Back in September I picked up Herman Hoeksema: A Theological Biography. When I first started reading it I quickly realized I wasn’t really in the mood for anything so heavy. Doug Douma warmed me it was pretty weighty. So instead I read biographies on Peter Gabriel, John Martyn (which, as it turned out, was heavy), Jack Bruce, Mahavishnu Orchestra II, one on Frank Zappa’s last final tour in 1988, and I’m currently reading one on the life of my favorite bluesman Howlin’ Wolf, and I have another waiting in the wings on the life of my favorite jazz pianists, Thelonious Monk.
In any case, yesterday I decided to take a break from my music bio feeding frenzy and picked up the Hoeksema again and so far it is excellent. The author, Patrick Baskwell, does a nice job portraying the man with warts and all, and, so far, paints a fair picture of an imperfect man of unwavering conviction and who was doggedly committed to some very basic theological principles. One of those principles that would inform his entire life was his rejection of Kuyper’s theory of common grace. It has always been interesting to me that so many of Kuyper’s admirers seem to discount the political import that drove his theory rather than the other way around. Concerning an early piece of Hoeksema’s that appeared in “The Banner” Baskwell writes; “With one stroke of the pen Kuyper’s concept of common grace, one that entered the world after the fall to save humanity and thus make room for the preservation of the ‘cultural mandate,’ is summarily swept away.” Here is a little of what Hoeksema wrote and is an argument I find particularly compelling and one that completely destroys the prevenient and even Arminian nature of grace that has informed so much of the Reformed theology since Kuyper:
Never must we stretch the doctrine of common grace till we speak of two kinds of grace. There is only one kind of grace, and that one kind of grace is special grace, and thru that special grace all the world, with man as king, is to be saved. It saves humanity, but it also saves the world as kingdom. But there are two kinds of people in Adam, separated thru the injections of special grace into the human organism. They are the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, the elect and the reprobate, the children of obedience and the children of disobedience. Outwardly, all the children of the serpent share in the blessings of grace. Also they develop, also they have a history, also they develop their kingdom under Satan. But inwardly, even these outward blessings of grace are a curse to them, for they are totally depraved, and there is no receptivity for the grace of God in their hearts. But the seed of the woman is saved in Jesus Christ. He is their Redeemer and their King, and through His grace they become His willing subjects. – pg 119