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29 November 2019

One Kingdom Theology as a Paradigm for Gospel Ministry: A Commendation of the Thoughts of J. H. Bavinck

Synopsis:

This paper examines the mission theology of the Dutch missionary, Johan Herman Bavinck. Special focus is given to Bavinck’s conception of missions in light of the theme of the kingdom of God, the interplay between general and special revelation, and the relationship between missions, church, and the world.

Song Tsai
Song Tsai

Song Tsai is an MA Student at Oak Hill College. Previously, he was an associate member of OMF, serving for two years in student ministry in Taiwan and a year in mobilisation in the North of England.

Bavinck’s work is: “the most theologically rich, missiologically erudite and pastorally sensitive in the [reformed] tradition. If my work does nothing more than republicize and champion . . . J. H. Bavinck to a new generation of Christians, then I shall have achieved much.”[1]

Prologue

I was sitting on the patio of OMF’s Cluny Road centre in Singapore when I first read these words commending the works of the Dutch missionary to Indonesia: Johan Herman Bavinck.[2] My wife and I were expecting our first baby. We were on holiday escaping our jobs, the cold British winter, and the decision of where to go for theological training for ministry.

At a conference I attended a few months prior, I picked up a newly published book by the main speaker, Dr. Dan Strange, partly because it was on sale and it is always difficult for a Chinese person to resist a bargain,[3] but mostly because I was interested in the question the book dealt with: “How should evangelicals understand and engage with other religions?”

I came back to the UK after two years as a student worker in Taiwan brimming with missiological questions, some of which surrounded this area, and I was keen to start answering them even before getting to seminary. I finished the book over the course of the week and arrived at two conclusions: firstly, if possible and under the providential leading of God, I would like to study under Dr. Strange, and secondly, that I would explore the thoughts of Bavinck in more detail if given the opportunity.

God is faithful, and he answers prayers—I am now finishing off my fourth year at Oak Hill College, where Dr. Strange is the college director and lectures in culture, religion, and public theology, and over the course of the four years, I have had opportunities to dip into the works of Bavinck for assignments and occasionally for extra-curricular reading.

As most of Bavinck’s publications were in Dutch, it is no surprise that he is largely unknown to English-speaking evangelicals. However, as his works have been gradually translated to English, interest in both the UK and North America has been sparked regarding his work as a missiologist.[4] I have appreciated reading him and I would echo the sentiments expressed above. The aim of this essay, therefore, is to commend his work to the wider missionary community—especially those who are busy on the front line of the works of the kingdom and do not have the time to explore the works of people from other traditions and backgrounds. It is, of course, impossible to provide comprehensive coverage of all of Bavinck’s thoughts in a relatively short essay. For this reason, particular focus will be given to Bavinck’s conception of missions in light of the theme of the kingdom of God, the interplay between general and special revelation, and the relationship between missions, church, and the world.

Introduction

The beloved British pastor-theologian John Stott famously changed his mind on the definition of “missions”. At the 1966 World Congress on Evangelism in Berlin, he considered the nature of this mission to be exclusively one of evangelism and proclamation.[5] However, ten years later when he wrote Christian Mission in the Modern World, he asserted that responsibility for social action is not simply a consequence of people being converted through evangelism, but is a part of the mission itself.[6] For Stott, the mission of the church was no longer simply the proclamation of the gospel, but that proclamation and demonstration are bound together as an integral whole.

The “mission of the church” remains a live debate today. The year 2006 saw the publication of Chris Wright’s The Mission of God,[7] followed by the publication of Tim Keller’s Generous Justice in 2010,[8] both of which advocate for integral mission. A response from DeYoung and Gilbert came in 2011 arguing that the mission of the church is exclusively “proclamation and disciple making” and doing good works should be understood as a part of discipleship.[9] As recently as 2017, Zondervan published Four Views on the Church’s Mission.[10] In the same year, DeYoung was asked to speak on the “Mission of the Church” at a national conference for British evangelical pastors. Even within OMF, though consensus has largely been reached on integral mission, the interplay between missions and ecclesiology remains a live topic for discussion as it formed the main theme of a recent issue of Mission Round Table.[11]

On the side line, and ignored by much of the debate, is the Dutch reformed theologian Johan Herman Bavinck, who guards against the naivety of the exclusive proclamation model.[12] He does so through his insistence that the sovereign rule of God over his kingdom as restored by Christ is the central theme by which to understand all of human life and, by extension, the mission of the church. Additionally, his interesting work on special and general revelation helps us to understand that proclamation is not exclusively (but never excluding) verbal. Furthermore, because he identifies the church as the primary locus of missions, he is able to emphasise the importance of ecclesiology and verbal proclamation, while still advocating for a holistic approach to missions.

