Archive for February, 2021

The image of God in fallen human beings’ part 3 (In the writings of Herman Bavinck)

February 27, 2021


The Soul, The Body and Their Capacities

All of our capacities as human beings have remained intact although according to Herman Bavinck ‘deteriorated’.

  • a.    Intellect; mental illness to geniuses
  • b.     The will: We can do what we want to do- The great ones such as Alexander, Columbus, Galileo.
  • c.      The feelings, the passions; love, hate, admiration (unregulated)
  • d.     The body as an instrument of the soul; Paul calls the body flesh, body a prison for the soul (Plato); Bavinck mentions that there are 12000 illnesses in which the body denies its service to the soul.  That was in the 1920s, so the number has probably risen since then.




Everything about us survived the Fall but in a deteorated form.  We can see this in the corruption of the human race around every twist and turn.  Yet God keeps on blessing the human race by giving knowledge for cures and to make life better for everyone and yet on the other hand, although God pours his grace on natural humanity we corrupt it by making nuclear weapons using torture, legalizing murder of the helpless and practice abortion on a grand scale without even getting guilty about it.



Write a couple of sentences on what the following one (what we looked at)

Such as the intellect, the will, the feelings and passions, the body as an instrument of the soul.


Using mindfulness where are we on Bavincks pendulum? We can pray that God will help to transform us to be more like our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by faith in the arras of intellect, will, feelings and passions and the use of the body as the soul’s instrument.


You can also follow my Bible blog.  I am going through the book of Ruth at the moment;

A true love story with a divine twist; Boaz and Ruth. Chapter 2.1-7

February 27, 2021

“There are no accidents” said Master Oogway

Before we start let us talk about Boaz.  One commentary said that Boaz was probably a judge from Bethlehem.  Indicators for this could be that he owned land, he had lots of servants and he was a respected leader.  This story is not about wealth though, I think it is more to do with faith in God and duty to God and his close relatives.

Before we begin let us read Ruth chapter 2 first and then we can go into the text and start to interrogate it reverentially

1 Now Naomi had a kinsman of her husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz. 2 And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favour.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”

Here we learn definitely who Boaz was; He was a kinsman of Naomi’s husband from Jerusalem and he was wealthy.   In verse 2 we have the opposite; Naomi and Ruth who have nothing and destitute.  Ruth would have known this, and she would have also known that Boaz’ field was the safest due to Naomi being a close relative.  Ruth shows complete obedience to Naomi her mother in law when she asked permission to go and glean so that they could have a meal.  Naomi gives her blessing for this enterprise, so she went to glean. 

We need to be careful when we read this story not to read into it the American dream.  It has nothing to do with the American dream and all to do with God’s love for those who are his.

3 So she departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech. 4 Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, “May the LORD be with you.” And they said to him, “May the LORD bless you.” 5 Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” 6 The servant in charge of the reapers replied, “She is the young Moabite woman who returned with Naomi from the land of Moab. 7 And she said, ‘Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.’ Thus, she came and has remained from the morning until now; she has been sitting in the house for a little while.”

Verse 3

Ruth did not know Boaz when she was gleaning at first.  It says she “happened to come” by chance on Boaz’ field.   This was part of the divine plan.  In the divine plan there are no accidents such as these. 

Verse 4-5

Boaz was not a selfish man and he was a God fearer.  We know this because he is fulfilling God’s law by allowing the poor and needy on to his property to glean and have some food as it says in the Torah

19 “When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. Deuteronomy 24:19

All three are represented in Ruth. Naomi was a widow and Ruth’s mother in law.  Ruth can be considered an orphan because she gave up her parents to follow the God of Israel and she was a foreigner.  Boaz acted on this commandment.  He was a righteous man and everything about him was righteous.  He had pure motives. 

