(The following copyrighted article is taken from the Calvin Theological Journal, November, 2000--a publication of Calvin Theological Seminary, 3233 Burton Street, S.E., Grand Rapids, Michigan 49546. It is reproduced with permission and can not be copied without permission of the staff of the Calvin Theological Journal. We express our appreciation for their willingness to have us copy the article and publish it here. May it help to clarify and to resolve some of the problems which arose back in 1924.)

Common Grace, Theonomy,  and Civic Good:

The Temptations of Calvinist Politics

(Reflections on the Third Point of the CRC Kalamazoo Synod, 1924)

John Bolt

Concerning the performance of so-called civic righteousness by the unregenerate, the Synod declares that according to Scripture and Confession the unregenerate, though incapable of any saving good (Canons of Dordt, III/IV, 4) can perform such civic good. This is evident from the quoted Scripture passages and from the Canons of Dordt, III and IV, 4, and the Belgic Confession, where it is taught that God, without renewing the heart, exercises such influence upon man that he is enabled to perform civic good; while it is evident from the quoted declarations of Reformed writers of the most flourishing period of Reformed theology, that our Reformed fathers from of old have championed this view.


                                (The "Third Point" of the 1924 Christian Reformed Church
synodical pronouncement on Common Grace.)

                Calvinism is noted for being a decidedly political kind of Christianity.1  To the degree that it is permissible to speak of a "central motif" of Calvinism, it would have to be a distinctly political metaphor, the sovereignty of God, along with its concrete biblical expression, the kingdom of God.  In the words of Abraham Kuyper, "the dominating principle [of Calvinism] was not, soteriologically, justification by faith, but, in the widest sense cosmologically, the Sovereignty of the Triune God over the whole Cosmos, in all its spheres and kingdoms, visible and invisible. "2  In addition, the Protestant doctrine of Christian vocation came to particularly political consequences in Calvinism.  According to Calvin, "no one ought to doubt that civil authority is a calling, not only holy and lawful before God, but also the most sacred and by far the most honorable of all callings in the whole life of mortal man." 3  As Calvin thought, so his followers in the Low Countries, Great Britain, and in the American Colonies acted.

                Linking divine sovereignty with issues of political sovereignty is not without its considerable risks, as the history of Calvinist politics from Calvin's Geneva to Cromwell's England to twentieth-century South Africa has demonstrated.4  After appealing to the historic example of Calvinism in support for his passion for a "world-formative" Christianity, Nicholas Wolterstorff qualifies his enthusiasm for Calvinism by noting "one exception": "that most insufferable of all human beings, the triumphalist Calvinist, the one who believes that the revolution instituting the holy commonwealth has already occurred and that his or her task is now simply to keep it in place.  Of these triumphalist Calvinists the United States and Holland have both had their share.  South Africa today [in 1983, jb] provides them in their purest form."5      

                It would not, however, be fair to the Calvinist political tradition to call attention only to its theocratic and triumphalist tendencies and postures.  For one thing, as Abraham Kuyper was never tired of pointing out, Calvinism and Calvinists played a major role in the world development of political liberty.6  Furthermore, in the case of Calvin and Kuyper both, a notion of common grace tempers the theocratic impulse. Both are opposed to the idea that divine revelation alone can establish legitimate civil authority; both acknowledge the legitimacy of governments other than those patterned after Mosaic theocratic law.  In his discussion of Old Testament law and the laws of nations Calvin becomes somewhat argumentative:

        I would have preferred to pass over this matter in utter silence if I were not aware that here many dangerously go astray.  For there are some who deny that a commonwealth is duly framed which neglects the political system of Moses, and is ruled by the common laws of nations.  Let other men consider how perilous and seditious this notion is; it will be enough for me to have proved it false and foolish.7

Kuyper is equally firm in his repudiation of any church-dominated theocracy.  In one of his first editorials as editor of the daily newspaper, De Standaard, Kuyper stated his principle of the state's independence from any church interference in categorical language: "We absolutely deny the church the right to establish political principles that would bind the state."8  Kuyper explicitly repudiates all theocracies.  "We do not desire," he writes in Ons Program (Our Program), the original 1879 platform for the Antirevolutionary Party, "that Reformed Churches receive the power to dictate to the civil authorities how they must apply the Word of God to the political arena."  He adds: "In a pluralistic society (lit. "mixed society"; "gemengde gemeenschap"), not only do we not desire such a theocracy but rather we oppose it with all our might."9  The civil authorities must permit the church an opportunity publicly to express her "feelings" (gevoelen) about important civic matters but this right is a right of persuasion only and must never become a legal right (jure suo) to dictate public policy.  Kuyper adduces two reasons for this position:

     1. Theocracy leads to tyranny and national corruption (volksbederf).

     2. The church lacks the competence to determine specific public policy.10

        Even after his Antirevolutionary Party had obtained and held power in The Netherlands, Kuyper's revised political platform of 1916, the two-volume Antirevolutionaire Staatkunde, remained firm in its opposition to "theocracy."11  The eleventh section of Chapter 8 ("Sovereignty") has the subtitle "No Theocracy," and Kuyper begins it with a reference to Léon Duguit's Traité de Droit Constitutionel where Kuyper's own view is characterized as a "Doctrine théocratique and contrasted with Duguit's own liberal view, a "Doctrine démocratique."12  Kuyper responds to this characterization by acknowledging that on the face of it there is no objection to referring to the neo-Calvinist, antirevolutionary view of authority as "theocratic." After all, Kuyper notes that he and his political movement, along with all Reformed Christians, do believe that "all dunamis, that is all power . . .  rests in God and in God alone.  In all spheres of life, including politics, all human authority is nothing more than instrumental of divine authority." Nonetheless, Kuyper judges the oft-repeated charge of theocracy against Christian political activism to be an unhistorical anchronism.  In a broad sense one could refer to the Ancient Kingdoms of the East as theocracies where affairs of State were decided by the divine guidance given by priestcraft through signs, oracles, and augury.  More precisely, however, Kuyper avers that the term theocracy should be reserved for that specific, historical instance of Old Testament Israel and the direct, revealed rule of God over his people.  That period is over, done: "Even in Israel it no longer exists."  Attempts, therefore, to apply Old Testament, Israelite law directly to the rule of modern states, are utterly misguided.  Kuyper admits here that, "unfortunately, many Calvinists have frequently been guilty of precisely such a move," and that is for him only an additional reason why the term theocracy is simply unusable for Christian political activism in the modern world.

Theonomy and Common Grace: A Connection?

        What I have referred to as the tempering influence of common grace on the theocratic impulse—acknowledging the legitimacy of "the common laws of nations"—is precisely what is denied by advocates of theocracy (or theonomy).13  Thus, Rousas John Rushdoony in his Institutes of Biblical Law, the Magna Carta of Christian Reconstruction, judges Calvin's statement, cited above, to be "heretical nonsense" and evidence that Calvin's "classical humanism gained ascendency at this point."14  For Rushdoony the choice is categorical: Biblical law as the common law of nations or apostate rebellion against God and his law:

Neither positive law nor natural law can reflect more than the sin and apostasy of man: revealed law is the need and privilege of Christian society.  It is the only means whereby man can fulfill his creation mandate of exercising dominion under God.  Apart from revealed law, man cannot claim to be under God but only in rebellion against God.15

Thus according to Rushdoony unbelievers could not be said to do works of "civic good" since "neither positive nor natural law can reflect more than the sin and apostasy of man."  With this understanding there could be no "common grace" defense of the third point.  Does this mean that theonomists deny the doctrine of common grace?  We shall see later.

Opponents of theocratic and theonomist positions do single out the doctrine of common grace as the focal point of disagreement.  Meredith Kline, for example, insists that in the New Testament era all theocratic impulses need to be resisted. "For though [the Christian church's] invisible government is theocratic with Christ sitting on David's throne in the heavens and ruling over it, yet its visible organization, in particular as it is related to civil powers, is so designed that it takes a place of only common privilege along with other religious institutions within the framework of common grace."16  So, then, the logic seems rather clear: Those who reject theonomy actually ally themselves with the doctrine of common grace, particularly the positive ability of unbelievers to do civic good apart from revealed law.  In this view it is not necessary for a nation to be ruled in direct accordance with Old Testament theocratic law for Christians to consider its structure of law to be legitimate and even regarded in a positive light.  As we have seen in the case of Rushdoony, it is precisely at this point that theonomists find fault with Calvin's repudiation of the exclusively theocratic ideal and acceptance of the "common laws of nations."

At the same time, a denial of common grace would seem logically to compel someone into the theonomist camp (or, alternatively, the Anabaptist camp) particularly with respect to the third point of the 1924 CRC Synod of Kalamazoo's pronouncement on "civic righteousness": "Concerning the performance of so-called civic righteousness by the unregenerate, the Synod declares that according to Scripture and Confession the unregenerate, though incapable of any saving good (Canons of Dordt, III/IV, 3), can perform such civic good."  What happens when one denies that the unregenerate are capable of performing acts of civic righteousness?  It seems logical to conclude that some affirmation that unbelievers are capable of a certain civil righteousness is necessary, in a participatory democracy at least, for a Christian believer to acknowledge the legitimacy of a state that is clearly not Christian, not explicitly in accord with God's law.  A Christian could only be loyal to such a regime to the extent that its acts are externally, at least, in conformity with divine law.  If a regime is wholly evil in all its acts is there any option for the Christian believer other than the Apostle Peter's "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29)?   By the same token, if one denies that unbelievers are capable of any civic righteousness at all, it seems logical to conclude that full acceptance of a civil order would be possible only if the magistracy were composed of believers who ruled by the light of divine revelation; that is to say, a theocracy.  Concretely, then, if the reasoning reflected above is correct, one would expect that the Protestant Reformed Churches and their theological tradition from Herman Hoeksema on, would have profound sympathies for the theonomist position.  That is the issue we shall consider in the remainder of this article.

