“I believe one holy catholic and apostolic church.” In these words of the Nicene Creed Christians of every era and every land have articulated a dimension of their faith that seems to invite cynicism. Through the years, unity and universality, holiness and faithfulness to the apostolic tradition have not been overwhelmingly obvious as attributes of the Church.
G. C. Berkouwer is not content to take the easy out and explain these shortcomings as thought what has traditionally been confessed about the Church refers only to an ideal, not the actual Church in its historical manifestations. On the contrary, Berkouwer argues, to the extent that the Church fails to display unity, catholicity, and holiness, it is failing to be itself. Readers of Berkouwer who have come to expect penetrating analysis of a wide range of past and contemporary options, constant reference to the Bible in the outworking of a theological stance, and deep concern for the preachability of theology will not be disappointed by this vivid and thoughtful contribution to ecclesiology.
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