Verse 5-7

Boaz wants inside knowledge of the people in his field.  He finds out that Ruth was gleaning and was the daughter in law of Naomi a close kinsman of Elimelech her dead husband.  He found out that not only did Ruth Glean but she gleaned for the whole day and was weary and tired.  Ruth was a hard worker who also had good manners.  She didn’t just come onto his property, but she asked the helpers if she could.   This is a beautiful romantic divine love story that shows God’s caring hand in it. 

Boaz and Ruth! Ancestors of King David.  We are now into the second chapter and already God is doing something wonderful.  God knows who are his own.  Although Ruth is a Moabitess, she has an eternal destiny and as long as this story is told of her she will always be remembered.

Boaz and Ruth are not only important for the Jewish faith but also for the Christian faith. 

5 Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. Matthew 1:5

32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, Luke 3:32

Matthew mentions the women as well who were in the genealogy whereas Luke only mentions the sons. 

We started with Kung Fu Panda and the quote that there are no accidents.  We can believe that in this story of love it was no accident. We can go further and say that if we love and trust God our lives are destined to go on that exciting journey to be with the Lord Jesus for eternity.

The image of God in fallen human beings’ part 2

February 24, 2021

So what is the image of fallen human beings? 

Follow me on this quest through the eyes of one of the greatest late 19th  and early 20th century theologians.  This quest is a real eye opener for me and it will also be for you.

Now we move on to look at the following.

  • 1.     Life or existence itself
  • 2.     Soul and body and their capabilities
  • 3.     Knowledge in the mind and holiness in the will (with scriptural proofs)
  • 4.     Natural good and moral good 
  • 5.     Human dominion over nature

We will now look at these sections individually and reflect on what Herman Bavinck the Master Theologian is explaining to us.

Life and Existence Itself (1)

So, after the Fall we deserved to die but this did not happen, God still poured out his love for the human race, Genesis. 4:2 “I have gotten a man child with the help of the Lord” Eve cried out””.

At the same time however like the movement of the pendulum, “human life oscillates between Gods forbearance (patience) and his wrath “.


                                            By davide-cantelli-H3giJcTw__w-unsplash

Herman Bavinck then gives us these references.

2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Genesis 1:2

And the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33:4


God’s Omnipresence and Omniscience. Psalm 139 all of it!

1 The burden of the word of the LORD concerning Israel.

Thus, declares the LORD who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him, Zechariah 12:1


22 The LORD’S loving kindnesses indeed never cease,

For His compassions never fail. Lamentations 3:22


28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ Acts 17:28


Bavinck then goes on to say “ We have thus retained something of life, of immortality of the soul”.


I will now quote all of Pslam 139.  I am using the New American Standard Bible, the older version.

God’s Omnipresence and Omniscience.
1 O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
3 You  scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
4  Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O LORD, You know it all.
5 You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
7  Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8  If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
12 Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.
13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My  frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.
19 O that You would slay the wicked, O God;
Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.
20 For they speak against You wickedly,
And Your enemies  take Your name in vain.
21 Do I not hate those who hate You, O LORD?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
22 I hate them with the utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.
23  Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24 And see if there be any  hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way. Psalms 139



To sum this up I think Paul says it really well in Acts 17:28 which is the same verse we quoted earlier

28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ Acts 17:28

Nasah’s Lander has sent us a beautiful panoramic view of Mars.

We enjoy these sorts of things, but God is so much greater.  He is the Creator of the universe and Bavinck really understood this.  God’s understanding is unfathomable and yet God loves us.  Our life is a gift no matter who we are or where we live.  This is a great place to start and if we talk about natural theology, All the great monotheistic religions would agree with Bavinck on this note.  If you’re a theologian that want to discuss with your neighbour about the creative aspect of God, then I think this is great subject material.  Herman Bavinck at every turn surprises me.  We are so blessed to be able to listen to him.  In schools Religious Studies can get boring for a teacher but I have to say that Bavinck has put meat on the bones of ethics and has given us new lenses to look through.  I will continue to plough through Book 1.  I have a couple more chapters still to do in book one.  He touches on conscience a little bit later.  He takes the philosophers to task and I feel he does a great job.  We will get there eventually.   

