Book Review: Biblical Counseling and Common Grace

Heath Lambert, Biblical Counseling and Common Grace (Greensboro: Shepherd Press, 2023), paperback, $17.99.


 

Heath Lambert’s Biblical Counseling and Common Grace is a work inspired by perceived danger. Lambert looks across the landscape of biblical counseling as a discipline and believes that some biblical counselors have become “discourage[d] over the contents of Scripture when it comes to the practical concerns of counseling” (57). This shift is “fueled by a Darwinian frustration with the contents of Scripture and a Freudian fascination with the contents of psychology” (57). His work is a “rebuke” towards those who have succumbed to an “instinct to integrate,” as these biblical counselors “are on a dangerous course” (72). Lambert tells his readers to “[r]est assured, everything is at stake in this issue. I mean that with all my heart” (73).

Before I move on to the substantive part of this review, it’s worth noting that the only individual claiming to be a biblical counselor whom Lambert cites and disagrees with throughout his slender volume is me. I will leave it up to the reader to establish whether or not Lambert accurately represents my views.1Lambert specifically cites two of my works: Nate Brooks, “The Bible Keeps a Record of Trauma. But Is It Trauma Informed?” Christianity Today, published 11.4.22. https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2022/november-web-only/bible-trauma-informed-christian-counselor.html and Nate Brooks, “Herman Bavinck: Patron Saint of Biblical Counselors: How an Old Dutch Theologian Helps Us Make Sense of Biblical Sufficiency,” Lecture, Reformed Theological Seminary Charlotte Convocation, 8.20.2022. https://rts.edu/resources/herman-bavinck-patron-saint-of-biblical-counselors/ Instead, this review focuses on Lambert’s portrayal of four Reformed theologians. Lambert views Calvin and Van Til as supporting own affirmation that “the Bible tells us everything we need to know for counseling” and that the use of common grace material sourced from secular counseling spaces constitutes a waste of time, even if those methods are true and helpful (68).2Lambert specifically writes, “Time in counseling is a zero-sum game. The more time we spend in counseling working with secular resources, the less time we will be able to spend unpacking the glorious truths of Scripture….I am ready to promise that eternity will reveal countless counselees who would gladly trade their time engaging such therapies, regardless of any common grace value they may hold, for time spent lingering over the Word of God” (73–74). Lambert also cites John Murray and Louis Berkhof. I’m less familiar with Murray’s work, and the bulk of Lambert’s argumentation comes from the four theologians addressed in this review. Lambert contrasts these theologians with the neo-Calvinist approach of Kuyper and Bavinck, whom he views as overly enthusiastic about common grace. While I could develop a cumulative case against Lambert’s reading of the Reformed tradition, this article will focus on Lambert’s misunderstanding of these theologians which leads him to fail at achieving his stated goal.

 

Lambert’s Development of the Doctrine of Common Grace

Lambert spends his first chapter setting forth the doctrine of common grace. Those familiar with the names of Calvin, Kuyper, Bavinck, and Van Til will find nothing surprising. Lambert positively uses these four theologians’ work to establish that common grace is a great gift from God, emanating from his goodness, that restrains evil and blesses human beings, both regenerate and unregenerate. He concludes that “Common grace ought to overwhelm us with the manifold kindness of God that He gives to undeserving sinners. Everything good thing we experience, from ravioli to the relief of pain, is an occasion for us to worship God” (25).

The first half of the second chapter continues the development of this doctrine, explaining the noetic effects of sin upon common grace. Once again, Lambert uses Calvin and Bavinck to great effect showing how, despite common grace’s merits, “it is only the work of God’s special saving grace that reverses the corrosive effects of sin” (31). Faithful Christian living in this world is “complicated” as it requires holding in tension the fact that the world is “full of common grace and the noetic effects of sin” (32).

 

A Reformed Royal Rumble?

