Geerhardus Vos: Reformed Biblical Theologian, Confessional Presbyterian

By: Danny Olinger

Pastor’s Monthly Book Selection – June, 2020

As a pioneer in the field of Biblical Theology, Geerhardus Vos was one of the most significant theologians in the reformed world during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This biography by Danny Olinger gives insight into the personal life of Vos and adds clarity to some of his powerful, yet intellectually challenging theological ideas. Throughout his life, Vos worked with and influenced men such as Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck in the Netherlands as well as B. B. Warfield and J. Gresham Machen in the USA. Having begun his work in a traditionally Dutch church in America, Vos later joined the faculty of Princeton Seminary and the Presbyterian Church USA. During his time as a professor at Princeton, Vos stood solidly against the tide of liberalism as it developed within his new denomination and took root at the seminary as well. 

Much of the Christological and redemptive-historical study of Scripture that has been a buttress of orthodoxy against theological liberalism owes its existence to the tireless work of Geerhardus Vos. Nevertheless, as the author demonstrates, Vos’s labor for the cause of Christ was far from appreciated by his opponents. One of the most striking examples of this was in the fact that, although Geerhardus was one of Princeton’s longest serving professors, not one faculty member from that seminary bothered to attend his funeral.

Although I enjoyed reading the biography of this humble and dedicated soldier of Christ, I recommend it with this caveat – to appreciate the earlier years of Vos’s life, it helps to know a little about the history of the church in Holland in the 19th century. Additionally, although the theological concepts described by Olinger are very important and necessary to understand the significance of this theologian, the reader, who might be unfamiliar with Vos, will need to slow down and think about them in order to fully appreciate what he was teaching. Therefore, I recommend this book to those who are already familiar with Vos and the historical setting of his life as well as to those who are willing to put forth the effort of doing a little research as they read.

Bill Mayk
About Bill Mayk

Bill is the founding pastor of Grace & Peace Presbyterian Church (PCA) Prior to beginning this church planting work in the Pottstown area, Bill served as a hospice chaplain and a missionary to Mexico and Jordan. Bill earned his MDiv from Biblical Theological Seminary.

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