourselves into the thought and life of those preceding ages only with great difficulty. They were the ages of authority and objectivity, whereas in our era the subject proclaims its freedom and asserts its rights in every area of human existence.
The year 1892 was a year of great importance for the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands. Two influential groups of Churches, both originating in a secession from the Established Church, the one in 1834, the other in 1886, were, after long negotiations, brought together, and in June of that year held their "First General Synod of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands." It was something unforeseen and unexpected. Both groups, to be sure, were one in their confession and form of government, and both shared the conviction that a Reformed Christian was in duty bound to his Bible and his confession to break with the Established Church.
Dutch theology during the present century has been subject to various influences. Its character has been molded in turn not only by Calvinism, which has always continued to live among the people, but also by the Swiss Reveil; both by the German Vermittelungstheologie and by Greek philosophy. Nevertheless - and perhaps partly owing to this very fact - Dutch theology has a character of its own, and a history distinguished in many respects from that in other countries. A careful study of it will not fail to reveal the momentous struggle of deepest principles.
All the developments of the doctrine of Christ which we have described take their start from and move within the limits of the Chalcedonian Symbol. But very many Christians have been unable to find contentment in this formulary. There have been in all ages those who turned off either to the right or to the left, and followed in the tracks of the old Ebionitism or Gnosticism. On the one side there are ranged Arianism, Nestorianism, Socinianism, Deism, Rationalism, etc., and on the other, appear Patripassianism, Sabellianism, Monophysitism, Anabaptism, and Pantheism in all its varied forms.
Document: Herman Bavinck, "Christ and Christianity". The Biblical Review, I (1916), 214-236. Excerpt: As has often been remarked, there is between Christianity and all other religions one prominent characteristic and real difference. We can notice this in the minor religions; for, although they recognize a Highest Being called the Great Spirit, the Exalted Father, the Mighty Lord, … Continue reading Christ and Christianity – Herman Bavinck
Christianity has from the beginning laid claim to be the one true religion. This conviction of the absoluteness of the Christian religion has entered so deeply into the consciousness of the Church that the whole history of Christian doctrine may be viewed as one great struggle for upholding it over against all sorts of opposition and denial. For the life of the Church as well as for every individual man the fundamental question is: What think ye of the Christ?