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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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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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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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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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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Rise up, O Church of God awake!

Judges 4:1-5:11 Barak is an example of 'faith' (Hebrews 11:32-34). Faith involves believing God's promise - 'I will give... ' and obeying His command - 'Go' (4:6-7). God still says, 'Go...I am with you always... ' (Matthew 28:19-20). Barak needed Deborah's help (4:8-10). Both needed God's help - 'Our sufficiency comes from God' (2 Corinthians …

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When things were getting desperate, God sent His prophet, a man who would stand up for Him.

1 Kings 16:29-18:16  -  Things were getting desperate: ‘Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him’ (33). What did God do about this? How did He respond to this situation? God sent His prophet, a man who would stand up …

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The Lord’s people must not be afraid to stand up for Him.

Jeremiah 52:1-34; Titus 1:1-16; Psalm 119:105-112 The final chapter of Jeremiah speaks of the fall of Jerusalem, followed by captivity in Babylon. Difficulties face God’s people in every generation: “There are many rebellious people ... “ (Titus 1:10). The Lord’s people must not be afraid to stand up for Him (Titus 1:11). Whatever others may …

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Systematic Theology and Experiential Theology

Here are a couple of paragraphs from the “Introductory Preface” of my PhD thesis / book:  “The Problem of Polarization: An Approach based on the Writings of G C Berkouwer”. —– “With the writings of G C Berkouwer providing its focal-point, this study may be regarded as a study in systematic theology …. attention is …

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Bible Study Biblical and Theological Links Chuck Smith’s Bible teaching ministry Confessing our Faith Daily Readings James Philip John Hick’s Religious World Link to “A Prayer for Every Day” blog Link to “Christ In All The Scriptures” blog Link to “Meditating on God’s Word” blog Link to “One Year Bible” blog Link to “Praying Through God’s Word” blog Link to “Revised Common …

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Knowing Christ and making Him known

Tuesday in Holy Week: Isaiah 49:1-7; Psalm 71:1-14; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; John 12:20-36 Knowing Christ and making Him known ‘I, the Lord, am your Saviour, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob’ (Isaiah 49:26). We are not to keep this to ourselves. God wants ‘all mankind’ to ‘know’. ‘Jesus, the Name to sinners dear, the …

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Recent posts: Praying through God’s Word

The Vine Originally posted on Learning From God's Word:“You transplanted a vine from Egypt. You drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it, and it took root and filled the land” (Psalm 80:8-9).When we read here about a “vine”, we should remember that Jesus said, “I am the vine; you… Lord, …

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Berkouwer and Speculative Theology

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 …

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Good News for everyone

Eighth Sunday after the Epiphany – Isaiah 49:8-16a; Psalm 131; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; Matthew 6:24-34 Good News for everyone: Jesus Christ is our Redeemer. ‘I, the Lord, am your Saviour, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob’. We are not to keep this to ourselves. God wants ‘all mankind’ to ‘know’ (Isaiah 49:26). ‘Jesus, the …

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The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God ny Saviour!

Job 40:3-42:17; Matthew 25:14-46; Psalm 18:43-50 “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first” (Job 42:12). “For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance” (Matthew 25:29). Both of these statements occur withn the context of the call to be faithful to God. This faithfulness …

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To understand the history of God’s salvation, we must remember this: Christ will come again.

Job 38:1-40:2; Matthew 24:32-25:13; Psalm 18:37-42 The story of our life is only understood once we see the full picture. The book of Job is not understood by reading the words of Job and his ‘comforters’. We must also hear the Word of the Lord. The history of God’s salvation is not understood by reading …

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A bright shining light: The Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world.

Read the words - ‘His Name’ shall ‘endure for ever’(Psalm 72:17) - and think of Christ. His Name is ‘the Name above all other names’. He is ‘the King of kings and Lord of lords’(Philippians 2:9-11; Revelation 19:16). Read the words - ‘all nations call Him blessed’(Psalm 72:17) - , and think of Christ. ‘From …

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Awakening – when the Lord’s people pray earnestly

2 Kings 3:1-4:37; Acts 21:1-26; Psalm 78:56-72 “Then the Lord awoke from sleep” (Psalm 78:65). When the Lord awakes from sleep, there is awakening. In 2 Kings 4:32-35, we see an example of such awakening - resurrection from the dead. How does such awakening come? It comes when the Lord’s people pray earnestly, with actions as …

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What are we to do when everything seems hopeless? When we are at our lowest ebb, God is waiting to hear from us.

2 Kings 4:1-44 -  The situation seemed hopeless - ‘The child was lying dead on his bed’ (32). What did Elisha do? - He ‘prayed to the Lord’ (33). What are we to do when everything seems hopeless? Pray: ‘Restore us again, O God of our salvation… Will You not revive us again, that Your …

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When we are tempted to turn away from the pathway of truth, we must remember this: “My help comes from the Lord.”