Herman Hoeksema and Civil Authority:  The Flag Controversy

That Hoeksema's denial of the doctrine of common grace might have led him to deny the legitimacy of a civil regime that was not explicitly Christian is suggested by an interesting public episode in the early years of his ministry.  After three years of ministry in his first charge, the Fourteenth Street Christian Reformed Church of Holland, Michigan, Hoeksema asked that a recently placed American flag be removed from the church sanctuary during worship.17  The date was February 10, 1918.  Three days later, the of February 13, 1918 carried an front page article that claimed the following: "Rev. H. Hoeksema, pastor of the 14th Street Christian Reformed Church, believes that the American flag has no place in a church and that the national anthem should not be sung there" (81). This news item and Hoeksema's public justification of his position created a major fuss in the town with back-and-forth letters to the editor as well as counteractions by churches and even the president of Hope College, G.J. Diekema.  President Diekema was quoted in the Sentinel:

"If at this crisis we spend our time in theological hair-splitting instead of patriotic devotion we are near to treason," declared the Honorable Garret J. Diekema in the course of a thrilling address in Winants Chapel Friday morning.  The remark, which obviously was directed at the Rev. H. Hoeksema, pastor of the Fourteenth Street Christian Reformed Church, was greeted with a loud and prolonged applause by the large audience present to witness the unveiling of the Hope Service Flag.

    After a beautiful eulogy on the Stars and Stripes, Mr. Diekema said,  "If the flag stands for all that is pure and noble and good, it is worth of being unfurled in any building on the face of the earth.  The very portals of heaven would welcome such an emblem." (83)

Similarly, the pastor of Hope Reformed Church, Rev. P.P. Cheff, insisted that "it is not only not wrong to display the flag in church and to sing the national anthems there, but in times of national stress like these it is a positive duty." (82)

        The national crisis of course was World War I and "feelings of national patriotism were running explosively high all over the country" (89). In fact Gertrude Hoeksema recounts a story of her father-in-law refusing "to preach under the American flag in the Christian Reformed Church of Pella" (Iowa).  She also notes here that "the resident minister in the nearby town of Peoria had also refused to have the flag in his church for the same reasons that Pastor Hoeksema had refused.  His church burned to the ground" (89).  Returning to Holland, Hoeksema exercised his American constitutional second amendment rights, purchased and carried a gun for personal protection (89). According to his daughter-in-law this was in response to a warning that "several men were 'laying' for him, ready to tar and feather him."  She continues, "One evening, walking home from a late consistory meeting, tired, but alert for danger, he spotted figures crouched in the dark hedge of bushes he had to pass.  He stopped, looked at the bushes and announced, 'I have a gun, and I will use it." The "patriotic" vigilantes "backed down and disappeared into the dark night." (89)

        What theologically was behind Hoeksema's opposition to flags in church during worship services?  Did he object to patriotism as a violation of the Christian's love for Christ and citizenship in the kingdom of heaven?  Did the denier of common grace and the capacity of unbelievers to do civil good repudiate Christian allegiance to a civil authority that was not explicitly and consistently Christian?  Hoeksema in fact began his answer in the Holland Sentinel by professing his allegiance to his adopted country and reacted strongly to the "gossip . . . that I was pro-German."  He suggested that thanks to ecclesiastical differences "the wish was father to the thought" and insisted that his opponents were "hopelessly mistaken" in calling his position "one of approximate treason." It was unfair, so he wrote, "to present matters in such a light as if a certain college [Hope] and a certain church [the RCA] had a monopoly of [sic] patriotism."  Hoeksema concluded, "true we are not as wild in our enthusiasm, and while warmly loyal we manage to keep our head cool; neither do we advertise our patriotism quite as much as some; but you must remember that we cannot all stand in the limelight of politics, and thus in spite of all these facts it is very well possible to be fully as loyal and truly patriotic at every opportunity."  Hoeksema signed his letter, "Hoping, Mr. Editor, that I may continue my talk, I am gratefully yours for our country." (84)

        That Hoeksema had no tendency to deny the duty of Christians to love their country and obey the government is equally clear in his foundational statement giving the reason for the removal of the flag from the Fourteenth Street CRC in the first place.  The issue for him was the catholicity of the church:

The church as an institution as the manifestation of Christ's body on earth is universal in character; hence that church as an institution cannot raise the national flag nor sing the national hymns.  As Christian citizens the members of the church, however, are duty bound to be loyal to their country, to go when their country calls, in obedience to the government.  But the flags should be raised from the home, on the streets, and on all public and Christian school buildings. Anyone who is pro-German in our time has no right to the name Calvinist and is a rebel and traitor to his government. (82)

In trying to explain his position to the Holland public in his Sentinel writing, Hoeksema, in vintage form, somewhat wickedly suggests that his opposition might be unequipped for the intellectual debate at hand, trying to engage in a battle of wits while disarmed.  In a second Sentinel installment (Monday, February 18) he alludes to his previous column where he had professed his full loyalty to the United States of America.  He had done this he says, "not because I felt obliged to do so, not because I love the sentimental, but to inspire my opponents with a little confidence, that I am not as criminal and treacherous as they at first seemed to think.  I enjoy a good fight any time, but I also want them to enjoy it.  But that was hardly possible as long as they looked upon their opponent as a traitor" (85).  His purpose in writing, he adds, was "not to convert my opponents to Calvinism.  If that was the object I had in view I would write in a different way.  But that would be a hopeless task.  In order to see the beauty of the Calvinistic truth one must be able to do some straight thinking."  And then the coup de grâce: "And therefore, I do not aim so high." (85)

        What does Hoeksema see as the grounds or reason for Christian accepting the legitimate authority of civil government, even a non-Christian one?  "This, that we as Calvinistic people always obey our government, and that for God's sake."  Hoeksema adds that his journalist debating opponent, "the Rev. Cheff makes a sad mistake if he separates this true obedience for God's sake from the true feeling of loyalty.  The love of country, Mr. Cheff, is not a higher principle nor is it the source of nobler feelings than the love of God, is it?"  Hoeksema concludes by insisting that obedience "for God's sake" is not detached from genuine heartfelt love of country: "And if I state that I obey for God's sake, I do not at all mean to say that this obedience is a cold, objective duty, imposed from without, but at the same time a truly living principle, inspiring me to be always loyal, as long as the Word of God allows." (85-86)

                Hoeksema's last volley in this war of words made a crucial distinction with a surprising twist in the tale (86-87).  Hoeksema first restates the principle underlying his action concerning the flag in church:

And the impression is given by them, that I would object to raising a flag in the church building.  Now those that have understood it in that sense have not taken great pains to read my statement, for even as it appeared in the Sentinel it could never create that impression . . . .  I plainly stated that the church as such is universal in character, and that as such the church raises no flag, and as such it sings no national anthems. . . . Is that building universal?

        He goes on to introduce an interesting and important qualifier by defining the church as a people and not a building:

But let me help you out of the dilemma.  The church is not a building but the church is the people of God as a whole, united in Christ as their Head as members of his body.  And when the people as such do not meet in the church building, there is no church there.

This leads to the interesting "twist":

And, therefore, Mr. Cheff, we do not at all object to displaying the flag in the church building.  I ask you to point out where I ever made that statement…. I would have no objection personally if a flag were raised in the church building when our chorus gives one of its excellent concerts.

And yet, I maintain that the church as such never raises a flag.  The church and state are separate.

Hoeksema concludes with a review of the church's essential nature:

And this church with that One Life, One Faith, One Hope, One Love, One Confession is absolutely one.  In that spiritual body of our Lord Jesus Christ there is no bondman or freeman, there is no Jew or Greek.  They are all one in Christ Jesus.  And, therefore, that church as such has no flag. . . .

The political implications of this confession that the Lordship of Christ is universal does not eliminate love of country but it must subordinate such love and relativize it.  The Christian's real and final citizenship is to another country, a heavenly one:

When as such they confess their King, they witness to the name of Jesus Christ alone.  When as such they sing of their country, they sing of the city that hath foundations, of the heavenly Jerusalem, and the kingdom that is to come.  And, therefore, though we have no objections against raising a flag in the church building on many occasions, we do refuse to raise it as a spiritual people of God in Christ Jesus, assembled for worship. . . .

Allegiance to both church and country does imply a willingness to give one's all.   "Surely our country is in danger . . . . But the church is in danger too. And if I am fully prepared to give my life for the country, I am no less prepared to the same for the truth of the Word of God."

        Hoeksema's involvement in the Holland "flag controversy" is significant because it offers a clear-cut test case for the proposition that a denial of Kalamazoo's third point on civic righteousness logically leads one to a theocratic or theonomic political stance.  Our review of the polemics in this controversy shows that Hoeksema himself did not draw this conclusion.  He fully affirmed his patriotic love for the nation whose flag he had removed from church services.  Or, is the answer still ambiguous?  Does his principle, "inspiring me to be always loyal, as long as the Word of God allows (86, emphasis added), leave him with a theocratic loophole?  To get a more complete picture we need to consider the arguments—pro and con—surrounding the third point in the 1920s.  Did either the proponents or opponents of the third point on civic righteousness ever bring up the theocratic issues, positively or negatively?

Is Theocracy/Theonomy the Point of the Third Point?

        There is one possible indirect allusion to a theocratic tendency in Hoeksema's own "catechism" on common grace and the three points, initially published in his The Protestant Reformed Churches in America18 and recently republished in Ready to Give an Answer: A Catechism of Reformed Distinctives.19  Question and answer 9 of the section, "The Third Point and its Implications," reads as follows:

        Q.            What are the implications of the third point?
        A.            The first implication is a separation of the spiritual and moral or the spiritual and natural, a separation of the first and second tables of the law.20

This response—in a discussion about the Calvinist understanding of civic righteousness, no less—directs us to Calvin's own understanding of the magistrate's responsibility with respect to the two tables of the law.21  According to Calvin both Scripture and secular writers agree "that no government can be happily established unless piety is the first concern; and that those laws are preposterous which neglect God's right and provide only for men."  Scriptural and Christian history demonstrate the truth of this according to Calvin and "this proves the folly of those who would neglect the concern for God and would give attention only to rendering justice among men. As if God appointed rulers in his name to decide earthly controversies but overlooked what was of greater importance—that he himself should be purely worshiped according to the prescription of his law."  Thus Calvin summarizes the duty and responsibility of civil authority as follows:

Civil government has as its appointed end, so long as we live among men, to cherish and protect the outward worship of God, to defend sound doctrine of piety and the position of the church, to adjust our life to the society of men, to form our social behavior to civil righteousness, to reconcile us with one another, and to promote general peace and tranquility."22

It would seem reasonable, therefore, to conclude that a Calvinist whose primary critique of the third point is that it separates the first and second table of the law, that such a person would follow Calvin in his theocratic concern about the magistrate's task.  However, that is not where the debate about the third point was focused, at least not directly.

