The Sacraments is the tenth work to appear in the American edition of Berkouwer’s monumental Studies in Dogmatics. In it, the author examines, explicates and defends the Reformed teaching on the sacraments in the light of the Word of God and church theology. In the process, Berkouwer discusses and evaluates the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and various contemporary views of the sacraments.
The study proceeds to deal with the questions of: the number of the sacraments, the relation between Word and sacrament, the efficacy of the sacraments in relation to faith, the nature of Christ’s presence in the sacrament, the meaning of “sign and seal,” and the controversial questions of infant baptism and open communion. In treating these issues, Berkouwer is able to sort out the massive complications that have developed in their discussion over the years, and with devout faith and unfaltering logic, thread his way between confusion and over-simplification. The result is a brilliant statement of faith, which will illumine and inspire its readers and lay to rest much doubt and uncertainty about the significance of the vital church rites of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
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