Each of these three themes of Bavinck’s teaching will be submitted for the reader’s consideration, along with a reflection of how Bavinck’s teaching will help us today, followed by some concluding remarks.

J. H. Bavinck’s vision of the “Mission of the Church”

The foundation of missions: God’s kingdom

For Bavinck, the coming of the kingdom of the Lord is the “almost always forgotten chapter of doctrinal theology, that is one of the most dominant ideas when we are dealing with missions.”[13] It “resounds like a majestic chorale through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. The Psalms, especially, sometimes tremble with ecstasy when they extol this kingdom.”[14]

From the very beginning, in primordial time or the Urzeit, God’s kingdom was cosmic in nature—it comprises the whole of creation, not just humans, but animals, plants, and even the angels have a place in the total harmony of God’s kingdom.[15] God’s sovereign rule over his kingdom is the single motif that gives meaning to the whole of creation, as all of creation lives in harmony or shalom with itself, united by the one common goal: the devout obedience to the well-ordered rule of God.[16]

God’s kingdom was always intended to be dynamic. From its inception it contained the potential and power to develop and unfold.[17] The human race was installed over it as stewards of God’s kingdom. As stewards, we were simultaneously both subject and king. It was given to us to rule—to steward, foster, and develop the potential of creation’s innate dynamism—but we do so in God’s service.

Humanity has ruptured the shalom of God’s kingdom through our rebellion against him. By rebutting the will of God and falling into sin, we have brought dissonance where there was to be harmony, chaos where there was to be order, and war where there was to be peace.[18] In this chaos, we are no longer over creation in order to glorify him and to serve him. We work simply to survive;[19] for now, by the sweat of our brow, we will eat our food.

God’s kingdom was not completely abandoned after the fall, however. Despite the chaos and fragmentation, it will once again be fully realised in the eschaton. Until then, it is constantly “being born” or near, but not yet.[20] The nation of Israel is a prefiguration of this eschatological kingdom of God which will finally be realised in the Lord Jesus Christ.[21] Just as the harmony of the kingdom of God was shattered by Adam’s sin, so Christ, through his suffering and death, unites in himself all things under God’s rule and reinstates the kingdom of God.[22] This reinstatement of the kingdom of God is not simply a case of individual salvation, but is cosmic in scale. The goal of our lives is not individual salvation, but rather “becoming part of the wider context of the kingdom of God, where all things are again unified under the one and only all-wise will of him who lives and rules forever.”[23]

The kingdom of God should not, of course, be separated from (though it can never be fully identified with) the church as a body of believers who are “in Christ”. They not only acknowledge and obey Christ as King, they also have an irresistible pull towards the eschatological kingdom of God which they seek to manifest in the present.[24] The church will always have a “theocratic tendency”—one that looks back to the prefiguring Jewish kingdom of David and Solomon and forward to the eschatological kingdom of Jesus Christ.[25]

The Christocentrically-orientated conception of the coming of the kingdom of God as developed by Bavinck forms the most important biblical-theological criterion for missionary approach, or in his words: Mission takes place in the service of the coming of God’s kingdom “and in that immense work of God we are his hands.”[26]

God’s means of accomplishing the mission: God’s revelation

As Creator, God is the legitimate ruler over all. The expansion of his kingdom, then, is not an expansion in space and time; rather it is through people consenting to live in obedience to him and acknowledging him as King. God reveals himself to a rebellious, sinful humanity, calling them to repent and to faithfully obey him as King. God issues the call in two ways: general revelation and special revelation.

Significant numbers of theologians have deployed the term general revelation to denote a disclosure of divine truths that are accessible through reason, apart from the revealed word. General revelation, so understood, is impersonal. Whatever divine truths we may learn outside of his revealed word is incidental rather than a direct communication from God. Bavinck warns against this understanding of general revelation:

If we wish to use the expression “general revelation” we must not do so in the sense that one can logically conclude God’s existence from it. This may be possible, but it only leads to a philosophical notion of God as the first cause. But that is not the biblical idea of “general revelation.” When the Bible speaks of general revelation, it means something quite different. There it has a much more personal nature. It is divine concern for men collectively and individually. God’s deity and eternal power are evident; they do not let go of him, even though man does his best to escape them.[27]

