Commenting on Bultmann’s Concept of Myth

Berkouwer's basic criticism of Bultmann's concept of myth is that it is different from the New Testament conception of myth. He insists that, in the New Testament, "myth stands over against the truth (aletheia) of the history of Jesus Christ ... the decisive die has ... been already cast in the New Testament opposition to …

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The ‘depth-aspect’ of salvation …

Maintaining that Berkouwer has continually failed to expound the full teaching of Scripture concerning the ‘before’ element of divine election,  A L Baker insists that “Berkouwer cannot communicate what the Bible means by ‘election’ if he neglects such a determinative concept” (G C Bekouwer's Doctrine of Election: Balance or Imbalance?, pp. 102-103). Referring to the …

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No More Resisting God’s Spirit And Rebelling Against God’s Word … Let Us Return To The Lord.

God sees us in our sin. He says, “You are not My people.” He sees us in our Saviour. He says, “You are the children of the living God” (Hosea 1:10). This is grace. This is salvation. This is the love of God. When this great truth reaches us, we are changed. What “a great …

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Arminius – Hero or Heretic?

This article was first published in Evangelical Quarterly 64:3 (1992): 213-227. --Some proclaim Arminius as a hero. Others denounce him as a heretic. It may, however, be more accurate to describe him as an enigma. Commenting on the enigmatic character of Arminius, Carl Bangs writes, "Some Calvinists, finding that his writings do not produce the …

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If there is to be real blessing among God’s people …

Numbers 21:1-35 The Israelites are journeying with the Lord. He is leading them from victory to victory. Salvation for Israel, salvation from the God of Israel, the true and living God, meant "destruction" (Numbers 21:3) for those who opposed God and His people - "How horrible it is for you, Moab! You are destroyed, you …

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We remember our loved one, and we, also, remember our loving Saviour.

"How precious is your lovingkindness, O God!" (Psalm 36:7). When I'm conducting a funeral service, I lead the people in prayer, giving thanks to God for "precious and treasured memories." We remember our loved one, and we, also, remember our loving Saviour. To help us focus our attention on Jesus, I begin each service by …

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Saved and kept by the Lord … for the great triumph

“Wait for the Lord, and He will save you... The Lord is the One who directs a person’s steps” (Proverbs 20:22,24). The Lord saves and keeps: “The victory belongs to the Lord” (Proverbs 21:31). Saving and keeping us, as He leads along the pathway of discipleship, the Lord brings us to our final victory. This …

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The ‘pre’ element in predestination …

In his discussion of the 'pre' element in predestination, Berkouwer insists that "he who speaks of God's counsel in terms of human categories will have to be aware ofthe inadequacy of his words" (Divine Election, p. 152). UIn this respect, Berkouwer closely follows Bavinck who, in his discussion of predestination, insists that "one cannot speak …

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The ‘before’ element in God’s election …

Berkouwer does not wish to dispense with the ‘before’ element in God’s election. Rather, he seeks to understand it in a way that does not diminish the significance of the historical revelation of God’s love in Jesus Christ. Baker contends that, in his interpretation of Ephesians 1:4 - “chosen before the foundation of the world” …

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Theological Articles

LamentationsPride and Faith in Berkouwer's Studies in DogmaticsJohn Hick's Religious WorldA Biblical Approach to TheodicyThe Use of the Bible in Evangelical Preaching TodayCan we give an adequate account of human experience without reference to God?The Place of Theology in the contemporary Church...An Introduction to Theological AnthropologyThe Holy Spirit in the Life of Faith

Berkouwer’s use of the idea of the depth-aspect of salvation

Here's an attempt to bring things together. (1) Man 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. (4) The inadequacy of human language …

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God ‘Blesses’ Us Through ‘His Word.’ He ‘Blesses’ Us In ‘The Spirit.’

Psalm 147:1-20‘The Lord builds up Jerusalem. He gathers the exiles of Israel. he heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds’(2-3). This is much more than the building of the city of Jerusalem with bricks and mortar. This is God building up His people in their ‘most holy faith’(Jude 20). This is God blessing His …

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Interpreting Genesis 1-3: Bruce Milne, "Know The Truth"

Commenting on "The Fall of Mankind" (Know the Truth, pp. 102-103), Bruce Milne expresses dissatisfaction with the "mythical view" which "rejects any historical element in Genesis 3" (p. 102). He does, however, distinguish between the "literal view" which "sees the Genesis record as a direct historical description" and the "'historical' view" which "asserts that while …

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The Ten Commandments (1): “… Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:1-3).

To understand the ten commandments, in Exodus 20, we need to listen to the whole story of the exodus. To understand the giving of the law at Mount Sinai, we need to go back to Egypt and discover the mighty act of redemption by which God had brought the people of Israel out of bondage …

Continue reading The Ten Commandments (1): “… Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:1-3).

