G. C. Berkouwer’s Divine Election is a discussion of election in a perspective and spirit that will be quite novel to most theologians and ministers. Berkouwer contends that election can be understood only within faith, and within a spirit of doxology, for election takes place ‘in Christ.’ Hence election must be understood and employed in terms of the gospel. He then repudiates theological usage which employs election and reprobation as a principle of interpretation for theology with the usual consequence of deducing from this truth a nice logical system of theology. Another powerful feature of this book is its criticism of the conception of the sovereignty of God which abstracts it from the whole truth about God and then make it into a mere principle of naked, ‘absolute power,’ an ethically neutral principle of brute force. Berkouwer’s book is at once a most forceful theological presentation and a work of genuine piety.
Gerrit Cornelis Berkouwer (1903-1996), Dutch theologian. He studied at the Christian Gymnasium and at the Free University of Amsterdam, obtaining a doctorate there in 1932. As pastor in the Gereformeerde Kerken (1927–45), he served in Oudehorne and Amsterdam. Also lecturer in modern theology at the Free University of Amsterdam (1940–45), he became professor of systematic theology there in 1945 and continued until his retirement in 1973. He was an observer at Vatican Council II (1962) and a member of the Royal Academy of the Sciences. His Studies in Dogmatics (14 vols., 1952–76) have earned high praise. “The importance of Berkouwer lies in his refusal to accept simplistic either-or’s … in which the fulness of truth is torn apart” (A Half Century of Theology, 208) and his “conviction that theology, if it is to be meaningful … had to be a theology directed to the pulpit” (L. B. Smedes). Other significant works include The Triumph of Grace in the Theology of Karl Barth (1956), The Second Vatican Council and the New Catholicism (1965), and A Half Century of Theology (1977). - From Biographical Entries from New 20th-Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge