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.
Louis Berkhof was born in 1873 in the Netherlands, and immigrated 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.