At this point, Lambert introduces the concept that common grace operates on “two planes.” He notes that

Reformation theologians make a distinction between the earthly plane and the heavenly…The earthly plane has to do with the matters of this life and the present physical world in which we live….The higher order of things has to do with the reality of the heavenly or spiritual realm. This realm involves the existence and nature of God, the sacred teachings of the Bible, the nature of who people are, the purpose of what it means to be alive, who Jesus is, how to get to heaven, and things like this (34–36).

This concept is crucial for Lambert’s argument about the ultimate irrelevance of common grace for faithful biblical counseling, as he later insists “Counseling fits fundamentally in the higher, heavenly plane. Of course, counseling is about issues of practical human life lived out in this earthly plane. But counseling is always–always–about how those normal issues of life stretch out into the higher plane of living” (64).

Lambert then seeks to mark off Bavinck and Kuyper as falling out of line with Calvin’s original faithful development of common grace. Bringing forth another familiar theologian, Lambert asserts, “In the faithful line of Protestant theologians embracing common grace, Van Til claims…[that] Kuyper and Bavinck could be guilty of emphasizing common grace to the exclusion of the noetic effects of sin in the lower order” (35).3Lambert cites a review article written by Cornelius Van Til wherein Van Til analyzes R. H. Bremmer’s book Herman Bavinck als Dogmaticus. In it, Van Til acknowledges that Bavinck “sought to give Christ and the Scripture their proper place.” However, he asks “The question now is whether Bavinck realized the full implication of his own view of the centrality of Christ and the Scriptures when he dealt with modern science and modern philosophy. Or did he, perhaps at these points, to some extent allow the idea of Scholasticism to re-enter the domain of Christian thinking?” See Cornelius Van Til, “Bavinck the Theologian” (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1961), 3). Interestingly, Lambert does not cite the much larger discussions in Van Til’s other works. See Brian G. Mattson, “Van Til on Bavinck: An Assessment.” Westminster Theological Journal 70 no. 1, (2008): 111–27 for a further discussion of Van Til’s complaints. Lambert appears to concur with Van Til’s assessment, presenting Bavinck and Kuyper as excessively exuberant over the value of common grace. This assertion is something of a tangled mess, however, as Lambert uses Bavinck and Kuyper to articulate a vision of common grace that Lambert himself affirms in the first chapter. In the second chapter, Bavinck and Kuyper are brought into question, but without any actual engagement with their works.4My reading of Lambert’s book leads me to believe that Bavinck and Kuyper are deemed suspect primarily because they are used by counselors with whom Lambert disagrees, not because of any specific complaint with Bavinck and Kuyper’s writings. This conclusion is evidenced by Lambert’s neglect to actively engage with any claims made by Bavinck and Kuyper. The reader, however, will have to come to his or her own conclusion on this point.

By endorsing this quotation from Van Til, Lambert has entered into a much larger discussion over the relationship between Calvin, Van Til, Bavinck, and Kuyper. Van Til’s allegation of an overdeveloped version of common grace on the part of Bavinck is certainly a debated point among theologians. Van Til specifically critiques Bavinck for being inconsistent in his application of “tell[ing] the natural man that every thought must be captive to Christ ‘constantly and at every point’” where the unbelieving heart is not compromised by the noetic effects of sin.5Mattson, “Van Til on Bavinck,” 116 (italics in original).

Brian Mattson offers one way of viewing this critique, holding that the majority of Van Til’s complaints are based upon anachronisms and uncharitable reading, concluding that:

[t]here is an inescapable temptation for readers to evaluate the intellectual relationship between the two men in such a way that a higher estimate of the one means a lower estimate of the other. Giving in to this temptation is unfortunate, however, because it perpetuates the very problem: it drives a wedge between the two where none exists. Van Til’s superficial and at-times uncharitable reading of Bavinck is unfortunate… If this article establishes anything it is the deep affinity in their theological instincts. Van Til never had an intellectual “friend” like Herman Bavinck. The fact that he sometimes failed to realize it is no reason for contemporary readers of Bavinck to do likewise.6Mattson, “Van Til on Bavinck, 127 (italics in original).