        Professor Louis Berhof in his apologia for Kalamazoo's common grace statement, The Three Points in Every Respect Reformed,23 does not even mention the issue of theocracy/theonomy in his discussion of the third point.  Instead, for him, the issue has to do with maintaining the doctrine of total depravity.  He begins with the observations from experience and the testimony of Reformed theologians of the past that unbelievers do in fact perform acts that externally, at least, appear to us to be deeds of which God approves.  Berkhof cites Calvin's commentary on Mark 10:21: "He (God) is said to love the political virtues; not that they are meritorious of salvation or of grace, but that they have reference to an end of which he approves."24   According to Berkof these deeds of civic righteousness must be explained "by an influence of God exercised on human beings without renewing their hearts."  If humans were left to their own devices, so contends Berkhof, "they would not perform any civic righteousness.  It is rather thanks to the bridle by which God restrains humans as well as the general action of the Spirit on human understanding, will and conscience."  At stake, according to Berkhof, is the doctrine of total depravity.  "If we deny the action of God's general grace then we necessarily come to the conclusion that human beings perform such acts of civic righteousness out of their own strength."  The punch line here: "Then we certainly run into danger of denying the doctrine of total depravity."25  In sum, "the reality of civic righteousness cannot be denied without closing one's eyes to the reality of life itself; the Reformed tradition attributes this to the action of God's common grace."26

        For Hoeksema too the issue is maintaining the integrity of the doctrine of total depravity.  In his "catechism" on the third point he writes, "The second implication of the third point is that there is conflict between the doctrine of total depravity and the actual working out and application of this truth."  The Christian Reformed Church, so Hoeksema alleges, admits the doctrine of total depravity  "in the abstract and as a matter of their confession . . . [but] in practical life it professes it to be wholly different.  In this life, with respect to the things and spheres of this world, there is nowhere a totally depraved man, according to them."27  Plainly put, Hoeksema's main objection against the third point is that it is "Pelagian."28  It is an open question whether Hoeksema here conflates the distinction between total depravity and absolute depravity.29  This is the charge that Berkhof addresses when he responds to Hoeksema's accusation that the third point is Arminian, or even Pelagian in its denial of total depravity.  In Berkhof's judgment, "the doctrine of total depravity as understood in the Reformed tradition does not maintain that human beings are as corrupt as they can possibly be and thus incapable without the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit to perform deeds that are externally judged 'good,' those deeds we call 'civic righteousness.'"30 

        For both sides in the CRC common grace controversy of the 1920s, the issue was total depravity.  Opponents to common grace theology were convinced that it meant a denial of total depravity.  Supporters of the doctrine, on the other hand, were motivated by the same concern and tried to protect the notion of depravity by distinguishing two different operations of the Holy Spirit on human beings.  Saving grace regenerated the hearts of believers and made them capable of genuine good works.  The defenders of common grace wanted to explain the existence of what appears externally and materially to be "good works" on the part of unbelievers.  This phenomenon, they insisted, is not to be credited to human effort but to the common or general work of the Holy Spirit that "influences" unbelievers toward such externally "good" acts without regenerating them.  Berkhof notes that at the same time it is necessary to acknowledge that "from a different perspective this civic good remains sinful.  It certainly is not good in the full sense of the word but only a relative good." Berkhof suggests as an analogy "shriveled fruit that one sometimes finds on plants and trees that are cut off from their roots."31  The focus is not on the quality of the person ("is he or is he not totally depraved?) but on the kinds of deeds performed by persons who are indisputably depraved sinners.  As Berkhof describes it: "At a certain level God's will is done, though not as his will or because he so wills it."  A distinction that must be and has been made by Reformed theologians according to Berkhof is that "the unregenerate do God's will in a material sense but are not formally obedient.  Unbelievers do God's will materially not because God commands it but out of a certain inclination remaining even after the fall toward that which is polite, healthy, and just.  Other reasons are fear of the authorities placed over people, or pure self-interest that is seen as compatible with the interests of society." Berkhof concludes: "Even the best deeds of the unregenerate are formally, with respect to the way in which they are performed, wholly sinful."32  

        It is exactly here that Hoeksema brings up what must have seemed to his opponents to be a remarkable objection coming from him.  The "fourth implication in the third point" according to Hoeksema is "that properly the good work of the natural man is the good work of the Holy Spirit without it being the work of the natural man at all. The Spirit of God so influences the corrupt nature of the unregenerated man, that in his case the evil tree brings forth good fruit."33   What happens in effect is that "the sinner . . . with a heart full of hatred against God  [still] performs that which is pleasing in the sight of God.  The Spirit forces, compels the operations of that wicked nature to go in the right direction, even as the helmsman forces a vessel to sail against the wind."34  Because "the Spirit then, compels man to do good works wholly contrary to the intents of his own heart," Hoeksema concludes that "the moral character of man is destroyed, his responsibility is denied, and a theory of moral determinism is presented as Reformed doctrine!"35   Hoeksema literally finds this unbelievable: "It may be impossible to conceive of so monstrous a thing, but it is emphatically the teaching of the third point."36

        We shall need to consider Hoeksema's charge later in this article but for now there remains one more angle from which we need to consider the theonomy/common grace link.  Earlier in this article37 we noted that the logic of denying common grace would seem to lead one naturally into the theonomist camp—or, alternatively, the Anabaptist camp.  There is a formal38 similarity between the theonomist and Anabaptist point of view here: the world's present governmental structures are evil "powers" to be repudiated by Christ's followers who are subject to the uncommon law of God (either Old Testament theocratic law in the case of theonomists or, in the case of Anabaptism, the new law of Christ).39  I call attention to this similarity because on this formal level at least it was alleged by his opponents that Hoeksema's denial of common grace was functionally Anabaptist, an espousal of world-flight Christianity.  This particular charge was led by Hoeksema's arch-foe in the Christian Reformed Church, the Reverend Jan Karel Van Baalen.  In his brochure, The Denial of Common Grace: Reformed or Anabaptist?,40  Van Baalen judges the common grace controversy to be "the most important struggle faced by the [CRC]" because it is the "conflict between Calvinism and Anabaptism."41  Van Baalen cites a number of Reformed authorities42 as evidence for the proposition that a denial of common grace leads inevitably to Anabaptist world-flight.  He also cites the opening sentence in the foreword of Kuyper's three-volume Gemeene Gratie: "There is no greater damage that has been done to the Reformed principle (Gereformeerde Beginsel) than the unsatisfactory development of the doctrine of common grace."43  While Van Baalen acknowledges that there is an important difference between Hoeksema's and the Anabaptist doctrine of grace, he still insists: "Nonetheless, both have this in common, that they know of only one grace and consequently judge the world in its totality [because] they can see no good in it."44

        In their response to Van Baalen, Hoeksema and Danhof45 categorically deny the accusations and challenge Van Baalen to find even one place in their writing where such world-flight is advocated.  Hoeksema and Danhof insist that they distinguish a positive sense of the word world as "nature" from the negative biblical sense of "world" as that which is in enmity against God.  Their opponents, they say, will look in vain for evidence in their writing that calls for Christians to abstain from participating in civil institutions, accepting roles in civil government, or refusing to accept the responsibility of military service.46  Instead, so they contend, their own view is exactly the opposite of Anabaptism.  In good Kuyperian fashion they advocate Christian involvement, distinctively as Christians in every sphere of life:

The brother must know that this simply is not our perspective at all.  In fact we hold to exactly the opposite view.  We precisely do not want to escape from the world. Rather it is exactly our goal not to forsake any terrain of life.  We instead call on God's people to be engaged in all of life.  We only desire that God's people, his covenant people, neither forsake or deny God in any area.  In every sphere God's people are called to live by grace, out of the single grace by which they are engrafted into Christ and love God by keeping his commandments.47

The accusation of "world flight" does not apply to them as deniers of the doctrine of common grace claim Hoeksema and Danhof.  "When one considers ‘world’ as nature, then it is clear that we do not separate nature and grace but desire rather to live everywhere out of grace."48  "Worldly" vocations are the Christian's clear responsibility as citizens of the kingdom of God:

In business and trade, in science and art, in state and society, the citizens of the kingdom may never default on their duties in order to withdraw into the narrow confines of the church as such.  Then we would have to leave the world itself while it is our calling to remain in its midst.49

        Hoeksema's and Danhof's response to Van Baalen must be taken at face value: They emphatically repudiate the Anabaptist understanding of nature and grace and its practical consequence, world-flight.  At this point, however, we must also take note of another important practical consequence at stake for Hoeksema and Danhof in their denial of common grace.  They insist that the Reformed worldview values natural life fully as the proper terrain for Christian vocation.  At they same time they insist with equal passion on an absolute antithesis between believers and unbelievers in these natural spheres.  They disavow the position of Abraham Kuyper who, so they say, "in addition to the absolute antithesis in the spiritual realm also sought cooperation in the natural realms of state, society, are, [sic], and science, etc."  According to Hoeksema and Danhof, "Kuyper sought and believed that he had found in the doctrine of common grace a basis for communal cooperation in the realm of natural life between believers and unbelievers: God's gracious inward working in the heart of the natural, unregenerate sinner so that he becomes capable of doing positive good for God."50  It is this practical blurring of the antithesis that Hoeksema and Danhof reject so vehemently. In Hoeksema's words, the result of this blurring is "the world that is professed to be in darkness is magically flooded with light by the wonder of common grace . . . . Practically, the difference between the righteous and the unrighteous is wiped out . . . . There is a good deal of harmony between righteousness and unrighteousness."51  Stated in different words, Hoeksema judges that the use of common grace to establish cooperative links between believers and unbelievers in the natural realm "creates a sphere of transition, a domain where righteousness and unrighteousness, Christ and Belial, may have fellowship and love the same life."  The end result of all this, so he believes, is that believers "will be swallowed up by the world."52

        Since this position—full affirmation of natural life with believers antithetically opposed to unbelievers in all their natural vocations—is very similar to that of the theonomists, we are left with some ambiguity in terms of the relation between the denial of common grace and theonomy.   The fact that the issue of theonomy/theocracy does not surface explicitly in the debates about the third point and because Hoeksema clearly repudiates the accusation of Anabaptist world flight, it might seem that we have an answer to the question of our sub-head:  "No, theocracy/theonomy is not the point of the third point."  However, since Hoeksema's radically antithetical posture with respect to all social, cultural and political vocation parallels that of theonomists, we must reserve final judgment here and seek a definite answer elsewhere.53  Does the denial of common grace lead one to embrace a theonomic posture in political life?   At this point it is not perfectly clear.

