The 15-volume Louis Berkhof Collection contains important works on theology, social issues, education, and politics from one of the twentieth century’s leading Reformed thinkers. Berkhof’s Systematic Theology, included in this collection, is one of the most widely cited theological works in recent decades. His works on biblical interpretation have become classics in Reformed hermeneutics, and his extensive writings on social issues, politics, education, and other issues are enormously influential and widely consulted.
Berkhof was known for his clarity and brevity. He was a master teacher and prolific writer. His works have attained near-universal use in seminaries across the world, and are widely cited and regularly consulted by pastors, theologians, and students of countless denominational affiliations and theological traditions. Berkhof articulated confessional, Reformed theology against the extremes of fundamentalism and liberalism, and crafted a middle way between a purely social Gospel on the one hand and an “other-worldly” spiritualism on the other. He also defined and defended a Reformed hermeneutic of Scripture, forged in the tradition of B.B. Warfield’s doctrine of biblical inspiration.
With the Logos Bible Software edition of these important works by Louis Berkhof, all Scripture references are directly linked to the original language texts and English translations in your library. This edition also allows you to perform topical and subject searches within Berkhof’s works, and the extensive links from Berkhof’s works to other works of Reformed theology make the electronic edition ideal for research and study. The Logos edition makes Berkhof’s works more accessible than ever for reading, research, and classroom use. This collection is a must-have for students, scholars, and pastors.
There are a number of systematic textbooks that have appeared since Louis Berkhof wrote, but nobody, it seems to me, matches Berkhof for his skill in saying much, very straightforwardly in a small space. He goes to the heart of every truth. He says it quickly . . . what Berkhof gives you is constantly, point after point, good stuff.
—J. I. Packer, Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology, Regent College
A great treasure-house of information and analysis . . . probably the most useful . . . systematic theology available from any theological perspective.
—Wayne Grudem, Research Professor, Theology and Biblical Studies, Phoenix Seminary
. . . The best modern English-language introduction to doctrinal theology of the Reformed tradition.
—Richard Muller, P. J. Zondervan Professor of Historical Theology, Calvin Theological Seminary
For decades, Louis Berkhof’s Systematic Theology has remained one of the most important and widely-used systematic theologies. It provides the clearest and most succinct articulation of Reformed theology. From its first publication in 1932, Berkhof’s work was revised, reprinted, and translated into Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Portuguese, and it had become a standard theological text by 1950. It has gained near-universal use in seminaries and Bible colleges across the world, and is widely cited and used by pastors, theologians, and students of nearly all denominational affiliations.
Although many of Berkhof’s ideas are not original—he wrote squarely within the Reformed tradition of Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck—they are succinct, clear, and well-organized. Berkhof divided his Systematic Theology into six sections:
Louis Berkhof’s Systematic Theology was first published by Eerdmans in 1932 as a three-volume set: an introductory volume, plus two volumes entitled Reformed Dogmatics. Much of the material in these volumes was transcribed from his lectures at Calvin Theology Seminary between 1926 and 1928. In 1938, Berkhof revised the 2-volume Reformed Dogmatics, and it was published in smaller type by Eerdmans as a single volume entitled Systematic Theology. Berkhof’s Introductory Volume to Systematic Theology was published separately. For decades, both the Systematic Theology and its introductory volume have been reprinted as two-volume sets or combined one-volume editions.
Now, Logos is pleased to offer both Berkhof’s Systematic Theology and the Introduction to Systematic Theology as separate volumes, both included in this 15-volume collection of Berkhof’s works.
This volume served as an introduction to the 1932 publication of Louis Berkhof’s Reformed Dogmatics, and was revised for the 1938 publication of his Systematic Theology. This volume serves as a prolegomena to Berkhof’s entire systematic, defining dogma, the idea of dogmatic theology, and the relationship of theology to apologetics, ethics, and science. He also outlines the task, method, and history of dogmatics. By explaining the Reformed notion of revelation, inspiration, and human understanding, this volume adds important context and meaning to the Systematic Theology.
