In times when men’s hearts are failing them for fear, in the midst of change and transition, in a period when many voices are clamoring for a hearing, the esteemed Professor of Systematic Theology at the Free University in Amsterdam aptly commences his penetrating study by drawing attention to the timeliness and relevance of the doctrine of perseverance. He writes, “There is something very strange about this doctrine, something which confronts us with the problem of permanence in a unique way, because we are so conscious of our own changelessness. Our lives are subject to numberless variations and fluctuations. In the doctrine of perseverance of the saints do we not have merely the projection of human desires, a hope which flies in the face of life’s realities? Does it not grasp after something that is denied us as changeable men?
The thoroughness with which Professor Berkouwer brings up-to-date the history of the discussions affecting this important subject (from the days of Tertullian and Augustine, through the Reformers, Ritschl, and Schleiermacher, down to Edmund Schlink and Karl Barth) gives this book a special value to all students of theology.
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