Antithetical Theonomists and Common Grace

        Let us now consider the converse question, do committed theonomists who insist that biblical law is the necessary foundation of all national law deny the doctrine of common grace?  It would be hard to find a more committed antithetical theonomist than Gary North.54  In fact, North even vigorously disagrees with his father-in-law Rushdoony on the existence of "Christian elements" in the founding of the American Constitutional experiment in ordered liberty.55  Rushdoony recognizes certain "judicial continuities" between the Christian political tradition and the American Constitution.56  North categorically disagrees:

"It did not. It represented a fundamental break from Christianity."57  In North's view the ratification of the Constitution represented the creation of a new covenant to replace the Christian covenant of colonial times.  The new Constitution was declaration of independence from God.  Whereas the Declaration of Independence had been a "halfway national covenant" with the deistic God of Newton joined in covenantal partnership with the biblical God, the Constitutional Convention "declared the corporate People as the sole and exclusive suzerain god of the nation" and created "an apostate national covenant."  North concludes: "In short: new covenant, new god." 58   This has important practical consequences in North's judgment.  Whereas "Rushdoony still believes that a restoration of Consititutional order is the best strategy for Christian Reconstruction in the United States,"59 North continues to insist on a Christian theocracy modeled on Old Testament case law.  The choice is categorical for North: Biblical, covenantal law or idolatry and rebellion.  The most repeated phrase in Political Polytheism is: "There is no neutrality."

        North thus explicitly extends to the political realm, and more concretely to American government, the same antithetical posture that Hoeksema took toward human moral-civil conduct in general in his opposition to the third point.  We concluded earlier in this article that  Hoeksema's denial of common grace did not lead him to an explicitly theonomist position and that the relation between such a denial and the theocratic viewpoint was ambiguous.60  We  now consider the converse question: Does Gary North's antithetical theonomist stance lead him to a denial of common grace?  We do have a clear answer to this question since North explicitly deals with the Christian Reformed debate on common grace in one of his books.61  The answer is surprising, even startling.

         North's book, Dominion and Common Grace, in his own words, "is basically a refutation of Prof. Cornelius Van Til's book, Common Grace and the Gospel, a compilation of his essays on common grace."62  North's judgment is not kind: "It is without question the worst book he ever wrote."63  Not only does Van Til ask the wrong questions, his focus on philosophical questions "steers him away from the key issue" which, North contends, is history and/or eschatology.64  In a nutshell, North judges that "Van Til's stubborn Dutchmanship is rock-hard" here so that "he will not budge" on his amillennialism.  Van Til is, furthermore, an "undeclared amillennialist who builds his whole theory of common grace in terms of his hidden eschatology, probably never realizing the extent to which his seemingly philosophical exposition is in fact structured by his assumptions concerning eschatology."65

        Where does North then stand among the participants in the common grace debate?  North agrees with Hoeksema and Dutch Reformed theologian Klaas Schilder and against Van Til66 that it is incorrect to speak of any kind of favor of God to the reprobate.  In particular he finds Hoeksema's critique of the first point ("well-meant gospel offer") to be on target.  At the same time North does not repudiate the term common grace but accepts it.  North affirms a doctrine of common grace only by redefining it through a distinction between common grace and "favor."  North understands common grace as the bestowal of gifts (or even favors) toward the unregenerate but he insists that this bestowal is not a demonstration of God's favor, by which he clearly means divine "approval."  "God's common grace implies no favor to the lost in history."67  In fact, and this is the startling conviction, North insists that "God's common grace can be said to extend even to Satan."68  North criticizes Van Til for distinguishing "favor to mankind in general in history from favor to creatures in general in history."  According to North, Van Til makes this distinction in order "to preserve his distinction between favor to mankind and no favor to Satan."69  North disagrees: God does bestow favors (not favor!) on Satan.

        How does one respond to North's remarkable disjunction between common grace and common favor, affirming the former and repudiating the latter?  As North sees it, the Christian Reformed position, taken at the 1924 Kalamazoo Synod, identifies common grace with common favor and affirms both.  Hoeksema also identifies the two and rejects both grace and favor, while he [North] properly distinguishes them, accepting common grace but rejecting common favor.  Does this linguistic curiosity ("common grace without favor") really make any sense at all?  What are we to do with the following remarkable statement from North?

Satan's forces, both demonic and human, receive unmerited gifts from God.  Christ died for the whole created world (John 3:16), including Satan. He did not die in order that the offer of salvation be made to Satan.  No such offer is ever made.  The offer of eternal life goes only to men.70

The straightforward proposition contained in the citation just above is truly startling, even (deliberately?) shocking: "Christ died for the whole created world, including Satan."   What is gained by such a provocative proposition?  How does North explain it, particularly the clearly implied universalism of the proposition?71  According to North, the basic principle of universal common grace is continuity: continued existence for Satan and the ungodly is what common grace is all about. In that way Christ is the Savior of all people.72

Christ is indeed the savior of all people prior to the day of judgment (I Tim. 4:10).   Christ sustains the whole universe (Col. 1:17).   Without Him, no living thing could survive.  He grants to his creatures such gifts as time, law, order, power, and knowledge.  He grants all these gifts to Satan and his rebellious hosts.  The answer to the question, "Does God show His grace and mercy to all creation, including Satan?" is emphatically yes. Satan is given time and power to do his evil work.  To the next question, "Does this mean that God in some way demonstrates and attitude of favor toward Satan?" the answer is emphatically no.  God is no more favorable toward Satan and his demons than he is to Satan's human followers.  But this does not mean that He does not bestow gifts upon them—gifts that they in no way deserve.73            

We need now briefly to examine North's understanding of the mechanism by which common grace is administered by God.  The key structure is covenant, a structure that North believes is rooted in the very nature of human beings as they form governments.  In his discussion of the American Constitution North points to the inescapable structural elements that parallel the biblical covenant treaties.74  When the Framers penned the Constitution they had to deal with the key features of the biblical covenant model since these elements "are inescapable concepts for every covenant institution."  North adds: "In adopting this . . . model, the Framers were being faithful to something written by God into man's mind and his covenantal institutions."75  North thus distinguishes between the structure of covenant which is universal to all government and the direction of a specific covenant.76  A covenant is a relationship under sanction and obedient covenant-keepers receive blessings while disobedient covenant-breakers are cursed.  To the extent that even the reprobate externally keep the legal requirements of the covenant, they are blessed.  And the corollary is also true: When Christians fail to live covenantally in accord with biblical law, they will be temporally cursed.  North draws the contrast starkly:

The law of God is the primary tool of dominion that God offers to all men, irrespective of their personal faith.  He gives the Holy Spirit to his people, but if his people refuse for a season to honor the terms of the covenant, while God-rejecting men willingly adopt the external terms of the covenant, then the latter will prosper externally.77

Thus history itself demonstrates the validity of biblical law by revealing the "cause-and-effect relationship between national external conformity to God's law and external blessing."  Furthermore, the problem with the church today in North's view is that "it does not believe in God's sanctions in history. In Old Testament times, yes, but not in New Testament times."78

        North's antithetical theonomist convictions lead him to what seems like a counterintuitive if not contradictory position: Affirming both the clear line of demarcation between the regenerate and the unregenerate, also in sociopolitical life, and the doctrine of common grace interpreted as "grace without favor."  This position has the effect of intensifying the conflict between the City of God and the City of Man.  In fact, though he affirms common grace, North is particularly dismissive of any form of political pluralism which seeks some form of "common ground" between Christians and non-Christians, calling this position "halfway covenant" thinking.79  On this important point Hoeksema and North are in full agreement.80  The common ground, pluralist position is, in North's judgment, inherently instable.  Two religious positions are vying for hegemony and for that reason religious and cultural war is unavoidable.   As the "sharpening and hardening" of history takes place conflict is inevitable.  In North's words:

Let me put it bluntly: as covenant-keepers and covenant breakers become more consistent in thought and life, pluralism will be shot to pieces in an ideological (and perhaps even literal) crossfire.  Pluralism is an arrangement based on a temporary religious and ideological cease-fire.  When this cease-fire ends, pluralism also ends.  So will the appeal of its ideology.81           

We have taken this tour through North's theology to demonstrate that his theonomist stance does not lead him to repudiate the doctrine or even the specific language of common grace.  Here we discover a possible converse parallel with Hoeksema whose denial of common grace did not lead to a clear and explicit embrace of theonomy.  In fact, a case could be made that North and Hoeksema in their understanding of the antithesis in human culture and history are far more alike than either is to Cornelius Van Til or to the Christian Reformed position taken at the Synod of Kalamazoo.  Is there then a clear bone of contention between North and Hoeksema, between committed theonomists and the consistent deniers of common grace?

Eschatology is the Point: Theonomy and Postmillennialism

        We have already indirectly answered the immediately preceding question when we considered North's refutation of Van Til.  According to North the "key issue" is history and/or eschatology. 82  The fundamental error in Van Til's doctrine of common grace, judges North, is his "undeclared amillennialism."83  A recent exchange in the pages of the Standard Bearer, the magazine of the Protestant Reformed Churches, between editor David Engelsma and Gary North, also focused on the link between theonomy and postmillennial eschatology.84  There is no space in this article to enter into all the components of this debate.  I shall focus on one important part of a response by Rev. Norman Jones to Engelsma's original "Jewish Dreams" editorial.85

        Jones begins by protesting the "very strong attack against those who have held to a victorious Church of Christ in the world" and then addresses Engelsma's citation of the condemnation of postmillennialism by the Second Helvetic Confession (1566).  The very title of Engelsma's editorial, "Jewish Dreams," was borrowed from that confession. Here is the passage that Engelsma cited:

We further condemn Jewish dreams that there will be a golden age on earth before the Day of Judgment, and that the pious, having subdued all their godless enemies, will possess all the kingdoms of the earth.  For evangelical truth in Matt., chs. 24 and 25, and Luke, ch. 18, and apostolic teaching in II Thess., ch. 2, and II Tim., chs. 3 and 4, present something quite different.86

Jones responds to this citation of the Second Helvetica by calling attention to another chapter (30) of the same confession where the task of the magistrate is outlined in theocratic/theonomic terms.  Paralleling the point of view in Article 36 of the Belgic Confession, this article describes the magistrate's task as one of defending the Church of God, rooting out idolatry, and suppressing heretics.  In Jones's words, the Second Helvetica "certainly teaches a so-called theonomic ethic for civil government. Could it be," he queries, "that the author, Heinrich Bullinger, actually believed that civil government could be Christian in its theology and ethics—which is what a 'postmill' prays for (Ps. 2:6-9; Is. 2:1-4; Micah 4:1-8; Matt. 28:18-20)? "87

        We need not belabor the point here: Theonomists do link their public theology with a postmillennial eschatology.  The question which one—theonomy or postmillennialism—has the priority of conviction is a classic example of the proverbial "chicken or egg" riddle.  As Calvin noted about the knowledge of God and the knowledge of man, "which one precedes and brings forth the other is not easy to discern."88  Perhaps that question is less important than the simple fact of linkage.  Theonomists attack their critics, particularly amillennialists, for holding to what they consider to be a defeatist eschatology.89  

Amillennialism is "pessimillennialism."  But, is this linkage obvious and necessary?

