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Systematic Theology

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  3,369 ratings  ·  67 reviews
This landmark edition combines Berkhof's standard, systematic treatment of the doctrines of the Reformed faith--his magnum opus--with his Introduction to the Study of Systemtic Theology. Written in a scholarly yet simple style, the work includes a thorough bibliography and study questions at the end of each chapter.
Hardcover, 784 pages
Published December 1st 1996 by Banner of Truth (first published 1939)
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Brent McCulley
Apr 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
Having read up to this point, by way of comprehensive systematics, Calvin's "Institutes" (Magisterial Reformer), Erickson's "Christian Theology" (Baptist) and Oden's three-volume systematic (Methodist/Wesleyan), it was thoroughly refreshing to dive into the Late Louis Berkhof's "Systematic Theology" which is unabashedly Dutch Reformed.

Let me preface by saying that I am also currently going through Herman Bavinck's "Reformed Dogmatics" which Berkhof relies heavily on. At the end of each section
Jacob London
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It’s been a pleasure to read Berkhof’s Systematic Theology over these last few months. Although its only the third systematic theology I have read, I cannot think of how a one volume systematic theology could be better.

Berkhof is orthodox, Dutch Reformed, a theological historian, and inherently Biblical. Although it can often be too brief, all would do well to study Berkhof as an introduction to systematics.
This is a great reference book. It is organized very well and will serve as a trustworthy guide into theological topics. It is written at a technical level and is Reformed in perspective, but Berkhof also gives contrary viewpoints, which augments its usefulness as a reference book and forces judiciousness to its Reformed perspective. The one big drawback is the theology the book contains isn't applied to life. If you are looking for a standard, thorough, and Reformed touchstone for engaging ...more
Joshua Phillips
Feb 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Joshua by: Keith Mathison
One of the most succinctly clear systematic theologies I have come in contact with. I appreciate Berkhof's wisdom and catholicity in content. Berkhof has bookended my undergrad experience at Reformation Bible College and finally putting down this work is truly bittersweet.
Argin Gerigorian
May 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
This week was the toughest with regards to reading. I had the privilege of reading Louis Berkhof’s, Systematic Theology. I had to average about 150 pages a day (skipping one) and that wasn’t easy. Also I barely had time to read other smaller articles and books.

Luckily I was able to speed read through it and retain the majority of the things he said. On a side note, speed-reading is very effective if done correctly… hopefully in another blog I can write about the methods I’ve used and read about
Jacob Aitken

1. Berkhof did his homework and nicely covers most contrary opinions.
2. He clearly states the issue and does a decent job presenting it.
3. I think it is better than Bavinck. It is only one volume and you get the same material, and I think better presented.


1. It reads like a dictionary, and not necessarily an English one at that!
2. The binding is horrible. You will have carpal tunnel syndrome at least once a week while reading it.
Ryan Wallace
Oct 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
This is an amazing reference book of theological goodness, but for your own sake give it your full attention while reading. This is not a book that you just pick up and read for a second or two; it requires intense thought to keep up with the various subpoints (and dare I say, sub-sub-points) presented. All said, however, it is an amazing journey.
May 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
It was nicknamed the "big–blue-sleeping-pill" in seminary, but I couldn't read it after dinner or I wouldn't be able to go to bed. That said it's a little dated and lists proof texts without context. If liberals tend to through money at things Berkhof throws Bible verses.
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Other than Calvin's "Institutes of the Christian Religion", perhaps the most important Reformed work on Systematic Theology. A hard, but must read for anyone serious about understanding theology.
Gradon Schaub
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic introduction to systematic theology. Many of the loci are laid out quite well and give an adequate lay of the land. Particularly helpful are Berkhof's interactions with Roman Catholicism and theological liberalism.
Philip Brown
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A classic. Obviously it's a little dated in places given that it was originally published in the year WWII began. In saying that though, it is remarkable how much he does speak to contemporary issues facing Christian evangelical and reformed theology today. Best work of Systematics I've read thus far (on par with AA Hodge's Outlines of Theology). Highly recommended.
Chad Warner
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians, Reformed, Calvinists
A thorough and articulate systematic theology in the Reformed (Calvinistic) tradition. Berkhof provides ample scriptural support for the Reformed positions. It briefly presents alternative views and identifies their strengths (if any) and weaknesses, and evaluates them based on the Bible. The book is logically organized.

I was especially interested in these topics: image of God, covenant of works, dispensations of covenant of grace in OT, common grace, and eschatology.

I read the free ebook from
Brett Mclaughlin
Oct 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
There's a sense in which reviewing Berkhof is silly. For those who know his name, you need no review. For those that don't, you may simply not be in the Reformed circles of which he is so foundational. Still, for the rare Christian who loves Grudem's Systematic Theology but has never heard of Berkhof (or Bavinck), you owe it to yourself to purchase this work.

