Bavinck, Johan Herman (1895-1964)

Dutch missiologist

Johan Bavinck

Born in Rotterdam, Bavinck studied theology at the Free University of Amsterdam and received a Ph.D. from Erlangen University in 1919. He served as minister of Dutch-speaking Dutch Reformed churches in Indonesia (1919-1926) and in Heemstede, Holland (1926-1929). In 1930 he returned to Indonesia as a missionary in Solo (1930-1933) and Jogjakarta (1935-1939). In 1939 he was appointed the first professor of missions at both the Theological University of Kampen and the Free University of Amsterdam (1939-1964); beginning in 1954 he also taught pastoral theology.

Bavinck had a special interest in religious psychology. His dissertation (1919) dealt with the medieval mystic Henry Suso, and in Java he paid special attention to Javanese mysticism. His study Christus en de Mystiek van het Oosten (Christ and eastern mysticism) (1934) was one of the fruits of his encounter with Javanese mysticism.

In 1940 he published a summary in Dutch of Hendrik Kraemer’s Christian Message in a Non-Christian World entitled De Boodschap van Christus en de Niet-Christelijke Religies, in which Kraemer’s influence on his own missionary thinking was evident. In 1949 he published his main work: Religieus Besef en Christelijk Geloof (Religious consciousness and Christian faith) in which he combined his interest in religious psychology with a strong biblical orientation. Another major work is his missiological handbook, Inleiding in de zendingswetenschap (1954; in English translation, An Introduction to the Science of Missions, 1960).

Bavinck was widely influential both inside and outside the Reformed tradition through his writings and his visits to the United States and South Africa, and through his supervision of many dissertations written by Dutch, South-African, American, and Korean doctoral students.

Jan A. B. Jongeneel, “Bavinck, Johan Herman,” in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. Gerald H Anderson (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998), 48-49.

This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright © 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of Macmillan Reference USA, New York, NY. All rights reserved.



Bavinck, J. H. The Church Between Temple and Mosque: A Study of the Relationship Between the Christian Faith and Other Religions. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981.

_____. The Impact of Christianity on the Non-Christian World. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1948.

_____. An Introduction to the Science of Missions. Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co. 1960.

_____. Personality and Worldview. Translated by James Eglinton. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2023.

_____. Between the Beginning and the End: A Radical Kingdom Vision. Grand Rapids/Cambridge: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2014.

Between the Beginning and the End: A Radical Kingdom Vision


Bolt, John, Bratt, James D., and Visser, Paul J., eds. The J.H. Bavinck Reader. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2013. 

Van den Berg, J. “Johan Herman Bavinck.” In Mission Legacies: Biographical Studies of Leaders of the Modern Missionary Movement, edited by Gerald H. Anderson et al. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1994. Pp. 428-434.

Bibliotheek Klaas Schilder” lists writings of Johan Herman Bavinck in Dutch

A biographical sketch of Johan Herman Bavinck in Dutch


“Johan Herman Bavinck Image.” In Bavinck, Johan Herman. Christusprediking in de Wereld. Kampen, J.H. Kok, 1965.