Common Grace and Saving Grace

The doctrine of common grace is important for the discussion of the relationship between the church and the world. where common grace is ignored, a radical dualism develops between the church and the world. Where the idea of common grace is dispensed with for the sake of accentuating the saving character of grace, there tends …

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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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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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Faith in Scripture as God’s Word

Berkouwer criticizes "an incorrect conception of theology, a conception of theology, a conception which considers it possible to discuss Holy Scripture apart from a personal relationship of belief in it, as though that alone would constitute true 'objectivity'." (Holy Scripture, pp. 9-10). He holds that those who view Scripture in this way "wrongly ... see …

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A Little Bit about "The Triumph of Grace … " and "A Half Century … "

As well as Berkouwer's 'Studies in Dogmatics', there are the interesting books - The Triumph of Grace in the Theology of Karl Barth & A Half Century of Theology. Reading the first title makes some inclined to connect Berkouwer with Barth. We should be careful at this point. Though he has clearly studied Barth's works …

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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 …

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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. Berkouwer At 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 …

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Who is God?

Philosophical theology is chiefly concerned with the abstract question of the existence of God. Berkouwer, however, insists that the question of God should be asked religiously: “‘Who is a God like thee, pardoning iniquity, and passing over transgression … ‘ (Micah 7:18)” (A Half Century of Theology, p. 77). To ask the question of God …

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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 book, 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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Marx’s Call for a World-Changing Philosophy: Christian Faith in Dialogue with Herbert Marcuse

Marcuse draws attention to the tension between the truth and its practice. Discussing the relationship between the theoretical truth of the critical theory of society and the practice for which the theory calls, he writes, “the facts and the alternatives are … like fragments which do not connect … Dialectical theory is not refuted, but …

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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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Berkouwer’s Theology of Social Concern

Berkouwer refuses to separate personal faith and social concern. He provides a perspective through which Christian theology can avoid the twin dangers of (a) a preoccupation with social concern which implicitly conceives of personal faith as a flight into illusion; and (b) a preoccupation with individualistic and 'other-worldly' religion which fails to provide any significant …

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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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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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Some Theological Connections between G. C. Berkouwer and Herman N. Ridderbos

The idea of witness in connection with the New Testament witness to Christ.Drawing upon the work of Herman N. Ridderbos, Berkouwer writes, “it is the product of a perception that was not infinite. It is subject to human limitations, its record does not exceed the limits of human memory” (Holy Scripture, p. 162, n. 75).He …

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Faith and Sanctification

Except for one reference to A Half Century of Theology, all of the quotations in this post are from Faith and Sanctification.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 …

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Berkouwer and Barth on Universalism

More about Berkouwer, see The Theology Of G C Berkouwer ----- Barth has tried to affirm universal election without moving from there to universal salvation. There have been different reactions to his theology.   (a) Some have written positively about this approach - affirming universal election without embracing universal salvation. (b) Others have moved on 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 …

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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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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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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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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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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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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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A divine gift

“In Scripture the election of God ... does not come out of works but out of grace. God's electing plan prepares the way of salvation in which man learns that salvation is obtained only as a divine gift an never as an acquisiton because of good works.”― G C Berkouwer

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 …

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Let us keep listening to one another.

“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 same …

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Listening to what God says to us in His Word

Berkouwer and Philosophy Berkouwer approaches the questions of God, man and evil differently from philosophical theology. It should not, however, be thought that his approach is unphilosophical. He is concerned to think clearly about these issues. He is, however, concerned to deal with “actual knowledge of God” (This expression is used by T. F. Torrance …

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Berkouwer and Barth on Divine Revelation

The Question of "Christomonism" An important question in the assessment of Barth's theology revolves around his view of the relationship between natural theology and general revelation, Discussing "Karl Barth's Offensive Against Natural Theology" (General Revelation (GR), Chapter II, pp. 21-33), Berkouwer notes that "Barth's conception of revelation ... is frequently called 'Christomonism' " (GR,p. 25). …

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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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