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Christian Faith in Dialogue with Herbert Marcuse

Marcuse observes the tension between the notion of liberation and its possibilities of historical realization.
He maintains that “On theoretical as well as empirical grounds, the dialectical concept pronounces its own hopelessness” (One-Dimensional Man (ODM), p. 253). Marcuse draws this conclusion on the basis that “The human reality is its history and, in it, contradictions do not explode by themselves” (ODM, p. 253, emphasis mine). He asks, “Does this mean that the critical theory of society abdicates and leaves the field to an empirical sociology … ? Or do the dialectical concepts once again testify to their truth … ?” (ODM, p. 254). Marcuse is both critical of and sympathetic to the dialectical analysis of society. He suggests that “‘Liberation of inherent possibilities’ no longer adequately expresses the historical alternative” (ODM, p. 255, emphasis mine), while contending that “the critique of society would still be valid and rational (even if) … incapable of translating its …
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Berkouwer on the authority of Holy Scripture

Discussing the authority of Holy Scripture in the modern world, Berkouwer writes, “The confession of the authority of the Word of God can never be isolated from the saving content of the Word of God” (Modern Uncertainty and Christian Faith, p. 14, emphasis mine). In confessing that the Bible is the Word of God, the believer confesses that God is speaking to him through the Bible concerning salvation.

Our Faith is rooted in the Truth of the Gospel.

Berkouwer emphasizes both objectivity and subjectivity. He does this by emphasizing that faith’s subjective certainty is rooted in the truth of the Gospel. “Faith involves a certain subjectivity, … a subjectivity which has meaning only as it is bound to the gospel.” (Faith and Justification, p. 30). “the church’s … certainty is bound to certain norms and … a feeling of subjective certainty does not guarantee irrefutable certainty … it is not the certainty, but the truth in the certainty that makes us free … there is a way of understanding Holy Scripture that does not estrange us from the gospel.” (Holy Scripture, p. 20).

Some Theological Connections between G. C. Berkouwer and Herman N. Ridderbos

The idea of witness in connection with the New Testament witness to Christ.
Drawing upon the work of Herman N. Ridderbos, Berkouwer writes, “it is the product of a perception that was not infinite. It is subject to human limitations, its record does not exceed the limits of human memory” (Holy Scripture, p. 162, n. 75). He does, however, emphasize that there is a “deep dimension of the human witness”: “This witness does not well up from the human heart but from the witness of God, in which it finds its foundation and empowering as a human witness” (p. 165). This conception of “Scripture” as “human witness empowered by the Spirit” (p. 167) transcends the “wholly divine or wholly human” dilemma (p. 24). It emphasizes that “the Word of God does not draw us away from the human but involves us with the human” (p. 167). * Understanding the witness of the Gospels to Jesus Christ Drawing upon the work of Herman N. Ridderbos, Berkouwer rejects “an absolute contrast between kerygma and that whi…

Warfield and Berkouwer: The Evangelical Attitude toward the Bible

On the differences between Warfield and Berkouwer, P. Rees speaks wisely, “is it not right to say that there is a difference between the evangelical attitude toward the Bible and an evangelical’s views about the Bible? Go back to Warfield and Berkouwer. Their views of how to construe the Bible’s matchless revelatory quality and authority are not precisely the same… But their attitude toward the Bible is identical – God’s Word that shines in our darkness, the unerring pointer to the One ‘who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven…” (Biblical Authority, edited by J Rogers, p. 13, emphasis original).

The difference between Berkouwer and Warfield lies not at the point of emphasizing the unbreakable connection between origin and authority but at the point at which divine and human activity are related to each other.

Both Berkouwer and Warfield emphasize the divinity and the humanity of the Scriptures.

Their differing interpretations of the relationship between Scripture’s di…

Berkouwer on Bonhoeffer

Berkouwer’s discussion of christology and theodicy refers to insights from theologians of different eras – Paul, Luther, Calvin, Barth, Bonhoeffer, Moltmann (‘A Half Century of Theology’, pp. 254-257).
The lessons he draws from this analysis are profound:
‘ … what is involved is not a theoretical answer to the enigma of evil … but an answer of faith’
‘God’s being is expressed in earthly suffering, not an “uninvolved heavenly holiness”. The atheistic protest is rendered mute by the theology of the cross’
‘the abstract questions of theodicy fall away in the shadow of the event of the cross’
‘ … the reality of the cross, a reality that offends human logic … counters all natural expectations of divine power’
‘In the environs of Jesus Christ, we are conscious of both transcendence and closeness. It is a transcendence, however, that is not empty transcendence. And it is a closeness that reveals that God’s answer transcends even our highest concepts’.
* D. Bonhoeffer’s opposition to the ten…

Understanding Christian Truth

Berkouwer emphasizes that, if we are to understand God’s truth, we must take account of two important points:
* The question of truth in itself cannot be asked without also involving ourselves in the question of truth for me.
* To ask the question of truth for me is to find that truth for me has its foundation in truth in itself (Holy Scripture,pp. 9-10).
We will explore the relationship the relationship between truth in itself and truth for me by looking at what Berkouwer says about (a) God; (b) Man. (a) God Insisting that the question of God is more than an abstract question concerning His existence, Berkouwer maintains that we must enquire about God with the kind of religious attitude expressed in the words of Micah 7:18 - ‘Who is a God like Thee, pardoning iniquity, and passing over transgression … ‘. When we ask the question of God in this way, we open ourselves to the atmosphere of ‘a latent doxology, a rapturous hymn (A. Weiser)’, an atmosphere ‘that leaves all doubt behind as…