The Bible is unique among literature, because—unlike other written works—the Bible contains the principles which determine and govern its own interpretation. This landmark work on Reformed hermeneutics introduces readers to a method of interpreting Scripture as the uniquely inspired Word of God. Berkhof affirms the inspiration of Scripture, affirming and expanding upon B.B. Warfield’s definition of inspiration. Berkhof also explores the unity and diversity of biblical texts, the style and genre of Scripture, and Reformed principles of exegesis—firmly rooted in the spirit of the Reformation: that everyone has access to read and interpret Scripture.
Biblical Archaeology draws from Berkhof’s own teaching and research experience. Although he first designed this volume for classroom use, it gained wide recognition outside academic circles. In addition to the text of the Bible itself, this volume incorporates and makes accessible the texts of Josephus, Philo, and various rabbinical tracts, along with other secondary literature. Berkhof avoids technical terminology.
Biblical Archaeology is divided into three parts. He begins with a geographical guide to Palestine, including an introduction to the climate, topography, political divisions, and the adjoining regions, such as Syria, Egypt, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome. The second part of Biblical Archaeology describes the social and cultural context of the people and places of the Bible, such as familial structure, trade and commerce, art and science, government and military, and various other institutions. This book concludes with a descriptive account of religious practices, including the holy sites, religious seasons, festivals, and rituals. This book also contains detailed bibliographies for further reading and research.
Introduction to the New Testament is designed for students and general readers, and is intended to be instrumental in leading readers to a greater appreciation for New Testament writings. This book includes an extended analysis of literature on the New Testament, including Berkhof’s own appraisal of the most influential 19th century New Testament scholars. Although Berkhof’s subject is the Bible, his pursuit is unapologetically theological: he aims to explain why the church reads and honors the New Testament as the Word of God, and to vindicate the claims of the canonical books against the criticism of modernist skeptics.
Berkhof wrote Assurance of Faith in the conviction that the doctrine of assurance deserves more attention than it often receives. He chronicles the history of the doctrine from the Reformation, through the confessional period, and into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He also explains the connection between faith, belief, and the assurance of salvation.
In response to the popular reception of his Systematic Theology, Berkhof wrote this shorter, more succinct, and more accessible edition for a broader audience. Manual of Christian Doctrine is based directly on his Systematic Theology, and follows the same organizational structure in simplified form. Even in this abridged form, Manual of Christian Doctrine remains a comprehensive statement of Reformed theology. Each chapter concludes with a list of questions and items for discussion, making it ideal for classroom use or group study.
Louis Berkhof calls Paul “a greater reformer with broader view and wider sympathies than Luther,” “a thinker more acute than Calvin,” and “an earnest lover of souls surpassing Whitefield.” A large portion of the New Testament contains his writings and is devoted to telling the story of his life and influence. In his series of addresses to a missions society in Flagstaff, Arizona in 1915—here reprinted in Paul the Missionary—Berkhof implored his listeners to look to his example. The first three lectures are biographical, and the final lecture contains an exposition on grace based on Paul’s writings.
In Recent Trends in Theology, Louis Berkhof offers an appraisal of current topics and thinkers in early nineteenth century theology. He delivered an address on this topic in the spring of 1943 at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, and repeated his lecture at Calvin Theological Seminary later that year. He explores and interacts with thinkers such at Friedrich Schleiermacher, Albrecht Ritschl, William James, Ernst Troeltsch, Karl Barth, and other influential voices speaking from both inside and outside the church. He also covers topics such as evolution and pragmatism, and locates both within a larger modernist project to undermine rational Christian belief.
Subjects and Outlines is a concise reference guide which contains Berkhof’s guide to important topics for debate. The topics covered include biblical history and archaeology, church history, biographies of important figures, and matters concerning education. Although many of the topics are theological in nature, Subjects and Outlines also contains a fascinating account of Berkhof’s opinion of social topics, such as Sunday newspapers, movies, organized labor, public education, Prohibition, women’s suffrage, and political affiliation.
