The following review of “Reformed Dogmatics” is reprinted by permission from The Banner of June 28, 1968.
REFORMED DOGMATICS by Herman Hoeksema. Reformed Free Publishing Association, Grand Rapids, Mich. 917 pages. Price, $14.95.
This is indeed the “major work” produced by the author in “his many-sided and busy ministry of almost fifty years,” and it is an excellent contribution to the “Reformed exposition of the faith once delivered to the saints.”
Those who are enthusiastically Reformed will applaud the author’s insistence that “dogmatics must be faithful to the Scriptures, and therefore thoroughly exegetical; . . . must be theologically construed, and must therefore be theocentric; . . . and must be faithful to the Reformed Creeds and to the dogma of the church.”
One finds in this volume much traditional theology. This is its strength, not its weakness. Prominence is given to authors who have attained stature, and to views which have stood the test of time. The emphasis is not on that which is new, but on that which is true. Unswerving loyalty to the infallible Word of God and deep appreciation for the views developed by a Spirit guided church, are the diapason of this theological music. Because of this, the annoying and even disastrous relativism in much current theological discussion is blessedly absent. Certainty, clarity, precise formulation, and thorough organization are, as they have always been, the author’s stock-in-trade.
Let no one think that this book is only a repetition of all that has been said before. There is an eloquent presentation of positions often developed and long defended, but new and challenging insights are not lacking. Inspiring stimulation is to be found in the more traditional views found in the discussion on creation and eschatology in general; and definite challenge in the author’s more distinctive views on divine decrees, the image of God, the covenant and baptism, the attributes of God, and God’s relationship to man and his attitude toward man in a world of sin.
No one can be expected to agree with all the author’s views or statements. The Supralapsarian position is vigorously defended; his indictment of the biblical theological method is, in my estimation, too severe; the position on natural revelation is not wholly consistent; common grace is denied; and the love of God is defined or described in such a way that it quite naturally leads to a conclusion which, in this reviewer’s opinion, does not do full justice to the biblical givens.
Those who are at all acquainted with the author’s other writings will know that he has been very insistent on the importance of the covenant. This is good, and also very necessary. The discussion is enlightening, to say the least. One does wonder though if it would not have been even more beneficial if less concern had been expressed about the question of whether or not the covenant is “conditional” and more emphasis had been placed on the divine “claim” in the covenant.
To acquire this volume requires a considerable financial investment, but those who are eager to refresh and enrich their knowledge of the Reformed faith will do well to give preference to this volume, and will be eminently rewarded if they spend many hours in perusal and study of it.