Introducing Berkouwer’s Theology

Dilemmas always are a source of polarization. We quickly move over to simplistic either-or’s … in which the fulness of truth is torn apart. And in the atmosphere of false polarities, we often stop listening to each other’s words. With this, irritation and pique poison the theological discussion. But it is striking and, at the …

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Berkouwer’s Theology of the Christian Life

Berkouwer places great emphasis on the practical character of theological reflection. This emphasis is grounded in his understanding of the doctrines of (a) God; (b) revelation; and (c) reconciliation. Underlying his interpretation of these doctrines is his understanding of grace. The divine grace which comes to us through revelation and reconciliation is not, in Berkouwer’s …

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Some European Theologians

Schillebeeckx, Edward Cornelius Florentius Alfons (1914-2009) Dominican scholar. Born in Antwerp, Belgium, he taught dogmatic theology at Louvain (1943–45, 1947–58). He was appointed professor of dogmatics and the history of theology at the University of Nijmegen in 1958. In 1965 he helped to found the international theological journal Concilium. His Jesus received acclaim in the …

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Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology

Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology Volume 13, Number 2 Autumn 1995. This volume contains a review article, in which I share something of my spiritual journey (p. 148). It's a review of Donald Bloesch's book, Holy Scripture: Revelation, Inspiration and Interpretation. There are, also, several other book reviews, written by myself. Karl Barth, Theological Basis …

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G C Berkouwer and Apologetics

Berkouwer, Gerrit C. (1903-1996) Throughout his lengthy career as Professor of Systematic Theology at the Free University of Amsterdam, he sought to understand the gospel more deeply. Best known for his multi-volumed Studies in Dogmatics, his chief work was in dogmatics rather than apologetics. His writings contain valuable insights relating to the work of apologetics. …

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Assessing G. C. Berkouwer’s Critique Of Karl Barth’s Refusal to Affirm Universal Salvation

In his book, “The Knowledge of the Holy” (a book on the Attributes of God in the Christian Life), A. W. Tozer spoke about an ocean liner travelling across the Atlantic from Liverpool to New York. The destination has been set for the ship’s journey. The travellers can do as they wish while they are …

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Calvin’s Description of Christ as ‘the Mirror of Election’

On the whole, Berkouwer shows considerable agreement with Calvin. Where there is disagreement, this tends to be minimized through sympathetic interpretation which accentuates their agreement. Whenever disagreement is inevitable, it is always respectful disagreement. Berkouwer’s criticisms of Calvin are never offered without the greatest respect for the great Reformer. While Berkouwer offers much sympathetic exposition …

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Berkouwer’s Contribution to the Ecumenical Movement

The challenge of the  theological  discussion of the doctrine of the Church extends far beyond the bounds of Protestantism. E. Schlink emphasizes that “the Reformation Churches … do not take ecumenical discussion seriously unless they are prepared to enter upon discussion with the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church” (The Coming Christ and the Coming …

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G C Berkouwer, “A Half Century of Theology”

In my book on Berkouwer ("The Problem of Polarization: An Approach based on the writings of G C Berkouwer"), I wrote quite a bit about his book, “A Half Century of Theology.” I focused on what he had to say about apologetics and social concern. The discussion ranged quite widely, drawing upon passages from all …

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Do you want to experience God’s glory? Honour His Word. Love His Son – the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Kings 7:13-8:13  -  We read about ‘the silver’ and ‘the gold’. We are called to choose between the life of fruitful service - ‘gold, silver, precious stones’ - and the unfruitful life - ‘wood, hay, straw’ (51; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15). We read of  ‘the ark of the covenant of the Lord’ being ‘brought to …

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We seek God’s mercy for our past sins. We seek His help for our future temptations.

‘I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the House of the Lord”’ (Psalm 122:2). Why do we go to the House of the Lord? We go ‘to give thanks to the Name of the Lord’ (Psalm 122:4). We seek His mercy for our past sins: ‘Have mercy on us, O …

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March on, my soul, with strength, but not thine own. The conquest thou shalt gain through Christ the Lord alone.