Visser helpfully gathers together five different Bible passages which Bavinck uses to point to this understanding of general revelation from a number of different publications.[28] Firstly, from Job 33:14–18, it is clear that God speaks to every person throughout their lives, through dreams and visions in their sleep, even speaking in their ears to turn them from wrongdoing. Secondly, from John 1:4, 5, 9, Bavinck concludes that the activity of the Word is universal in extent and is intended to bring light into the darkness of people’s minds. Thirdly, from Acts 14:15b–17, God’s great deeds of kindness in providing for unbelieving sinners testify to his mercy. Fourthly, from Acts 17:26–27, God’s determination of national boundaries was intended to lead people to “seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us” (NIV 2011). Lastly, according to Visser, Romans 1:19–32 is the most important passage for Bavinck in developing his thoughts on general revelation. From this passage, Bavinck concludes that people are not only permanently connected to fellow humans and the whole of creation, there is also a permanent connection between humans and God. There is a constant dialogue between God and the person, a dialogue that God continuously initiates. This general revelation or dialogue from God takes the form of the whole of creation, in human conscience and in human history;[29] in short, in the totality of human existence. In Bavinck’s thoughts all three persons of the Trinity must be involved in this act of personal communication due to the unity of the Godhead. He sees the Holy Spirit as God’s instrumental means for general revelation,[30] and Christ as the “eternal power”[31] which God the Father, through the totality of human existence and the work of the Holy Spirit, communicates to us.

Though Bavinck had a fairly novel conception of general revelation,[32] his conception of special revelation is entirely uncontroversial—it is the revelation of God which is outside of the realm of general revelation, namely the “mystery of Christ which was not made known to men in other generations” but “has now been revealed by the Spirit” (Eph. 3:5).”[33] In other words, whereas general revelation reveals the character of God and Christ, special revelation is required to reveal the redemption we have in him.

Bavinck sees numerous similarities between general revelation and special revelation. Both consist of the self-disclosure of God. Both are the work of the whole Godhead—all three persons of the Trinity. And though special revelation is more explicit in its communication to humanity, neither are enough for a full disclosure of the essence and being of God. For Bavinck, we shall only know fully when we see God face to face in the eschaton.[34]

The agent and approach of the mission: God’s church and missionary proclamation

From the above, it should be clear that in Bavinck’s thought God is the primary agent in missions; it is his kingdom that grows through his revelation of himself. For Bavinck, although this is theologically true, it is unsatisfying. For although God is the one reconciling all things to himself in Christ and nothing we do can add to or subtract from his work, it is also true to say that he has tasked the church with this ministry.[35] Even this statement is somewhat unsatisfactory, for we then have to ask the question, “what is the church in question here?” Is it the local church? Is it a denomination? Is it every Christian as they are living out their faith in the world? Is it made up of evangelistic societies and other organisations? Though Bavinck places the primary responsibility of the mission on the shoulders of the local church and, in particular, her office bearers, missionary work is by no means restricted to them.[36] Based on his consideration of all of Scripture concerning missions, he concludes that each member of the congregation must also be involved and makes a distinction between official missionary service as manifest in the sending out of missionaries and the non-official proclamation of the gospel by individuals or missionary societies and organisations.[37]

How then should the agents of God’s mission serve the coming of his kingdom? Bavinck advocates a two-fold approach in line with his views on general and special revelation and the all-encompassing kingdom of God. He terms them the comprehensive approach[38] and the kerygmatic approach.[39]

It is important to make a distinction between Bavinck’s conception of the “comprehensive approach” and the “comprehensive approach” that was introduced at the International Missions Conference at Jerusalem in 1928. The latter speaks of the “four-dimensional character of missions,” in which missions is simultaneously preaching, education, medical care, and social-economic aid. Bavinck objects to Jerusalem’s construction of the “comprehensive approach” on three grounds.

