All Christians have an obligation to re-examine and on occasion to restate even their most fundamental and cherished convictions. Scripture itself demands such re-evaluation (and restatement) and the world's pressure makes it inevitable. In the various branches of Christendom that are relatively small and also very self-conscious about their distinct identity there is yet another reason for reconsideration and restatement. Such churches are often born out of controversy and conflict with another member of the same family of churches. While the generation that gives birth to and experiences the conflict needs no further justification for its separate existence, subsequent generations do. The question arises: how are "we" different from "them" and are those differences significant enough to justify our separate existence?
It is the thesis of this study that the cultural-ethical ideal of the Dutch Calvinist theologian Herman Bavinck (1854-1921) differs from that of his better known fellow Calvinist and contemporary Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920). While he shares with Kuyper a basic trinitarian perspective, Bavinck's emphasis upon the imitation of Christ as a necessary aspect of his cultural-ethical ideal reflects and illumines the distinctiveness of his thought in comparison with Kuyper. This distinctiveness has not always been properly recognized.
With the exception of the first introductory essay on polarization, the essays in this volume were presented at a conference on "Orthodoxy and Orthopraxis," held at Redeemer College, Hamilton, Ontario on May 30-June 1, 1985. The conference was called to explore the problem of polarization in the Christian Reformed community, to come to greater clarity on the reasons for polarization and to promote healing by providing a forum for dialogue and discussion. The theme "Orthodoxy and Orthopraxis" was chosen because it was believed by the organizers that fundamental differences in understanding the relationship between doctrine and life, faith and works, theology and ethics, are key contributing factors to polarization in the Reformed community.