Foundations: No.81 Autumn 2021

Book Reviews

The Sacrifice of Praise: Meditations Before and After Admission to the Lord’s Supper

Herman Bavinck, Hendrickson, 2019, 152pp, £13.78 pb (Amazon)

The appearance of a new translation of Bavinck’s The Sacrifice of Praise is a most welcome addition to the reading options of a new generation. Although over a century has passed since the work was penned it retains a freshness and sweetness that should find a ready audience amongst all warm-hearted believers.

In an age of superficial Christian profession this book deals with the subject of confessing Christ with a warm seriousness. Bavinck seeks to pastorally guide those who have been raised under the teaching of God’s Word through a personal engagement with the truths they already know to a heartfelt and sincere confession of Jesus Christ before the church and the world.

The chapters display a balance of theological understanding and sane exegesis (which should surprise no one acquainted with his four-volumed Reformed Dogmatics) and suffuses it with a deep pastoral sensitivity (which may surprise a few) that speaks directly to the heart of those he is addressing. 

As he weaves together covenant theology, practical godliness and the personal implications for his reader, Bavinck firmly and faithfully directs us to our responsibility to confess Christ publicly:

In the midst of all creation that is speaking and praising, man, who has received words to express his thoughts, may not be silent. He cannot remain silent. Even his silence is counted as assent. Neutrality is as impossible for the mouth as for the heart. Whoever does not confess Christ denies him. (61)

The role of family, church and school to work together to instruct the rising generation is a welcome note that is sounded throughout the book. He points out the united aim that should exist between these varied instructors of youth to produce in them a genuinely informed confession of the Saviour:

If it happens like this, according to the rule of the word of the Lord, then family, church, and school work together in a beautiful way. They do not stand independent, side by side, and much less in opposition to each other. One does not break down what the other builds up, but together they labor in the one great task: the reformation of humanity to the image and likeness of God. It is one faith and one baptism that tie them together. It is one confession upon which they all rest. It is one view of the world and life that they pass on to their children for comfort and support in the struggle of this earthly life. Each in its own way, and yet in a mutual relation, they warn and teach every person in all wisdom, that they may present that person perfect in Christ Jesus. (53)

While such a picture may seem an almost unimaginable dream to believers today, it is good to be reminded that this should remain our desideratum. 

The book is one which should find an appreciative audience amongst different kinds of reader: serious enquirers, parents, preachers, and those who have followed in the footsteps of the flock for many years, will all find much to instruct and encourage them.

If I have any regret regarding this book, it is simply that I did not read it twenty-five years earlier. I heartily commend this work to all who care for their own souls and to any who take seriously their responsibility to care for the souls of a rising generation.

Timothy McGlynn
Minister, Grace Reformed Church, Aberdeen


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