Mattson’s conclusion mirrors contemporary scholarship as well, as there is a growing emphasis on reading Van Til through the lens of his theological forbearers, rather than viewing him in opposition to Bavinck and Kuyper.7This point is noted in the Grace in Common Podcast hosted by international Neo-Calvinist experts James Eglinton, Cory Brock, Marinus de Jong, and Gray Sutanto. See specifically the episode “General Revelation and Reason” with Scott Swain likewise being mentioned as another theologian insisting that Van Til must be read through the lens of Bavinck and Kuyper. Lambert’s approach bears more resemblance to Klaas Schilder, a staunch anti-Kuyperian who emphasized more the universal (common) curse than universal (common) grace, than that of Van Til who was famous for answering theological queries with “Has Bavinck himself not said?” See Mattson, “Van Til on Bavinck,” 114.

Even if, for the sake of argument, Mattson has overstated his case and Lambert is correct that Van Til departs from Kuyper and Bavinck, Lambert has certainly overstated Van Til’s rejection of the knowledge and use of psychological theories and practices. While Lambert accuses those who would use empirically verified methods in counseling of unfaithfulness, Van Til writes:

Ministers of the gospel should have a knowledge of a sound psychological approach to men….We see then that as Christian ministers we can no doubt learn something from the technique of the modern school of psychology of religion. We should always be thankful for any improvement in the technique of handling men that any one offers us. But we cannot afford to forget that we must employ that technique for the propagation of the Christian religion.8Cornelius Van Til, The Psychology of Religion, Class Syllabus, PDF, 1. http://library.logcollegepress.com/Van+Til%2C+Cornelius%2C+Psychology+of+Religion.pdf I am indebted to Jared Poulton, Ph.D. Candidate at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, for my knowledge of this quotation. His research on Jay Adams’ use of Van Til has been of critical importance to my own development on this topic. I’m eagerly awaiting the publication of his yet-completed PhD dissertation.

Here Van Til moves beyond simply encouraging ministers to be aware of the practices of secular psychology, affirming that such “techniques” can be “employ[ed] for the propagation of the Christian religion.” Even if Van Til is correct in his evaluation of Bavinck and Kuyper, Van Til cannot directly be used to support Lambert’s claims.

Additionally, Lambert also misrepresents Calvin’s views about common grace’s ability to have a meaningful impact upon the spiritual realm. As one example, Calvin writes in his commentary on Paul’s use of the pagan poet Epimenides in Titus 1:12:

From this passage we may infer that those persons are superstitious, who do not venture to borrow anything from heathen authors. All truth is from God; and consequently, if wicked men have said anything that is true and just, we ought not to reject it; for it has come from God. Besides, all things are of God; and, therefore, why should it not be lawful to dedicate to his glory everything that can properly be employed for such a purpose?9John Calvin, Commentary on Timothy, Titus, Philemon, trans. William Pringle (Grand Rapids: Baker, repr. 1999), 300–301.

Calvin follows his own advice throughout his writings, positively using material from Greek philosophers. One such place can be see in Institutes of the Christian Religion where he endorses the faculty psychology of Greek philosophers, and then uses their comments to build his own case for man’s powers of reason, desire, and will.10John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, ed. John T. McNeil (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1960), 1.15.6-1.15.8. This section demonstrates well the way Calvin sorts through the material given to him by Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero. He affirms the likely truth of some of their commentary, rejects others, and uses some to refine his definitions. This is relevant to our discussion by demonstrating that Calvin was happy to embrace material sourced from pagan authors and use it to shape his own theological writings, which were written that human beings might know God. Lambert thus presents a version of Calvin’s work that he would not recognize.

While Lambert would divide Calvin from the Dutch Neo-Calvinists, Bavinck sees in Calvin a theologian who was consistent with his own approach towards common grace. He notes that while Calvin spoke abundantly and clearly about the noetic effects of sin, when contemplating the philosophy, science, and art of unbelievers, Calvin:

shows no hesitation in acknowledging these facts with gratitude. He does so without dragging his feet as if compelled against his will, without a choice in the matter. No, he eagerly grants it, second to none in expressing heartfelt gratitude. Had he not fully acknowledged these good and perfect gifts from the Father of Lights, he would have been in conflict with Scripture and guilty of gross ingratitude. This has been the sound position of all true Reformed people as well.11Bavinck, Common Grace, 51.

