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 …

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Grounded in God’s grace – our assurance of faith; trusting in God’s grace – our confession of faith; inspired by God’s grace – our obedience of faith

In his contribution to Clark Pinnock (editor), Grace Unlimited (1975), G. R. Osborne states that Berkouwer, in his bookm 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 …

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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 …

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Berkouwer’s reinterpretation of election – not a devaluation of divine sovereignty

Berkouwer emphasizes that his reinterpretation of election "has nothing to do with a devaluation of divine sovereignty. It is not motivated by respect for the autonomy of the free man" (A Half Century of Theology, p. 95). He sought to affirm divine election while avoiding the dangers of determinism. Describing the process by which he …

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Berkouwer’s "A Half Century of Theology"

In his post, Theological autobiography, Ben Myers writes, "Although there hasn’t been much theological autobiography in the past century, G. C. Berkouwer’s A Half Century of Theology(1977) deserves mention. It’s a stimulating discussion of major developments in twentieth-century theology from the perspective of Berkouwer’s own experience and development."

What are we to say about ‘biblical criticism’?

Berkouwer presents a view of biblical criticism which promises to overcome theological polarization. Keeping the Gospel at the centre of his thinking, he maintains that it is possible to acknowledge that there are “hesitations and doubts … present at many points (which) do not in themselves indicate a deep and final uncertainty” (A Half Century …

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G. C. Berkouwer On Spiritual Commitment And Social Concern In The Old Testament.

Serving God is incomplete if it doesn't lead to serving others.  "The service of the God of Israel and total concern for life within our horizon are inseparable... His people can truly give all their attention to him without being lured away from their neighbors."(G. C. Berkouwer, A Half Century of Theology, p. 193). Serving …

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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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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).

Berkouwer and Barth: The Character of Certainty

Certainty is concerned with knowing and is, therefore, closely related to truth. One can only know when the truth has been made known to one. For Barth, God’s “Yes” is the all-important decision (Berkouwer, The Triumph of Grace in the Theology of Karl Barth (TG), pp. 30. 33). God’s gracious affirmation of sinful man is …

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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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Living the Life of Faith

In speaking of the connection between Christian faith and Christian living, Berkouwer emphasizes the importance of a proper understanding of divine grace. He stresses that, through divine revelation and reconciliation, we become aware that we are dependent on divine grace without being destroyed by divine power. In adopting this approach, Berkouwer seeks to construct a theology which …

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Justification, Sanctification and Perseverance – By Grace through Faith

More about Berkouwer, see The Theology Of G C Berkouwer Berkouwer's work on Faith and Justification is undergirded by this foundation - principle: "The character of faith resolves all tensions between objectivity and subjectivity, For faith has significance only in its orientation to its object - the grace of God" (p. 29). His work on Faith …

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A Critique of J D Bettis, "Is Karl Barth a Universalist?"

More about Berkouwer, see The Theology Of G C Berkouwer The question of universalism in Barth’s theology has been raised directly by J D Bettis in his article, “Is Karl Barth a Universalist?” (Scottish Journal of Theology, Vol. 20, No. 4, December 1967, pp. 423-436).This article requires to be carefully discussed not only for its significance as …

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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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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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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 …

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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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G C Berkouwer on “Faith and Perseverance”

Berkouwer insists that "the living preaching of the Scriptures, which offer no metaphysical and theoretical views about .... 'permanency' as an independent theme in itself, does nothing to encourage 'a continuity' which is opposed in any way to the living nature of faith" (p. 13). He stresses that "The perseverance of the saints is unbreakably connected …

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Thinking About Divine Election: Some Thoughts From G. C. Berkouwer

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 …

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Berkouwer on “Scripture and Christ”

In his book, “Holy Scripture”, Berkouwer places great emphasis on the vital connection between Scripture and Christ.* “Scripture is the Word of God because the Holy Spirit witnesses in it of Christ” (”Holy Scripture” (p. 162).* “the purpose of the God-breathed Scripture is … to witness of the salvation of God unto faith” (p. 180).* …

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Christian Doctrine and Christian Experience

Describing Berkouwer's theological method, L B Smedes writes, 'The truth of the Gospel ... is known and understood only within the total context of both revelation and the obedience of faith. Theology, whose task is to restate that truth, is determined in its methods and limited in its conclusions by the nature of the Gospel as …

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To Understand History, We Need Revelation.