Judges 5:12-6:10 'The people of the Lord marched down for Him against the mighty (13) - God is still calling His people to march for Him: 'March on, my soul, with strength, with strength, but not thine own; The conquest thou shalt gain, through Christ the Lord alone' (Church Hymnary, 614). This is not 'marching' for ourselves, …

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Berkouwer and Barth : Christ at the Centre

For Barth, Christ is the key to understanding our human life. If Christ, God’s revelation, is taken away, man is thrown into an abyss of meaninglessness. Man cannot, by himself, bring meaning to his life. Christ alone can reveal to man the meaning of his life. This insight lies at the heart of Barth’s radical …

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Lord, we are so easily entangled in the ways of the world.

Lord, we are so easily entangled in the ways of the world. We try to disentangle ourselves – but we can’t do this by ourselves. we need Your power. We need Your love. It’s Your love that changes everything. It’s Your power that makes us new. Show us Your love. Show us Your power. May …

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When it seems like we’re losing our way, let us pray that we will be given the strength that we need to keep our eyes on the Lord.

1 Kings 10:1-11:13  -  ‘King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth’ (23). It sounds impressive - until you look more closely at Solomon’s life! What else does God’s Word tell us about him? - ‘His heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God… Solomon …

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The Gospel is preached. There is blessing. We say, “God has done this.”

Acts 13:44-14:28 When God is working powerfully through His servants, there is always the tendency to attach too much importance to the servants. We must resist this temptation. The glory belongs to God alone. We must never forget: 'We too are only men, human like you'. God has called us to 'bring Good News' to …

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Understanding Ourselves Theologically

(a) ‘Theology is a work of faith’; (b) ‘Theological truth is not created by faith’; (c) ‘(T)ruth is Christian truth only within the framework of faith’ - In these three statements, L B Smedes has highlighted three important aspects of Berkouwer’s approach to theology (’G C Berkouwer’ in P E Hughes (ed), Creative Minds in …

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Inerrancy – within the context of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of faith

I don’t readily use the word “inerrancy”, because other people generally mean something different from what I mean. My problem is with the context within which inerrancy is normally set. If we set the idea of inerrancy within the context of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our life of faith, I have no …

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G. C. Berkouwer: "Seeking and Finding"

Berkouwer was a prolific writer. In 1990, at the age of 86, his largest book was published, Zoeken en vinden (Seeking and Finding). In that volume Berkouwer narrated a number of memories and experiences from more than seventy years of theological endeavour. The professor of dogmatics was himself one of the main characters in this …

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These were dark days for God’s people, but God was planning for a better future.

1 Kings 12:25-13:34  -  These were dark days for God’s people. They were deeply divided. There was the northern kingdom (Israel). Jeroboam was their ‘big man’. There was the southern kingdom (Judah). Rehoboam was the ‘voice’ of the south. What a shambles it all was! Each side seemed intent on outdoing the other - ungodliness. …

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God’s work makes good progress when God’s people receive strength from God’s Word.

Ezra 6:1-7:28 God’s work makes good progress when God’s people receive strength from God’s Word. Haggai and Zechariah were faithful in preaching God’s Word to the people. Their preaching ministry was very important. It was just what the builders needed. It inspired them to keep working. God’s House was rebuilt and God’s people rejoiced (6:14-16). …

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God’s Word reveals God’s purpose and provides God’s guidance.

Numbers 10:1-36 God's Word - 'the testimony' (11) - reveals God's purpose (29) and provides God's guidance (33). The 'cloud' is like the presence of God's Spirit hovering over us. Great things are about to happen. The Spirit of God is moving over the face of the people of God gathered for worship (11; Genesis …

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The Lord gives strength to those who put their trust in Him.

‘Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. Remember the wonderful works that He has done…’(Psalm 105:4-5). The Lord gives strength to those who put their trust in Him. Trusting in Christ, we have this great testimony: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’(Philippians 4:13). How do we receive the …

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Christ Is Our Wisdom. Receiving Him, We Receive Wisdom. Growing In Him, We Grow In Wisdom.