The image of God in fallen human beings in Herman Bavinck

February 20, 2021


Bavinck in a nutshell says that sin wants to destroy everything.  God however has held evil and sin in check through punishments, pestilences, judgements, and devastations by natural forces. Bavinck uses Noah as an example of his time to show this (pages 148-149 Reformed Ethics, by Herman Bavinck edited by John Bolt)

Bavinck then talks about how God in general has held back eternal and temporal death.  Though common grace is still a gift to the unregenerate (unsaved) so we can speak of natural theology, natural morality, and natural law. (page 149)

This is an interesting sentence from the master theologian; “Natural humanity is outside paradise and not yet in the Kingdom of God, but also not yet in hell.” God is active in his forbearance (patience)not only passively “forbearing, suffering, allowing, or permitting.  It should also be understood as active… God causes us to exist, leads up and directs us” (page 150)


Sin would have completely wiped out the whole of the human race.  The judgement is not completely about getting what we deserve… Judgements are also about God’s mercy to stop evil and sin taking over.  This I find very interesting. Today the pestilence that has hit the world is really bad and many people are either ill or dead.  Yet, the discovery of these vaccines helps us to save many more lives.  I think these come under common grace.  If it wasn’t for the greed of the nations possibly this pestilence would have been stopped.   The USA and China are in the middle of an economic war.  China kept the virus a secret, not to show economic growth and has not been transparent.  Trump has also been selfish unwilling to help his own people.  Let us see how this unfolds. However, having people stuck in their homes for long periods of isolation will have a certain effect.  In the countryside cows are usually kept in for the winter and let out in spring.  When they are released, they literally jump for joy, so do people.   Some sociologist said that at the end of the this covid-19 there will be a modern roaring 20s.  With joy and friendship comes a baby boom.  I am expecting this, but I also hope for less abortions.  It saddens me that there are so many abortions that the common person on the street does not see anything wrong with it. 


·        1.  What would happen if God did not intervene?

·        2.  Should God’s judgements always be seen in a negative light?

·        3.  What does Bavinck mean by ‘common grace’?

·        4.  Bavinck uses the word ‘natural’ when talking about theology and morality.  What         does he mean by natural?



How loyal are you to loving God and your neighbour? Ruth shows true loyalty to God and her neighbour and she will not be forgotten by the passage of time. Ruth Chapter 1.14-22

February 20, 2021

Before we start; let us read this section of Ruth.

14 And they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. 15 Then she said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” 18 When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.

19 So they both went until they came to Bethlehem. And when they had come to Bethlehem, all the city was stirred because of them, and the women said, “Is this Naomi?” 20 She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?”

22 So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest. Ruth 1:14-22


So we saw that Naomi was dedicated to the Lord.  Although her future seemed completely destroyed God was active and at work on her behalf and Ruth’s behalf as she had great faith in the face of adversity.   So Orpah cried, kissed her mother in law and left back to her people.   Ruth clung onto Naomi and it is in the perfect form.   As Orpah was leaving Ruth was clinging and it is in the cal perfect 3rd person singular.  Ruth was already determined to stay with Naomi even before Naomi tried to discourage her from going to Bethlehem with her.  Still Naomi was trying to persuade Ruth to go back to the old life.  Naomi said look your sister in law has gone back (cal perfect).  Orpah is gone and she is not coming back, that’s what the cal perfect means here.   but Ruth did not, on the contrary what did she say?

16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus, may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” 18 When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.

This is packed with information about the determination of Ruth. Ruth is clinging and this clinging is a symbol of staying around way into the future.   Then when Ruth speaks it is in the imperfect with will.  The imperfect carries the idea that it is not a completed state but rather takes Naomi into a future relationship.  She hasn’t left like Orpah this is a continual state and into the future and Ruth will die as a true Jew worshipping the Lord.  The story continues in the imperfect into verse 19 when the villagers ask if this is Naomi.  They were excited.  Naomi was really sad and she says a few things in the perfect as if this was the end of the situation;

20 She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?” NASB

From Naomi’s point of view there was disaster from the Lord and the destiny of Elimelech’s name was going to be cut off.  She is thinking in the perfect.  The men died (Perfect); Orpah left her (perfect). The Lord has acted bitterly towards her (Perfect).  Naomi’s personal world had collapsed and in her soul, she was a broken woman (on the surface of things.)

