Critiquing Mysticism and Pietism: Six Points (Bavinck)

The Reformed Reader

Reformed Ethics: Created, Fallen, and Converted Humanity In his first volume of Reformed Ethics, Herman Bavinck spent quite some time discussing mysticism and pietism.  At the end of the section on mysticism and pietism, Bavinck wrote the following critique.  (For the record, I wish he would’ve expanded a bit on these points since they are helpful.)

However justified mysticism and Pietism were in their objection to rationalism and dead orthodoxy, both of which locate the seat of faith in the intellect, they are themselves also one-sided. Here are six points of critique:

1. Mysticism and Pietism put the seat of faith in feeling and thus do not embrace the fullness of our humanity. That which most affects and arouses feelings gets the emphasis.

2. This results in a denial of the faith’s objectivity—that is, the Word, the letter, the sacraments, the church, and even doctrine (e.g., satisfaction).

3. Another consequence is the formation of a pernicious…

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