Since it is so persistently insisted that the Rev. H. Hoeksema in former years taught a conditional promise, and that now our esteemed professor has shifted in his teaching from that former position, the time has come to let the record speak.

We do not quote from such works where Rev. H. Hoeksema uses the terms of Calvin to show that Calvin with his terminology did not teach a general conditional promise, but that he taught a particular conditional promise. In so doing Rev. H. Hoeksema did not advocate as the warp and woof of his theology a conditional promise, but it was only to show that the promise of the gospel is particular. For he was not breaking a lance for conditional theology, but was defending the particularness of the promise over against those who insisted that there is a general offer of salvation to all who hear the gospel with the intent to save.

That was the point in Prof. Hoeksema’s polemic.

And now the record as this appears from his “Student Dictaten.”

I turn once more to the Fourth Locus of Dogmatics, namely Soteriology. And the subject is “Faith”.

I quote:

“Faith is that work of God in the regenerated and called sinner whereby these receive Christ, as He has revealed Himself in His word, and appropriates Him and all His blessings, relying on Him for time and eternity. “(Quoted are Phil. 1:29; Eph. 2:8-10 and John 6:44).

“It is possible to distinguish between the essence and the working, between the potentia and the act of faith. Of course, in principle everything is given in the life of regeneration to the elect child of God, also faith. In the various steps of the order of salvation there is no repeated additional something added to this principle of regeneration. On the contrary, this life is brought to conscious operation and full development (voltooiing) by the Holy Spirit through the means of the word of God. Thus understood we speak of the potentia of faith. Where regeneration is present there is also the potentia fidei; where this fidei is a reality, there is also the essence of faith consisting in a living tie to Christ. Of this essence of faith as the living tie (levens- verband) to Christ, the following may still be remarked:

  1. That it also exists in the reborn infant children. The conscious act of faith is, of course, not present in their case. “For faith is out of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Rom. 10:17. Still it remains true that such a child lives out of Christ, be it then in a mystical manner. Such a child receives that life out of Christ: “dia pisteoos” (Through faith). It is possible to distinguish between the mystical operation of faith in a child, as this occurs in such a manner as to be hidden from us, and the conscious act of this same faith as this is the fruit of the calling of those who hear the word of the preaching.
  2. That this essence of faith cannot be lost, (onverliesbaar is) The tie that binds us to Christ can never again be severed, because it is God, Who preserves this faith in us through Christ. (Quoted are: John 6:37, 39; John 10:27-30; I Peter 1:5)
  3.  That it should be remembered that the operation or act of faith is very divergent. Sometimes this operation is weak, sometimes it is strong, and again it may seem as if this act of faith is indeed absent. Wherefore the distinction is made between the being and the well-being of faith. With this distinction we certainly must reckon in the preaching and instruction of the congregation of God. We should strive not to depress the small and weak, and that the sick be healed we should labor to bring about. For this reason it is all the more necessary that we never insist in the preaching that the weak and imperfect, which is always sinful, is the normal manifestation of faith, but that we build and heal. Otherwise both congregation and pastor will become sick and weak.”

Notice the following in this quotation from Rev. H. Hoeksema’s Dogmatics dictaten in the years 1926-30, when Rev. B. Kok and others were students in our Seminary:

  1.  That in the “definition” given by Rev. Hoeksema of “faith,” he does not first of all underscore that it is an act of the believer, but that it is a “work of God.” It is solely a gift of God to us. There is here nothing said about faith being a “condition” in this entire section of the “notes” on faith.
  2.  That even where Rev. H. Hoeksema distinguishes faith as potentia fidei and actus fidei he does not make the latter in any way conditional, but simply teaches that this actus is brought about by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the gospel. Faith remains even then, according to Rev. Hoeksema, in its essence the living tie to Christ.
  3.  That Rev. H. Hoeksema remains true to his “point of departure” as outlined briefly in the “Introduction” to Soteriology, and thus has no Remonstrant conceptions creeping into the doctrine of applied salvation.

Just one more remark. From my own personal notes taken as a student, now almost a quarter century ago, I glean the following:

“What is the distinction between Potentia and Activa? Is there a distinction between the working and the act of faith? The working of faith is never absent, and gone because this lies outside of the plain of consciousness, (om-dat dit zonder bewustzijn geschiedt.) The act is conscious and willing faith and is connected with the knowledge of the word of God.”

Sapienti sat!

Thus taught Rev. H. Hoeksema a quarter of century ago. These are not just some plausible and convenient “Quotable Quotes,” but they are the warp and woof of Rev. Hoeksema’s Theology, as we shall point out further in the next issue of the Standard Bearer, D.V.

G. Lubbers