Not Quite Correct
In Church and Nation, a Canadian publication, I found an article written by the Rev. L. Pr. (aamsma) in which he informs us that, before he left Grand Rapids (I believe that he was for one year professor in Calvin Seminary, and now returned to Canada from where he had received and accepted a call), he visited different churches and listened to the sermons that were preached there.
He also attended the First Protestant Reformed Church and there he heard me preach.
What I want to call attention to in this article of the Rev. Praamsma is the following paragraph: (I translate)
“The Rev. Hoeksema was formerly in the Christian Reformed Churches, but broke this church connection at about 1925, because he could not agree with the decisions of the synod of Kalamazoo in regard to common grace.”
This is not quite correct.
Correct is, not that I broke with the Christian Reformed Church, but that I was cast out.
Correct is the following:
1. The Synod of Kalamazoo was discussing The Three Points of common grace. In a long speech at an evening session of the Synod I explained my position on the matter of common grace and, at the same time, informed the Synod that I would never agree with The Three Points and why I could not agree with them.
2. The committee, appointed by Synod in the matter of common grace, advised Synod, not only to adopt The Three Points, but also that, if I would not agree with and sign the Three Points, I should be disciplined and ultimately deposed from office. This was never adopted.
3. The matter, therefore, was finished. But the Classes of Grand Rapids, both East and West; quite illegally, took up the matter again. Classis East, to which I belonged, decided that my consistory should place me before the question whether or not I agreed with and would sign the Three Points. My consistory refused on the ground that the Synod had decided and that they were satisfied with its decisions.
4. To make a long story short, Classis East decided that, if only I would promise that I would keep still about the Three Points, I could remain in the office of minister. I told the delegates that were sent to me from Classis East that, if I only preached once, I would oppose the Three Points, even if I did not mention them.
5. Thereupon I was deposed from office.
Hence, it is not correct to say that I broke the connection with the Christian Reformed Church.
I was cast out.
About Genesis I-XI
In a Dutch paper <=”” i=””>, the Rev. J.W. Heemskerk, Reformed minister in The Hague, writes two articles to which I intended to call the attention of our readers; but other matters demanded my attention, so that I postponed writing and commenting on those articles until the present time. The articles were written in July, 1963. Yet, although it is somewhat late, I consider it important enough to write and to discuss, briefly, what Heemskerk writes about the matters in the articles to which I refer.
The first article concerns the question whether Gen. 1-11is to be taken literally or as a sort of a myth; the second concerns our Confessions or the Three Forms of Unity.
As to the first, if Geelkerken were still living and had proposed his view of Genesis 1-3 at the present time, he certainly would not have been deposed from his office as minister in the Reformed (Gereformeerde) Churches in the Netherlands.
“For especially in regard to this first part (of Genesis, H.H.), this cosmogonical (relating to the creation of the universe, H.H.), introduction to the further revelation of Scripture, questions upon questions arise. From the six days of creation and the fall into sin up to and with the deluge, the sons of Noah, the building of the tower of Babel, and the confusion of tongues, together with the genealogies and the time calculation, we constantly are in conflict with what science teaches us.
“It will not do to get rid of the questions, as if science consists purely of evolution theories and in speculation presented as science.
“For this is certainly not the case . . .
“We know, for instance, very positively, that at least 60,000 years earlier, during the last glacial period, man came on the stage, used fire, and buried the dead; also that in a very early period murder and cannibalism appeared and occurred; that even then different races appeared in the direction of the present races of man.
“Scripture does not speak at all of this long prehistoric period. But we are certainly concerned with it.
“To make a very long story short: we must either shove the fall of Adam and Eve one hundred thousand., years back—supposedly even much further back—and then the time-calculation of Genesis is mistaken; or we must bring into account ‘pre-adamites’ . . . but then Genesis l-11 can only refer to the white race.
“If you take what is written literally, this alternative is inevitable.”
How then does the Rev. Heemskerk solve this problem?
Genesis 1-11 was written at a much later date, namely, in the period after the captivity of Israel, about 500 years before Christ! You ask for proof of this theory? You will find only ZERO.
To be sure, according to Heemskerk, Genesis 1-11 is a beautiful and very charming and impressive polemic against all heathen practices. The heathen had their view of the universe and its origin. But at the time of the exile God gave them the myth that is now contained in Genesis 1-11.
This is Heemskerk’s philosophy. Proof? NONE!
O, yes, also for Heemskerk Gen. 1-11 is inspired Scripture!
But how is this possible? I believe that there are in Scripture what may be called myths.
