I’ve been noticing this Bavinck quote come up on the internet and it’s really annoying since people seem to be using it to support the old argument that at least Catholic works-righteousness is productive whereas the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith falls short. The quote already had me wondering how honest it was since it starts off mid sentence. Turns out, Bavinck is arguing against the position that posters have been using the quote online.
Anyway, here’s the quote that’s appearing on the internet (here are a few places I’ve seen it); after the jump I’ll post the context (Bavinck, The Certainty of Faith-PDF):
‘[W]e must remind ourselves that the Catholic righteousness by good works is vastly preferable to a protestant righteousness by good doctrine. At least righteousness by good works benefits one’s neighbor, whereas righteousness by good doctrine only produces lovelessness and pride. Furthermore, we must not blind ourselves to the tremendous faith, genuine repentance, complete surrender and the fervent love for God and neighbor evident in the lives and work of many Catholic Christians. The Christian life is so rich that it develops its full glory not just in a single form or within the walls of one church.’
But now, for what Bavinck was really saying and then what he continues saying even about paganism.