Warning against "the danger of going outside the sphere of faith into the area of observation", G. C. Berkouwer disputes the legitimacy of interpreting the ways of Providence on the basis of facts" (The Providence of God, pp. 164-165). He aims to guard against the possibility that "everyone according to his own prejudice and subjective …

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G C Berkouwer on “Faith and Sanctification”

Publisher's Review 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 the main current of American religious thought, it the work of Prof. G. …

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Berkouwer on Social Concern and Sanctification

More about Berkouwer, see The Theology Of G C Berkouwer Berkouwer approaches social concern from a Biblical and Reformed perspective. In Ephesians 2:8-10, the emphases ‘by grace’ and ‘through faith’ lead directly on to the emphasis ‘for good works’. Berkouwer underscores this connection between ‘Sola Fide and Sanctification’ (Chapter II, pp. 17-44). He emphasizes that the …

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G C Berkouwer comments on the “Nature Psalms”

"This understanding, and seeing, and hearing, is possible only ... in the enlightening of the eyes by the salvation of God ... But this seeing and hearing is not a projection of the believing subject, but an actual finding and seeing, and hearing! Here nothing is 'read into', but is only an understanding of the …

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The Christian Dialogue with Marxism

Insisting that ‘serious dialogue (is) not a dialogue of phoney tolerance’, G C Berkouwer cites the words of the Marxist writer, M. Machovec, who said ‘that if there was to be dialogue he wanted an opponent who would really try to convert him’ (A Half Century of Theology, p. 188, emphasis and brackets mine). Berkouwer is calling Christians …

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Natural theology and general revelation

Berkouwer makes a clear distinction between natural theology and general revelation. He emphasizes that knowledge of revelation is arrived at not through natural theology but through experience of the salvation of God “that opens doors and windows towards God’s handiwork” ("General Revelation", p. 131). While this places the emphasis on the priority of divine revelation, …

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In Concern For The Heart Of The Church

Berkouwer recognized that the deterministic interpretation of election has, for many, proved to be an obstacle to faith - "the confession of divine election did come to the fore in a very direct pastoral way; people in the congregations have been plagued by questions concerning election and human responsibility, questions about the certainty of one's …

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Looking to the Lord for His answers to our questions

Evaluating The Theology Of Paul Tillich Berkouwer and Tillich: The Relationship between Theology and Philosophy Paul Tillich writes, ‘Philosophy and theology ask the question of being. But they ask it from different perspectives. Philosophy deals with the structure of being in itself; theology deals with the meaning of being for us’ (Systematic Theology, The University …

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Pride and Faith in Berkouwer’s "Studies in Dogmatics" (The believer’s experience of salvation)

Central to Berkouwer’s exposition of Christian experience are three books which might be called a kind of trilogy - Faith and Justification, Faith and Sanctification, and Faith and Perseverance. These titles emphasize the importance of faith in the theology of Berkouwer. From beginning to end, the Christian life is a life of faith. In each …

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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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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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Pride and Faith in Berkouwer’s "Studies in Dogmatics" (God’s provision of salvation)

The Bible speaks of sin. It also speaks of salvation. The gospel is directed toward ‘the restoration of the image of God’. In this connection, Berkouwer cites Eph. 4:24 and Col. 3:10 which speak of ‘the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness’, ‘the new nature, which is being …

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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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Pride and Faith in Berkouwer’s "Studies in Dogmatics" (introduction)

‘The great theologians from Paul and Augustine to G. C. Berkouwer and Karl Barth ... have been able to explain what the faith does not mean as well as what it means.’1 This is a short study in the writings of one of those great theologians, named here by D. G. Bloesch. G. C. Berkouwer …

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