It has been said that, in Berkouwer’s writings, there is a polemic against speculative theology’. We should take care not to overstate this point. His theology can be described as a polemic against scholasticism.
In his exposition of divine election, he has identified a scholastic outlook as unhelpful in its representation of the various sides of Biblical truth. For that reason, he has set about re-thinking the doctrine. Those who disagree with him would say that he has been speculative. Those who appreciate his interpretation would say that his approach has achieved a more Biblical balance than the more scholastic approach.
In Berkouwer’s theology – especially his interpretation of ‘election and rejection’ where he speaks differently from others who speak about ‘election and reprobation’ – some have observed the principle: if the Scripture contains teaching which does not seem logically consistent, so be it.
Here, we might draw a distinction between what is normally thought of as ‘logic’ & what we might call ‘psycho-logic’ (this is not an expression used by Berkouwer!) We need to get inside the experience of faith. Our theological language emerges from the experience of faith. Faith is seeking to give expression to something which goes beyond our words. Faith speaks of God’s grace. This is something we can barely put into words.
I am not suggesting that we make our experience of faith normative for our theological thinking. I am simply observing that the experience of faith is the context out of which we make our confession of faith. This is an important part of the context within which our theological reflection takes place).
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