Proverbs 8:1-36 Hoping for ‘good luck’, some people expect good things to happen to them - all the time! God says, ‘Seek wisdom. Be ready for the hard times’. Wisdom comes from God. He speaks to us with words of wisdom (2:6; 6-8). Wisdom is not only for ‘kings and rulers, princes and nobles’. It …

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Warfield and Berkouwer: The Evangelical Attitude toward the Bible

On the differences between Warfield and Berkouwer, P. Rees speaks wisely, “is it not right to say that there is a difference between the evangelical attitude toward the Bible and an evangelical’s views about the Bible? Go back to Warfield and Berkouwer. Their views of how to construe the Bible’s matchless revelatory quality and authority …

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The Free University of Amsterdam – A. Kuyper, H. Bavinck, V. Hepp and G. C. Berkouwer

Berkouwer and the Free University of Amsterdam Berkouwer’s confrontation with scholasticism has been immediate. The Free University of Amsterdam, at which he taught, as Professor of Systematic Theology, from 1945 until his retirement in 1973, provides an interesting study of the influence of scholasticism in Dutch Reformed theology. Berkouwer’s predecessors in the Chair of Systematic …

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Let’s take our problems to the Lord.

Proverbs 5:1-14 Being married: There are many temptations - the 'loose woman' (3-6). Be positive: Through 'mutual love and respect', let's build 'strong and happy' marriages, in which 'the marriage bond is honoured'. Singles: Don't spoil everything by getting entangled with those who are 'loose' in their commitment to believing in and living for Jesus …

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In our worship, let us never forget the holiness of God and let us always rejoice in the love of God.

‘Exalt the Lord our God... Make a joyful noise to the Lord’(Psalm 99:5,9; Psalm 98:4,6; Psalm 100:1). We are to worship the Lord with joy. We are to glorify God. We are to enjoy Him. In our worship, we must never forget the holiness of God: ‘He is holy!... The Lord our God is holy!’(Psalm …

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Let’s thank God for His love – and let’s live to please Him!

‘Praise the Lord’(Psalm 103:1-2,20-22). Let’s praise Him for His ‘steadfast love’. He is ‘abounding in steadfast love’(Psalm 103:8). How are we to respond to His ‘steadfast love’? Are we to say, ‘God loves me. I can do what I like’? No! We must not think like this. We’re not to say, ‘I’ll keep on sinning. …

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Salvation – the removal of sin and the restoration of glory

Zechariah 1:1-4:14; 3 John 1-14; Psalm 139:11-16  The removal of sin (Zechariah 3:4,9) and the restoration of glory: Here, we have a great description of salvation, wiping out the sin of the past, giving an anticipatory glimpse of the glory to come. The past is forgiven. The future is promised. What about the present – …

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When it seems like there’s nothing but bad news, God speaks His Word of hope.

1 Kings 14:1-15:8  -  It makes depressing reading - a lot of bad news from the north (16), a lot of bad news from the south (22). Many people wondered, ‘Will there be peace in my lifetime?’ Sadly, the hostilities continued for a very long time (15:6). Were there no glimmers of hope? Was there …

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Like John the Baptist, we are to point people to Jesus, God’s beloved Son.

Luke 3:1-38 John's message came from 'God' (2). He did not begin with love. He preached about sin and divine judgment, warning his hearers to 'flee from the wrath to come' (7). He called for 'repentance' (3,8). This was not what people wanted to hear. Before we can rejoice in the Good News concerning salvation, …

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The Lord is King. He’s the King of love.

‘The Lord reigns’(Psalm 96:10; Psalm 97:1). ‘The Lord is King!’. He is not only ‘the King all-glorious above’. He is ‘the King of love’. He is ‘our Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend!’. He is not only ‘the King of heaven’. He is ‘the God of grace’. He is ‘the King of mercy’(Church Hymnary, 35,36,388,360,86). His …

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