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 Contemporary Theology, pp. 65, 95).
Berkouwer emphasizes that, in our exposition of Christian truth, we must take care not to suggest that the subjective aspect of faith is ‘a competitive factor that subverts objective revelation’ (A Half Century of Theology , pp.63-64). In our understanding of the relationship between truth and faith, we must take care to draw attention to ‘man’s involvement’ with divine revelation (p.64). The significance of our human experience is not swallowed up by divine sovereignty. In recognizing the significance of human experience in relation to divine revelation, we must take care that we do not exaggerate the significance of man such that man is given a creative function with respect to truth (Faith and Justification, p.17). The divine and the human are not to be seen as competitors.
Understanding ourselves in relation to God -in the light of His self-revelation to us - is a matter of the greatest importance. As we seek to understand our human freedom, we must emphasize that our true nature lies in our relation to God. Our true freedom finds expression only when our relation to God finds its fulfilment through faith (Man: The Image of God, pp.33, 54).