Louis Berkhof (1873 - 1957) was a
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.
Born in Emmen, Drenthe, the Netherlands, Berkhof emigrated with his family to Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1882. He graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary in 1900 and accepted the call to be the pastor of the Allendale, Michigan First Christian Reformed
Church. In 1902 he went to Princeton University for two years earning a B.D. degree. He then accepted the pastorship of the Oakdale Park Church in Grand Rapids.
In 1906 he was appointed to the faculty of Calvin Theological Seminary. He assumed the presidency of the seminary in 1931, the year after the Hekman Seminary Building was dedicated on the Frankin Street campus, and served until retirement in 1944. Taking
office during the troubled social and economic times of the Great Depression, Berkhof stressed the importance of maintaining orthodoxy in seminaries. Annual graduations from the seminary increased from 14 to 17 during his tenure. This modest increase
occurred despite the fact that some felt the denomination's pulpits were over-supplied during the 1930s. Throughout he quietly sought to guide the denomination as well as the seminary through controversies that arose.
A talented teacher and hard-working author, among his twenty-two books is Systematic Theology, which has been translated into several languages. In 1900 Berkhof married Reka Dijkhuis (d.1928). They had four children: Grace Meyer, William, Jean
Stuk, and John. Later he married Dena Heyns-Joldersma (d.1984), who had two daughters, Joanne Heyns De Jong and Wilma Heyns Brouwer.
- Systematic Theology. Eerdmans, 1932; New Combined Edition, 1996.
- The History of Christian Doctrines. Baker, 1978; Banner of Truth, revised, 1996.
- Principles of Biblical Interpretation. Baker Academic, 1981; republished, 1994.
- A Summary of Christian Doctrine. Eerdmans, 1939; Banner of Truth, 1960.