Verse 22. 

The return was a real thing and these verbs are in the perfect.  It looks like Naomi and Ruth’s situation is now going to start to change for the better.    The reason I say this is because Deuteronomy tells us about the widow, orphan and foreigner. God will fight their case.  Rabbi Sacks made this point in a you tube video where he talks about Ruth and Naomi.

Deuteronomy 10:18 says,” 18 He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the stranger by giving him food and clothing.”

These are indicators from the Torah.  Naomi is a true widow.  Ruth is a true foreigner.  God says that they will not be abandoned. Ruth also has no family as her family is Naomi.  Naomi has also come to a place of the first beatitude “Blessed are the poor in spirit”.  God will step in, there is no question about tha

Virtues as splendid vices Continued

February 17, 2021



We are still on the Fallen image of God next page 148; Reformed Ethics; Herman Bavinck.

I feel it is important to look at his opening statements because Bavinck is the type of theologian not to leave any stone unturned. 

He says

“Furthermore, Reformed theologians believed that the moral virtues of the pagans came from the general operation of the Holy Spirit and did not arise from any innate ability of the human will. That is why some preferred to use the term “virtue” for pagan morality and reserve the term “good works” for Christian morality. The former is considered under philosophical ethics, and the latter under specifically Christian ethics. These two differ in their foundations, their norms, and their goals. Human dominion over nature has been weakened and robbed of its spiritual character, but not eliminated; it has been impeded, but not destroyed. Science and scholarship hear witness to the human yearning for knowledge of earthly things.  Philosophy and the natural sciences are gifts from God that must know the rejected or despised. Art in the broader sense of subjecting the earth and making it an instrument for the blessing of humanity is a power, like science, that can be used for or against God. Scripture, however, does point to progress in culture.”


Hmm I seriously have problems with this; That virtues of the Pagans are the general operation of the Holy Spirit and not from any innate ability of the human will.  I can understand why this was done; I think this was done to protect the sovereignty of God.  I cannot accept this premise because it makes human beings into dummies who cannot work things out.  Obviously without the work of the Holy Spirit everything would collapse. 

So virtue for Pagans and Good works for Christians. 

What does virtue mean then?

“Virtue is the quality of being morally good. If you’re writing a screenplay and you want it to be a real tearjerker, make sure your hero is full of virtue.

The word virtuecomes from the Latin root vir, for man. At first virtue meant manliness or valor, but over time it settled into the sense of moral excellence. Virtue can also mean excellence in general. One of your virtues might be your generous willingness to help out your friends. The phrase by virtue of means “as a result of” or “by authority of.” You will achieve success by virtue of hard work (or by virtue of inside connections).”

Taken from


From this definition virtue is about what noble thing one achieves from one’s own resources.  Virtue understood in this way is not compatible with grace and faith.  I agree with that. 


The problem I have is that knowledge is a part of the universe trying to work out a logical problem is not a virtue or a good work In the same way that nuclear can make people better in a hospital or blow the earth to smithereens.

Yes, I certainly agree with Bavinck in the last of this introduction that knowledge is a gift of God. 


What do you think? 

Should Christians use Pagan resources to defend Christian truths?

Next week we will continue to look at what Bavinck thinks.  Whether we agree with him or not, we will learn a lot more than we know now and I hope and pray that our faith in Christ becomes stronger.

