THE CONSCIENCE Introduction: Creation and Fall page 167


18 04 2021

Bavinck looks first at the conscience through the lense of the Fall.  After the Fall for Bavinck Adam was in the same situation as an ‘unregenerate Christian’.  So Adam died spiritually but he still had some vestiges that were passed down some families.


He writes

‘But that knowledge of God that Adam still retained he did pass on; it remained pure in a few families and was thus salvific since the promise of Genesis 3:1 was also passed on along with it.1 In this way the pure worship of God continued in the families of Abel, Seth, Enoch, and so forth. Even Melchizedek and Job apparently drew their true knowledge of God from the well of tradition.’ Reformed Ethics page 167.

Anyhow before looking at the next sections let us reflect on these people that Bavinck has mentioned.


Abel’s sacrifice was accepted by God

4 Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; Genesis 4:4


Seth was seen as a replacement for righteous Abel

25 Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for, she said, “God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.” 26 To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the LORD. Genesis 4:25-26



24 Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him. Genesis 5:24


18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying,


1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. Job 1:1

I think Bavinck has a strong case for saying that there was a righteous tradition stemming from Adam.  Even the book of Job is the oldest book in the Bible! Actually, according to some it is 400 years older than Genesis.  The external link below has some interesting things to say


Bavinck then goes on to say that this tradition got tainted and distorted, this led to the birth of Paganism.   “separating itself from the invisible world, sinking into nature and divinizing it” page 167.

His main point I think i
s that tradition is not always completely bad, but it can be corrupted.  The Reformation was about bringing the Church back to its pristine early tradition.  The Church needed to get rid of a lot of baggage.   Obviously, the Roman Catholic Church did not agree with this interpretation and they had their counter Reformation.

Bavinck goes on to say, “Indeed, tradition is a significant power and of great value. Out of reaction against Roman Catholicism, Protestants have often undervalued it. Tradition is the bond that unites people spiritually into one, in spite of separation by distance and time, so that we do not live spiritually and morally as isolated individuals.” Page 167


Bavinck is correct in his estimation and I think that the Christian community of all denominations need to listen to Bavinck here.   So was the Reformation successful in bringing Christianity to its pristine condition.  I think not.  We cannot escape the Fall but if we fix our eyes on Jesus and follow him perhaps then we are on the road to reformation.  No Christian denomination is perfect, and they all have their faults.  The counter Reformation too wasn’t perfect but by having a counter Reformation this act in itself shows that there were problems.  Yet the world has not faired any better.  There are so many corruptions in the world.  Even in this Covid time there are politicians who get special deals and make money out of it.  I am thinking here about the discussions in the British media.  I think that Bavinck has a lot to say to all people from every sort of background.  What state is your conscience in? 

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