        As Professor Engelsma points out in his response to Rev. Jones, the Second Helvetica (not to mention Calvin and the Belgic Confession) do in fact uncouple theocratic conviction from postmillennial "Jewish dreams."  Writes Engelsma, "Fact is, one may hold this to be the calling of the state while recognizing that the kingdom of God in the world is spiritual, not carnal, and that the condition of the church in the last days will be tribulation, not that of a 'golden age.'"90  It is here that we have a critical dividing line.  Though the denial of common grace has a kinship with the theonomist tendency to see the external works of civic righteousness by nonbelievers as works destined only for judgment and destruction, this kinship is not strong enough to overcome the fundamental disagreement about eschatology. The Protestant Reformed theological tradition from Hoeksema on has stood resolutely opposed to all postmillennial dreams and ambitions.91  It is worth pondering whether the strong commonalites on this point between the Protestant Reformed Churches and the Christian Reformed Church could not lead to fruitful reconsideration of Kalamazoo's third point.  There are other areas also where further discussion might lead to an awareness of commonalities or at least shared difficulties.  It is to one of these that we now turn.

Anthropological Determinism and Defining the Good

        The conclusion of this article will make some specific proposals toward a reformulation of the matter dealt with in Kalamazoo's third point, particularly since, in my judgment there are significant areas of potential agreement on the issue of "civic righteousness."  As part of that task and goal I shall first  address one of Hoeksema's chief objections to the theology undergirding the third point, namely his charge of moral determinism.92  According to Hoeksema because the Holy Spirit is said to compel a man  "to do good works contrary to the intents of his own heart . . . the moral character of man is destroyed, his responsibility is denied, and a theory of moral determinism is presented as Reformed doctrine."93  In my judgment, Hoeksema's usual theological acuity has failed him here. 

        For the point made by Kalamazoo's third point is virtually the same as Hoeksema's own discussion of the doctrine of providence.94  Hoeksema is particularly concerned to defend the Christian and Reformed doctrine of providence from deistic notions of the absent watchmaker god.  So he insists, "the providence of God rules not only brute creation, but also the rational and moral creature in all his deeds and activity" (emphasis added).  Since the concern of Deism is to protect autonomous human moral behavior—"Man is free: his choice of will must remain independent."—Deists insist that "even God cannot interfere with this sovereignty of man."  Against this notion Hoeksema rightly protests that Scripture "knows nothing of a sovereign man or angel. It knows of no sovereign moral creature apart from or next to God."  The proper biblical view, he contends, is that "the almighty and omnipresent power of God controls his whole life and all his deeds."  This clearly touches on human moral conduct.  "And even the heart of man, that center of his ethical life, is controlled by the Lord."  It is hard here to see how Hoeksema's notion of providential sovereignty differs from the concerns of the third point or how he avoids becoming vulnerable to the charge of determinism himself.  Hoeksema even employs the language of causality, utilizing the traditional distinction between primary and secondary causality. "God is not the author of sin.  Man is the second cause; and he works consciously and willingly, and he commits sin because he loves it, while God hates all evil.  But that second cause is not sovereign, not even in his thinking and willing, and not even when he sins" (emphasis added). 

        Professor Herman Hanko makes a similar point in an essay on Postmillennialism.95

One of his concerns is to correct the error of failing to distinguish the distinct manner of Christ's rule over the wicked from that over the righteous.  "There is a difference in the way Christ rules," he insists:

The difference is this: Christ rules over the wicked men and devils in such a way, that while He remains the sovereign Lord, they serve Him against their will.  They rebel against Christ, fight against His rule and seek to destroy His kingdom.  They rage against God and Christ and seek to cast His yoke from them. But all this wicked rebellion does not alter the fact that they are still so many servants of Christ who can do nothing but what Christ works and what God has eternally determined.  Christ rules over them through their rebellion so that in their rebellion, even though they oppose His kingdom, they still serve God's purpose.96

By contrast, Christ rules over his own people in a quite different way:

He rules over them in such a way that they become the willing subjects of His kingdom.  He rules over them by changing their hearts, bending their wills, redeeming and saving them so that they bow willingly before Him and acknowledge Christ as their Lord.  They are, through the rule of Christ in their hearts, the loyal citizens of the kingdom, loyal soldiers of the cross.97

        The goal of a virtuous and orderly society is thus achieved, in this scenario, by God's providential limiting of sin's consequences and steering human evil deeds in a direction that mitigates sin's worse consequences.98  But God's sovereign action goes deeper than this according to Hoeksema.  The hearts of evil men are controlled by the Lord so that, limited in their own sovereignty, they "serve him against their will" even when they sin.  With this formulation it is also difficult to maintain the notion of human moral freedom.  Though it is framed by a doctrine of decree and providence rather than in terms of common grace, Hoeksema's formulation suffers from the same problem with which he accuses the third point.  His response is also similar:  When faced with a logical difficulty where an implication is drawn that is disagreeable to him, he simply declares his conviction about human moral responsibility. 

        The issue we are dealing with here gets even more cloudy since Hoeksema is willing to go further in terms of the unregenerate doing certain deeds that at least externally appear to be "good."  In a discussion of Canons of Dort, III/IV, 4 Hoeksema notes that post-fall humanity is still "able to act rationally and morally in relation to God and man."99  He rightly observes that the Kalamazoo Synod in citing this passage in defense of common grace distorted matters by omitting the nuanced negations of the second half of the article.100  Nonetheless Hoeksema does speak positively about the vestigial "natural light" in fallen man.  In a catechetical answer to the question, "What is 'natural light? '" Hoeksema describes it as follows:

It is the light of reason, through which man, even after the fall, is a rational-moral being.  The article speaks of "glimmerings" of this light remaining in fallen man, because it does no longer shine in the original brightness that characterized it in the state of righteousness.  If man had not retained these glimmerings he would not be able to act rationally and morally in relation to God and man.  He would not be responsible.  He would be unable to sin; for sin presupposes a rational being that knows what he ought to do and is, therefore, responsible.  And he could not be subject to punishment, nor would he be in a position to justify God in His righteous judgment.  In the light of these glimmerings, therefore, fallen man knows what he ought to do, but is not morally able to do it. Knowledge is no virtue.101

Hoeksema makes a similar point in his answer about the Canons' reference to "natural things":

Natural things are the things of this world, things earthy, man himself and creation about him, the different creatures in relation one to another and to himself.  In the light of this knowledge man, fallen man, is able to live his present earthly life, such as it is.  In this light he also develops the sciences and discovers the hidden powers of creation and invents the wonders of the modern world.  He discovers numerous means whereby to enrich the life of the world.  Again, however, the question as to whether there remains in fallen man any good, and whether he performs any good, is not answered by the fact that he is able to live and to enlarge upon the scope of his earthly life, but is determined by his relation to God.  With all these means he does not improve, neither does he do any good.  He merely subjects himself with all these to the service of sin.102

Hoeksema attributes a high level of knowledge of the good to the unbeliever: Though the fallen man "loves sin and hates God [he] knows very well that God is good, and also that it is good to serve him. He is not unaware of the patent fact that sin leads to destruction."  Knowing that the law of God is good and beneficial, the fallen man "perceives very well that it is not good for him to commit adultery, to steal, and to murder."  It is thus only because of a "fear of evil results for him" that fallen man refrains from doing the evil that he loves and wills.  Hoeksema allows that fallen man "has a certain regard for virtue, and there is even a certain manifest attempt in his life and walk to be virtuous, to maintain order in society, and to conduct himself orderly in his external deportment."  His conclusion: There is among fallen people "some regard for virtue and good order and orderly development" but there is no "inward virtue" and even though there be an appearance of external virtue, "he and all the world are nevertheless dominated by sin and are rushing to judgment."103             The argument thus hangs entirely on a definition of "the good."  For Hoeksema the Heidelberg Catechism's understanding of good works is exclusive: Good works are "only those which proceed from a true faith, are performed according to the law of God, and to his glory; and not such as are founded on our imaginations, or the institutions of men."104  The advocates of common grace, on the other hand, affirm Hoeksema's point about total depravity but are willing to use "good" in a penultimate sense, a lesser good for deeds that externally measure up to God's law and benefit humanity.  In Calvin's words, cited by Berkhof,  "God is said to love the political virtues; not that they are meritorious of salvation or of grace, but that they have reference to an end of which he approves."105  One wonders at this point whether it would not be possible to arrive at a consensus position by reframing this idea in the categories of providence and by speaking of deeds that "contribute to an end of which God approves" rather than deeds which are "good."  This possibility is strengthened by the fact that Hoeksema actually does speak in bonum partem of civil righteousness:

And what then is civil righteousness?  According to our view, the natural man discerns the relationships, laws, rules of life and fellowship, etc., as they are ordained by God.  He sees their propriety and utility.  And he adapts himself to them for his own sake.  If in this attempt he succeeds the result is an act that shows an outward and formal resemblance to the laws of God.  Then we have civil righteousness, a regard for virtue and external deportment.106

