This is the second volume to appear in the American edition of Professor Berkouwer’s Studies in Dogmatics. Like its companions, it stands independently of the series as well as forming part of a larger theological whole. Like them, too, this study of the providence of God is a fine example of Reformed theology being defended and developed through interaction with a wide range of both past and present theologies and theologians, and through a fresh look at the Biblical message.
As Professor Berkouwer says in this book, the twentieth century has seen an attack on the worth of humanity itself, with the widespread “declarations of decline” and the prominence of such words as “crisis,” “chaos,” and nihilism” mirroring the distressing situation. In such times the most obvious confession of the Church, God’s providence and His rule over all things, has become to modern man the most outmoded confession of the historic Christian Church. God’s guidance, says Professor Berkouwer, has become the problem; and he points out that some facts of experience most striking as arguments for the providence of God have now become even more convincing counter-arguments. “This is the time, says Professor Berkouwer, “in which the Church of Christ must ask herself whether she still has the courage, in profound and unshakable faith, in boundless confidence, to proclaim the Providence of God. Or is she possessed of secret doubts fed by daily events? Can she still speak of God’s rule over all things, of his holy presence in this world?…Dare she still, with eyes open to the facts of life-no less than those who from the facts conclude an imperative atheism-confess her old confession?
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