Summary of Christian Doctrine is a concise revision of Manual of Reformed Doctrine, with technical terms and unfamiliar terms removed. Berkhof wrote this abridged edition with detailed explanations and controversial material omitted, and he added questions for further study.
The church, says Berkhof, is not only concerned with the redemption of individuals, but with the redemption of society. In this volume, Berkhof addresses critics who claim the church ignores social problems. The Church and Social Problems interacts with thinkers as diverse as Walter Rauschenbusch, Jacques Rousseau, Josiah Strong, Abraham Kuyper, J.R. Campbell, and others. Berkhof addresses current events plaguing the first two decades of the twentieth century, from the demise of cities to the controversy over Prohibition, labor, and other issues. He also cautions individuals in the church against a Gospel too “other-worldly,” and discusses—in frank terms—the social implications of the Reformed doctrine of common grace.
The atonement is central to Christianity—orthodox theology rises and falls with the doctrine of the atonement. Yet throughout history, theologians have offered numerous theories of the atonement, some causing controversy, others gaining wide acceptance. In Vicarious Atonement through Christ, Berkhof interacts with thinkers from the church’s entire history, such as Anselm, Abelard, Aquinas, Duns Scotus, Grotius, and others to explain the development and current status of the atonement. He also writes at length on the status of the atonement in the context of the Reformation and the subsequent relationship between the atonement and notions of the covenant. Berkhof concludes with addresses to objections to the atonement, especially the Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement.
For centuries, the church has grappled with the formation of children. From Sunday schools to catechism classes to youth groups, teaching and training children as a community has been central to the mission and purpose of the church. In this address, delivered at the Federation of Reformed Young Men’s Societies in 1929, Berkhof argues that Reformed churches have been no exception.
In this address, he explains the purpose of young men’s societies in relation to other church-sponsored agencies and organizations. He also outlines the goals of distinctly Reformed societies in relation to organizations from other theological and ecclesiastical traditions. This volume traces the history of young people’s organizations, beginning with the Sunday Schools of the eighteenth century, the Bible classes and the Y.M.C.A in the nineteenth, and the challenges facing adolescence in the twentieth. He also shows how young men’s societies resemble and differ from high schools and colleges, as well as Bible and catechism classes.
Doctrinal truths cannot be studied apart from their historical background. The History of Christian Doctrines covers the development of doctrine. In it, Berkhof attempts to recover an appreciation for the development of the doctrines in their present form. His investigation is detailed, covering all the ground in his Systematic Theology in a more concise format. This book is essential reading for historical theologians.
Louis Berkhof was born in 1873 in the Netherlands, and emigrated with his family to West Michigan in 1882. In 1893, he began attending the Theological School of the Christian Reformed Church (now Calvin Theological Seminary), where he studied under Hendericus Beuker and was influenced by the writings of Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck. Berkhof graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary in 1900 and became the pastor of First Christian Reformed Church in Allendale, Michigan. He attended Princeton Theological Seminary from 1902 to 1904, where he studied under B.B. Warfield and Geerhardus Vos. H. Henry Meeter, a friend of Berkhof, remarked that “Berkhof frequently said that he owed more to Vos than anyone else for his insights into Reformed theology” (Reformed Theology in America, 156).
Berkfhof returned to Michigan in 1904 and became pastor of Oakdale Park Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. In 1906, he was appointed professor of exegetical theology at Calvin Theological Seminary, and in 1926, became professor of dogmatic theology. He also delivered the Stone Lectures at Princeton in 1921. On September 9, 1931, Berkhof became president of Calvin Theological Seminary, where he served until his retirement in 1944. During his lifetime, he wrote prolifically, including numerous volumes on theology, social issues, politics, education, and missions. In addition to his books, he also published countless articles in Reformed periodicals, such as The Banner, De Wachter, and the Calvin Forum. He also served as the first president of the Reformed Ecumenical Synod in 1946.
Louis Berkhof died in 1957.