Herman Hoeksema’s Pre-PRC Writings: Social Christianity and Calvinism (1919)

Rev. Herman Hoeksema (1886-1965) was ordained into the ministry in the Christian Reformed Church in 1916 and was early on involved in speech-making and writing, as many pastors were and still are.

One of his early speeches that was later published in his “Social Christianity and Calvinism”, which appeared in the August 1919 issue of Religion and Culture (Vol.1, No.2).  We have that issue in our Seminary library  (see image below) and one of our Christian school teachers recently called our attention to this speech and article. According to the footnote at the beginning of the printed form of this speech, it was “an address delivered before Corps: Credimus ut Intelligamus of Calvin College.” (That Latin phrase means “we believe in order to understand”, based on Augustine’s maxim.)

relig & culture hh 1919_Page_1

So, we feature it today and quote from it, because it is a powerful summary of how Calvinism gives us the proper world and life view and represents true “social Christianity.” I might add that it is striking how relevant for our times this speech is after almost 100 years. Perhaps we will quote from it further in the future, but for today this will suffice:

…Also Calvinism, holding the original goodness of the world, and still professing that the world as kosmos is not essentially bad but good, being the product of an Almighty and All-wise God, infinite in perfection, strongly repudiates the erroneous separation of nature and grace and always maintained that the power of redemption thru grace is not destined to remain a foreign element in the life of the world, but much rather to redeem that life in all its abundance and in every sphere. Calvinism has always sent its worshippers, equipped with a complete view of life and the world, into all the complex relationships of human existence to claim it for Christ our Lord. The truly Calvinistic Christian is a Christian everywhere and always. In the home and in the church, in society and in the state, in shop and office, in art and in science, in trade and industry, always and everywhere is the Calvinist a Christian, would he be consistent and in harmony with his own confession.

All life and all relations of life he claims must be based on and permeated by Christian principles. In a word I know of no view that is broader in its vision, that is more kosmological in its application, that is more all embracing in its powerful grasp, that is more truly liberating in its power than the Calvinist view of life and the world; and it may safely be said that, if an indictment is brought against the Christianity of former ages, as if it meant to be an anabaptistic separation from the world, Calvinism should straightway be acquitted, and may, indeed, go with a free conscience. There is, therefore, on the face of it an undeniable similarity between this Social Christianity and Calvinism (pp.22-23).

I also enjoyed the nice book advertisement on the back side of this magazine issue. While this Holland, Michigan publisher no longer exists, it once was a popular publisher of Reformed literature.

relig & culture ad for books 1919_Page_1

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