A Word from Berkouwer

If theology is to have meaning for our problematic times, if it is to be a troubler of man’s conscience and a comfort to troubled men, then it is more than imperative that our theological reflection be reflection in the Word. Only as a real theology of the Word shall theology avoid the destructive luxury of being a beautiful system with which the instructed few may be entertained, but which stands aloof from the tumult of life. It can and shall have – without any pretensions – living significance for the practice of faith, for the preaching and the confessing of the Church in the modern world.”

Faith and Justification, 10

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One thought on “A Word from Berkouwer

  1. For many centuries there was a tradition that held that there was a “Low” church, and a “High” church. I’m not quite sure what that meant exactly, historically; anyone here like to speak on that?

    What I’m interested in, in any case, is this: there has always been 1) a common “low,” simple, popular theology. One that was mostly about belief in being good, in order to get physical, material rewards: physical miracles and prosperity and rewards, here, on this physical earth. A common idea in the Old Testament, and even parts of the New too. This materialist theology though, seems to be contrasted with a slightly different emphasis in the New Testament. Where we see traces of a 2) a “high,” more spiritual, other-worldly, priestly theology.

    The second theology seems less respectful of the material or secular “world,” and material rewards; it ascetically put more stress on forming the mind or “spirit.” A spirit that seems beyond simple rules or “law”; but that empties the self of “desire” for material “possessions,” “riches,” “flesh,” in this world; and seeks a selflessness; or mental or spiritual union with the heavenly spirit of the Infinite and eternal (God).

    Today, most preachers, and many theologians, have noted problems with the first theology, and the desire for material riches, miracles. And many today seem to believe more in the second, “spiritual” vision. My own impression though is that there are problems with EITHER “Low” OR “High” theology alone. We do need a balanced theology that includes BOTH.

    A truer, fuller theology, would be combination of BOTH low and high, earth and heaven, “world” and “word,” coming together. Amazingly enough, there are problems even with spirituality itself: “false spirits”; neglecting the physical world and body till people starve to death (James 2-3?); etc..

    Today I feel we need a balanced theology; one that can take care of the highest aspirations of the “spirit” … but that also, can take care of our material lives, here on this physical, material earth. A material life that is not simple moreover; but is as complicated as all of empirical science.

    How do we get to this balanced, Heaven-and-earth theology? Among other things, this might involve setting up a dialogue between Prosperity Gospel evangelicals, and the most spiritual/ascetic elite.

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