Human language and divine revelation

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 need not be dismissed as a denial of what Scripture says. It may be regarded as an interpretation of what Scripture says, an attempt to understand …

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The Ten Commandments (2): “Thou shalt not make any graven image … ” (Exodus 20:4-6).

The ten commandments don't begin with "Thou shalt ... ". They begin with a statement concerning who God is - "I am the Lord your God" - and what God has done for his people - "I  ... brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage" (Exodus 20:1). It …

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The Ten Commandments (3) – “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain … ” (Exodus 20:7).

We have looked together at the first two commandments - "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" and "Thou shalt not make any graven image." We have focused on two key themes - First, God is the God of our salvation. He is the God who saves us. He does this through his Son, …

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The Ten Commandments (4): “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy … ” (Exodus 20:8-11).

In looking together at the first three commandments, we have learned some vitally important lessons about God. First, he is the God of salvation. He saved his people, Israel, from their bondage in Egypt. He has sent Jesus Christ, his Son, to be our Saviour. Second, he is working, within us, to make us more …

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The Ten Commandments (5): “Honour your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12).

We move on, now, to the second part of the Ten Commandments. The first four Commandments focus on our relationship with God - no other gods and no graven images, honouring the Lord's Name and the Lord's Day. The other six Commandments emphasize our relationship with others. The first Commandment, in this second section, is …

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The history of God’s people is like a rollercoaster.

The history of God’s people, under their various kings, is like a rollercoaster. There are high-points - “They would be the Lord’s people” (2 Kings 11:17). These high-points are often followed by low-points - “Joash did what the Lord considered right ...but the illegal places of worship weren’t torn down” (2 Kings 12:2-3). The reign …

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The Ten Commandments (6): “Thou shalt not … “(Exodus 20:13-17).

"Do not murder. 14 Do not commit adultery. 15 Do not steal. 16 Do not be a false witness against your neighbour. 17 Do not want to have anything your neighbor owns. Do not want to have your neighbor’s house, wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey.” (Exodus 20:13-17). As we read these verses, the word that keeps …

Continue reading The Ten Commandments (6): “Thou shalt not … “(Exodus 20:13-17).

The inadequacy of human language …

In his discussion of the 'pre' element in predestination, Berkouwer insists that "he who speaks of God's counsel in terms of human categories will have to be aware of the inadequacy of his words" (Divine Election, p. 152). In this respect, Berkouwer closely follows Bavinck who, in his discussion of predestination, insists that "one cannot …

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"If you have died with Christ to the world’s way of doing things, why do you let others tell you how to live?" (Colossians 2:20).

This is a very good question. It's a question that needs to be asked. It's a question that must be answered. May our answer be, 'We will live Christ's way - not the world's way' - "As holy people whom God has chosen and loved, be sympathetic, kind, humble, gentle, and patient. Put up with each …

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An interpretation of election which points to the trustworthiness of God

Berkouwer gave much serious thought to difficult theological concepts and Biblical passages. Concerning the interpretation pf divine sovereignty, he wrote, "one has to be on guard against isolating and abstracting words, including the word 'sovereignty.' If we are not, we use words that violate the heart of the church" (A Half Century of Theology, p.90). …

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‘He’s a great guy.’ We like it when people say this kind of thing about us …

2 Samuel 16:1-23'He's a great guy.' We like it when people say this kind of thing about us. It makes us feel good about ourselves. What do You think of us, Lord? Yours is the one opinion that really matters. What does it mean to be truly 'great'? Do we want to be called 'great'? …

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What does it mean to be blessed?

"Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord" (Jeremiah 17:7). What does it mean to be "blessed"? Sometimes, the words, "happy" and "blessed", are taken to mean the same thing. Is there a difference between being "happy" and being "blessed"? The word, "blessed", makes us think about the question, "Where does the blessing come from. It invites …

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Outstanding Love, Overwhelming Victory and Overflowing Peace

"… so outstanding is His love …”(Psalm 103:11)"… overwhelming victory is ours …” (Romans 8:37).“The peace of God that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). This is the overflowing peace of God – The peace of God in our hearts is an overflow from the God of peace, …

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Athanasius on the Atonement

Are there two unreconciled theories of the atonement in Athanasius?Do the writings of Athanasius contain two theories of the atonement - a ‘physical’ theory which teaches that, through Christ’s assumption of humanity, mankind is clothed in the incorruption and indestructibility that is inherent in Christ the Word and a ‘legal’ theory which maintains that the …

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Divine sovereignty and divine freedom in Romans 9-11

Relating his understanding of divine sovereignty and divine freedom to the interpretation of Romans 9-11, Berkouwer wrote, "Words like 'sovereignty' ought not to be approached abstractly via a formal concept: this can only create the impression that we are capturing our own understanding or words in transparent definitions and then applying them directly to God …

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God’s revelation of mercy …

Berkouwer maintained that, when Romans 9-11 is understood as referring to "God's revelation of mercy ... and not to a 'naked sovereignty'", the illegitimacy of man's protest against God and the "mystical delight" of Paul's doxology are seen quite differenty from their deterministic interpretation (A Half Century of Theology, pp. 90, 93; Divine Election, pp. …

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When our love for the Lord grows very weak …

Praying Through God's Word

“I was very glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go up to the house of the Lord'” (Psalm 122:1). “Lord, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells” (Psalm 26:8). “I will live in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).

