In Robert Decker’s review of David Calhoun’s two-volume work on the history of Princeton Seminary (SB, August, 1998), he quotes A.A. Hodge as saying that the difference between Calvinism and Arminianism “is one of emphasis rather than principle,” that Calvinism and Arminianism are “necessary to restrain, correct, and supply the one-sided strain of the other,” and that Calvinism and Arminianism “together give origin to the blended strain from which issues the perfect music which utters the perfect truth.”
Decker correctly states that “there was some very ‘strange fire on Princeton’s altars.'” However, earlier in the review, Decker mentions A.A. Hodge in the list of Princeton men who were “strongly committed to the Reformed Faith.” I beg to differ. From the above quotes alone, it is obvious that A.A. Hodge believed that Arminianism is just an unbalanced form of the true gospel. And he does not stop there. He does not merely tolerate the false gospel; astoundingly, he says that Calvinism is also an unbalanced form of the true gospel and that Arminianism is necessary for balanced gospel truth! He believed that Arminianism is necessary to “correct” Calvinism! “Strongly committed to the Reformed faith”? Hardly.
The true gospel is the good news of salvation conditioned on the blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone. Any other “gospel” that conditions any part of salvation on the sinner is a damnable false gospel. Those who believe and preach this false gospel are lost, and those who tolerate, endorse, and promote this false gospel are just as lost. Previous articles in the Standard Bearer, such as David Engelsma’s “Free Willism: Another Gospel” (May 1, 1997) and John Pedersen’s “Confessions of a Harsh, Judgmental, Intolerant One” (May 15, 1997), as well as Pedersen’s book, Sincerity Meets the Truth (reviewed in SB, December 1, 1997), compellingly bear this out. Far from being “strongly committed to the Reformed faith,” A.A. Hodge showed himself to be an unregenerate agent of Satan in his promotion of the false gospel.
Marc D. Carpenter
I have three comments in response to your letter:
1. My statement concerning A.A. Hodge and others, “These were men strongly committed to the Reformed faith,” is qualified by my reference to “the very strange fire on Princeton’s altars.”
2.It will interest you to know that for many years Herman Hoeksema used Charles Hodge’s Systematic Theology (Wm. B. Eerdmans three-volume edition) as required collateral reading in his Dogmatics classes. This in spite of the fact that Hoeksema differed sharply with Hodge on several key points of doctrine, the covenant and common grace to name just two.
3.Your statement, “A.A. Hodge showed himself to be an unregenerate agent of Satan in his promotion of the false gospel,” is radical to the extreme. It is a judgment best left only to God Himself.
—Prof. Robert D. Decker