The Dutch Neo-Calvinists certainly developed the doctrine of common grace they inherited from Calvin; however, this development was an expansion of a vibrant, existing concept and not an aberrant step away from the Reformed majority. If any of these three theologians that chronologically follow Calvin should be considered an innovator, it is Van Til, not Bavinck or Kuyper.12A much longer article could be written demonstrating how Bavinck and Kuyper stand with the majority Reformed view rather than Van Til; however, this article is meant to address the four theologians most discussed by Lambert and will therefore refrain from taking the longer path.

This majority Reformed tradition that stands ready to redeem the works of unbelievers for ministry purposes traces itself back to Augustine. In Christianity and Science, Bavinck articulates how Augustine provided a counterpoint to Tertullian’s Christ-against-culture approach immortalized in the query: “What do Athens and Jerusalem, the academy and the church, heretics and Christians, have in common?” Bavinck summarizes Tertullian’s approach to pagan literature in this way, “philosophy is an idle, worldly science, which the Christian can neither teach nor practice.…We have no more need for philosophy after Jesus Christ…”13All quotes in this paragraph from Herman Bavinck, Christianity & Science, trans. N. Gray Sutanto, James Eglinton, and Corey C. Brock (Wheaton: Crossway, 2023), 53–54. This volume was not yet published in English when Lambert wrote his manuscript. I have included this discussion to demonstrate that Bavinck understood Calvin and himself to stand within the Augustinian tradition. (We must remember here that the discipline of what we now refer to as psychology was lumped together with the discipline of philosophy in the ancient, medieval, and reformation worlds.)

Contrary to Tertullian’s heavy emphasis on antithesis, Bavinck notes Augustine affirmed that “God does not despise reason, which in any case is his gift. Pagan science, however much it erred, nonetheless saw a shadow of truth; it drew from God’s revelation in nature and reason. And Christians may, and indeed must, profit from the truth that is present in that pagan science; it is fitting that they appropriate it as their rightful property.”14Bavinck, Christianity and Science, 58.

Therefore, it’s quite unclear how Lambert can assert that:

Any counselor with an instinct to integrate is part of a movement that did not begin with theological faithfulness, but with theological error. The project of integration began as psychology and was brought into the church through a combination of theological error and theological neglect (57).

The architects of the theological substrate upon which Lambert builds his argument explicitly argue for ministers of the gospel (and therefore counselors) to incorporate information gained through psychological research and interventions into their ministry because of the doctrine of common grace. This heritage can be found as early as Augustine and runs through Calvin, Kuyper, Bavinck, and Van Til.

 

Bavinck Provides a Better Way

Lambert’s limited engagement with primary sources seems to fuel some of his errors. Lambert references only two works by Bavinck and one work from Calvin, Van Til, and Kuyper. This lack of breadth of resourcing becomes even more apparent when turning to the relationship between common grace and the “higher realm.” We have already seen how Lambert views counseling as being fundamentally about higher order issues, which he then understands to minimize the value of common grace for counseling.

While Lambert marks Bavinck and Kuyper out as being aberations within the Reformed tradition (an assertion not supported by the literature), Bavinck actually points a way forward that can be used to develop a Reformed approach to counseling that affirms the necessity and relevance of Scripture and the usefulness of common grace. Consider the organic unity in God’s speech developed especially by Bavinck in his discussion of the relationship between special grace and common grace. Consider an extended quotation from Bavinck’s Philosophy of Revelation:

It is often represented as if only the special science of theology concerns itself with God and divine things and as if all the other sciences, particularly the natural sciences, have nothing whatever to do with God…A chasm is thus created, objectively, in the sphere of reality, between God and the world and, subjectively, in man, between his intellect and heart, between his faith and knowledge. But such a dualism is impossible. God does not stand apart from the world, much less from man, and therefore the knowledge of him is not the peculiar domain of theology.15Herman Bavinck, The Philosophy of Revelation Edited for the 21st Century, Kindle Edition (n.p. Alev Books), 52.

