Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
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G. C. Berkouwer: Studies in Dogmatics. Sin. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1971. 599. $9.95.
The size of this volume is explained by the fact that as a translation it comprises the two volumes of the original Dutch on the subject of sin, the first on The Origin and Knowledge of Sin and the second on The Essence and Spread of Sin. In the translation these are given as Part I (pp. 11-231) and Part II (pp. 235-567). The features so characteristic of Professor Berkouwer, noted repeatedly in this Journal in connection with other volumes in his Studies in Dogmatics, are conspicuously present in this study. The breadth and thoroughness of the author’s erudition evoke not only admiration but amazement.
At the outset this reviewer is constrained to say that in respect of the combination of exegesis, biblical theology, historical theology, and dogmatic theology this work is unexcelled. All of these aspects of theological study are woven together in the various chapters as each deals with the particular subject being considered. It is impossible in a review to give any adequate portrayal of this wealth of material. A few examples will be selected.
In the chapter “The Biblical A Priori” (pp. 27-66) Berkouwer uses all the resources of biblical teaching and church doctrine to obviate every subterfuge of human self-excuse by making God the author of sin. “In the framework of Scripture it is no exaggeration which the Church has expressed when she called this nation of Deus causa et auctor peccati a ‘blasphemy.’ Repeatedly, in warnings and admonitions we hear this same scriptural message concerning the nature of God” (p. 34). In dealing with the ‘cautioning word’ of James 1:13 he says: “Anyone who says, ‘I am tempted by God,’ is only making an excuse. His reasoning is then as follows: Sin comes ‘from God,’ which can only mean that it does not come ‘from me.’ But James wants nothing to do with such a profanity” (ibid). “With no qualms at all we can say that the reality of God’s anger is the reverse side of the ‘Deus non auctor et causa peccati’….In wrath we see the revelation of the absolute distance and the radical and clear antithesis between God and man’s sin” (p. 39). With distinct propriety Berkouwer appeals to the cross of Christ as showing “definitively, and in
WTJ 35:2 (Win 73) p. 228
clearest relief” this antithesis. “When we gaze on the face of him who died as one accursed, ‘outside the camp,’ bearing his reproach (Heb 13:11–13), we are denied forever the privilege and the audacit...
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