Symbol And Dogma

After copiously describing the various ways Neo-Kantian theologians divided the realms of science and religion, Bavinck summarizes his judgment:

if Christianity is indeed a religion of redemption, then the revelation from which it has sprung also includes the communication of truth, the discovery and liberation from falsehood. Then word and fact, prophecy and miracle, illumination and regeneration also combine to support that truth. Also, subjectively, cognition and trust (fiducia) are always united in that faith. Objective religion, then, is not the product of subjective religion but given in divine revelation that we should walk in it. And dogma is not merely a symbolic interpretation of the spiritual life but an expression, be it a human one, of the truth God has given in his Word. All our religious knowledge is certainly nonexhaustive, anthropomorphic, analogical. By confusing this reality with the “symbolical,” Sabatier is thereby doing an injustice to the history of dogma. For that matter, when he himself again calls certain symbolic representations–such as that of the unity of God, the kingdom of God–permanent symbols, it is clear that he considers symbolic only the dogmas with which he himself no longer agrees. And that indeed is how the issue stands: dogma is either a pure expression of our faith or that is no longer so. In the latter case, we must abandon or revise it, but it can no longer be rescued by means of the term “symbolic.” (Reformed Dogmatics, 1:559)

All one can add to this is that, perhaps, Bavinck was overly pessimistic regarding what modern theologians “can” still do, however wrong their project might be in terms of honest history.