Creation, says Bavinck, is a revelation of God. There is not a corner of the universe that does not reflect something of his glory. But creation does not reveal Godâ€™s perfections like they do in Christ. There are distinctions and gradations throughout creation from the archetype to the ectype. The incarnation of the suffering servant finds his parallel in, â€œthe servant form of written language (1:354),â€ that is, in scripture. For Bavinck, Godâ€™s name and attributes are revealed generally in the world and specifically in Scripture with this insistence: revelation has distinctions but are never suspended outside of time and history. Thus the Reformed tradition has tried its best to discuss Godâ€™s attributes as communicable and incommunicable. The thing that matters most, says Bavinck is to hold firmly Godâ€™s transcendence and â€œkinshipâ€ with the world.
There are many names given for God across an array of folk and scientific thinking and experience. God does not need a name because thereâ€™s no comparison. Citing W. Robinson Smithâ€™s classic work on Semitic religion, â€œthe Semites loved to call God â€œLord or Kingâ€ because they felt completely dependent upon him; names were not used for philosophical theory but were relational. The revelation of the tetragrammaton to Israel proves that God is more than the â€œone who is.â€ He is the â€œUnchangeable One, (faithful), the eternally Self-consistent One, who never leaves or forsakes his people but always again seeks out and saves his own.â€ His grace, love, and assistance are unchanging because he is so in himself.
Next time we will look pause to consider what Bavinck is up to.