Bavinck on Creation’s Organizing Principle

In my journey thus far with Herman Bavinck, I have been continually enlightened by his emphasis on Creation’s role in God’s plan. In the following post, I will invite you into Bavinck’s world and then offer Christian counselors and psychologists a personal reflection of my own.

Creation’s Unity in Diversity

Scripture’s worldview is radically different [from pantheism and materialism]. From the beginning heaven and earth have been distinct. Everything was created with a nature of its own and rests in ordinances established by God. Sun, moon, and stars have their own unique task; plants, animals, and humans are distinct in nature. There is the most profuse diversity and yet, in that diversity, there is also a superlative kind of unity. The foundation of both diversity and unit is in God. It is he who created all things in accordance with his unsearchable wisdom, who continually upholds them in their distinctive natures, who guides and governs supreme good and ultimate goal of all things, is pursued and desired by all things in their measure and manner (435-436).

Creation’s Organic or Ethical Bond

Heaven and earth, man and animal, soul and body, truth and life, art and science, and so on, though they are all distinct, are not separated. There is a wide range of connections between them; an organic, or if you will, an ethical bond holds them together (436).

Creation’s Center

The world is one body with many members. In the works of the church fathers, the unity, order, and harmony are exhibited in the world is a powerful proof for the existence and unity of God. God is the center, and all creatures are grouped in concentric circles and in hierarchical order around him (437).

Creation’s Role in a Christian Worldview

[In discussing a Christian worldview], Here a human being is placed in the right relation to the world because he has been put in the right relation to God. For that reason also creation is the fundamental dogma: throughout Scripture it is in the foreground and is the foundation stone on which the Old and New Covenant rest (438).

Personal Reflection

How can we understand Bavinck’s teaching from a psychological or counseling perspective? The human self is a creation from God. Like the rest of creation, the human self is both a diversity and a unity. For the believer, there is the old self and the new self, the flesh and the spirit, the damaged and the good. The human self functions as intended only when it submits to God as the organic or ethical bond that ties the distinct parts of the self into a harmonious whole. In essence, God serves as the organizing principle, or a divine glue if you will, that holds the self together. The Fool denies the organizing principle by seeking to become a principle unto himself (Ps 14:1). The Pharisee, on the other hand, relies on the Law as his organizing principle and ends up depending on shadows instead of reality (Heb 10:1). The Friend of God experiences a right relation to self because he enjoys a right relation to God. He knows his place in the concentric circle of creation, just a ring away from God and inside the rest of His handiwork (Ps 8:5-6).

Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. II.