However, if there are such myths, every reader realizes that they are myths. But how about Genesis 1-11? Do these chapters also leave the impression that they contain a myth?
The very contrary is true!
Are the six days of creation a myth? Thus, of course, Heemskerk would interpret Genesis I, and many others with him. But how about the fourth commandment of the Decalogue: “For in six days, God created heaven and earth, etc. Was this commandment by God through Moses, engraved by the finger of God in the table of stone together with all the rest of the commandments of the Decalogue? Was Adam created from the dust of the ground and did God breathe into his nostrils the breath of life? If not, will Heemskerk tell us how this “myth” must be interpreted. Was Eve created out of a rib of Adam? Did God put Adam and Eve in paradise? Did He put the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden? Did He gave the probationary command to Adam? Did the sin of Adam and Eve consist in eating of the forbidden tree? Did the devil come into paradise in the form of a serpent? If not, how are we to explain the curse which God pronounced upon the serpent: “On thy belly shalt thou go,” etc.? Did God drive our first parents out of paradise?
Is all this a myth? If so, will Heemskerk give his own interpretation of all these facts?
How about the deluge?
Did God really bring such a flood upon the whole earth so that it was fifteen feet over the highest mountain as the earth then was? Did God command Noah to build the ark, and did he do so? If this is a myth, too, will Heemskerk give his own explanation, and that, too, please, in the light of the rest of Scripture?
Did the wicked really build the tower of Babel or rather, try to build it, and did the different languages on the whole originate in the fact that God confused their speech there?
I do not believe a thing of all that Heemskerk writes about Genesis 1-11.
“For this reason, it is not so crazy (the language is his, H.H.) to draw the conclusion that one who clings to the letter on the Scriptural narrative is a hopeless and unimprovable fundamentalist, in other words, that one does wisely when he understands this narrative as a myth, but then as an inspired and significant and religiously true myth.”
Well, as for me, I rather be such a hopeless fundamentalist than a Heemskerkiaan!
But I am inclined to exclaim: O, shades of Geelkerken and the Synod of Assen!
How far have the Reformed (Gereformeerde) Churches of the Netherlands gone astray from the truth of the Word of God!
Next time we hope to call attention to what Heemskerk writes about our Confessions, D.V.
Single Or Double Track Theology
Kuiper, emeritus Professor of Calvin Seminary, believes that the notorious Three Points of Kalamazoo belong to the glory of the Christian Reformed Church even though they can be improved.
Thus far we have briefly reviewed the Scriptural grounds on which they are supposed to be based, but we did not finish this discussion. We must still examine the proof for the Third Point.
This Third Point reads as follows:
“Relative to the third point, which is concerned with the question of civil righteousness as performed by the unregenerated, Synod declares that according to Scripture and the Confessions, the unregenerated, though incapable of doing any saving good, can do civil good. This is evident from the quotations of Scripture and from the Canons of Dordrecht, III, IV, 4, and from the Netherland Confession Art. 36, which teach that God, without renewing the heart, so influences man that he is able to perform civil good; while it also appears from the citations from Reformed writers of the most flourishing period of Reformed theology, that our Reformed Fathers from ancient times were of the same opinion.”
This Third Point speaks of civil good.
Now it is well to note that also the undersigned had written about the same subject and that, too, before the Synod of 1924 had convened. I had done so in my pamphlet Langs Zuivere Banen (Along Straight Paths).
I wrote as follows:
“And what, then, is civil righteousness? According to our view, the natural man discerns the relationships, laws, rules of life, and fellowship, etc. as they are ordained by God. He sees their propriety and utility. And he adapts himself to them for his own sake. If in this attempt he succeeds, the result is an outward and formal resemblance to the laws of God. Then we have civil righteousness, a regard for virtue and external deportment. And if in this attempt he fails, as is frequently the case; civil righteousness disappears, and the result is exactly the opposite. His fundamental error, however, is that he does not seek after God, nor aims at Him and His glory, even in this regard for virtue and external deportment. On the contrary he seeks himself, both individually and in fellowship with other sinners and with the whole world, and it is his purpose to maintain himself even in his sin over against God. And this is sm. And in reality his work also has evil effects upon himself and his fellow creatures. For his actions with relation to men and his fellow creatures are performed according to the same rule and with similar results. And thus it happens that sin develops constantly and corruption increases, while still there remains a formal adaptation to the laws ordained of God for the present life. Yet, the natural man never attains to any ethical good. That is our view.”
Now, what is wrong with this?
And why did the Synod of Kalamazoo actually condemn this?
My answer is: the Synod wanted to maintain that natural man can perform what is positively good in the sight of God!