Called to believe in God’s Word – and called to trust in Christ as Saviour and follow Christ …

The purpose for which God has given us Scripture G C Berkouwer points out that “Scripture itself in a very explicit way speaks about its intention” (Holy Scripture, p. 125, where he cites John 20:31, Romans 15:4, Romans 4:23-24, 1 Corinthians 10:11, 2 Timothy 3:16 and 1 Timothy 1:18-19). He emphasizes that his approach is …

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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 & 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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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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Some Interpretations of the Theology of Soren Kierkegaard

* T. F. Torrance writes of Kierkegaard as “the avowed enemy of all objectivism … rationalization of truth into a system of idea” while insisting that “his emphasis on subjectivity was never intended to mean the abrogation of objectivity” (Theological Science, (London, 1969), p. 5). He continues, “That ‘truth is subjectivity’ (Kierkegaard) does not mean …

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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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Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom

Berkouwer's perspective on human freedom is closely connected with his understanding of divine authority. Emphasizing that 'Authority ... cannot be a darksome power that compels us to subject ourselves without reason' (A Half Century of Theology, p.158), he maintains that the authority of God, unlike what is usually meant by 'external authority', brings 'perspective, joy …

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G. C. Berkouwer and the Experiential Theology of Early Dutch Calvinism

The experiential theology of early Dutch Calvinism finds its clearest expression in the writings of a number of seventeenth century writers, such as William Ames, T J Frelinghuysen and William a Brakel. William Ames, probably the most well-known representative of this type of theology, opens his book, The Marrow of Theology, with a definition of …

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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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Systematic Theology and Experiential Theology

Here are a couple of paragraphs from the “Introductory Preface” of my PhD thesis:  “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 drawn to …

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Berkouwer, Calvin and Calvinism

Berkouwer has close affinities with 'the old Dutch biblical piety, not seized by dogmatic insights but steadily pressing toward a purified life of faith according to the Scriptures' (Carl Bangs, Arminius: A Study in the Dutch Reformation, p.21). This 'old Dutch biblical piety' is similar to Berkouwer's insistence that election is not a special gnosis …

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Berkouwer’s "Studies in Dogmatics"

Faith and Sanctification Author: G. C. Berkouwer Publisher: Eerdmans Publication Date: 1952 Pages: 196 Faith and Sanctification is the first volume to appear in the First American Edition of a series of monographs covering the whole field of Christian theology. This major contribution to the current literature of theology, destined to exert its influence within …

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Carl Bangs, “Arminius: A Study in the Dutch Reformation”

In this post, I will draw comparisons between Arminius and Berkouwer. * Bangs points out that the historical situation in Holland was not a simple one - Calvinism coming in, Arminius nearly ruining it and the Synod of Dort restoring it: “The earliest Dutch Reformed leaders don’t seem to be Calvinists at all. They rise out …

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A response to a comment by G. R. Osborne on Berkouwer’s understanding of the doctrine of final perseverance

In his contribution to Clark Pinnock (editor), Grace Unlimited (1975), G. R. Osborne states that Berkouwer, in Faith and Perseverance, pp. 9-10, “speaks of the timelessness of the doctrine of final perseverance, founded on ‘the richness and abidingness of salvation” (p. 188, emphasis mine).This single-sentence comment on Berkouwer’s view hardly gives a fair indication of …

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Believing in the love of God and being changed by the love of God

In The Providence of God, G C Berkouwer relates providence to both the love of God as the object of the believer's faith and the believer's faith by which providence is subjectively experienced."in the doctrine of providence we have a specific Christian confession exclusively possible through a true faith in Jesus Christ ... this faith …

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Berkouwer on Bonhoeffer

Berkouwer’s discussion of christology and theodicy refers to insights from theologians of different eras – Paul, Luther, Calvin, Barth, Bonhoeffer, Moltmann (‘A Half Century of Theology’, pp. 254-257).The lessons he draws from this analysis are profound:‘ … what is involved is not a theoretical answer to the enigma of evil … but an answer of …

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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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Theological Connections between G. C. Berkouwer and Herman Bavinck: Understanding the Idea of Predestination

I only refer to Bavinck twice in this post (once at the beginning and another time later on in the post). The insight drawn from Bavinck is, however, very significant in the development of Berkouwer’s interpretation of the idea of predestination. That’s why I’ve included the name of Bavinck in the title of this post.———-In …

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Theological Connections between G. C. Berkouwer and Herman Bavinck: Berkouwer’s Critique of Barth’s Anthropology and Christology

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

Berkouwer and the Free University of AmsterdamBerkouwer’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 Theology …

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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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The Triumph Of Grace In The Theology Of Karl Barth

G C Berkouwer’s book on Barth is entitled, The Triumph of Grace in the Theology of Karl Barth. Barth was not happy with this title. He felt that it might create the misunderstanding that grace is to be viewed as an impersonal principle which can be isolated from the person of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, Barth …

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I believe in the Church

Concerning the confession 'Credo Ecclesiam' (I believe in the church), Berkouwer insists that the church's objectivity is not subjectivized by the affirmation that "the only framework in which the Church can remain the Church of the Lord (is) the framework of faith, prayer, obedience and subjection" (The Church, p. 19).

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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G C Berkouwer – Scholarly, Pastoral And Evangelical

These comments are taken from the Jack Rogers book, "Confessions of a Conservative Evangelical" (Philadelphia, 1974).Berkouwer was reared in a denomination which "began in rather conservative isolation ... he has developed a scholarly, pastoral, evangelical stance. And he has brought a whole denomination with him" (p. 143) - "you can become less conservative and more …

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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 over …

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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 Church …

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Berkouwer on "Divine Election"

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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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 and …

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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. From …

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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 view, a coercive …

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Berkouwer’s Theology – Systematic And Experiential

For many years, G C Berkouwer (1903-1996) served as the Professor of Systematic Theology at the Free Univesity of Amsterdam. He wrote many substantial books on Christian doctrine. These books are known collectively as his ‘Studies in Dogmatics’.In his work as a systematic theologian, Berkouwer emphasized that Christian faith is to be experienced. It is …

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G C Berkouwer – “a father in the faith” (1 Corinthians 4:15).

This post, written by myself, was first posted at the "Faith and Theology" blog -  For the love of God (23): Why I love G. C. BerkouwerAt a conference for Scottish students in 1975, I met two Dutch visitors, one of whom was a theological student. On the bookstall, there were some books written by the Dutch …

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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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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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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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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 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 …

Continue reading The inadequacy of human language …