Firstly, the reasoning behind the Jerusalem conference’s comprehensive approach is based entirely on anthropological and opportunistic grounds. Instead, Bavinck believes that a proper theory of missionary approach must find its basis in Scripture.[40]

Secondly, Bavinck was unhappy with the Jerusalem conference’s comprehensive approach which stated that man’s spiritual life is “entirely rooted in his environment.” For Bavinck this implied that any elevation of a non-Christian’s physical circumstances can potentially bring about the flow of proper spiritual life. He thought it would be more biblically accurate to say that a person’s spiritual life is so interwoven with all the conditions of life that changes in a person’s spiritual life would have material impact on all areas of life and vice versa.[41]

Thirdly, Bavinck found the concept of a four-dimensional mission to be misleading, as it considers education, medical care, and social-economic aid to be of equal value to the preaching of the gospel, when in reality, the Bible only calls the church to “preach the gospel.” For Bavinck, it would be far more accurate to say that preaching is a multi-faceted endeavour, involving more than simply verbal proclamation of a message, but also a demonstration of the message.[42]

Despite these objections, Bavinck thought that the comprehensive approach on the mission field was “unavoidable”.[43] A missionary living as a Christian in a foreign context would see the needs of the people and, because of their innate “theocratic tendency” of wanting to see the perfect eschatological kingdom of God manifest in their lives and the lives of those around them, would want to meet them in some way. In these acts, they are part of God’s general revelation of his goodness and provision to a rebellious and sinful humankind. Furthermore, by virtue of their presence and life in their midst, they cannot help but reveal things of God to the people they are trying to reach. To sum up, the comprehensive approach in an individual can be thought of as simply “being a Christian” and being part of God’s general revelation to sinful humanity.[44]

As previously stated, however, general revelation only reveals God’s character to us. It does not reveal the redemption that we can have in Christ, which is the work of special revelation. Similarly, the good life and charity of a missionary can never reveal the redemptive plan of the Lord Jesus. Accompanying their good lives and works of charity must be verbal proclamation of the good news of the forgiveness of sins and the hope of life everlasting we have in the Lord Jesus. This verbal proclamation is the second aspect of the two-fold approach which Bavinck terms the kerygmatic approach.[45]

The local church, like the individual, has the missionary task of undertaking the kerygmatic approach by verbally proclaiming God’s means of redemption to his people, and also undertaking the comprehensive approach in revealing God’s character to his people and those outside of the church. Furthermore, the doxological church worships and praises God Sunday by Sunday through singing hymns and spiritual songs, through hearing God speaking to them in his word, and through expressing their reliance on God in prayer. By performing their doxological function week by week, they are not only outposts of God’s kingdom, they are also agents wielding the means of God to enlarge his kingdom and one day bring it to fruition as they baptise each new member as they enter the kingdom of God.

Bavinck’s famous definition of missions can be used to summarise this section:

Missions is that activity of the church—in essence it is nothing else than an activity of Christ exercised through the church—through which the church in its interim period, in which the end is postponed, calls the peoples of the earth to repentance and to faith in Christ, so that they may be made his disciples and through baptism be incorporated into the fellowship of those who await the coming of the kingdom.[46]

Reflections for today

Having seen Bavinck’s vision for the mission of the church, it is important to turn to our present context and reflect on what his thoughts have to teach us in our ministries. Three separate areas will be considered in light of Bavinck’s missiological insights: OMF’s broader vision and mission, missionaries engaged in kerygmatic work, and missionaries engaged in the comprehensive approach of proclamation.

Bavinck and OMF’s vision and mission

OMF’s vision statement reads: “Through God’s grace we aim to see an indigenous biblical church movement in each people group of East Asia, evangelising their own people and reaching out in mission to other peoples.”[47]

OMF’s mission statement reads: “We share the good news of Jesus Christ in all its fullness with East Asia’s peoples to the glory of God.”

Although unexamined in this essay, there is much in Bavinck’s practical missiology that is in agreement with OMF’s vision and mission as stated above. As a Dutch missionary to Indonesia, he played an active role in encouraging the establishment of an independent, indigenous church.[48] He undoubtedly would have been keen to see the indigenous church take on the task of reaching their own people and sending missionaries beyond their own borders.

As a Reformed missiologist who vigorously applied the doctrine of the sovereignty of God in all areas of theology, he would have appreciated the inclusion of the phrase “Through God’s grace” at the beginning of the vision statement.

With regards to the mission statement, including the clarifying document from Peter Rowan,[49] there is little to which Bavinck would have objected. For him, the kingdom of God exists for the glory of God, and he would have appreciated the full gospel that OMF seeks to proclaim.

There is perhaps one small challenge he would want to issue. Where the vision statement describes the biblical church movement, the word “worshipful” ought to be added before the word “indigenous”. In our keenness to bring the gospel to the nations, it is important for us to remember that churches do not simply exist to plant more churches—they exist first to bring glory to God by worshipping him.

