J.H.Bavinck was a renowned Dutch Missiologist. His book, An Introduction to the Science of Missions, (1954) was translated from the Dutch and published in Philadelphia in 1960. It has been used as a textbook in many schools ever since and it is still in print.  The following article is his perspective of those universal questions that all of us in one way or another seek to find answers for in our search for a meaningful life. We don’t have to agree with his categories to benefit from an understanding of just how similiar we are in some very basic instincts of life. The comments are from another book, The Church Between Temple and Mosque.

The Five Magnetic Points- J. H. Bavinck

Man by virtue of his place in the world, must always and everywhere give answers to the same questions. He has to struggle with the basic problems which his existence itself entails. He is afflicted by grief and misfortune; he meets both adverse and prosperous conditions; deep in his heart he has a vague feeling of responsibility; he has to adapt himself to the course of nature; he is aware he is only a small being in the immeasurable greatness of the universe; and he knows very well that sooner or later death will knock at his door. Wherever he goes, he is surrounded by a multitude of questions, and although he has the power to escape from them for a certain time, he cannot help being overwhelmed by them at times. His being on earth is itself such an immense riddle that it threatens to crush him. The answers to all the questions with which he has to struggle may be different, but the problems themselves are always the same. And he has to respond to them, not only in his thinking and feeling but also in his whole attitude to life, in his acts and rites, in his existence itself; his whole way of life is a response. Therefore it stands to reason that this universal religious consciousness, with all its antagonisms and tensions, is something real and is to be found wherever men live and toil.

We have a lot to talk with people of other Faiths about. Somehow I have to believe that there must be a “civilized” way we can be who we are and let others know by our lives “whose disciples we are”. May the beauty of the Lord our God be seen in those who claim to know Him.

Read the article Religious consciousness by J.H. Bavinck