There can be no doubt that Bavinck is far from poking fun, in the well-known manner (whether with supercilious arrogance of sardonic irony, from the vantage point of a real or imagined cultural superiority), at this Pietistic life style, as at an anachronistic curiosity. He is, rather, of the opinion that this Pietism hold up the mirror to ourselves and opens our eyes to the dangers of an unbridled and unbroken cultural optimism—dangers that Bavinck knew only too well were certainly not imaginary in the circles of his occasionally overzealous fellow-Calvinists. It was his conviction that ‘this movement [Pietism] gives evidence of an appreciation and concern for the one thing needful, which is only too often absent from us in the busy rush of contemporary life.’ Against the Pietists, nevertheless, he maintains the significance of the Christian religion may not be restricted to the redemption and salvation of a few souls. ‘The religious life does have its own content and an independent value. It remains the center, the heart, the hearth, out of which all his [i.e., the Christian’s] thought and action proceeds and from which it receives inspiration and warmth. There, in fellowship with God, he is strengthened for his labor and girds himself for the battle. But that hidden life of fellowship with God is not the whole of life. The prayer room is the inner chamber, but not the whole dwelling in which he lives and moves. The spiritual life does not exclude domestic and civic, social and political life, the life of art and scholarship. To be sure, it is distinct from these things. It also transcends them by far in value, but it does not constitute an irreconcilable opposition to them; rather, it is the power that enables us faithfully to fulfill our earthly vocation and makes all of life a serving of God.’
Jan Veenhof, Nature and Grace in Herman Bavinck, trans. Albert M. Wolters (Dordt College Press, 2006), 29-30.