The Dire Situation of Naomi; Ruth 1;6-13

February 14, 2021
Photo by Haley Black on

Let us begin by reading verses 6 through to 13

What can we learn from verses 6-13

6 Then she arose with her daughters-in-law that she might return from the land of Moab, for she had heard in the land of Moab that the LORD had visited His people in giving them food. 7 So she departed from the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah. 8 And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9 May the LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept. 10 And they said to her, “No, but we will surely return with you to your people.” 11 But Naomi said, “Return, my daughters. Why should you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? 12 Return, my daughters! Go, for I am too old to have a husband. If I said I have hope, if I should even have a husband tonight and also bear sons, 13 would you therefore wait until they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters; for it is harder for me than for you, for the hand of the LORD has gone forth against me.” Ruth 1:6-13

In Chess a knight might move back to make progress.  Life can be like that.  A family went out and the vestiges of a family returned.  Naomi and Ruth.  The future looks quite bleak.

Naomi heard that the famine in Judah had finished and that there was food.  The bread winners for the family were dead in Moab.  Even when Naomi returns who says they will have any security?

Verse 7

Naomi being the head of the house released the two daughters in law to return to the families they came from so that they could find new husbands.  Naomi would return then to face her shame of failing to get an heir for her husband.

Verse 8.

If this was a worldly situation there would be no hope because on the face of things Elimelech’s name would soon be forgotten.  But something amazing is happening; Naomi is trusting God. She is not trusting herself. May the Lord deal kindly and May the Lord grant…  Most verbs in this chapter are in the Hebrew the active form. The imperfect is not a completed action the story keeps on moving forward.  Here in verse 8;

 h6213a. עָשָׂה asah; a prim. root; do, make:– 

(From Olive tree Bible software.)

This root verb here in the story takes on the perfect form. In other words a completed action.

The women had kept to their duty to the dead and Naomi.  There duty was ‘complete’.  They were now released from their obligations and were free to go back to Moab and find new husbands.  This is a very serious situation in Judaism; the cutting off of a line of a Jewish family.  Naomi would have to live with this until she died and then she also would be forgotten in the annals of time.  However, Naomi never spoke against the Lord.  She was completely faithful and devoted.

Verses 9-13 goes back into the active story mode. She tries to put her daughters off from following her.

Even though things have gone against her and she is suffering with these two ladies, it looks like a hopeless situation.  At the end of verse 13 she says, “the hand of the LORD has gone forth against me.” 

She is stating fact about her situation, but she is not blaming God.  The Lord in the Old Testament is moving and living.  Brueggemann shows this in his writings and how the verbs are used.

When things go against you; How do you as a believer deal with the situation? Naomi is sad and upset about the situation, but she has not lost her faith.  Her faith is being tried out as if in a furnace.  She is a tough lady of faith and will accept whatever the future throws at her alone before her Lord. 


As a teenager all those years ago, I heard a preacher talk about this in a prosperity mode.  Although blessing is involved, it is not the main point of this story.  This is about our devotion to God and for this Jewish family it is God’s covenant devotion to the family.  Even in dire situations God is acting for the good of his people.  We sometimes cannot see the good, but it is a relationship of quiet worship and trust.  The Lord Loves Naomi and what looks like on the surface a broken situation that can never be fixed.

This inner spiritual strength is not her doing but it will be found in the greatest king of Israel in the Old Testament; King David.

Are virtues splendid vices?

February 13, 2021

  Was Calvin Correct not to use Aristotle in his Institutes of the Christian Religion?

We are still on the Fallen image of God and the last paragraph page 147; Reformed Ethics; Herman Bavinck


At the same time, not only do we retain natural goods like eating, drinking, sleeping, and walking; some relative moral good also remains. We agree with Augustine that there can be no virtue without righteousness and no righteousness without faith, that the virtues of the pagans are but *splendid vices.” Nonetheless, it is important to acknowledge gradations in evil even when pagans seek virtue to entertain themselves, to fulfil their desires, to exalt themselves in their own eyes. Acknowledging that certain pagan philosophers (Plato) said some sensible things about God and spiritual matters, Calvin judged that this only heightened their inexcusability; because they lacked faith, they also lacked true knowledge and true virtue.


