In any attempt to understand the nature of divine grace, five important observations require to be made.

(1) Man only knows of grace through revelation.

(2) Divine revelation comes to man in the form of human language.

(3) The inadequacy of human language as a vehicle of divine revelation demands that due care be taken in the interpretation of Scripture.

(5) The idea of an open concept indicates a depth-dimension which points beyond the limitations of human language to profound spiritual realities.


Berkouwer’s concept of the depth-aspect of salvation may be viewed as a serious attempt to understand the complex problem of the relation of human language to divine revelation. It should be noted that he does not advocate a ’spiritualism’ which devalues the words of Scripture (Holy Scripture, pp. 57-59, 288-290). Berkouwer’s idea of the depth-aspect of salvation is not a denial of what Scripture says. Rather, it is an interpretation of what Scripture says, an attempt to understand what a particular passage teaches in relation to the “entire Biblical message” (Divine Election, p. 18). The recognition of a depth-aspect of salvation does not involve a denial of Biblical authority. Rather, we are asking the question, “Is this really what the Bible is teaching?” In asking this question, we make a clear distinction between Scripture itself and theological interpretations of Scripture.

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