De Jong:

This love of God comes to sinners as members of the world which God so loved in Christ. It is a carried to them in the proclamation of the gospel. Christ is administering his work. He carries on the ministry though his heralds. As we saw previously it is Christ himself the world-Savior who stands behind the herald and is present in the proclamation99 There is the one message which is addressed to all sinners and it is addressed to them as sinful members of a sinful world which Christ redeemed. It is not addressed to them in their specific quality as either chosen or rejected in God’s world plan. It is a message in which the Christ himself calls sinners to live in him. It is a call to faith. And it is the proclamation which relates all sinners to the work of Christ. The redemptive universality of the New Testament is a kerygmatic universality which calls the sinner to repentance and faith. The Son of God’s love, the Savior of the world, now meets the sinner who lives under the wrath of God and summons him to salvation. It is the sinner where he is, that is as member of a world in the process of being saved by the reigning Christ, who is called to live in Christ. It is the sinner as a redeemable son of the first Adam who is confronted by the Second Adam and summoned to faith. It is the transgressor of the Old Adamic covenant who is offered salvation by the Mediator of the new and better covenant (Hebrews 8). He offers this sinner salvation in the way of faith because God keeps his word and deals with the post-lapsarian sinner in the same way as he dealt with him in the pre-lapsarian situation of Paradise. Man must believe.

If we see the offer of salvation in term of the call to faith we can understand that preaching is not in the first moment the communication of a certain group of logically interrelated doctrines. It is a beneficent and uniquely effective summons to share in Christ’s victory over sin. Hoeksema tends to obscure this latter fact because of his unfortunate, competitive polarity motif. At no costs can the preacher tell the sinner what he must do. He says that whoever proclaims "wat de mensch moet doen, verkondigt eenvoudig niet het Evangelie Gods,"100 Preaching, gospel preaching. receives a predominant intellectual emphasis in Hoeksema’s theological reflection. It tends to become an explication of certain dogmas and the decision required is a choice for or against these truths.

The emphasis is clearly discernable as we read, "Twee dingen gaan in de historie des Heiligen Evangelies altijd samen: God vervult de Belofte en verklaart aan de erfgenamen der Belofte wat Hij doet, dat is, Hij verkondigt hun het Evangelie."101 We notice here the unique equation of gospel proclamation with an explanation to the heirs of the promise concerning that which God does. The intellectual note comes to expression in his view of Holy Baptism as a seal "op deze waarheid, dat Hij het geloof voor gerechtigheid rekent."102 This same emphasis is found in the Protestant Reformed Declaration of Principles. We read that gospel preaching is "an oath of God that he will infallibly lead al the elect unto salvation and eternal glory though faith."103 There is in Hoeksema’s theology a subtle mutation of preaching into a report of an objective and fixed set of circumstances.

Significantly enough Hoeksema does not remain consistent at ths point. He proceeds to fashion an artificial construction of preaching as consisting of a universal call and a particular promise. He admits that all sinners are called to repent and believe. But immediately we wonder as to the object of their faith. Not all sinners are called to believe the gospel promise because the promise is always particular, that is, it obtains for and terminates only upon the elect. The only answer which Hoeksema can give is that the called are summoned to a decision for or against a set of truths in which the herald explains what God does.

A call to repentance and faith which is universal demands a promise of salvation which is as universal as the call. If God calls sinners to turn, they must have someone to turn to. The call to repent and believe is a call to salvation. Thus God s promise of salvation must be as universal. common, and general as the gracious summons to believe it. In faith we know that God’s offer is as unfeigned and serious for the unbelieving rejecter as it is for the believing accepter. Preaching is not in the first instance an explication of an objective set of circumstances and then a decision for or against the news report. Preaching is not in the first instance a communication of a certain truth nl., that Christ died only for the elect or that all sinners are elected and reprobated in Jesus Christ.104 It is a gracious summons to accept Jesus Christ with all his benefits–faith inclusive–in the way of faith. To believe is to accept HIM, not some troth about hi. As the sinner rests in Christ the truths concerning him light up the knowledge of faith.

Hoeksema’s objection that a universal offer of salvation must necessarily lead to an Arminian conception of Christ pro omnibus stems from his methodological error of trying to view Christ’s reconcilatory work from the viewpoint of logical objectivity. He objectifies the matter and deals with its mystery of love in terms of logical consistency. It is the objectification in term of logic which forces him to eclipse the genuine universality of Christ’s work. In so doing he radically departs from Calvin.

