Surely it is high time that the mists of confusion and misrepresentation be dispelled by the indisputably clear testimony of the recorded facts, as these are set forth in the Dogmatics Notes of Rev. H. Hoeksema, now more than a quarter of century ago when I and Rev. B. Kok were yet students in our Seminary.
We will not weary the reader, nor our own soul, with any remarks concerning the latest outburst from the soul of Rev. B. Kok in the Reformed Guardian, lest, by refuting so much misrepresentation and nonsense, we would give it an honor that it ill deserves. The “worn out and tired” Rev. H. Hoeksema can still very ably take care of and dispose of this matter if he so chooses.
However, what we will do is show from the Dogmatics Notes of Prof. H. Hoeksema that the contention of Rev. B. Kok (for “contention” (!) it is) that the warp and woof of Rev. H. Hoeksema’s Theology was a conditional promise is contrary to the plain facts. If such were the positive (thetical) teaching of our former professor, one would expect that this were set forth in his Dogmatics, in the Locus called Soteriology, or applied salvation. Should one then understand matters, he would especially expect to read this in clear and unmistakable language in the matter of the proper relationship of faith and justification!
What do we then read here?
In clear and unmistakable language of the Rev. Hoeksema we read the following; (I translate from the Dutch)
“In the matter of justification we must have regard unto the following elements:
A. We must notice, that it is God who justifies….
B. We must notice the basis (grond) of this justification. This is absolutely alone the obedience of Christ….
- We must notice the content of this justification
- Also we must have regard to faith as the means whereby God justifies us. It is of importance, that we have a proper conception of the connection between faith and justification.
To be rejected are the following presentations:
- As if faith were the ground for our justification. There is in faith, also as act (ook als wefk) no merit before God. The sole ground (of justification) is the obedience of Christ.
- As if faith were a condition upon which God justifies us. There are no conditions in God’s Covenant for us (to fulfil). All the benefits of God are given unto us absolutely unconditionally. Never may the ‘believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved’ be presented as a condition and promise. Faith itself is a (daad Gods) act of God and a benefit of grace shown to us.
- As if faith were a means on our part whereby we accept Christ, the hand whereby we can take hold of Him, or the taking hold of Him itself by this hand. At bottom this presentation is Remonstrant.
- As if faith were a means whereby we bring forth good works, so that God reckons faith for works, or also, justifies us for the work’s sake. It is true that James instructs us, that only by a living faith (werkend geloof) a man is justified before God, but this finds its reason solely in the fact that faith always works out of and through Christ.
The correct presentation is the following:
- Faith is an instrument of God in as far as it is the tie that makes us one with Christ; all our righteousness is in Christ Jesus. As long as we are not ingrafted into Christ by a true faith we are in and of ourselves children of wrath. It is for this reason that God’s Word employs the preposition “dia” with the genitive of “pistis” (faith) to express this (correct relationship) and thus only can we understand, that God reckons faith for righteousness.
- Faith is also God’s instrument, whereas by faith He brings us to the consciousness of our justification, and speaks of peace in foro conscientiae (in the forum of the conscience).
- And from our side faith becomes a means whereby we now by the act of faith receive and appropriate the righteousness of God in Christ to ourselves. For this reason the Word of God employs also the preposition “ek” (out) with the genitive of the (name) Christ. Romans 5:1: “Wherefore being justified out of faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We call attention to the following:
- That our point in this quotation is not whether the Rev. H. Hoeksema is correct in his presentation here in his Dogmatics Notes. I believe that he is. But that is not my point in quoting them. I want to have the record speak. I am not a judge in this instance but I want to read the record. Let the readers be the judges!
- That in the above quotation we have clear and unmistakable language tree from all ambiguity, so that all who can read good English can understand if they have the Spirit of Christ. By no stretch of the imagination does Rev. Hoeksema here speak of a “conditional promise”. This has no place in the Soteriological concept of Rev. Hoeksema as given here in the Notes. Fact is, that he repudiates this same “conditional promise” in no uncertain terms. See No. 2 under “rejected errors”.
- That in the positive teaching concerning the proper presentation of the relationship between faith and justification (see No. 3) Prof. Hoeksema does not teach faith to be a “subjectively fulfilled condition.” That is not the language of Rev. H. Hoeksema, for the simple reason, that such is not his Theological conception of the work of God in our salvation in us. He speaks of the act of faith, to be sure, but this is not a “pre-requisite act”. It is simply the act of faith whereby we receive and appropriate the righteousness of God in Christ. Hence, he does not fall into what Dr. Kuyper called “verkapt Arminianisme” (camouflaged Arminianism) of the Neo-Nomist, who makes faith a new law. See what Prof. H. Hoeksema rejects under 4 above.
To this we may add the observation, that it really is a pity that so many well-meaning souls are deceived by the specious arguments and the corrupted presentation of the writers in the Reformed Guardian, and also in the Concordia. There ought to be an end to insinuating quoting and innuendo; all quotation should be honest and complete together with a clear and forthright indication of the salient points that a writer wishes to set forth! Not to do this is to deceive the innocent, to disturb the consciences of the weak and to sadden the hearts of the strong. It leaves wreck and ruins in its wake. It is not teaching with health affording words!
It is a terrible responsibility to cause the people of God to be offended, for whom Christ died.
Should anyone wish to support the Theology of the late Dr. K. Schilder that is his responsibility. But then he has no right to do so in the name of the Prof. H. Hoeksema.
Let the truth be spoken, indeed, in love.
It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God because we have taken and beaten His servants. For Christ will say: bring them here and slay them before my feet!