PRC Archives: Sovereign Grace Union, H.Atherton, and H.Hoeksema

Recently Prof.R.Dykstra asked me if we had in the Seminary library or PRC denominational archives a special book that Rev. Herman Hoeksema received from Rev. Henry Atherton of Grove Chapel in Camberwell, England.

Prof.Dykstra was covering the modern church history period of Great Britain and had mentioned to his students that Rev.Hoeksema had made friends with Rev.Atherton because of the latter’s strong sovereign grace views. Hoeksema had, in fact, made a trip to London in 1929, preaching in Grove Chapel on July 29, 1929 (see quote and article link below). A little over a year later (Sept.26, 1930) Atherton presented Hoeksema with a signed copy of a bound collection of pamphlets published by the Sovereign Grace Union, of which Atherton was general secretary for many years.

I recalled that we had the book, through a strange set of circumstances (which I will not go into now), and that it was in the archives, not in the library. After locating the book (which has the spine label “S.G.U. Pamphlets, 1929”), I rediscovered the personal note of Rev. Atherton to Rev.Hoeksema. I have scanned it and include it here.

SGU-HH Copy-1929

I then starting doing a Standard Bearer search to see what references “HH” may have made to this trip and book. And I found this: “I prefer to quote from the book that was given to me by Henry Atherton after I preached in Grove Chapel, London, on July 21, 1929” (Taken from this SB article by HH, April 15, 1964).

I thought you might be interested in learning more about the SGU and its publications, so I scanned out of this bound volume of “HH” a number of the pamphlet covers and advertisements for this organization, and post them here in succession.

SGU-Basis_Page_1

SGU-Ad re Good books

SGU-Book pg_Page_1

SGU-Special Ads_Page_1

SGU-Specials covers_Page_1

SGU-Special covers-2_Page_1

 

 

You may also be interested to know that the SGU continues to publish materials, including a magazine, which we receive in the Seminary library. Here is an image of the latest cover we have:

SGU-Peace&Truth Mag cover_Page_1

In addition, just recently in connection with their 100th anniversary (November 2014) the SGU published and sent to us a collection of Atherton’s addresses under the title The Gospel of Sovereign Grace. This work will be placed in our library, and our readers are more than welcome to read this if they desire. I have scanned a copy of its cover here for your benefit.

SGU-Atherton book cover_Page_1

Finally, I can mention that I also found these additional references to SGU in the “SB”.

From the April 15, 1966 SB (“Book Reviews”):

Several Sovereign Grace Union Tracts by various authors and of various prices. These tracts and a price list of other publications are available from Grace Literature, P.O. Box 879, Gaffney, S.C. 29340.

Many of our older readers will recall that formerly we had some contacts with the Sovereign Grace Union of England, particularly through the friendship between the late Rev. Henry Atherton and my father. Recently several tracts from this organization were sent to me by a U.S. agent whose address I have given above. Among these were “Table Talk About Election,” a very brief tract about election; “An Accomplished Redemption,” a little pamphlet on particular atonement; and “What Is This Calvinism,” a brief exposition of the Five Points of Calvinism.

Although much of what is contained in these tracts is a kind of Calvinism, yet I was frankly rather disappointed in what I read. I get the impression that the Sovereign Grace Union is not putting out the kind of literature that it formerly did; at least, this material does not compare with many former productions which I have in my library. The Calvinism of these tracts is “watered down” Calvinism. “Table Talk About Election” is definitely a failure when it comes to the crucial subject of reprobation. The pamphlet on “An Accomplished Redemption” speaks of common grace fruits of Christ’s death as well as of His atonement for the elect. As to “What Is This Calvinism?” I would have to say that Calvinism is much more than the Five Points of Calvinism. Hence, tracts of this nature are of very limited, and sometimes questionable, value.

I also received the SGU quarterly, “Peace and Truth,” the subscription price of which is $1.05 per year. This little magazine contains some brief articles and sermons and items of interest concerning the SGU.

Perhaps I might add that the SGU does not publish many large books any more. This seems to be done more by the Banner of Truth Trust. However, for those interested in SGU publications, here is some information.

—H.C. Hoeksema

And Rev.R.Harbach quoted Atherton in an SB article on crusade methods in the Sept.1, 1969 issue:

In closing, we can do no better than to quote Henry Atherton, who in 1929 said, “All systems of Theology are reduced to two outstanding principles, called Calvinistism and Arminianism. Arminianism is man’s religion, which can be accomplished by man. Man is the main power: with man it begins, and with man it shall perish. Calvinism is the Divine revelation. It requires the Lord for everything, acknowledging the sovereignty of God; and all its purposes and power must come from God. God elects, God redeems, God ingathers, God keeps, provides, sustains and operates according to His own purpose and wisdom, and all redound to God’s grace and glory.”

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. very interesting material , keep it up !

    Like


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