Reconsidering the Third Point

        Our journey through the tangle of debate about civic righteousness has been long and somewhat meandering.  We have followed some trails that finally led nowhere.  Our basic concern was the question whether there was an inherent connection between the denial of common grace and a theonomic point of view, particularly in the matter of civil righteousness.  We have finally arrived at the point where we can give a definitive answer: "No, there is no necessary and logical connection between theocracy/theonomy and the denial of the third point of common grace."  The lengthy journey we took, with all its twists and turns, to arrive at this destination was necessary and valuable.  Much of the debate about common grace in general and the third point in particular is characterized by a certain logical consequentialism: Since X holds view A, he must also be guilty of holding view B.  Both sides engaged in this kind of consequentialism with the result that neither was able to take the other's affirmations and negations seriously.  Hoeksema claimed that those who held to a doctrine of common grace thereby denied total depravity.  His opponents denied the charge and concluded the opposite:  Because Hoeksema denies common grace he does not take total depravity seriously enough.  Examples of this sort of back-and-forth consequentialism can be multiplied in this debate.  Even the original premise giving rise to this article—could there be a link between denying common grace and a theonomic public theology?—was an example of consequentialist logical deduction: Denial of the third point implies denial of the legitimacy of non-Christian civil authority which furthermore implies theonomy.  It was important to follow a number of such consequentialist leads that eventually turned out to be dead ends in order to illustrate one of the important lessons of this survey: Be wary of drawing grand conclusions from deductions, especially when those about whom you are drawing the inference deny it.  When A concludes that B does not believe in total depravity because of belief X but B vigorously disputes the conclusion and may in fact even turn it back on A, then a breakdown of definition and communication has taken place and it is time to stop and go back to the drawing board.  The great tragedy of the common grace debate in the 1920s and beyond is that positions were hardened in concrete and parties formed that mutually excluded each other from communion.  I remain convinced that though there are significant differences between the parties in the CRC's common grace debate matters need not have come to total division and separation.  There must be room in the Christian and Reformed camp for both Berkhof and Hoeksema.  Let me here suggest a possible framework and reformulation of Kalamazoo's third point that might not fully satisfy either of the two sides but could be a position that both could live with.  The first step would be to remove the term grace from any discussion of the ongoing vestiges of the image of God in fallen man and the gifts and virtues associated with the image.  Restricting the notion of grace to the soteriological realm honors Hoeksema's concerns and would suggest that the expression "good works" also be restricted to the Heidelberg Catechism's understanding of "only those that proceed from a true faith."  The material content of this issue could then be placed in the doctrine of providence where it is free from all confusion with soteriology.  Both sides would then clearly affirm total depravity, that even the best of human deeds are polluted with sin, and that apart from saving grace no one willingly does good.

        What happens when the matter of civil righteousness is framed by the doctrine of providence?  The emphasis then falls on God's creating, governing and sustaining work and the possibility of confusion with soteriological categories is minimized.  Thanks to God's providential care even fallen man, according to the Canons of Dort continues to possess "glimmerings of natural light" so that he is able to know "differences between good and evil, discover some regard for virtue, good order in society, and for maintaining an orderly development."  In all of this, including the heart and mind of man, God reigns supreme.  History is not out of control, God brings it to his own conclusion and end.  At this point we need not explore the mechanism by which God accomplishes his purposes; we need only to confess that however it is understood we must affirm both God's ultimate sovereignty and genuine human moral responsibility.  With that brief summary as background, here is a reformulation of the matter covered by the third point:

Concerning the performance of so-called civic righteousness by the unregenerate, the Synod declares that the unregenerate are incapable of any saving good (Canons of Dort, III/ IV, 3).  We do acknowledge that God in his providence does maintain all people as his image bearers who continue to keep "glimmerings of natural light, whereby they retain some knowledge of God, of natural things, and of the differences between good and evil, and discover some regard for virtue, good order in society, and for maintaining orderly external deportment."  (Canons of Dort, III/IV, 4).  These deeds of outward conformity to God's ordinances do not make unbelievers inwardly virtuous or good before God; they render unbelievers inexcusable (Romans 1:20; Canons of Dort, III/IV, 4).   At the same time God's providential governing and sustaining creation and humanity within the bounds of external order is his universal gift to all people.  Though under judgment, life in this world is not hell.  Christ is King!

This is only a personal proposal and requires much more discussion between the advocates and detractors of common grace but it is offered here as an illustrative demonstration that open and honest dialogue might have resulted in greater agreement on the crucial points.  Sadly, that did not happen in 1924; it's not too late to make some attempt today.

Postscript: Determinism and Cooperation

        The paragraphs that follow are an attempt theologically to reframe the issue of divine influence on unregenerate people and the problem of moral determinism that Hoeksema so vigorously objected to in the third point.  I add them here as a postscript because the point is tangential and I did not wish to muddy even more the already turbulent waters.  The pneumatological argument that follows here should not be identified with the preceding discussion; it is additional reflection on a subpoint of that discussion.  My starting point is to ask if human evil deeds are under the providential governance of God, why would Hoeksema demur giving God credit for restraining evil deeds and promoting good deeds with the objection that such a view is a case of moral determinism?

        Perhaps we get a clue from another and minor note in Hoeksema's treatment of the doctrine of providence.  Hoeksema summarizes his view thus: "In the light of Scripture there can be no doubt that God with His omnipresent power preserves all things and rules and governs them unto his own determinate end."  The two elements of providence for Hoeksema are "preservation" and "government."  And now here is the point I wish to highlight:  "Frequently," writes Hoeksema, "a third element is mentioned, that of cooperation.  But this is, strictly speaking, not necessary: for what is meant by cooperation is after all nothing else that [sic] the preservation and government of God with regard to the moral life and deeds of the rational creature." Consequently, Hoeksema says that he prefers "to distinguish in providence between God's preservation and government."  Now this shying away from the notion of cooperation is perfectly understandable in view of its use by Arminians and Tridentine Roman Catholicism.107  However, it may have also contributed to Hoeksema's failure to make an important distinction between the character of our Lord's work in obtaining salvation for us and the different way in which the Holy Spirit works applying salvation to us and in us.108  Simply stated, is it appropriate to use the language of "cooperation" when speaking of  the Holy Spirit's role (not in Christ's work of atonement!) in justifying and sanctifying the sinner?  The question we are exploring here is whether or not we must speak of a distinctive "logic" or "grammar" of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, particularly, the difference between a christological and pneumatological perspective.

        The classic christological formulations of the church include such notions as enhypostasis, personal or hypostatic union, assumption (of the human nature), incarnation, substitution, and once-for-all perfection (of Christ's sacrifice).  The christological conviction is clear—in Jesus of Nazareth God himself became incarnate, assumed our human nature in a genuine personal union between the divine and human nature (Chalcedon), and gave himself as a full and complete ransom for human sin on our behalf (huper) and in our place (anti).  The work of Christ, it is usually argued, must in a real sense be extra nos (this is the heart of the Anselmian approach to the atonement—it takes place before God) in order to preserve the reality of grace.  Our righteousness is not, cannot be from or within ourselves. The language of "cooperation" is utterly inappropriate here.  Sola gratia: Salvation is from God alone.  On this point in particular, the Reformed theological tradition has much to learn from Hoeksema's indefatigible theological passion for the sovereignty of God's grace in Jesus Christ.

        However, these christological categories fail us when we want to describe the work of the Holy Spirit.  The work of the Spirit consists of an indwelling109 in which the already created and existing human person who is renewed retains his or her full identity.  Human beings do not find their hypostasis (existence) in God nor does the indwelling Holy Spirit divinize human nature.110  While the appropriate christological categories here are enhypostasis and assumption, the appropriate pneumatological categories are adoption and encounter.  A new relationship between God and the human person arises in which the clear distinction of the relata are wholly retained.  Herbert Richardson has summed this up aptly.111

The Holy Spirit gives us eternal life by uniting Himself to us in a unique way.  His indwelling is a form of presence which is closer and more "unitive" than even the most perfect communion among created beings.  Indwelling is a divine, or uncreated, form of presence.  It is the very perichoresis that unites the persons of God with each other.  Hence, when the Holy Spirit indwells us, we are lifted into the very life of God Himself.

There is no human or even creaturely analogy for such a "perichoretic" indwelling.

Creatures cannot indwell one another.  Rather, the perfect form of unity among creatures is the moral communion of friendship.  When Jesus Christ sends the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, however, he makes God present to us in a way which exceeds even the most perfect moral communion.  In our union with the Holy Spirit, we are joined to Him even more closely than we are joined to ourselves (since even "self-consciousness" is a form of created presence).  Hence, Scripture tells us that the Spirit knows us not only better than even our closest friends know us, but even better than we know ourselves.  For when we do not know our true desires, the Holy Spirit interprets them to God for us. When we do not know the way to turn, the Spirit leads us.  When we are weighed down by doubts and despair, the Spirit preserves our soul.  When we cannot hold our lives in our own hands, then we know they will be held in the hand of God.  The man in whom the Spirit dwells, dwells in the Spirit, the comforter whom our friend Jesus Christ sends us.

Richardson continues by arguing that unlike the fairly precise trinitarian and specifically christological formulas of the early church, such a formulation is missing for the unique work of the Holy Spirit. His suggestion for this lacuna is the formula "one person in two persons."

The Church has not yet formulated a dogmatic explanation of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in a human person.  She has defined the relation of God to creation as ex nihilo; she has defined the presence of God in Jesus Christ as "one person in two natures"; but she has never defined the union of the Holy Spirit with the soul, or very person, of a man.  I suggest, however, that Scripture and ecumenical dogma require the minimum affirmation that the Holy Spirit indwells a man as "one person in two persons."  This formula is to be explained as follows: when the Holy Spirit indwells a created person, He does not assume a human nature.  Rather, He unites Himself with a created person or individual existence in an "uncreated" way.  In this indwelling the distinctive individualities of both the human person and the Holy Spirit are maintained, and yet they are spoken of as a single subject.  They "indwell" one another.  In this way, the act of either is referred to the other: "I pray, yet not I, but the Spirit in me...," says the apostle.  "Hear the Word of the Lord...," says the prophet, speaking with a human voice.

On the other hand, the indwelling Spirit not only unites Himself with a human person, but He also indwells and is united with Jesus Christ, whose Spirit He is.  In this way, the Spirit is one person in two persons: He is in Jesus Christ and He is in the created person whom He indwells.  He is a common subject of two other distinct subjects.