Bavinck and the kerygmatic approach to missions

Bavinck would undoubtedly want to remind those of us who are in ministries proclaiming the special revelation of God that we should not be concerned only with the task of verbal proclamation, but also to be aware of all the non-verbal forms of proclamation in our contexts. Additionally, we should all be looking for opportunities to demonstrate the love of God not just in word but also in deed.

When considering these things, he would undoubtedly want to encourage us not just to think anthropologically on these matters, but to orientate ourselves by and to the glory of God. It is not simply the needs of the people we are trying to reach that matters, but we should do things in obedience to God for his glory.

Bavinck and integral mission

For those involved in ministries concerned with providing aid, it is perhaps first worth pointing out that whatever ministry you are engaged in is also functioning to proclaim truths about God. For this reason, such ministries should never be considered second-rate ministries.

As with Bavinck, we should be constantly and consciously vigilant against the Western church’s propensity towards a sacred-secular dualism. We should steer clear of the trap of thinking that the bettering of people’s lives is an end in itself. The goal is always to reveal something of God’s character to them. Yet again, all that we do should be directed to the glory of God rather than answering anthropological concerns.

This danger is ever present even in the most well-meaning of us. At a recent OMF conference, the speaker on creation care was himself alerted to the danger when he spent several days working with some non-Christians on a joint environmental project. In his time with them, he did not attempt to share the gospel with them even once though he was completely at liberty to do so. God, however, works despite our weakness as eventually they asked him to share the gospel with them.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Bavinck grounds the foundation of the mission of God in the coming of his kingdom. He uses both general and special revelation to bring it about, and the primary responsibility of taking up the task falls to the local church, although individual Christians and missionary societies and organisations should by no means be excluded from the task. His construction shows not just the naivety of the “proclamation only” model of missions, but also points to some potential dangers in integral mission. His two-fold comprehensive and kerygmatic approach to missionary proclamation ensures that we see each aspect of proclamation in its proper place and maintain the balance of proclamation in word and deed.

In our time we still struggle with the idea of the Kingdom of God. For a long time Christians have overemphasised the fact that the Christian faith is something that concerns mankind’s innermost being and is the way to salvation, without paying enough attention to the fact that faith places men and women in the perspective of the kingdom. That includes the fact that the believer must strive after a new world. Something of the power of the new life in Jesus Christ must penetrate social and economic life, commerce and industry, science and art. We must not leave any sector of individual or social life to its own devices. God wants us to gather together right now all things in this world under one head, Christ.[50]

Epilogue

Three of Bavinck’s works available now in English are particularly to be commended. At one time, An Introduction to the Science of Missions was considered the standard textbook for Reformed and Presbyterian missionaries. In this work, Bavinck lays out his practical missiology which provides a guide for interacting with other worldviews and religions. His Between the Beginning and the End is a wonderful devotional work, laying down his kingdom theology as related above and describing how the Lord Jesus fulfils it all. Additionally, his The Church between the Temple and Mosque remains a classic study in the interaction between Christianity and other religions.

There is some anecdotal evidence that one of the major influences on Keller from his time at seminary was Dr. Harvie Conn who, in turn, was greatly influenced by Bavinck.[51] My hope is that this paper will whet the appetite of other missionaries to read more of Bavinck and be similarly influenced by him.

[1] Daniel Strange, For Their Rock Is Not as Our Rock: An Evangelical Theology of Religions (Nottingham: Apollos, 2014), 34.

[2] Not to be confused for the much more famous systematic theologian Herman Bavinck. Johan Herman Bavinck was the nephew of Herman Bavinck and was named after his grandfather and famous uncle.

[3] Seriously, for those missionaries who are working in Chinese contexts, if you are struggling to understand why it is difficult to get into people’s houses, I have little doubt that it is mostly due to the fact that people are embarrassed by the state of their houses because they are crammed full of things they have no use for, which they purchased on a whim because they were on sale. Thankfully, this was not the case with Dr. Strange’s book.

[4] John Bolt, “The Missional Character of the (Herman and J. H.) Bavinck Tradition,” The Bavinck Review 5 (2014): 57.

[5] John R. W. Stott, Christian Mission in the Modern World, IVP classics (Downers Grove: IVP, 2008), 37. He characterises this mission of evangelism as “exclusively a preaching, converting and teaching mission.”

[6] Stott, Christian Mission in the Modern World, 37.

[7] Christopher J. H. Wright, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative (Nottingham: IVP, 2006).

[8] Timothy Keller, Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just (New York: Penguin, 2010).

[9] Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert, What Is the Mission of the Church?: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission (Wheaton: Crossway, 2011), 27.

