Publisher Review: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.
His method is to construct a general concept of the “sacraments” first, during which he takes into consideration the sacraments proper (baptism and the Lord’s Supper). He does not seek to analyze the essence of “the sacraments” apart from a consideration of the individual sacraments, for, Berkouwer contends, the nature of the sacraments turns precisely upon the concrete givenness of baptism and the Lord’s Supper in the historical revelation in Christ.
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.
Publisher: Spring Arbor Distributors