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85 of 90 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2000
Professor Berkhof, who was the President of Calvin Seminary and professor of Systematic Theology at the same in the first half of the twentieth century, has given us an excellent compendium of Reformed theological thought in this hefty volume. The subject is treated in the classical style, moving through the Doctrines of God, Man in Relation to God, the Person and Work of Christ, the Application of the Work of Redemption, the Church and the Means of Grace, and the Last Things.
His treatment of the Doctrine of God covers a lot of territory, but leaves something to be desired in covering the Attributes of God. His chapter on the Trinity, however, is most helpful.
He is decidedly Calvinistic in his approach to soteriology, giving an excellent treatment of the classical Reformed view of the "doctrines of grace." His chapters on the Atonement are among the best in Reformed theology; and his chapters on the respective parts of the Application of Redemption (regeneration, conversion, justification, sanctification, etc.) are helpful.
His doctrine of the Church is Presbyterian to the last, which is a demerit to the book, in my judgment. The final section on Last Things gives a helpful overview of futurist eschatalogy, with Berkhof rejecting premillenialism. His critique of Dispensationalism is helpful (and scathing!).
The strength of the book is its clear coverage of the Reformed position. At times it is too brief, especially when dealing with divergent views of the various subjects - but that is almost necessary in a book like this.
The greatest fault of the book is the author's lack of actual exegesis of texts. Most of his theology is sound, but his exegetical defense of it is not as clear as one could desire. Too often the passages are only referenced in brackets with little or no quotation. Hence, one could easily read this book and become a Reformed theologian without knowing how to use the Bible to substantiate his or her beliefs.
That notwithstanding, this is a book to be read and studied by pastors and theologians. It is not the only book on theology to be digested, but it is a key one.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2002
This should be next to your copy of John Calvin's "Institutes of the Christian Religion". Actually, my copy of the Institutes was looking ragged, so now I use an electronic copy. Still, for a good understanding of Reformed theology, you should have both of these. It is nice, in the new compilation, to have both the "Introduction" and "Systematic Theology". I agree that you need both publications and having them in one volume is handy.
I agree about the binding. It is sturdy enough (5 stars), but it is not "user friendly" (3 stars). The text nearly runs into the binding and its smaller size makes it hard to hold without it closing on itself. This makes it tough to read, holding it in hand while eating lunch. Still, the theological presentation is more important, so I give it 5 stars.
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52 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2006
Berkhof was the sine qua non of Reformed systematics texts for generations of American seminary students, pastors and theologians. He will still reward a close reading and sharpen the mind. The two stars are for the publisher, NOT THE CONTENT. Shame on Eerdmans! The production of this edition is a sloppy, careless bit of work not worthy of the memory of Louis Berkhof. Seminary students and pastors should consider the Banner of Truth edition instead: [...]
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 29, 2004
Dr. Louis Berkhof's SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY is the magnum opus for his life and for the Reformed theology movement. No other systematic theology compares to Berkhof's in the Reformed tradition that I am aware of. Dr. Berkhof leaves no stone untouched as he covers every aspect of systematic theology from God's inerrant and infalliable Word to the end times. His chapters on predestination are well worth the price of the book.

The drawback to these books is the publisher and not the author. The books are so small that the binding tends to crack easily and the book will not lie open for you to read and write without holding the page where you are located. The poor binding is my only reasoning for giving this book a 4 star rating. The author gets a 5 star, the publisher gets a 4.
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41 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Berkhof's Systmatic is of course a classic text that is a gem. I had the old Banner Of Truth edition for years but like a dope sold it for pennies on the dollar. This edition from Eerdmans is truly abominable.

Where do I start? First off, the font size is terrible. So if you are over 58 the eye strain is quite significant. Then comes the print type. It is almost as if someone churned out copies in his garage. The printing is extremely bad. Sentences contain words that after a letter or two turn light and then dark and in a few instances downright smudgy. Was the typeset dirty? Did you run out of ink? True, this edition contains Berkhof's introductory section which is a bonus. But what good is it if the production quality is abysmal?

How unfortunate that such a magnificient work is so insulted.

Mr. Publisher, check out Shedd's Dogmatic Theology by P and R Publishers. That is how one presents a text of significance.

If you have the Banner Of Truth edition do not trade it in lest you rue the day.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2000
Berkhof has given us a masterpiece in his well known (among reformed circles) work Systematic Theology. This was the very first book on theology I read. Given to me by a friend, I quickly found myself pouring through the pages. Particularly refreshing is his treatment on man's relation to God. One question that is before every man is "How is a man justified before his God?" Berkhof covers the doctrine of Justification in a succint yet thorough manner. Throughout the book Berkhof combines Scripture with logical thinking. He also offers opposing and varying views so the reader can beware. This book is not to be neglected, but should be used as both a tool for reference, as well as a tool for personal growth and knowledge. It is not for the collection of dust.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2002
This is without a doubt the most concise and yet thorough and thoughtful systematic theology that is available. It begins and ends in the correct places, and has careful argumentation of the Reformed Christian faith.

The only complaint that I have is the binding. It is absolutely awful. I do not know what the publisher was thinking. The reader can hardly read the entire page because the book is so difficult to lay flat. The book almost seems to be spring-loaded it is so tight, and closes so quickly - watch your fingers. I would suggest finding an older copy from another publisher. The Banner of Truth edition is easier to read.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2005
Berkhof's work itself is an essential document for the thinking Christian. With much of what one sees going on today, this is put into even sharper relief. This particular publishing is the `New Combined Edition', giving you a lengthy introductory work as well as the work proper, topping it out at over 900 pp. But the publishers cast it in a small book format. You have to forcibly hold the book open to read it. I would suggest getting the The Banner of Truth edition but I don't know if it will include the introduction.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2000
This is Berkhof's standard, systematic treatment of the doctrines of the Reformed faith and his magnum opus. The volume is written in a simple yet scholarly way, including outlines and indexes. It includes a thorough bibliography as well as questions for further study follow each section. I consider this work valuable for the serious student as well as the professional alike. However students with a working knowledge of both Latin and Greek will find Charles Hodges' work to be more detailed.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 1998
Excellent presentation of Reformed Theology. The best presentation of Systematic Theology in a single volume available. If we are to properly understand God's Word, we must make our study in a systematic manner. This is not a book that one sits down and reads from cover to cover, but is the best single volume reference to those topics where we need the most help.
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