17 January, 2017


Herman Hoeksema published A Triple Breach soon after his expulsion from the Christian Reformed Church in 192426 and soon after the formation of the Protestant Reformed Churches. The four chapters of the booklet were originally four public lectures.

The booklet was published originally in Dutch as Drie Scheuren in het Fundament der Gereformeerde Waarheid. An English translation, A Triple Breach in the Foundation of the Reformed Truth, appeared in 1942. The translator is not included. It is probable that Hoeksema translated his own work from Dutch into English, especially since the translator took some liberties with the text of the Dutch original. Long out of print, this English translation was reprinted in 1992 by the evangelism society of Southwest Protestant Reformed Church in Grandville, Michigan. The only change from the edition of 1942 was a new foreword in place of Hoeksema’s preface. It is the 1942 translation, reprinted in 1992, that is published here with Hoeksema’s original preface.

A Triple Breach is Hoeksema’s critique—his devastating critique—of the doctrine of common grace adopted by the Christian Reformed Church in 1924. He demonstrates that the three points of common grace are not interpretations of the Reformed creeds but “appendages” to the creeds. Chapter by chapter, Hoeksema exposes each of the three points as corruption of the truth of Scripture and the Reformed confessions. It was the conviction of Hoeksema, as it is the conviction of the Protestant Reformed Churches today, that the three points of common grace are “deviations from the truth that have far-reaching effects and threaten to undermine the very foundations of the Reformed truth” (Hoeksema’s preface).

In the booklet Hoeksema issued a challenge to his Christian Reformed adversaries—Louis Berkhof, Henry Beets, and others—to defend the three points in light of Hoeksema’s criticisms of them. They did not respond. The reason was that Hoeksema had conclusively demonstrated that the three points are utterly indefensible by one who claims to be Reformed and therefore is bound by the confessions.

The challenge extended by A Triple Breach goes out today to every theologian in the Christian Reformed Church, as also to all others who confess the doctrine of a common grace of God along Christian Reformed lines. None will respond to the challenge. None dares to respond. No defense of the three points as Reformed according to the creeds is possible.

Every member of the Protestant Reformed Churches ought to read A Triple Breach. Societies should study and discuss it. The booklet establishes that the existence of the Protestant Reformed Churches was occasioned by persecution of a sound, faithful, Reformed minister for the truth’s sake and that this truth was fundamental Reformed doctrine. It will also confirm to the member of these churches that uncompromisingly confesses predestination, total depravity, and the antithesis, the Protestant Reformed Churches are true churches of God and necessary.

The work includes some memorable lines, for example, “Regeneration is a wonder, common grace is magical.”

An appendix contains the three points of common grace as adopted by the Christian Reformed Church and Hoeksema’s succinct expression of the essence of each of them.

—David J. Engelsma

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