January 28 Book Reviews

Daily Devotions with Herman Bavinck: Believing and Growing in Christian Faith

Daily Devotions with Herman Bavinck: Believing and Growing in Christian Faith

Donald K. McKim

Reviewed by: Tyler C. Detrick

Daily Devotions with Herman Bavinck: Believing and Growing in Christian Faith, by Donald K. McKim. P&R, 2023. Paperback, 232 pages, $13.56 (Amazon). Reviewed by OP pastor Tyler C. Detrick.

Imagine sharing your time of daily devotions with Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck. You sip your coffee and read aloud a passage from God’s Word, then Dr. Bavinck offers brief yet brilliant insights about God, man, Jesus Christ, and his church. After a minute of speaking, Bavinck bows his head and says, “we ought to praise God for these things. Let’s take a moment to pray.”

This thought-experiment offers a sense of what Donald K. McKim aims to achieve in Daily Devotions with Herman Bavinck: Believing and Growing in Christian Faith. McKim’s book belongs to a unique genre which is best labeled theological devotional. In the author’s own words, this genre is designed to acquaint readers with “thoughts of major theologians by providing a discussion of a few sentences from their writings” (11). Over the course of eighty-four daily devotions, McKim produces some of the most striking quotations from Bavinck’s corpus and reflects upon what they mean and how we ought to live in light of this truth today. The topics considered move through the major headings of systematic theology and range from “the Divine Trinity” (35), “Christ’s Ascension” (97), and “New Life in Christ” (105) to “The Church” (163), “Mystical Union with Christ” (181), and “Good Works” (195). McKim’s reflections are doctrinally sound, and his applications are appropriate and practical. He begins each daily devotional with a passage from Scripture to anchor his discussion in the Word of God before he pivots to Bavinck’s contributions.

McKim also provides thoughtful instructions on how this kind of book can best be used, including advice for prayerful reflection and practical application (17). At the end of each daily discussion, he offers a reflection or prayer point which pushes the reader to act upon the knowledge gleaned from Bavinck. The two-part arrangement of this devotion, a balanced division between “Believing as a Christian” and “Living as a Christian,” further enforces McKim’s primary aim: He wants us to keep orthodoxy and orthopraxy together. He wants God’s truth to change us by driving us to prayerful praise.

Who will benefit most from this book? Bavinck-lovers hoping to read sizable sections from his Reformed Dogmatics will be disappointed to find only simple sentences selected from Bavinck’s corpus and woven into McKim’s reflections; a structured reading plan through Bavinck’s original sources would better suit such readers. However, Daily Devotions with Herman Bavinck will prove particularly refreshing for those who need help with learning how to slow down from frantic searching in order to delight in the goodness of what God has revealed. Those who tend to approach theological inquiry as a cold and impersonal science will find McKim’s work a helpful guide in settling into a rhythm of rich doctrine combined with heartfelt devotion. McKim knows how to train Christians to read with devotional intent and in this way to bring his readers closer to the actual aim of all Bavinck’s writing: delighting in the God of the Bible.



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