‘Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips’ (Psalm 120:2). God calls us to ‘believe the truth’, ‘love the truth’ and ‘follow the truth’. We are to be people who ‘do what is true’ (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11; 3 John 3-4; John 3:21). How can we be such people? We must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. …

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The God of glory is, also, the God of grace.

Job 35:1-37:24; Matthew 24:1-31; Proverbs 4:1-9 The Return of the Lord will be “with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30). Even in the rather arrogant words of Elihu, in his proud rebuke of Job, there is the recognition of the power and glory of the Lord’s coming – “God comes in awesome majesty” (Job 37:22). …

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God calls us to walk on the pathway of obedience and He promises to be with us every step of the way.

In Isaiah 46-48, we read about Israel's conflict with Babylon and God's verdict on Babylon. We also have the precious promise which God gave to His people: "Our Defender is the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 47:4). Along with the divine promise, there is also the divine call to obedience. God sees that His redeemed …

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Preaching the Gospel with Joy and Urgency

In this post, I am drawing on the writings of G. C. Berkouwer. —– The gladness of salvation cannot be proclaimed where theological speculation  where theological speculation restricts the scope of the Gospel (Divine Election, (Grand Rapids, 1960),pp. 218-227 / Dutch edition, 1955); A Half Century of Theology, (Grand Rapids, (1977), pp. 98-104 / Dutch …

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There is still time to open your heart to Christ, to trust Him as your Saviour, to become a new creation in Him.

2 Kings9:1-37 -  God’s judgment on Jezebel was awesome (30-37). Why does God’s Word speak to us so strongly of judgment? God is warning us. He is calling us to repent, to return to Him before it is too late, before our opportunity for repentance has gone. Make sure that you don’t reach the point …

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God’s love for us inspires our loyalty to Him.

God’s love for us inspires our loyalty to Him: ‘Your love is ever before me, and I will walk continually in Your truth’(Psalm 26:3). Loyalty to the Lord involves worshipping Him and walking with Him (Psalm 26:11-12). Walking with God is not easy. There are ‘enemies round about’ us (Psalm 26:4-5, 9-10; Psalm 27:2-3,6,11-12). What …

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Lord, when we speak of You, teach us to speak with humility.

Job 33:1-34:37; Matthew 23:1-39; Psalm 18:25-36 There is a great similarity between Job’s ‘comforters’ and the Pharisees. Job’s ‘comforters’ say, “Should God then reward you on your terms, when you refuse to repent?… Job speaks without knowledge; his words lack insight … To his sin, he adds rebellion… and multiplies his words against God” (Job …

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A Critique of C. W. Bogue’s booklet, “A Hole in the Dike: Critical Issues of Berkouwer’s Theology”

In his critique of Berkouwer’s theology - A Hole in the Dike: Critical Issues of Berkouwer’s Theology, (1977), Carl Bogue shows distinct displeasure with Berkouwer’s treatment of ‘reprobation’ and with his interpretation of the Canons of Dort. At p. 7, n. 6 and p. 8, n. 9, Bogue draws attention to Berkouwer’s article, “Vragen Rondom …

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Berkouwer, Barth and Brunner: A Discussion of General Revelation and Natural Theology

In his book, ‘General Revelation’, Berkouwer rejects natural theology while affirming the doctrines of general revelation & common grace. He places himself between Barth and Brunner. Barth rejects both general revelation & natural theology. Brunner teaches both general revelation and natural theology. In connection with common grace, here are two important observations made by Berkouwer: …

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We’re living in changing times. God is equipping His people for new challenges.

Numbers 26:23-65 There is real sadness in the final words of this chapter: 'There was not left a man of them, except Caleb and Joshua' (65). There is also a sense of expectation. So many had died in the wilderness. This was now a new generation. We're living in changing times. God is equipping His …

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There is nothing more important than this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart… .”

2 Kings6:1-23 -  Elisha was ‘the man of God’ (6,9,15). This was the important thing about him. More than anything else, he was ‘the man of God’. We find the same phrase in 1 Timothy 6:11 - ‘But as for you, man of God,… aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness’. We are to …

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Don’t look only at the things which are happening now. Look, also, to the glory which is yet to come.

‘Thou wilt show me the path of life; in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore’(Psalm 16:11). In this earthly life, there are many difficulties. For all of God’s people, there is something better still to come. We must look not only at the things which are …

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When things go badly wrong, the Lord is there for us.

Job 30:1-32:22; Matthew 22:15-46; Psalm 18:16-24 There were hypocrites trying to condemn Job. There were “hypocrites … trying to trap” Jesus (Matthew 22:18). In both cases, they had to give up – “they had found no way to refute Job” (Job 32:3); “No-one could say a word in reply” to Jesus (Matthew 22:46). The testimony …

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Paul Tillich’s Systematic Theology: “A Help In Answering Questions”?

"My purpose, and I believe it is a justified purpose, has been to present the method and the structure of a theological system written from an apologetic point of view and carried through in a continuous correlation with philosophy ... A help in answering questions: this is exactly the purpose of this theological system." (Paul …

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