The Genevan Reformer was no advocate of an Arminian Christus pro omnibus. Yet he speaks of Christ’s work in term of a kerygmatic universality. He says that God makes the gift of Christ’s righteousness

common to all, because it is propounded to all, and’ not because it is in reality extended to all; for though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and is offered though God’s benignity indiscriminately to all (passus ert Christus pro peccatis totius mundi atque omnibus indifferenter Dei benignitate offertur), yet al do not recive him.105

Ths is spoken from thê viewpoint of faith’ and not in terms of logical objectivity.106

Hoeksema tries to give an objectively valid logical analysis of the soteric confrontation between Christ and the sinner in gospel preaching and so is led to deny the kerygmatic universality involved in Christ’s work. The Arminians in the 17th century tried to make this relationship between the cross and preaching intellectually perspicuous and concluded from the universal promise to a universal atonement and back to a universalistically conceived conditional election. In some of the Scottish churches where this problem came to the fore various individuals tried. to make this matter Intellectually pernicious by using a distinction such as this: Christ died for the elect only, but Christ is dead for all sinners.107 We must resolutely stand in faith and theologize as believing recorders of God’s counsel as it unfolds in history. In faith we discern the universal offer of the infinitely sufficient and cosmically effectual salvation made by the reigning Christ to all sinners who still live in this day of grace under the administration of reconciliation. The particular responses of faith and unbelief answer, unto the good purposes of God’s counsel.

* * *

B. The Well-Meant Gospel Offer and God’s Counsel

At the basis of all his objections to a well-meant, i.e., a serious and unsimulated, offer of grace lies Hoeksema’s supralapsarian reconstruction of God’s counsel. It is his view of coordinated double predestination which we are compelled to reject.

According to Hoeksema, God sovereignly, by an act of indifferent volition, calls into existence elected individuals and reprobated individuals. He assumes that this sovereign God treats every concrete sinner in terms of sovereign love and sovereign wrath. He reconstructs the contents of God’s world plan in terms of a dualistic-antithetic election-reprobation schematism. His view is a logically constructed scheme which assumes that reprobation inheres within God’s world plan in the same way and in the same sense as election.

Hoeksema theologizes on the basis of a supralapsarian a prori. He says, "History may be and no doubt is, infra in its order of events. But God’s eternal purpose and good pleasure dare not be conceived otherwise than according to the supralapsarian order."108 Upon this basis Hoeksema proceeds to construct his election-reprobation schematism which pulls reprobation out of its Biblical focus.

We note that he deliberately refuses to define reprobation in the carefully worded definition of The Canons of Dort. Instead he defines it as "het eeuwig besluit Gods, waardoor Hij, even souverein als in de verkiezing, besloten heeft, dat sommigen niet zouden ingaan in de eeuwige heerlijkheid, maar bestemd zouden worden tot de verdoemenis."109 He deliberately defines the decree of reprobation without reference to man’s sin. He then proceeds to speculate about the relation which reprobation sustains to election. And he does not hesitate to speak of reprobation in terms of necessity.

Reprobation "was noodzakelijk, om de verkorenen tot de heerlijkheid te brengen, die God voor hen in Zijn oneindige liefde had bestemd."110 God had to reprobate some. According to Hoeksema, this is so not merely (as if this were a small matter) because some people are not fit for glory. For then the question still remains: why did God decide to create more people than could find a place in the organism of the body of Christ? "Verwerping is goddelijk-noodzakelijk"111 since the reprobate are in a sense the price, the ransom that God pays for the higher glory of his children. Such terms as "ransom," "price," and "divine necessity," betray the speculative results one receives when he tries to make God’s counsel in conceptual abstraction from the decreeing God the direct object of his reflective activity.

Hoeksema, however, claims Biblical support for his theory. We record one reference as a clear example of the forced type of exegesis one practices when one is driven to theological speculation. Hoeksema turns to Isaiah 43:4. "Since thou hast been precious in my sight, and honorable, and I have loved thee, therefore will I give men in thy stead, and peoples instead of thy life,"

He admits that these words refer to what the Lord did for Israel, in history. But he doesn’t explain the passage in its historical context. He goes on to say that these words lead us back to the eternal counsel of God’s good pleasure. God loved his people from all eternity. "In die eeuwige liefde heeft Hij dat volk willen verheerlijken en groot maken, leiden tot de hoogst mogelijke heerlijkheid in Zijne eeuwige erfenis. En nu zegt de tekst, dat om dit te doen, God volken in de plaats van de ziel Zijns volk gegeven heeft."112 This passage becomes a mere prop for the support of a speculation which does not hesitate to speak of a necessity which binds God. This passage says nothng a.bout God’s counsel and what he had to do or did not have to do in order to make his counsel a symmetrical whole. Hoeksema even goes so far as to say that God had to raise reprobates to crucify Jesus. We do not hesitate to term this unbiblical speculation. Hoeksema may assert that Judas, the Sanhedrin and the Roman legions ripened themselves for corruption by their acts, but he fails to realize that his view makes of these people mere puppets raised up in history as the result of a necessity greater than God. A god bound by a logical necessity is not the Go of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