What is this talk about splendid vices? As John Calvin says according to Bavinck that the Pagans did not have faith and they understood things about God and nature.  I remember a theologian from the USA say to me and a friend that there isn’t a lot of Aristotle in the Institutes of the Christian Religion.   I actually looked for references on Aristotle and I cannot remember if I saw any.  So Yes, Bavinck has done his homework.  I think epistemology is a very large and lively field (study of knowledge). 

I don’t agree with Bavinck, Calvin or Barth on writing the pagans off by the stroke of a pen.  The reason I say this is because science, ‘Scientia’, knowledge has to use the tools appropriate to its field.  The great T.F. Torrance in his theological science makes a point like that.  A lot of the questions we have about divinity were in a sense thrashed out by the Greek philosophers. The gods were found to be capricious and did things on a whim. 


Starting from a hypothesis and working to a conclusion is something we inherited from these Greek philosophers. These tools have been refined over the centuries, so we owe them something. When it comes to theology however and Christian theology; Is it appropriate to use the same tools as for example Aristotle and Plato used.

I think yes and no.   Some branches of the church have gone in full on and taken the Unmoved Mover in to its teachings.  Was this a good thing?  In some ways yes and in some ways no.  There is a relationship between the infinite and the finite.  Between God and the world.  This is a fact.


However, I think the content matter is found in the Bible and Theologians can come to it by faith and also using the natural faculties that God has given us by the Holy Spirit.  So as Christians I think we need to stick to the Biblical witnesses and use the tools of faith to come to conclusions.  I think Karl Barth’s idea of the infinite breaking into our time and space is one way forward.  What about natural theology?  I don’t have a problem with faith seeking understanding and find clues through the effects of creation, ‘Gods handprint’.  The problem I have is when theologians start by doubt like a good scientist in a laboratory.  This certainly does not work.  We need faith to seek understanding and the understanding is found in that loving relationship.  So, for me Calvin did the right thing to give Paganism the boot from his Institutes but at the same time it is a mistake not to interrogate the Pagans… We may grow and mature in our faith if we humble ourselves and realize that no one person has all the answers.

Is there a future after destruction?

February 11, 2021

Let us start by reading the first few verses from the book of Ruth

Naomi Widowed
1 Now it came about in the days when the judges governed, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the land of Moab with his wife and his two sons. 2 The name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife, Naomi; and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem in Judah. Now they entered the land of Moab and remained there. 3 Then Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died; and she was left with her two sons. 4 They took for themselves Moabite women as wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. And they lived there about ten years. 5 Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and the woman was bereft of her two children and her husband. Ruth 1:1-5 NASB

So, the story starts from this very old town in Bethlehem.  It was at the time of the Judges.  Joshua had defeated most that lived in that land in fair combat.  After the main wars a time of peace and prosperity must have entered the area.  Unfortunately, the text says that there was a famine in Bethlehem. 

As we found out in the book of Genesis God made Joseph second in command over the whole of Egypt to protect life and the lives of those who belonged to Jacob.

This man made the decision to leave the area and go to Moab.  Obviously, he took his wife and two sons.  The American dream forced on him and his family because of necessity. If we were in the same situation of Elimelech, we would certainly be tempted to move away from the small town of Bethlehem. 

The names of this family also have meanings.

“  The realistic nature of the story is established from the start through the names of the participants: the husband and father was Elimelech, meaning “My God is King”, and his wife was Naomi, “Pleasing”, but after the deaths of her sons Mahlon, “Sickness”, and Chilion, “Wasting”, she asked to be called Mara, “Bitter”.[4]

Taken from:

Elimelech and Naomi were G-d fearing.  ‘My God is king’ and ‘Pleasing’.  The father died and their boys married foreigners.  The father probably would not have liked these marriages to those outside of the faith.  Anyhow the boys died.  Naomi is left devastated.   This is a very serious situation for Naomi and her tradition.  Elimelech’s name seems to be getting blotted out.  Elimelech whose name means G-d is my king is going to be forgotten in Moab.  Naomi’s integrity seems to be thrown back in her face as the pleasing one has inherited a very displeasing situation.  These Ephraphites (fruitful) through the two sons of Sickness and Wasting  have become very unfruitful.   This is a dire situation:

How will God start to change this dire situation?

