Bavincks discussion on what the Bible says about religion. Part 3

14th November 2020
The first paragraph gives us some wide brush strokes, then he will start looking at particular texts. Bavinck starts by saying:

“In Holy Scripture there is no name for what we call religion.  After all we understand religion to encompass all human relations to God in their entirety and in all their connections. Piety, love, trust, adoration, hoping on God, all taken together, are therefore what we describe as religion, Holy Scripture always deals with some concrete element of religion. Thus, scripture uses various names because it is not furnishing scientific theology even though it provides the elements for such a science.”Reformed Ethics page 54 edited by John Bolt.

At first, I thought that Bavinck was wrong but now I know he is right in this assumption.  Firstly;  ‘’The Greek word threskeia (Θρεσκεια), which was used by Greek writers such as Herodotus and Josephus, is found in the New Testament. Threskeia is sometimes translated as religion in today’s translations, however, the term was understood as worship well into the medieval period.”  From;

The reason why Bavinck is right;  “. Piety, love, trust, adoration, hoping on God, all taken together, are therefore what we describe as religion,”  

So, the word religion has to encompass all the above ideas.  I suppose this is why we talk about the religion of Christianity, the religion of Hinduism et al.  Bavinck then goes on to say that the Bible speaks about a particular concrete idea here and there depending on the context.  It is only when we take all of the ideas together which we will look at together that makes the difference.

So, what does he mean by these ideas in the Bible.  I took these from page 54

Old Testament

“walk with God” (Gen. 5:22 and 6:9) or

“walk before God” (Gen, 17:1)

“the fear of the Lord” (Prov. 1:7).

to walk in his ways, laws, etc. (Ps. 119)

to know him (Hosea 6:6).

New Testament

In the New Testament the most common words are πιστις (faith) and its cognate πιστευειν, (believe).

ευσεβεια (“godliness” or “holy reverence for God)

Θεοσεβεια (“godliness” or “the fear of the Lord”)

the “way” or “road” (Acts 19:9; 22:4).

I now understand what Bavinck means; these above are just his examples as we know there are thousands of these statements throughout the Bible.  His examples are enough to show that these statements taken altogether point to what Christian religion is.   He doesn’t stop here the next stage is that he looks at these from the points of view of subjectivity and objectivity.  I’m not going down this route This time.  Having said that I remember talking about how he uses his lenses for subjective and objective aspects of theology.  I also read somewhere else that in Bible translations the word religion wasn’t really used at all through the Medieval period.  

On reflection for my walk with God;

The practical outworking of this has to be that no person on planet earth can be truly religious.  There are too many injunctions, attitudes and so forth for any person to reach God from their vantage point.  This is why the work Jesus did here on earth and in heaven is the only way.  In Christ by his grace and love through this trinitarian understanding can we be truly religious.  Even when we have our new bodies and we are in heaven I feel that our learning is just beginning.

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