[10] Jonathan Leeman et al., Four Views on the Church’s Mission, Counterpoints: Bible and Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2017).

[11] The issue title is “The Church in Mission and the World.” Mission Round Table 13, no. 3 (September–December 2018), https://omf.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/MRT-13.3-Sep-Dec-2018-The-Church-in-Mission-and-the-World.pdf (accessed 11 September 2019).

[12] J. H. Bavinck, An Introduction to the Science of Missions, trans. David H. Freeman (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1961), 87.

[13] Johan Herman Bavinck, “Theology and Mission,” Free University Quarterly 8 (1981): 63.

[14] J. H. Bavinck, Between the Beginning and the End: A Radical Kingdom Vision, trans. Bert Hielema (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014), 27.

[15] Bavinck, Between the Beginning and the End, 28.

[16] Bavinck, Between the Beginning and the End, 29.

[17] Bavinck, Between the Beginning and the End, 29.

[18] Bavinck, Between the Beginning and the End, 31.

[19] Bavinck, Between the Beginning and the End, 32–3.

[20] Bavinck, Between the Beginning and the End, 34.

[21] Bavinck, Between the Beginning and the End, 36.

[22] Bavinck, Between the Beginning and the End, 35.

[23] Bavinck, Between the Beginning and the End, 35.

[24] P. J. Visser, Heart for the Gospel, Heart for the World: The Life and Thought of a Reformed Pioneer Missiologist, Johan Herman Bavinck, 1895–1964 (Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2003), 239; summarising Johan Herman Bavinck, The Impact of Christianity on the Non-Christian World (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1948), 36.

[25] Bavinck, The Impact of Christianity on the Non-Christian World, 37.

[26] J. H. Bavinck, The J. H. Bavinck Reader, eds. John Bolt, James D. Bratt, and P. J. Visser (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013), 75.

[27] Johan Herman Bavinck, The Church Between Temple and Mosque: A Study of the Relationship Between the Christian Faith and Other Religions (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1966), 124.

[28] Visser, Heart for the Gospel, 120–4.

[29] Visser, Heart for the Gospel, 125–6.

[30] Visser, Heart for the Gospel, 126–7.

[31] Visser, Heart for the Gospel, 130.

[32] It is worth noting that his novel understanding is well in line with the Reformed tradition with which he identifies.

[33] Visser, Heart for the Gospel, 132–3.

[34] Visser, Heart for the Gospel, 133.

[35] Bavinck, An Introduction to the Science of Missions, 58.

[36] For Bavinck, who held a Dutch Reformed ecclesiology, the local church is the primary agent in fulfilling the Great Gommission as he sees it as the only place where baptism can occur, and so the local church remains the only institution where the “Great Commission” can be carried out in full. Bavinck, An Introduction to the Science of Missions, 60. Furthermore, it is the office bearers of the church who can administer the sacraments: both the Lord’s Supper and baptism. Therefore, the office bearers of the church have the particular responsibility to both help the congregation carry out the missionary task of God and to do it themselves.

[37] Bavinck, An Introduction to the Science of Missions, 68.

[38] Bavinck, An Introduction to the Science of Missions, 90–120.

[39] Bavinck, An Introduction to the Science of Missions, 121–52.

[40] Bavinck, An Introduction to the Science of Missions, 108.

[41] Bavinck, An Introduction to the Science of Missions, 109.

[42] Bavinck, An Introduction to the Science of Missions, 109.

[43] Bavinck, An Introduction to the Science of Missions, 112.

[44] I have not come across anything in Bavinck’s thought in English that explicitly ties the comprehensive approach to his conception of general revelation. They seem so organically and logically connected, however, that it seems difficult to deny the link.

[45] Similar to the statement in the previous footnote, I am unaware of Bavinck making a direct link between special revelation and the kerygmatic approach, but the link seems so organic and logical it’s hard to deny it.

[46] Bavinck, An Introduction to the Science of Missions, 62.

[47] “About OMF International,” OMF | Missions to East Asia’s People, n.d., https://omf.org/about-omf/ (accessed 11 September 2019).

[48] Bavinck, The J. H. Bavinck Reader, 18.

[49] Peter Rowan, “What Is Our Mission?,” Billions (15 May 2015), https://billions.omf.org/what-is-our-mission/ (accessed 11 September 2019).

[50] Bavinck, The Church Between Temple and Mosque, 148.

[51] I owe this insight to a conversation with Dr. Dan Strange.