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Intimations of a pneumatology in the dogmatic studies of G.C. Berkouwer.

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G.C. Berkouwer is one of the foremost representatives of the Reformed theological tradition in Europe. His Studies in Dogmatics is a formidable body of work which ranges over the larger part of all Christian doctrine. A lacuna which has however been perceived is the absence of a specific work on the Holy Spirit and consequently, a developed pneumatology. What is evident though, is that Berkouwer's theology is highly trinitarian and that in every saving and gracious action of the Godhead, he demonstrates the life and activity of all the persons of the triune God. Seen from this perspective, the person and work of the Holy Spirit permeates the whole corpus of Berkouwer's writing. Berkouwer is always an authentic and orthodox representative of his own ecclesial tradition as well: commonly a tradition which in keeping with the best of Reformed church genius, has tended to be notable more for its developed Christology than for its pneumatology. Berkouwer's contribution is that he is able to expand and extrapolate on this same tradition without ever deviating from its fundamental teaching. In so doing he has enriched many of its values with new perspectives on the Holy Spirit's active role in salvation. The primary reason why his dogmatical studies have a pertinence for the present is because of the growing influence of other more extreme schools of thought on the flanks of Christianity. There is an active sociopolitical brand of theology on the one extreme that in turn is more than offset by an enthusiastic pentecostal groundswell on the other. In the face of often strident appeals for attention from these wings, Berkouwer counters with an orthodox and highly scholarly analysis of scripture and the traditional doctrinal position of the church. The pneumatology that emerges from his teaching demonstrates the gracious and constant outworking of God in the individual, the church, and the universe. A foundation is laid for encountering and receiving this comprehensive teaching in all its aspects especially in the preached word. The Spirit's activity is especially affirmed in the sanctification of man and in the inspiration of the scriptures. His divine creativity is constantly active not just in the church and its sacraments, but also in His anticipatory work for the future consummation. Whenever Berkouwer has not fully expanded any doctrine, he has nonetheless invariably given sufficient pointers for others to follow and build upon. There remains such that can still be utilized and explored in his writings about the Holy Spirit.


Thesis (M.Th.)--University of Durban-Westville, 1985.


Holy spirit., Theology, Doctrinal--Netherlands., Theses--Theology., Berkouwer, G.C.