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Review Essay: Bavinck on the Family and Integral Human Development

Eduardo J. Echeverria


Herman Bavinck (18541921) writes with breadth and depth on the Christian family in this one-hundred-year-old study on a Christian fundamental theology of marriage and family. Given the contemporary attempts of Christians from various ecclesial traditions to revise marriage and family such that marriage between people of the same sex is theologically defensible,1 Bavincks book has much to teach us based on his orthodox theological defense of marriage and family life. Of course in the early twentieth century, Bavinck did not have to meet the challenge of a revisionist vision of marriage as we do now. Yet, even then marriage and family life did face the challenges of divorce; open marriage; out-of-wedlock births; cohabitation; and, more generally, licentious sexual living (TCF, 64, 75, 89, 13839). Bavinck addresses some of these challenges head-on by arguing that a right understanding of the family as the formative and nurturing institution par excellence is essential to integral human development. A persons becoming [integrally] human occurs within the home; here the foundation is laid for the forming of the future man and woman, of the future father and mother, of the future member of society, of the future citizen, of the future subject in the kingdom of God (TCF, 108). I will come back to this argument later. For now, I would like to outline the breadth and depth of Bavincks treatment of the Christian family.

Eduardo J. Echeverria, "Review Essay: Bavinck on the Family and Integral Human Development", Journal of Markets and Morality 16, no. 1 (Spring 2013): 219-237

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