        Here we see the clear difference between the christological and the pneumatological viewpoints. The notion of substitution, so important in Christology, obscures the mode of the Spirit's work since the Holy Spirit does not believe, witness, and pray, in our place or on our behalf (extra nos) but to us and with us (in nobis).  (A characteristic New Testament expression can be found in Rom. 8:16: "It is the Spirit himself bearing witness with  our Spirit that we are children of God.")  In addition to Richardson's "one person in two persons," Arnold van Ruler also coins a wonderfully descriptive new phrase to describe this: theonomous reciprocity:

What is called substitution in Christology, is called reciprocity in pneumatology.  Theonomous reciprocity: it is the Spirit that does and gives everything.  It is the Spirit, for example, who sets our will free so that we obtain a truly free will.  Nevertheless, a theonomous reciprocity is still a genuine reciprocity.  The chief characteristic of the Holy Spirit's work is that it sets us to work.112

A final difference that must be noted is that while perfectionism is christologically necessary, it is a pneumatological heresy both at the individual and communal level.  Classically, Jesus is an all-sufficient Savior, yet the conflict of Spirit against flesh and the demonic continues.  The Christian tradition tends to reject both enthusiasm and utopianism.  No person and no community fully possesses the Spirit even though the Spirit may be present truly.113  Thus there is a decided provisionality to the work of the Spirit in us and through us. God's Spirit does not replace the human spirit but in uniting with it renews it and equips it for service in his Kingdom.  In Van Ruler's words:

In the mediation of salvation it is God the Holy Spirit who brings salvation to me in many ways so that I become a partaker of it.  In the application of salvation, it is I who have salvation applied to me by the Spirit and in the Spirit, in order that it fully becomes my salvation.  Everything hinges on this happening.  God's cause must truly become my cause; I repeat God's words as truly mine.  That this result takes place is the essence, or at any rate, the goal of the Spirit's activity.114

        We have dwelt at some length on this important theologically nuanced difference between the work of Christ and work of the Spirit in order to address the issue of determinism.  What the preceding soteriological discussion suggests is that when considering the work of the Holy Spirit on believers we need to think in categories that bring divine sovereign work and human working together in a compatible manner.  Van Ruler's insights into the difference between a christological and a pneumatological perspective give us such a set of categories.  And now here is the question: If we can theologically conceive of the Holy Spirit giving the gift of life to an unbeliever and even further giving an unbeliever natural gifts (intelligence, musical ability, healthy and athletic body) why could we not conceive of a work of God the Holy Spirit that providentially influences an unbeliever's heart and will so that he or she does constructive and externally virtuous acts rather than destructive ones.  What is the theological problem, for example, with suggesting that the Lord's anointed servant Cyrus's decree returning the Jews to their homeland was providentially influenced by the Spirit of God?  What is the problem, particularly if we continue to insist that such deeds are not at all "good" in the Catechism's sense but that the work of God's Spirit is simply a means by which our Lord governs human history and thus influences people to do acts of which he approves because "they have reference to an end of which he [not only] approves" but has in fact decreed?

            1.             See, eg., David Little, Religion, Order and Law: A Study in Pre-Revolutionary England ( New York: Harper & Row, 1969);  Michael Walzer, Revolution of the Spirit (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969); Nicholas Wolterstorff, Until Justice and Peace Embrace (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983).

2.             Abraham Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1931), 79.  It is worth noting that this quotation is found at the beginning of Kuyper's lecture on "Calvinism and Politics."

3.             John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960), 4.20.4.

4.             As Ronald Wells has noted: "The tendency to promote one's own view by 'law" has always been a dangerous part of Calvinism: one sees Calvinists in power as triumphal and dictatorial.  Whether in Calvin's Geneva, Knox's Edinburgh, Cromwell's London and Dublin, Winthrop's Boston, or in our own time Vorster's Pretoria and Paisley's Belfast, Calvinists in power have wielded that power oppressively." (In R. W. Ruegsegger, ed., Reflections on Francis Schaeffer [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986]. Cited by John Coffey, "How Evangelicals Shouldn't Think About Politics,"  The Evangelical Quarterly 69, no.1 [January 1997]: 46-47).

5.             Wolterstorff, Until Justice and Peace Embrace, 21.

6.             Kuyper cites American historian George Bancroft in his Stone Lectures: "The fanatic for Calvinism was a fanatic for liberty, for in the moral warfare for freedom, his creed was a part of his army, and his most faithful ally in the battle." (Kuyper, Lectures on Calvinism, 78)  For a fuller discussion of Kuyper's public theology, including his understanding of liberty, see John Bolt, A Free Church, A Holy Nation: The American Public Theology of Abraham Kuyper (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000).

7.             Calvin, Institutes, 4.20.14.

8.             Cited in James W. Skillen and Rockne M. McCarthy, Political Order and the Plural Structure of Society, vol. 2, Emory University Studies in Law and Religion, general editor John Witte Jr. (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1991), 237.

9.             Abraham Kuyper, Ons Program, 2d ed. (Amsterdam: J.H. Kruyt, 1880), 46.

10.           Ibid.

11.           What follows in this and the next paragraph is taken directly from Abraham Kuyper, Antirevolutionaire Staatkunde, 2 vols.  (Kampen: J. H. Kok, 1916), 1:273-74.

12.           Léon Duguit was a professor of jurisprudence at Bordeaux. Traité de Droit Constitutionel was published in Paris, 1913. Kuyper cites from volume 1 beginning on page 24.

13.           I use the terms interchangeably; theocracy is the more traditional term used to describe the position that Old Testament law must be the law for any godly nation, while theonomy is the preferred term by contemporary Christian Reconstructionists such as Gregory Bahnsen, Theonomy in Christian Ethics (Nutley, N.J.: Craig, 1977).

14.           Rousas John Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law (Nutley, N.J.: Craig, 1973), 9.

15.           Ibid., 10.

16.           Meredith G. Kline, The Structure of Biblical Authority (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972), 167, emphasis added; similar conclusions are reached by William Barker, "Theonomy, Pluralism, and the Bible," in Theonomy: A Reformed Critique, ed. William S. Barker and W. Robert Godfrey (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990), 227-42, and John Cottey, "How Evangelicals Shouldn't Think About Politics."

17.           The flag episode is thoroughly covered by Hoeksema's daughter-in-law in her biography; see Gertrude Hoeksema, Therefore Have I Spoken: A Biography of Herman Hoeksema (Grand Rapids: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 1969), 81-94; page references that follow in the text are to this volume.

18.           Herman Hoeksema, The Protestant Reformed Churches in America (Grand Rapids: n.p., 1947), part 2, 293-410.

19.           Herman Hoeksema and Herman Hanko, Ready to Give an Answer: A Catechism of Reformed Distinctives (Grandville, Mich.: Reformed Free Publishing, 1997), 35-201.  This volume contains Hoeksema's own "catechism" on common grace along with an historical introduction and parallel catechism by Herman Hanko on developments within the Protestant Reformed Churches in the 1950s.

20.           Ibid., 128; The Protestant Reformed Churches, 380.

21.           In Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.20.9; Citations in the paragraph that follows are from the McNeill/Battles edition of the Institutes.

22.           Calvin, Institutes, 4.20.2.  Here it must also be noted that Calvin's theocratic impulse that the magistrate has a civic responsibility with respect to the first table of the law does not lead him to the strict theonomist position that only a civil authority that fully adheres to the divinely revealed law of Moses can be considered legitimate:

For the statement of some, that the law of God given through Moses is dishonored when it is abrogated and new laws preferred to it, is utterly vain.  For others are not preferred to it when they are more approved, not by a simple comparison, but with respect to the condition of times, place and nation; or when that law is abrogated which was never enacted for us.  For the Lord, through the hand of Moses did not give that law to be proclaimed among all nations and to be in force everywhere; but when had taken the Jewish nation into his safekeeping, defense, and protection, he also willed to be a lawgiver especially to it; and—as became a wise lawgiver—he had special concern for it in making its laws. (Institutes, 4.20.16).

23.           L. Berkhof, De Drie Punten in Alle Deelen Gereformeerd (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1925).

24.           Ibid., 51.

25.           Ibid., 52.

26.           Ibid., 53.

27.           Hoeksema and Hanko, Ready to Give an Answer, 129.

28.           Ibid., 134; this is the twentieth question and answer of Hoeksema's "catechism" on the third point.

29.           See Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1939), 246-47 for the distinction.  Hoeksema does equivocate on the distinction in his Dogmatics.  He grants the distinction but redefines it as follows:  "By absolute depravity must be meant that the matter is settled, that there is no salvation for the sinner, that he is fallen so deeply that he can never be saved.  But the absoluteness of the fall certainly has nothing to do with the totality of depravity. . . . From the point of view of God's counsel it must certainly be said that the reprobate are not only totally but also absolutely depraved." (Reformed Dogmatics [Grand Rapids: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 1966], 252-53.).

30.           Berkhof, De Drie Punten, 54.

31.           Ibid., 53.  That this crucial distinction was clear to Hoeksema himself is evident in the twenty-fourth question and answer of his "catechism" on the third point:

                Q.            What is the real teaching of the third point?

                A.            The third point teaches that man would have been and would be totally depraved, i.e. wholly incapable of doing any good and inclined to all evil, if there were no general operation of the Holy Spirit and influence of God upon him by which he is able to do good works.  If there were no influence of common grace in the world, the natural man would be totally depraved.  Now, however, he is not. (Ready to Give an Answer, 135)

                Though he gets the distinction right, Hoeksema's conclusion is wrong.  It would be more accurate to say that "the natural man does certain deeds of civic righteousness even though he is totally depraved."

32.           Ibid.

33.           Hoeksema and Hanko, Ready to Give an Answer, 130; question and answer 14.

34.           Ibid.

35.           Ibid., 133.

36.           Ibid., 130.  What is remarkable about Hoeksema raising this issue is that he surely must have been aware that for critics of the Reformed tradition any emphasis on divine sovereignty reflexively calls forth the accusation of "determinism."  Later in this article we shall see that formally Hoeksema's charge comes back to him in his own doctrine of providence.

37.           See page 7 above.

38.           Though the key material difference must not be forgotten.  Theologically Anabaptism subordinates nature to grace; on this question theonomists are thoroughly Reformed in their view that grace restores nature.

39.           It would be an interesting exercise to reread a classic Anabaptist political theology such as John Howard Yoder's The Politics of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972) substituting theonomic principles in place of Yoder's Sermon on the Mount ethics.

40.           J. K. Van Baalen, De Loochening der Gemeene Gratie: Gereformeerd of Doopersch? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans-Sevensma, 1922).

