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Herman Bavinck’s Contribution to Christian Social Consciousness

Status Quaestionis

Abstract

The year 1891 represents a high-water mark in the development of Christian social consciousness in the modern world, represented most famously by Pope Leo XIII’s fertile encyclical Rerum Novarum, the Holy See’s answer to the nineteenth-century preoccupation with “the social question." The essay by Herman Bavinck under consideration here was part of the deliberations of the First Christian Social Congress held in Amsterdam on November 9–12, 1891. Bavinck’s essay is not nearly as well known as the opening address to the congress given by Abraham Kuyper, “The Social Question and the Christian Religion,” but it deserves attention as a thoughtful reflection on the hermeneutic question of how to use the legal framework of the Pentateuch/Torah for Christian social engagement in the modern world.

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