Gray Sutanto picks up this theme in his book exploring Bavinck’s theological epistemology, God & Knowledge. Sutanto translates Bavinck as saying that the “deeper…[that] particular sciences penetrate into the depths of created life the more directly and as face to face they come to stand across from him, who creates all the fullness of that life and still sustains [it], and [who] is the object of Theology.”16N. Gray Sutanto, God and Knowledge: Herman Bavinck’s Theological Epistemology (London: T&T Clark, 2020), 57. Here Sutanto quotes from the then-untranslated-into-English De Wetenschap der H. Godgeleerdheid. The entirety of work has since been translated by Bruce R. Pass, who translates the same passage, “The deeper the special sciences penetrate to the depths of created life, the more directly they come to stand, so to speak, face to face in the presence of Him who created and continues to sustain all the fulness of that life and who is the object of theology.” Herman Bavinck, “The Science of Holy Theology” in Bruce R. Pass, On Theology: Herman Bavinck’s Academic Orations (Leiden: Brill, 2021), 49–50. Sutanto quotes Bavinck again on the same point from Philosophy of Revelation, noting that “it is a mistake to practice theology ‘as if all the other sciences…have nothing whatever to do with God…such a dualism is impossible.’”17N. Gray Sutanto, God and Knowledge, 58.

Bavinck thus clearly argues that common and special grace are inherently intertwined. Writing in The Wonderful Works of God, he notes that “It is common grace which makes special grace possible, prepares the way for it, and later supports it; and special grace, in its turn, leads common grace up to its own level and puts it into its service.”18Herman Bavinck, trans. Henry Zylstra, The Wonderful Works of God (Philadelphia: Westminster Seminary Press, 2020), 66.

Bavinck’s view of the interconnectedness of special and common grace can be seen in the example of Scripture itself. The divinely revealed Word of God, which is a “disclosure of the greatness of God’s heart” and “far surpasses general revelation” is only intelligible because of common grace.19Bavinck, The Philosophy of Revelation, 20. Language learning must precede any reader being able to read the text of Scripture, and language learning is a skill left untaught by the Scriptures. Similarly, hermeneutics requires the skill of interpretation. An adept interpreter of Scripture must know far more than is simply in the Bible, as one must have a grasp of genre, culture, linguistics, and many other disciplines. While much of the Bible is poetry, the Bible itself never teaches us to identify or interpret poetry differently than if a passage was historical narrative. The Bible assumes such skills, as common grace precedes special revelation.

Paired together with Calvin and Van Til’s comments above about ministers of the gospel employing techniques from common grace in their ministries, we see that these theologians from the Reformed tradition consistently expect common grace to be a vehicle upon which special revelation is borne into the hearts of men and women. Albeit to different degrees, Calvin, Kuyper, Bavinck, and Van Til all imagine a world where common grace interventions aid the faithful counselor in bringing that special revelation deeper into the hearts of those who desperately need it. Rather than dispensing with strategies emerging from common grace studies of humanity, these theologians affirmed their usefulness in aiding the lost become found and the saved grow in sanctification.

 

Conclusion

Biblical counselors who are not Reformed will likely care little about the internecine discussion taking place in this book analysis regarding the interpretation of long-dead theologians. Biblical counseling, after all, is not an exclusively Reformed approach to care. However, all biblical counselors have a vested interest in the scholarship being produced within our discipline. The kinds of scholarship produced from within the biblical counseling movement offer commentary on the legitimacy of our discipline in front of other Christ-loving academics. Systematic theologians, Old and New Testament scholars, and church historians should be able to look at the work done within our discipline and affirm that we get it right when we reach over into their areas of expertise to strengthen our own.

