28 March, 2016



Rev. Herman Hoeksema


The contents of the pamphlet that is hereby offered to the public are not of a personal nature, as the title might possibly suggest, but they purpose to set forth the Reformed view of the truth, as defended by John Calvin, in opposition to certain Arminian tendencies and tenets, that of late were adopted officially by the Chris­tian Reformed Church and found their zealous defenders in Prof. L. Berkhof and Rev. H. J. Kuiper.

From the first we claimed that in officially adopting the First Point (the doctrine of which is the point of comparison in this pamphlet), the Christian Reformed Churches departed not only from what is fundamentally and confessionally Reformed, but also from the historically Reformed line. The notion may always have been afloat in Reformed circles, that God is gracious in the preaching of the Gospel, conceived as a general and well-meant offer of salvation, to all that hear it; the truth is that this and similar Ideas are no direct fruit of Reformed thinking but were imported from the camp of the Pelagian and Arminian enemy. Nevertheless, it was because we refused to subscribe to these imported errors, as they finally were embodied in the Three Points of 1924, that we were expelled from the ministry and fellowship of the Christian Reformed Churches.

To testify against this error in doctrine and unrighteous deposition from our office we consider our solemn duty before God, as well as an obligation of true love to the Church and the brethren in whose midst we labored in the past.

The republication of Calvin’s Calvinism by the Sovereign Grace Union offered us a new means unto this purpose, and gladly we made use of it by drawing a comparison between its teaching and that of the First Point as defended and explained by Prof. L. Berkhof and Rev. H. J. Kuiper.

Originally this comparison appeared in the form of articles in the Standard Bearer. And we are grateful to the seminary students through whose efforts we are now able to offer the same material, unchanged but in pamphlet form, to the reading public.

May our covenant God use this testimony as a humble means for the maintenance and furtherance of His cause in the world.



The reader undoubtedly learnt, that on my recent trip to Europe, I came into contact with some brethren of the Sovereign Grace Union in London, England, particularly with the general secretary of that Union, the Rev. Henry Atherton and his people of the Grove Chapel. I had the privilege of spending a Sabbath in their midst and of ministering the Word of God unto them in two of their services. It is not my purpose, however, to write about this Union in this article. The Lord willing I hope to devote some space to this interesting and important subject in future issues of our Standard Bearer. Let me say, however, even at this present time, that the leaders of the Christian Reformed Churches cannot possibly agree with the principles of this Union, more especially of the Rev. Atherton and his Church. These are strictly Calvinistic and emphasize the very truths the Christian Reformed Churches have denied in their declarations, of the Synod of Kalamazoo in 1924. To mention only one important matter, they most emphatically deny, that the preaching of the gospel is a well-meaning offer of salvation on the part of God to all that outwardly hear it.

Time and again the Rev. Atherton emphasized in my conversation with him, that grace is never an offer, and that the preaching of the gospel cannot be God’s offer of salvation to all. They believe in predestination and they preach it without reserve. If the Rev. Atherton were minister in the Christian Reformed Churches, they would cast him out, as they did us. I consider it best for all concerned, that there be a clear understanding of this matter, for such is the simple truth.

But about the Sovereign Grace Union, its work and purpose, I hope to write later.

This time, though I cannot write a lengthy review on it in the present number, I would urge our readers to secure one of the most recent publications of the Union. I refer to the work entitled: Calvin’s Calvin­ism. The book is a work by John Calvin himself, which he wrote in his maturer years, in which he deals particularly ­with the subject of predestination. The book was first published in 1552, was for the first time translated into the English language in the year 1856, and is now reprinted and published by the Sovereign Grace Union.

Being the work of his later years and being devoted entirely to the subject of predestination, the book offers a fuller and clearer as well as a riper view of Calvin on this subject than does his Institutes. Also of the contents of this work it may be said, that the Christian Reformed Church cannot possibly agree with John Calvin. The leaders of that Church have far departed from him and from the Calvinistic faith. I was surprised to hear that Prof. L. Berkhof wrote a very favorable review on the book. The latter I have not read as yet, but I hope to do so and criticize it in the near future. How would Prof. Berkhof harmonize the following quotation with Point I of 1924 and with all he wrote in defense of the view that the gospel is an offer of salvation even to those that are lost?

“Pighius himself will confess that there is need of illumination to bring into Christ those who were adversaries to God; but he, at the same time, holds fast the fiction (I underscore) that grace is offered equally to all (I underscore) but that it is ultimately rendered effectual by the will of man, just as each one is willing to receive it.” (p. 51).

Or how, please, does he and those that agree with him, judge of the following doctrine of Calvin:

“But with reference to His hardening men’s hearts, that is a different way of God’s working, as I have just observed. Because God does not govern the reprobate by His regenerating Spirit; but He gives them over to the devil, and leaves them to be his slaves; and He so overrules their depraved wills by His secret judgment and counsel, that they can do nothing but what He has decreed” (p. 319). (I underscore.)      

Or the following, please:

“For notwithstanding all your vain talk about it, the truth is that a heart of flesh and a new heart are not promised to all men promiscuously, but to the elect peculiarly, that they might walk after the commandments of God.” (p. 315).

Surely, 1924 would have discovered these passages in Calvin’s work, and having found, that Calvin is “fundamentally Reformed but with an inclination to onesidedness” they would have cast him out of the Christian Reformed Churches!

But I will review these matters, as soon as time allows. It is now only my purpose to recommend to our people, that they secure and read this book.

The Sovereign Grace Union did a good work when they reprinted it.


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