41.           Ibid., 9.

42.           Calvin, Bavinck, Hodge, Kuyper, Warfield.

43.           Van Baalen, Loochening, 51.

44.           Ibid., 81.

45.           H. Hoeksema and H. Danhof, Niet Doopersch Maar Gereformeerd (Grand Rapids: Grand Rapids Printing Co., n.d. [1922]).

46.           Ibid., 67.

47.           Ibid., 67-68.

48.           Ibid., 68.

49.           Ibid.

50.           H. Hoeksema and H. Danhof, Langs Zuivere Banen (Kalamazoo: Dalm Printing, n.d.), 71-72.

51.           Hoeksema and Hanko, Ready to Give an Answer, 131.

52.           Ibid., 131-32.

53.           See the later section in this article, "Eschatology is the Point."

54.           Of North's many, many books, his 1989 large volume (nearly 800 pages!), Political Polytheism: The Myth of Pluralism (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989) is perhaps the best single introduction to his thought.

55.           See Appendix B, "Rushdoony on the Constitution," in Political Polytheism, 675-703.

56.           See R. J. Rushdoony, This Independent Republic (Nutley, N.J.: Craig Press, 1964), especially chapter 4, "Sovereignty."

57.           North, Political Polytheism, 683.

58.           Ibid., 492.

59.           Ibid., 683.

60.           See above, p. 9.

61.           Gary North, Dominion and Common Grace: The Biblical Basis of Progress (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1987).

62.           Ibid., 9.  The presence of Van Til in this debate is a reminder that the lines are not straight.  Christian Reconstructionism is based, among other things, on Van Tillian presuppostional epistemology.  One would expect a presuppositionalist who insists on the antithesis between Christian and non-Christian knowledge to reject the doctrine of common grace.  As we shall see, the reality, however, is more complicated.

63.           Ibid.

64.           Ibid., 14-15.

65.           Ibid., 15.

66.           On the difference between Van Til on one side and Hoeksema/Schilder on the other, North writes:

"When you face both Herman Hoeksema and Klaas Schilder in theological debate, you had better have your arguments ready.  In this instance, Van Til didn't have them ready." (Ibid., 37)

67.           Ibid., 43.

68.           Ibid.

69.           Ibid., 39.

70.           Ibid., 43.

71.           There is a temptation among many "common grace" Reformed people, particularly those who have been captured by the cosmic scope of Kuyperian neo-Calvinism, to argue from Christ's universal Lordship over all creation to the conclusion that everything (by which is usually meant all human cultural practices) is "redeemable."

72.           "If you want a four-word summary of this book, here it is: common grace is continuity. It is also a prelude to judgment." (Dominion and Common Grace, 3.)

73.           Ibid., 44.

74.           North, Political Polytheism, 491.

75.           Ibid.

76.           The specific terminology I am using here does not come from North himself but from Albert M. Wolters, Creation Regained: Biblical Basis for a Reformational Worldview (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), ch. 5.

77.           North, Political Polytheism, 636; the example that North uses here is "the reversal of economic power between Japan and the United States, 1945-1988" where the Japanese "adopted the Protestant ethic of their American conquerors" (ibid.).

78.           Ibid., 637.

79.           See Part 2 of North, Political Polytheism, "Halfway Covenantalism."

80.           See Hoeksema and Danhof, Langs Zuivere Banen, 71; cf., discussion above, p8.

81.           Ibid., 227.

82.           North, Dominion and Common Grace, 14-15; see note 65 above.

83.           Ibid.

84.           Editor Engelsma opened the exchange with an editorial, "Jewish Dreams," Standard Bearer (January 15, 1995): 173-75.  Letters from theonomists and a response from the editor followed in the March 1, 1995 and March 15, 1995 issues of the Standard Bearer.  Engelsma concluded with a two-part response (March 1, 1996 and March 15, 1996) to a Gary North "position paper" that was itself a reaction to the original editorial.

85.           Engelsma, “Jewish Dreams” 270-72.

86.           Engelsma “Jewish Dreams,” 173.  It is rather puzzling that Jones questions the legitimacy of Engelsma's citation. He writes: "If, indeed the Second Helvetica condemns a post-millennial eschatology, as you maintain (you do not cite the reference of your quote from the Confession. . . ").  Engelsma's reference was given clearly: (Chap. 11, in Reformed Confessions of the 16th Century, ed. Arthur C. Cochrane, [Westminster Press, 1966]).   Another English translation can be found in the recently released sixth edition standard work on confessions and creeds, Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, 3 vols., (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998 [1931]), 3:831-909. (The English translation was omitted in earlier editions.)  The exact reference that Rev. Mr. Jones had difficulty finding is indeed in chapter 11 of the Second Helvetica as Engelsma had noted.  It can be found on p. 853 of Schaff's third volume (6th ed.).  See also Engelsma's own response on this point, Standard Bearer (March 1, 1995), 271.

87.           Engelsma, “Jewish Dreams” 270.

88.           Calvin, Institutes, 1.1.1.

89.           This is a recurring, persistent refrain in the writing of theonomists.  Clear, full statements can be found in J. Marcellus Kik, An Eschatology of Victory (Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1975); Gary North, Backward Christian Soldiers: An Action Manual for Christian Reconstruction (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1984); R. J. Rushdoony, God's Plan for Victory: The Meaning of Postmillennialism (Fairfax, Va.: Thoburn, 1977).

90.           Engelsma, “Jewish Dreams” 271.

91.           See, inter alia, Herman Hoeksema, Reformed Dogmatics, 816-17; idem., "Defective Logic," Standard Bearer (February 15, 1929): 239; H. Hanko, "The Danger of Post-Millennialism," Standard Bearer (June 1, 1965): 402-5; idem., "The Illusory Hope of Postmillennialism," Standard Bearer (January 1, 1990): 158-60.

92.           See above, 19-20.

93.           Hoeksema and Hanko, Ready to Give an Answer, 133.

94.           What follows is taken directly from Herman Hoeksema, Reformed Dogmatics, 231-36.

95.           H. Hanko, "The Danger of Postmillennialism," The Standard Bearer 41 (June 1, 1965): 402-405.

96.           Ibid., 404.

97.           Ibid.

98.           See also Hoeksema and Danhof, Langs Zuivere Banen, 79.

99.           Hoeksema and Hanko, Ready to Give an Answer, 138.

100.         The article in its entirety reads as follows:

There remain, however, in man since the fall, the glimmerings of natural light, whereby he retains some knowledge of God, of natural things, and of the differences between good and evil, and discovers some regard for virtue, good order in society, and for maintaining an orderly external deportment.  But so far is this light of nature from being sufficient to bring him to a saving knowledge of God, and to true conversion, that he is incapable of using it aright even in things natural and civil.  Nay further, this light, such as it is, man in various ways renders wholly polluted, and holds it in unrighteousness, by doing which he becomes inexcusable before God.

101.         Hoeksema and Hanko, Ready to Give an Answer, 138-39.

102.         Ibid., 139-40.

103.         Ibid., 139-41, passim.

104.         Ibid., 145; citation is from Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 33, Q & A 91.

105.         Berkhof, De Drie Punten, 52.

106.         Ibid., 128.  In fairness to Hoeksema the remaining qualification in this quotation also must be mentioned:

And if in this attempt he fails, as is frequently the case, civil righteousness disappears, and the result is exactly the opposite.  His fundamental error, howerver, is that he does not seek after God, nor aim at Him and His glory, even in this regard for virtue and external deportment. On the contrary, he seeks himself, both individually and in fellowship with other sinners and with the whole world, and it is his purpose to maintain himself even in his sin over against God.  And this is sin.  And in reality his work also has evil effects upon himself and his fellow creatures.  For, his actions with relation to men and his fellow creatures are performed according to the same rule and with similar results.  And thus it happens that sin develops constantly and corruption increases, while still there remains a formal adaptation to the laws ordained of God for the present life.  Yet the natural man never attains to any ethical good.  That is our view.

Hoeksema is citing himself here: Langs Zuivere Banen, 72-73.

107.         Though fairness requires some consideration of Hans Küng's fascinating thesis that Trent's notion of cooperari is not a case of synergism but simply a reference to the subjective appropriation of the grace of which God alone is the source.  See Hans Küng, Justification: The Doctrine of Karl Barth and a Catholic Reflection (1964; reprint,. Philadelphia:  Westminster, 1981), especially ch. 32.

108.         For what follows I am indebted to Arnold Van Ruler, "Structural Differences Between the Christological and Pneumatological Perspectives," in Calvinist Trinitarianism and Theocentric Politics: Essays Toward a Public Theology, trans. John Bolt (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1989), 27-46; and Herbert Richardson, "Toward an American Theology," in Toward an American Theology (New York, Harper & Row, 1967), 108-160.  I have treated this topic in a different context in my article, "The Ecumenical Shift to Cosmic Pneumatology," Reformed Review 51, no.3 (spring 1998): 225-70.

109.         "The history of the Logos and the history of God's Spirit were often seen parallel to one another in theology, and were even interwoven with one another.  But a clear distinction was made between the incarnation of the Logos and the inhabitation of the Spirit.  The Word 'becomes flesh' but the Spirit 'indwells'"  (Jürgen Moltmann, God in Creation: A New Theology of Creation and the Spirit of God, trans. Margaret Kohl [SanFrancisco: Harper & Row, 1985],102).

110.         "There is no hypostatic union of the Holy Spirit with the human person.  The union of the Holy Spirit with the human person is not hypostatic because the Spirit is united with a man in the same way he is united with Jesus Christ, i.e., by mutual indwelling or perichoresis.  This is a real, though not a hypostatic, union—for in the perichoresis of the Spirit with the soul of man the two persons remain distinct."  "Because the sanctification of man results from a union of persons, man's nature is neither divinized not transformed by it.  The man in whom the Spirit dwells remains fully man."  (Herbert Richardson, Toward an American Theology, 148, 154.)

111.         Herbert Richardson, Toward an American Theology, 146-147.

112.         Van Ruler, Calvinist Trinitarianism and Theocentric Politics, 35.

113.         Here we do have an important christological parallel with the totus-totum distinction so crucial to the so-called "extra calvinisticum." See E. David Willis, Calvin's Catholic Christology: The Function of the So-Called Extra Calvinisticum in Calvin's Theology (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1966), 30-33.

114.         Ibid., 78, cf. 209.

Last modified: 25-Jan-01