Sadly, Biblical Counseling and Common Grace fails to clear this bar. Throughout this work, Lambert demonstrates a lack of understanding in his engagement with Calvin, Kuyper, Bavinck, and Van Til. Whether this is through a shallow knowledge of their writings or significantly misreading their corpus, I cannot say. However, it is apparent that the intellectual tradition he claims to support his vision of counseling explicitly denies his subsequent approach. Lambert himself begins his much larger A Theology of Biblical Counseling by asserting, “Counseling is a theological discipline.”20Heath Lambert, A Theology of Biblical Counseling (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2016), 11. As such, getting theology right is significantly important to getting care right. Theological errors terminate in ministerial errors in counseling, just the same as in every lane of applied theology.

When all is said and done, Biblical Counseling and Common Grace would have greatly benefited from broader exposure to and engagement with the relevant primary and secondary theological literature. As such, biblical counselors (and especially Reformed biblical counselors) still wait for a book that accurately builds a genuinely Reformed approach to the resources available to counselors sourced from both special revelation and common grace.


 

[1] Lambert specifically cites two of my works: Nate Brooks, “The Bible Keeps a Record of Trauma. But Is It Trauma Informed?” Christianity Today, published 11.4.22. https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2022/november-web-only/bible-trauma-informed-christian-counselor.html and Nate Brooks, “Herman Bavinck: Patron Saint of Biblical Counselors: How an Old Dutch Theologian Helps Us Make Sense of Biblical Sufficiency,” Lecture, Reformed Theological Seminary Charlotte Convocation, 8.20.2022. https://rts.edu/resources/herman-bavinck-patron-saint-of-biblical-counselors/

[2] Lambert specifically writes, “Time in counseling is a zero-sum game. The more time we spend in counseling working with secular resources, the less time we will be able to spend unpacking the glorious truths of Scripture….I am ready to promise that eternity will reveal countless counselees who would gladly trade their time engaging such therapies, regardless of any common grace value they may hold, for time spent lingering over the Word of God” (73–74). Lambert also cites John Murray and Louis Berkhof. I’m less familiar with Murray’s work, and the bulk of Lambert’s argumentation comes from the four theologians addressed in this review.

[3] Lambert cites a review article written by Cornelius Van Til wherein Van Til analyzes R. H. Bremmer’s book Herman Bavinck als Dogmaticus. In it, Van Til acknowledges that Bavinck “sought to give Christ and the Scripture their proper place.” However, he asks “The question now is whether Bavinck realized the full implication of his own view of the centrality of Christ and the Scriptures when he dealt with modern science and modern philosophy. Or did he, perhaps at these points, to some extent allow the idea of Scholasticism to re-enter the domain of Christian thinking?” See Cornelius Van Til, “Bavinck the Theologian” (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1961), 3). Interestingly, Lambert does not cite the much larger discussions in Van Til’s other works. See Brian G. Mattson, “Van Til on Bavinck: An Assessment.” Westminster Theological Journal 70 no. 1, (2008): 111–27 for a further discussion of Van Til’s complaints.

[4] My reading of Lambert’s book leads me to believe that Bavinck and Kuyper are deemed suspect primarily because they are used by counselors with whom Lambert disagrees, not because of any specific complaint with Bavinck and Kuyper’s writings. This conclusion is evidenced by Lambert’s neglect to actively engage with any claims made by Bavinck and Kuyper. The reader, however, will have to come to his or her own conclusion on this point.

[5] Mattson, “Van Til on Bavinck,” 116 (italics in original).

[6] Mattson, “Van Til on Bavinck, 127 (italics in original).

[7] This point is noted in the Grace in Common Podcast hosted by international Neo-Calvinist experts James Eglinton, Cory Brock, Marinus de Jong, and Gray Sutanto. See specifically the episode “General Revelation and Reason” with Scott Swain likewise being mentioned as another theologian insisting that Van Til must be read through the lens of Bavinck and Kuyper. Lambert’s approach bears more resemblance to Klaas Schilder, a staunch anti-Kuyperian who emphasized more the universal (common) curse than universal (common) grace, than that of Van Til who was famous for answering theological queries with “Has Bavinck himself not said?” See Mattson, “Van Til on Bavinck,” 114.

