God's Goodness Always
by Herman Hoeksema
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What does the Bible teach regarding God's attitude to the
reprobate ungodly? What are the implications of the notion that
Jehovah has an
attitude of favour to the wicked? Do the Psalms support or
give the lie to the theory of common grace? Does Zwier's
"triple cord" of biblical texts hold firm or is it cut to
ribbons? Read and gain new appreciation for the truth that
God's goodness is always particular.
In this work, written in 1939, Herman Hoeksema answers a
Rev. Daniel Zwier, who wrote an extensive series of articles
defending the doctrine of common grace as adopted by the
Christian Reformed Church in 1924. Rev. Zwier attempted to
demonstrate the errors of Rev. Hoeksema and the Protestant
Reformed Churches in their rejection of common grace.
Zwier’s criticism was very pointed. Hoeksema’s reply was
very pointed in return.
This book is extremely valuable for many reasons.
First, Rev. Hoeksema exposes the claim that to accept
mutually exclusive propositions and to insist that
“scripture teaches both” is a manifestation of “childlike
faith.” Today, when propositional knowledge itself is being
attacked, it is good to be regrounded on the biblical
concept of logic. Hoeksema states,
[Zwier] is aware that we apply [what
he calls] “miserable human logic,” which he despises, but we
highly value as one of the noblest and most beautiful gifts
of God to man and which we, in harmony with the will of God
and in profound respect for the word of God, apply to the
utmost of our power to the interpretation of scripture not
to impose our notions on the holy scriptures … but to
understand the scriptures in their own light (logical light,
because it is light of revelation).
Second, Hoeksema exposes the dreadful implications and the
absurdity of the doctrine of common grace for one’s
conception of God. He uses the examples of Pharaoh, Nero
and those who crucified Jesus to illustrate the terrible
implications of the doctrine of common grace.
Third, Hoeksema clearly demonstrates the proper exegetical
method of comparing Scripture with Scripture. This quote
aptly describes the subject.
Zwier assumes that
interpretation of a text apart from its connection with the
current teaching of the Bible is interpretation of
scripture, while I am convinced that the word of God is one
organic whole that presents the same teaching throughout.
Because of this, one can explain a certain text in the Bible
without interpreting scripture. The whole of scripture must
be considered when one interprets any particular passage, so
that every text must be explained according to the rule of
scripture … the current teaching of the Bible. The entire
scriptural foundation on which Zwier attempts to build the
superstructure of his doctrine of God’s general goodness
consists of a few individual scriptural passages that
superficially appear to support his view. However, his
interpretation of them directly opposes not only several
other clear texts of the Bible, but also the current
teaching of Holy Writ. He is well aware of this conflict and
admits it, but he refuses to explain scripture in its own
Fourth, in four chapters Hoeksema demonstrates that
“scripture throughout teaches that God’s goodness is always
particular and that the ungodly are never its object in time
Fifth, Hoeksema confronts the supposed “triple cord” of
common grace proof texts put forth by Rev. Zwier (Psalm
145:9; Acts 14:16-17; Luke 6:35). They are
the same texts used by the Christian Reformed Synod in 1924
and still wrongly interpreted by many today!
The explanation of them is of great significance. Hoeksema
severs each strand of Zwier’s “triple cord.”
Sixth, Hoeksema concludes by clarifying what happened at the
Synod of 1924 and the days leading up to it. Had the
ministers seceded from the Christian Reformed Church, as
Rev. Zwier claimed, or had they been expelled? Had Rev.
Hoeksema acted in harmony with or violated his promise
governed by the Formula of Subscription? It is good that
current and future generations understand what transpired
then, in order to have an appreciation for the spiritual
courage of their fathers and the doctrinal heritage that
stems from their God-given boldness and convictions.
This work contains some of the most pointed and forceful
writings of Hoeksema. His criticism of Zwier, his methods
and his conclusions are simply devastating. This work is an
example of how sharp one should be when doing battle with
spiritual opponents. God’s honour is at stake. The arguments
of those attempting to deny the truth and to teach error
must be exposed. On the positive side, the proper
explanations of some of the controversial passages are a
refreshing reminder of how to understand these passages in
light of all Scripture and the Reformed confessions.
As Hoeksema wrote in the preface to the book, “Let those who
are shy of controversy remember that in this world it is
impossible to maintain the truth unless one is ready and
willing to defend it against gainsayers.”
excerpt of this book in Spanish, click here.
"God's Goodness Always Particular—Excellent!" -
“Hoeksema does an incredible job [in God’s
Goodness Always Particular] of not only handling
a handful of disputed passages, but he demonstrates
the 'current' of the Bible’s teaching on the
doctrine of grace. It is hard not to look at the two
denominations that came away from this theological
battle in 1924 and not see that Hoeksema and company
were right. Ninety-two years later, the PRC is still
upholding the Reformed faith, still training
ministers to be faithful to scripture, and still
adhering faithfully to the Three Forms of Unity.
[The] CRC is riddled with liberalism and moral
relativism—the very things Hoeksema warned would
come as a result of their pernicious doctrine of
'common grace.'” - Illinois, USA