It seems that The Banner tries to maintain somewhat of a balance between the pro-Boer and anti-Boer articles. At any rate, the November 23 issue contains an article by Dr. Fred Klooster entitled, “Predestination—A Calvinistic Note.”
As I remarked earlier, Hoeksema’s view seems to be the catalyst in the debate. From the left, they say: Hoeksema is the most consistent representative of the decretal theology of the Canons, and we repudiate that theology. But from the right, they seem to be afraid to have anything of Hoeksema’s theology imputed to them. And so they say: the left is wrong in saying Hoeksema consistently holds the view of the Canons, and we repudiate Hoeksema but want somehow to hold on to the doctrine of reprobation.
Fred Klooster’s article seems to be somewhat in that spirit. He says several good and true things about the Canons of Dordrecht. Yet he is at pains to put distance between himself and Hoeksema at all costs.
One example of this is Dr. Klooster’s reaction to Berkouwer’s characterization of Hoeksema’s views. Klooster writes: “Hoeksema was once a Christian Reformed minister. This church saw him as a hyper-Calvinist, a strong supralapsarian, a logicistic thinker, a denier of common grace and of a well-meant gospel proclamation to all.”
Well, now, that ought thoroughly to discredit Hoeksema in the eyes of any reader—especially any member of the Evangelical Theological Society, to which Klooster’s paper was originally delivered. Once upon a time Hoeksema was a Christian Reformed minister, but he did not remain such. That church saw him as a hyper-Calvinist! Terrible! Still more, a strong supralapsarian! Watch out! A logicistic (not: logical) thinker! By all means, be careful! And if that is not sufficient, keep in mind that he was a denier of common grace and of a well-meant gospel proclamation (should be: offer) to all! Hence, no one must take Hoeksema’s views as normative when it comes to the doctrine of predestination as set forth by the Canons and maintained by Reformed churches.
And in an article which is replete with footnotes and references, Klooster offers no footnote and reference for the above characterization. How did Klooster’s church see Hoeksema? Indeed, the CRC saw him as a denier of common grace and the well-meant gospel offer to all. At the same time, however, “this church” saw him officially as “fundamentally Reformed.” I have a reference for this: the Acts of the Synod of 1924.
In the second place, Klooster speaks of Hoeksema’s “supralapsarian reading of the Canons.” He writes: “Berkouwer, Daane, and Boer seem to take Herman Hoeksema’s supralapsarian reading of the Canons as normative. In my judgment this has thrown the entire discussion and the criticisms offered into hopeless confusion.”
In my mind I can almost hear Herman Hoeksema laugh, “Oh-boy, oh-boy! My supralapsarian reading of the Canons! I wonder what that means;” For Herman Hoeksema would be the first to admit that the Canons of Dordrecht were thoroughly infralapsarian. After all, he wrote (Reformed Dogmatics, p. 164): “The Canons, therefore, present very decidedly the infralapsarian viewpoint. However, it must not be forgotten that the Reformed fathers never condemned the supralapsarian standpoint, and that they certainly did not regard it as inconsistent with Reformed theology.” And Herman Hoeksema—because he subscribed to the Canons of Dordrecht, after all—would also say, “I’ll shake hands with a good infra any day, provided, of course, that he’s a true infralapsarian.”
No, the question is not one of supra- and infra-. And the escape from the criticism of Berkouwer, Daane, and Boer is not by way of saying they are criticizing only Hoeksema’s supralapsarianism. They are criticizing the Reformed doctrine of election and reprobation, whether supra- or infra-. And if Klooster and others need some help and support in the battle against Boer’s gravamen, they could do worse than to consult Hoeksema’s writings.
But Hoeksema is still a pariah to the Christian Reformed conservatives.