[8] Cornelius Van Til, The Psychology of Religion, Class Syllabus, PDF, 1. http://library.logcollegepress.com/Van+Til%2C+Cornelius%2C+Psychology+of+Religion.pdf

I am indebted to Jared Poulton, Ph.D. Candidate at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, for my knowledge of this quotation. His research on Jay Adams’ use of Van Til has been of critical importance to my own development on this topic. I’m eagerly awaiting the publication of his yet-completed PhD dissertation.

[9] John Calvin, Commentary on Timothy, Titus, Philemon, trans. William Pringle (Grand Rapids: Baker, repr. 1999), 300–301.

[10] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, ed. John T. McNeil (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1960), 1.15.6-1.15.8. This section demonstrates well the way Calvin sorts through the material given to him by Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero. He affirms the likely truth of some of their commentary, rejects others, and uses some to refine his definitions. This is relevant to our discussion by demonstrating that Calvin was happy to embrace material sourced from pagan authors and use it to shape his own theological writings, which were written that human beings might know God.

[11] Bavinck, Common Grace, 51.

[12] A much longer article could be written demonstrating how Bavinck and Kuyper stand with the majority Reformed view rather than Van Til; however, this article is meant to address the four theologians most discussed by Lambert and will therefore refrain from taking the longer path.

[13] All quotes in this paragraph from Herman Bavinck, Christianity & Science, trans. N. Gray Sutanto, James Eglinton, and Corey C. Brock (Wheaton: Crossway, 2023), 53–54. This volume was not yet published in English when Lambert wrote his manuscript. I have included this discussion to demonstrate that Bavinck understood Calvin and himself to stand within the Augustinian tradition.

[14] Bavinck, Christianity and Science, 58.

[15] Such a notion also appears to stand in contradiction with the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith 1.6 and Westminster Confession of Faith 1.6 which affirm, “there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church common to human actions and societies; which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.”

[16] Herman Bavinck, The Philosophy of Revelation Edited for the 21st Century, Kindle Edition (n.p. Alev Books), 52.

[17] N. Gray Sutanto, God and Knowledge: Herman Bavinck’s Theological Epistemology (London: T&T Clark, 2020), 57. Here Sutanto quotes from the then-untranslated-into-English De Wetenschap der H. Godgeleerdheid. The entirety of work has since been translated by Bruce R. Pass, who translates the same passage, “The deeper the special sciences penetrate to the depths of created life, the more directly they come to stand, so to speak, face to face in the presence of Him who created and continues to sustain all the fulness of that life and who is the object of theology.” Herman Bavinck, “The Science of Holy Theology” in Bruce R. Pass, On Theology: Herman Bavinck’s Academic Orations (Leiden: Brill, 2021), 49–50.

[18] N. Gray Sutanto, God and Knowledge, 58.

[19] Herman Bavinck, trans. Henry Zylstra, The Wonderful Works of God (Philadelphia: Westminster Seminary Press, 2020), 66.

[20] Bavinck, The Philosophy of Revelation, 20.

[21] Heath Lambert, A Theology of Biblical Counseling (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2016), 11.

 

 

Author

  • Nate Brooks

    Nate Brooks serves as an Associate Professor of Counseling at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. Nate is the author of Identifying Heart Transformation and coauthor of Help! Our Sex Life Is Troubled by Past Abuse. He is the director of Courage Christian Counseling, a practice that specializes in trauma, abuse, grief, and loss. Nate is married to Kate and they have three children. When he’s not counseling, Nate can usually be found trail running or reading old Dutch theologians and classic literature. Nate is also the founder and director of Courage Christian Counseling, a small practice that specializes in providing virtual counseling for survivors and perpetrators of abuse and trauma. He also frequently does consulting and training for churches across multiple denominations on the topic of abuse and trauma. Nate lives in Youngsville, NC with his wife, Kate, and three children. Kate too is a counselor, with a specialty focus in chronic pain and illness. Nate enjoys distance running in his free time.

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