Faith and Perseverance
Berkouwer, G. C.
Publisher Review:In times when men’s hearts are failing them for fear, in the midst of change and transition, in a period when many voices are clamoring for a hearing, the esteemed Professor of Systematic Theology at the Free University in Amsterdam aptly commences his penetrating study by drawing attention to the timeliness and relevance of the doctrine of perseverance. He writes, “There is something very strange about this doctrine, something which confronts us with the problem of permanence in a unique way, because we are so conscious of our own changelessness. Our lives are subject to numberless variations and fluctuations. In the doctrine of perseverance of the saints do we not have merely the projection of human desires, a hope which flies in the face of life’s realities? Does it not grasp after something that is denied us as changeable men?
Facing this paradoxical nature of his subject Professor Berkouwer shows that the perseverance of the saints is unbreakably connected with the assurance of faith and warns us against speaking of constancy without standing in faith. To separate the doctrine of perseverance from its living and existential relationship to the gospel, to Word and sacrament, to promise and demand, petrifies it into a mere play of concepts drained of all life.
The thoroughness with which Professor Berkouwer brings up-to-date the history of the discussions affecting this important subject (from the days of Tertullian and Augustine, through the Reformers, Ritschl, and Schleiermacher, down to Edmund Schlink and Karl Barth) gives this book a special value to all students of theology.