Louis Berkhof taught at Calvin Theological Seminary for almost four decades and was the president of the seminary for 13 years. His 830 page book on systematic theology is still regarded as a standard textbook of reformed theology.My basic premise is that thinking is not done in a vacuum, but rather is guided by fundamental assumptions, which themselves are shaped by the structure of the mind. Postmodern thought deconstructs authors by pointing out their fundamental assumptions, leaving a person with nothing. Cognitive analysis puts the pieces back together by using a cognitive model to explain why an author thinks in a certain manner. This makes it possible to compare and evaluate different authors on the basis of mental wholeness. Does a system of thought promote mental wholeness, or is it guided by natural assumptions that end up fragmenting the mind?
Most of Berkhof’s systematic theology can be explained as a combination of religious attitude, overgeneralization, and biblical fundamentalism—in that order. Religious attitude believes that the source of religious truth has far greater emotional status than personal identity, leading to the feeling that I am nothing compared to God. Religious attitude plays a dominant role in most religions. Overgeneralization occurs naturally whenever factual knowledge is limited and one is dealing with universal topics. Overgeneralization also plays a dominant role in most religions because God is a universal being while knowledge about God is limited.
The religious attitude is usually sensed personally within Mercy thought. Reformed theology treats it as an overgeneralized theory within Teacher thought and then uses technical thought to place scriptural content within this overgeneralized theory of ‘total human depravity’.
I have posted a 79 page essay on Berkhof’s Systematic Theology with extensive quotes that show that most of Berkhof’s system of theology emerges naturally as a result of this combination. I have also included an analysis of R.C. Sproul’s video series on predestination.