Berkhof, Bavinck, Vos

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by Stephen L Smith, Jun 7, 2018.

  1. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Puritan Board Junior

    There has been much discussion on the merits of Berkhof's Systematic Theology before, but I was wondering about the situation where someone has not the time to read Bavinck's Reformed Dogmatics or Vos' Reformed Dogmatics, but would like to read a useful summary of both. Is Berkhof, at his best, a helpful summary of both Bavinck and Vos. I cettainly have seen a real Bavinck influence in Berkhof, but what about a Vosian influence?

    Just wondering.
     
  2. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    It's not as obvious. When Vos wrote his ST, he hadn't quite developed his biblical theology method.

    Berkhof is still good, though. Lot more succinct than Bavinck.
     
  3. kainos01

    kainos01 Puritan Board Junior

    And poetic, to boot!
     
  4. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    I read Vos and Berkhof side by side when I was teaching a class on systematic theology in Sunday School a couple of years ago. I could have sworn that Berkhof was channeling Vos. It is quite possible, incidentally, that Berkhof was Vos's student. In fact, my theory is that Berkhof was the one who took down the notes from Vos's class and had them published. By the way, I am not sure that Vos is much longer than Berkhof: yes there are five volumes, but several of them are quite short, and I don't think any of them are longer than 400 pages, and at least one is under 200, I think.
     
  5. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Of all of the ST from the reformed position that I have read so far, the one by Berkhof was the easiest one to get a grasp on what he was really saying regarding Reformed theology.
     
  6. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Puritan Board Junior

    Although Berkhof perhaps made use of his Biblical theology too.
     
  7. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Puritan Board Junior

    When I asked my question, I had in mind people who have done little theological reading but I want to encourage them to read a sound systematic theology. Bavinck's Reformed Dogmatics and Vos' Reformed Dogmatics would be too much for them, hence recommending Berkhof. But it does seem to me that reading Berkhof (including his 'Introduction to Systematic theology') gives someone the best of both Bavinck and Vos - especially for those who read little theology.
     
  8. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Berkhof was a much easier primer on reformed theology for someone like me, who came over from a strictly Dispensational viewpoint background.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2018
  9. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Stephen, if you are looking for a primer, I would go one level below all of these, and use Sproul's book Everyone's A Theologian, or Bavinck's book Our Reasonable Faith, or Berkhof's Primer. Berkhof's ST, while excellent, is still one level above what I would give a beginner.
     
  10. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks for the suggestions. I did not realise that Bavinck's Our Reasonable Faith was pitched at an easier level than Berkhof's ST. I have also recommended Dr Lloyd-Jones "Great Doctrines of the Bible" as it is great theology from a very pastoral perspective. Many of these lectures are online. That said one needs to read his material on the Holy Spirit with discernment.
     
  11. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    He was open to the modern Charasmatic Movement, correct?
     
  12. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Puritan Board Junior

    No. Read Iain Murray's MLJ Messanger of grace.
     
  13. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Freshman

    My first exposure to theology in a topical manner was Thomas Watson's "A Body of Divinity." For me, it was a great primer into theology. I also don't think one would go wrong by using William Ames "Marrow of Theology" or James Ussher's "Body of Divinity" as a primer before jumping into Berkhof or a larger ST. It wasn't an option but I find Wilhelmus À Brakel's "Christian's Reasonable Service" such a joy to read.
     
  14. JTB.SDG

    JTB.SDG Puritan Board Freshman

    A few other shorter volumes: Hodge has an "Outlines of Theology", which is a condensed version of his 3 volume set. Berkhof also has his stuff condensed in a volume called "Manuel of Christian Doctrine."
     
  15. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Puritan Board Junior

    I take it this is a little more advanced than the 'Manual of Christian Doctrine'?
     
  16. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Puritan Board Junior

  17. JTB.SDG

    JTB.SDG Puritan Board Freshman

    That's right, a good bit more advanced; but very accessible as I remember.
     
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  18. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    was that the one that dropped all of his addressing of the roman Catholic church theology that was in his long Theology?
     
  19. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Wasn't he the one who took John Stott to task for his views on sinner being destroyed, and their disagreements on church unity?
     
  20. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Lloyd-Jones, sort of. The original break was over church issues and unity.
     
  21. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    One was more inclusive then the other?
     
  22. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Stott and Packer were. Lloyd-Jones was made of rock-hard material. The other two gentlemen were godly men and giants, but it was MLJ who held the line.
     
  23. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    What was the specific Groups or churches that they were in disagreement over?
     
  24. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I can't remember. Iain Murray goes over it in Evangelicalism Divided.
     
  25. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I was just curious if it involved reformed/Non reformed coming together.
     
  26. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Much of it involved the Anglican church which includes both Reformed and non-Reformed.
     

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