Berkouwer criticizes “an incorrect conception of theology, a conception of theology, a conception which considers it possible to discuss Holy Scripture apart from a personal relationship of belief in it, as though that alone would constitute true ‘objectivity’.” (Holy Scripture, pp. 9-10).

He holds that those who view Scripture in this way “wrongly … see involvement and correlation as subjectivism” (Holy Scripture, p.10). Such a misguided fear of subjectivism lapses into a false objectivism with its suggestion that Christian truth can be considered without direct reference to the believer’s personal involvement with that truth. Berkouwer maintains that there must be a proper understanding of the correlation between faith and its object. He emphasizes that “faith is decisively determined by the object of faith, namely God and His Word”. He rejects the idea that “Scripture … derives its authority from the believer’s faith”, insisting that “this idea is already rendered untenable by the very nature of faith, which rests on and trusts in the Word of God.” (Holy Scripture, p. 10).

This understanding of the correlation between faith and its object is carefully distinguished from “philosophical relativism” (Faith and Justification, p. 9). Berkouwer’s idea of “relativity … refers simply to the relation of a thing to something other than itself” (Faith and Justification, p. 9).

Berkouwer does not intend to call in question the authority of Scripture for theological reflection. His concern is to understand the true nature of Biblical authority.

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