In addition to the fallacy of applying the axioms of human logic to God’s decreeing activity Hoeksema also tries to apply temporality to the divine decree. He conceives of God’s world plan as a volitional precipitate which God "drew up" once upon a time before the beginning of Genesis 1:1. For this reason Hoeksema conceives of the elect as actually called, justified and glorified in God’s counsel and the reprobate as actually rejected, hardened aid condemned.113 Everything in history becomes a replica, a faint impression of that which really takes place in God’s counsel. All this sounds more like a Platonic view of an eternal world of ideas than the message of Christianity. Obviously, Hooksema does not intend this, but he arrives at his speculation because of his erroneous methodological assumption which gives free reign to the imperialistic pretensions of deductionitic logic. Since Hoeksema applies temporal and logical categories to God’s counsel he views all of history in the light of his own unique election-reprobation schematism.114 It is this speculative scheme which causes him to conceive of the God-sinner confrontation in terms of competitive polarity. Since he believes that God sovereignly procreated reprobate objects for damnation he cannot believe in a serious and unsimulated offer of grace to all sinners. A.C. de Jong, The Well-Meant Gospel Offer: The Views of H. Hoeksema and L. Schilder (Franeker: T. Wever, 1954), 109-115. [Some minor reformatting, some spelling modernized, footnote values and content original; italics original except for foreign language quotations; and underlining mine.]

[Note: While Jong is not a moderate Calvinist, this work is outstanding and should be read by all those who are interested in the free and well-meant offer of the Gospel.]


99Cf. Friedrich in Kittel, Th. W. B., III, 707. "Christus ist der Prediger, Predigt ist Wort Gottes, und Wort Gottes heist Gegenwart Gottes . . . Durch seine Predigt ist der Sohn Gottes handelnd gegenwärtig gewesrm, so class die Korinther es wissen: "in ihm ist das Ja geschehen,"

100GGA, p, 22?.

101Het Evangelie, p. 154.

102G en Z, p. 85. Itacs mine.

103Cf. above Chapter I, p. 17.

104Cf. Berkouwer, Het Work 131m Christus (Kampen, 1953). in connection with Barth’s conception of the church’s missionary task as a matter of knowing and not knowing. "Dit contrast tusschen ‘weten’ en ‘niet-weten’ correspondeert met de electie en verzoening in Christus (Christus de Verworpenel) en ontneemt aan kerygma en missie dat dynamiseh bewogen en vermanend kaaker, dat de prediking in de Schrift altijd heeft en dat de menselijke verantwoordeijkeid omsluit, niet als menselijke cooperatie, marr als de weg naar de volle vrede met God." p. 324.

105J. Calvin, Commentary on the Epistle of Paul to the Romans, Translation of J. Owen, (Grand Rapids, 1947), p. 211. Italics mine.

106Cf. L. v.d. Zanden, De Spits der Verzoening, (Assen, 1950), who says that we must not replace an objective view of a universal atonement with an objectivistic view of a non-universal atonement, for “hiertegen hebben wij dezelfde bezaren: objectivistische spreken over de verzoening en de miskenning van de volheid van Christus’ hilasmos en dus van Gods souvereine genade in Hem." p, 28.

107Cf. W. Cunningham, Historical Theology, (Edinburgh, 1870) II, 323 ff.; Bavinck, op. cit., III, 521; and A. Robertson, History of the Atonement Controversy, in connection with the Secession Church, (Edinburgh, 1846).

108TK VI, 148 Italics mine. Cf. also p.35.

109H. Hoeksema, De Plas der Verwerping in de Verkondiging des Evangelies, (Grand Rapids, Mich., 1927), p. 15.

110Ibid., p. 17.


112Ibid., p. 19.

113Cf. Het Evangelie, pp. 243, 244.

114Cf. Berkouwer, De Voorzienigheid Gods, pp. 90, 91: Hoeksema "bezet de wereld vanuit de twee aspecten: ‘toom-verwerping’ en ‘1iefde-verkiezig’”

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