God calls us to worship him. What a wonderful invitation! It’s more than an invitation that comes to us from other people. It’s an invitation that comes to us from the Lord. It’s more than an invitation to join with other people in worship. It’s the Lord calling to be with him. It’s more than a call which comes to us from a place where God is worshipped. From heaven, God is calling us to worship him. It’s more than a call that comes to us on the Lord’s Day. Every day, the Lord is calling us to worship him…

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Berkouwer on the authority of Holy Scripture

Discussing the authority of Holy Scripture in the modern world, Berkouwer writes, “The confession of the authority of the Word of God can never be isolated from the saving content of the Word of God” (Modern Uncertainty and Christian Faith, p. 14, emphasis mine).In confessing that the Bible is the Word of God, the believer …

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Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God – our Saviour

As we read of the testing of Abraham in regard to God's call for Isaac to be sacrificed, we have a hint of God's provision of Jesus Christ as the Saviour who was sacrificed for the sins of the world. By faith, Abraham says, "God himself will provide the lamb ... " (Genesis 2:8). "Abraham …

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Saved by Grace, Reaching out with Grace

"(T)he church may not function as a fearful border guard, but rather as one who brings good tidings (Rom. 10:15; Is. 52:7) .... For Christ died for us 'while we were yet sinners, while we were enemies' (Rom. 5:8,10). All hardness, imprudence and rashness can only be signs that she has forgotten the gracious overstepping …

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Lord, it’s Your love for us that calls us to love You (prayers based on the book of Nahum)

Nahum 1:1-2:9 ‘Fulfil your vows’ (1:15). Lord, You're calling us to be faithful to Him. We are to be faithful in worship. We are to be faithful in reading Your Word. We are to be faithful in prayer. We are to be faithful in giving. We are to be faithful in witness. Our faith is …

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Berkouwer on “‘Luther and Calvin’ on ‘Paul and James’”

The views of Luther and Calvin regarding the relationship between Paul and James - this is not merely a matter of historical curiosity. Rather, it points towards a way of overcoming the evangelism - social concern polarization.Both Luther and Calvin were committed to the principles of “grace alone”, “faith alone”, “Christ alone” and “Scripture alone”. …

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The Lord is King for ever and ever.

Psalm 10:1-18Wickedness seems to be so prevalent. Many ‘renounce the Lord’, saying ‘There is no God’ (3-4). It seems that the wicked ‘prosper at all times’, while the innocent victims of oppression feel that ‘God has forgotten’ (5-11). When it appears that God ‘has hidden His face’, when we feel that He has forgotten us, …

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Our progress may be slow – but God will not give up on us.

"Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love" (Joel 2:13). When we hear the words, "Return to the Lord your God", it is important that we hear these words as the call of God's love. In love, God is calling out to us. In the call of …

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‘Let Us Run With Perseverance The Race That Is Set Before Us, Looking To Jesus.’

2 Kings 18:1-37Hezekiah ‘held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him…’(6). We give up so easily. We start well, then we lose our way. We don’t stick at it. Some people are all smiles - when things are going well. When the going gets tough, they lose their smiles - and …

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Berkouwer on the Spirit and the Scriptures

Berkouwer emphasizes the present activity of the Spirit in pointing men to Christ through the words of the Bible - "Scripture is the Word of God because the Holy Spirit witnesses in it of Christ” (Holy Scripture, p. 162, emphasis mine); “the purpose of the God-breathed Scripture is … to witness of the salvation of …

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Berkouwer’s theology of the relationship between grace and faith

The more I thought of my own work on Berkouwer, the more I came to feel that the key Biblical text is Ephesians 2:8 - "By grace you have been saved through faith". The emphasis is on the absolute necessity of both grace and faith. It is not 'by grace you have been saved without …

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If You Don’t Have Salvation, You Have Nothing!

2 Kings 17:1-41 ‘The people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt’(7). What happens when people reject the God of salvation? - They become ‘empty’ and ‘worthless’ because they have chosen to ‘pursue emptiness’ by ‘following worthless idols’(15). If you don’t have …

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What kind of person are you becoming?

Things were going from bad to worse!  The people of Israel had forgotten ‘the Lord their God’ (Judges 8:34).  ‘The enemy’ was ready to ‘come in like a flood’ (Isaiah 59:19).  Abimelech - Gideon’s son by ‘his concubine who was in Shechem’ (Judges 8:31) - was very unlike his father.  Gideon had pointed away from …

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