First, Berkhof's Systematic Theology is manageable in size. Still a massive tome, this is nothing compared to Calvin's Institutes or
G Walker
Oct 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
I understand that this is a classic text... and I have read it (studied, outline and re-read it on several occasions). Fairly standard mainline reformed theology here... lots of quotes and references to other theologians, that is, he defends his position(s) mostly by footnote, or by telling you that "this' is right or wrong because "so and so" agrees with him. For example, his defense of the covenant of works is absolutely worthless in that there really isn't any exegetical defense, just a ...more
Michael Jones
Jan 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: theology-history
This was great in it's day and context. Pretty dry. Really good for 20th century reformed understanding. But as I read more Biblical Horizons and Hebrew OT, if find myself more inspired by Calvin--his stuff has is less philosophical and ivory towered. More passionate and connected to real practical battles.
Jack Kooyman
This was a textbook for systematic theology classes that I took both at Denver Seminary (Conservative Baptist) and Calvin Theological Seminary. As far as systematic theology textbooks go, this is probably one of the best and more substantial of those used in evangelical colleges and seminaries in the U.S.
Sep 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Every paragraph is worth it.....Make this a part of your daily devotions! You can read through it in a year by just 3 pages a day!
Chase Steely
Apr 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
It took me 8 months to read, but I finally finished.
Cray Allred
Jul 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Haven't actually read it cover to cover, but it is a regular aide in my teaching prep. Pretty darn good.
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I laughed. I cried. It moved me.

Ha! That's what you want me to say, you Reformed theologians. No, this book did not move me! I refuse to heed to your scholastic enticements. No, no, a thousand times no!

So this is book is not really a page-turner, but neither is it a work of original theology. It's too long (833 pages) to be attractive to the average layman, but it's too short and derivative to be read by the serious theologian. It's LONG but feels at many times as though it's perfunctory, and
Nathan Parker
Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Berkhof presents readers with a solid Systematic Theology from a Reformed perspective. Part One covers the doctrine of God, the being of God, and the works of God. Berkhof covers God’s existence (through Scripture and extra Scriptural proofs), God’s knowability versus His incomprehensibility, and the relation of His being to His attributes. Berkhof continues with a discussion on the names of God, as well as an extended treatment of the attributes of God. He also discusses the Trinity both as a ...more
Davi Saro
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biblical-studies
I read this book simply to learn more about the truths of Scripture. I am not a seminary student, but as a student of Scripture, I wanted to dive into deeper waters. It took me 1 year and 4 months to complete it. Very often, I would go through 3-5 pages at a time. The text was single spaced and small font type.

This was the first Systematic Theology which I read cover to cover. I have several on my bookshelf (Bavinck, Grudem, Hodges), but I had used them sporadically as references for preparing
Jon Pentecost
Berkhof's careful survey of systematics is at times dense, but the individual chapters on different topics are always brief. I was continually surprised at the depth of discussion he was able to refer to in a short space.

Berkhof provides a helpful resource here that I will refer to often. The nature of a systematic theology book is that there is never enough space given to the questions you're really interested in. His answers are not comprehensive, but they are thorough.

A unique aspect of this
Blake Harris
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Berkhof is dense and slow going, but makes up for any perceived shortcoming by his penetrating insights. In a number of portions he can say in a few pages what many need volumes to say. And despite being older, this has held up very well. I would easily recommend this to the aspiring student of theology (although reading it at night would not be wise given it is definitely dense), and is a masterpiece among one volume systematic books.
Sam Lenhardt
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A standard for a reason. Provides an excellent overview of all the main loci of theology, without becoming extremely technical. Interacts with various viewpoints. I wish the interactions had been slightly more thorough, but that was probably outside of his scope, and more thorough interaction cam be found in other longer systematics. Definitely go with one of the Eerdmans editions, my nameless reprint (blue paperback) was full of typos and did not include footnotes or a detailed index.
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Extremely clear and thorough. Yet it doesn't seem to get bogged down in unnecessary details. This book had better remain the standard for several more decades.

In my opinion, Wayne Grudem's is still substandard compared to this, with little update for about half a century. In comparison, again, this one is unadulterated by contemporary culture of evangelicalism and scientism.
Diana Popko
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great reference book that is organized and well written with ample resources and references; However, some of it's chapters can get too technical and difficult to read.
Nate Bate
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good reference book. It tends to be harder to read and appreciate than some of the other systematic theologies I have interacted with. I mostly used this during seminary.
Josh Robinson
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite ST. It has become my go to. Love how Berkhof engages those outside of the Reformed Tradition. Was majorly helpful to me. If I could recommend one ST, this is the one.
Robert Nelsen
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent Systematic!!! I did not agree with all of it but it really has given me a good foundation to work with!
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Louis Berkhof (1873–1957) was a Reformed theologian best known for his Systematic Theology (1932). He taught for almost four decades at Calvin Theological Seminary and served as its president from 1931–1944. In his work on systematic theology Berkhof followed in the line of John Calvin and embraced the development of Reformed theology by the Dutch theologians Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck.

“Strictly speaking, it is the Word as it is preached in the name of God and in virtue of a divine commission, that is considered as a means of grace in the technical sense of the word, alongside of the sacraments which are administered in the name of God.” 2 likes
“The covenant of works
was contingent on the uncertain obedience of a changeable man, while the covenant of
grace rests on the obedience of Christ as Mediator, which is absolute and certain.”
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