Charles’s quotes


"It is surely ours to combine these elements of mourning for sin and joy in our salvation in one complex and composite experience which keeps us perpetually humble and yet perpetually joyful too."— Rev William Still

Monday, 26 February 2018

Berkouwer and Systematic Theology

Sometimes, it is said that Berkouwer's theology is not very systematic. I think that, to appreciate the systematic quality of Berkouwer's theology, you need to get deeply into it, reading quite a bit of his work and thinking along with him.
I have tended to regard his work on 'Holy Scripture' & 'Divine Election' as important though, admittedly, many others are less happy with these volumes).
The more I reflected on these books, the more I felt that he wasn't being unsystematic. He was opening up perspectives which shed new light on these doctrines.
In my book, I expound Berkouwer's doctrines of Scripture & election, seeking - along the way - to defend his approach against his critics.
An important aspect of Berkouwer's approach is summed up in the two principles - Speak where Scripture speaks. Remain silent where Scripture remains silent.
There is, however, another aspect of Berkouwer's approach which is worthy of mention. He was a creative thinker. The first book to alert me to Berkouwer was P E Hughes (ed.), Creative Minds in Contemporary Theology'. By describing him as a creative thinker, I'm not suggesting that he goes his own way, creating his own theology while paying little attention to the Scriptures. He has, however, shown a willingness to re-think theological interpretations which many have thought were settled & not up for discussion.
An example of this is found in his way of handling the doctrine of election where, being unwilling simply to set divine sovereignty & human responsibility over against each other and leave it at that, he suggests a way in which we might affirm both in a more harmonious manner.

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