Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | June 22, 2008

Lord’s Day Quote: Louis Berkhof

The present age is an undogmatic age.  There is a manifest aversion, not only to dogmas, but even to doctrines, and to a systematic presentation of doctrinal truth.  During the last half a century very few dogmatical works made their appearance, while the market was flooded with works on the History of Religions, the Philosophy of Religion and the Psychology of Religion.  The assertion is often heard that Christianity is not a doctrine but a life, and that it makes very little difference what we believe, if we but share the life of Christ.  There is an insistent cry, especially in our own country, for a Christianity without dogmas.  Dogmatical preaching is not in favor and is therefore avoided in many circles.  Many conservative Christians clamour for purely experiential preaching, while others of a more liberal type greatly prefer ethical or social preaching…

…On more than one occasion a one-sided dogmatism led to a pietistic reaction.  And it is characteristic of Pietism that it is hostile to all intellectualism in religion and exalts emotionalism and experience as the only real manifestation of the religious life.  It bids Christian people escape from the wrangling of doctrinal controversies by withdrawing into the citadel of the heart, the seat of the affections. In our own country Pietism has found a rather welcome ally in an Activism, which holds that it makes little difference what one believes, provided one is only busy in the work of the Lord.  A great number of American Christians are much too busy in all kinds of church activities to concern themselves very much about the study of the truth.  They are practical pragmatists and are interested only in a religion that promptly yields tangible results.  Their knowledge of dogmas has been reduced to a minimum.  In fact both Pietists and Activists often claim that Christian people should disengage themselves from the complexities of present day doctrinal systems and return to the simplicity of the Apostolic Age, and preferably to the words of Jesus, who did not concern Himself about dogmas. 

Louis Berhof, The Idea and History of Dogmatic Theology


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