There are two interpretations for the name that I know of.

  • Bethlehem means house of Bread
  • Bethlehem means the house of Lahmu.
  • Beth-lahm  in Arabic means house of meat.

In the ancient Middle East visiting various ‘houses’ was not uncommon as these houses were usually temples.  So its original meaning for me would be the House of Lahmu but after the area passed into a monotheistic religion the name ended up as a place name that is easier to say for the local people.

Reflection so far

Everyone faces a crisis situation sometime.  We have plans for the future, but something happens, and our future seems to be ruined.  How do we deal with this situation?

Is there a difference in Morality and Holiness?

February 6, 2021


I am still in Bavinck’s introduction of chapter 4 about the fallen image of God page 147.  The reason I am not leaving the introduction is because there are very deeps things that have been said. 

What is impaired but not lost is the soul’s mastery over the body, our bodies are often prisons for our souls and eventually our bodies completely fail our souls. What is lost completely is true knowledge in the mind and holiness in the will; we are spiritually dead and incapable of any spiritual good. Holy Scripture does not call the supernatural life that conforms to God “moral “but “holy,” using words like” righteousness,” “sanctification,” “godliness,” and expressions like the fear of God.” The ability to do the good, the supernatural, God-pleasing, eternal-life-deserving good, is totally lost.”” (Page 147 intro on the fallen image of God)


I find the first sentence very interesting because the relationship of the soul is something that all the major religions have to make sense of.


What is the relationship of the soul to the body?  Obviously various religions and Christianity have come to different conclusions.  Timelines can also be different.  Hinduism sees timelines in terms of cycles and not a straight line and the West sees time in a linear form.  I don’t think this is such a big problem.  First of all, what is Bavinck’s understanding of this issue?

I think he is saying that the Fall broke the soul’s mastery of the body.  (If something is broken it can be fixed).

He then says that ‘often our bodies are prisons’.  I think he mean that a person who has some type of disease can be trapped and not have full mobility.

He then goes on and gives us in two areas where something from God has been lost.

The mind = true knowledge has been lost

The will = Holiness has been lost.

In a nutshell in ourselves and our humanity we cannot do the good and think the good that God expects.  He then makes a demarcation between moral and holy.

I suppose he is separating the type of ethics that are in heaven and earth.  In God’s Kingdom Holiness is not only act it is also a state of being.  ‘Moral’ on the other hand is ethics in the day to day living of our lives in which we have to make moral choices.  I Think Bavinck here has to be rather careful because there is overlap of meaning between these two areas.  I have to say that even at this juncture we need to make sense of these terms.  Being a Religious Educator and breaking concepts down so that a child can understand it is very important.   I am not any different to a child in learning so let us look at this diagram:

We have to be careful though because God created humans at the Creation event before the Fall to be moral beings with the choice of right and wrong.



The relationship of the soul to the body is a very important concept in the East as well as the West and how do we make sense of it. In Gnosticism and Eastern religions, the body which is made up of material matter is seen as a bad thing.  The soul needs to be liberated from the body which is a prison.   I cannot accept this because if the soul does not have a body; How can we recognize each other? The fact is we cannot because we are in spirit form and things work differently there.  In Hinduism the freeing of the soul (Moksha) is the goal. 


Christianity does not accept this.  When God created Adam and Eve, they were perfect.  We lost our way but through Christ we will have resurrected bodies (1 Corinthians 15).  When the soul and the body are reunited, we will know each other again for all eternity.  Being united in Christ is a home coming and we are going to be like him.  If we are only souls; Then what is the point of having a physical heaven for a dwelling?  This does not make sense and it is illogical.


Concerning morality and holiness.  Both words share a space the heavenly and earthly realms.  There is overlap and I still don’t know exactly in which direction Bavinck will take these concepts.  I am looking forward to finding out in later blogs.