Are Kline and Mark Karlberg not Confessional concerning the Mosaic?

Discussion in 'The Confession of Faith' started by PuritanCovenanter, Aug 12, 2011.

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  1. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    PDF download.

    On the web.

    This is a topic I am trying to get a grasp on since so much of my understanding of the Mosaic has been more along the lines of Kline and those he has influenced. I have only started to look into these issues because I have mostly accepted a dichotomous view of law and gospel for the past 30 years or so.

    Pastor Ramsey has made some pretty strong well researched arguments as far as I am can discern and I am leaning more toward his understanding on this issue of the Mosaic and the Westminster Confession of Faith.

    If you have time to read this can you give me your assessment of what Pastor Ramsey has written here? BTW, this is not merely an academic exercise for me. There is a lot of application that I am drawing from this study.

    Last edited: Jul 2, 2012
  2. Irish Presbyterian

    Irish Presbyterian Puritan Board Freshman

    Brenton C. Ferry, "Cross-examining Moses' defense: an answer to Ramsey's critique of Kline and Karlberg," Westminster Theological Journal 67.1 (Spring 2005): 163-168.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2011
  3. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    Randy, let me know if you'd like the read the article mentioned by Keith. I'm pretty sure they carry WTJ at SBTS, and I'd be glad to get you copy of it sometime.
  4. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Just as a side note. My experience was not that of Luther's. I knew I didn't measure up to the Law and I feared God's judgment but it was the beauty of the Law that drew me towards Christ. I knew there was something perfectly good and I needed it. The Law revealed beauty to me and I wanted it. So my experience and struggle was a bit different than Luther's experience.
  5. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    I would have to agree with Keith that Ramsey has misrepresented Kline and Karlberg. That doesn't mean I would agree with everything those two theologians said about the Mosaic Covenant. However, I do not believe that Patrick Ramsey has advanced the discussion. Ferry's criticisms are well taken.

    Personally, I am coming to believe the following propositions about the Mosaic covenant: 1. It is part of the covenant of grace, no question. 2. However, if this were all we said about the Mosaic covenant, then it is difficult to see why it would be given over and above the Abrahamic covenant. Therefore, 3. There is a republication of the covenant of works present in the Mosaic economy. 4. The previous statement needs to be carefully defined in a typological sense, corresponding to the paedogogical use of the law (this is probably where I would disagree with Kline, incidentally: he views the republication as relating to Israel's ownership of the land, whereas I view it as setting forth the impossibility of works salvation). 5. Romans 5:20 tells us that the law (Mosaic law in this context) was added to increase transgressions. I think this is one of the most important (but overlooked) verses in this discussion. The law increases transgression by pointing sin out to us (having a standard obviously increases our awareness of sin), by making more actions explicitly labelled as sin that might have been only implicitly known as sin beforehand, and by acting as a goad to our sin nature. 6. These actions of the law in increasing sin drive us to the super-abounding grace found in Jesus Christ (cf. the rest of verse 20). 7. There is a republication of the CoW in all economies, since Jesus came to fix the CoW. His fulfillments of the terms (both obeying and suffering) of the CoW renders it a CoG to us, by virtue of His obedience imputed to us. All those who do not participate by faith in this CoG are still bound by the terms of the CoW. Hypothetically, the way of obtaining heaven by works has always been open. Practically, however, it can't be obtained by us, since we made ourselves incapable of obeying, and we have the debt of our sin, as well.
  6. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Thank you Lane.
  7. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member


    Would you say that Pastor Ramsey is accurate here in his description?

    I would also like to know how Pastor Ramsey misrepresented Kline and Karlburg. Do you believe he would acknowledge that now years later?
  8. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    The basic problem with the new scheme is the way it makes the covenant of works co-ordinate with the covenant of grace in the Mosaic economy. They refer to the Abrahamic promise and the so-called "works principle" of the Sinaitic covenant functioning side by side. The older divines would speak of the covenant of works as subordinate to the covenant of grace. It was serving in the way we see it in action in Romans 7, for example, bringing conviction of sin and driving the people to the promised Christ. (Incidentally, the same is true with respect to the law-gospel relationship now.) Besides this ordo salutis aspect, there was also the historia salutis aspect. The outward service of weak and beggarly elements bound the people to the faith of Christ until Christ came. This was a temporary "addition" which had respect to their minority as sons and had all the appearance of making Israel look like they were servants in bondage. This has been abrogated in Christ and the son has come to maturity in the Spirit. But as to the essential nature of the Sinaitic covenant, it was always looked upon as an administration of the covenant of grace. The catechetical teaching on the preface to the ten commandments drove this point home in an experiential way which could not be easily forsaken.

    Further problems arise once this basic departure is discerned. One begins to see a metaphysical reworking of the categories of grace and justice in relation to the "covenant of nature." Instead of a providential dispensation (see Shorter Catechism question 12), the covenant of works is turned into a creational entity which characterises the natural relationship between God and man. Human morality is, in its very essence, made a covenant of works. Grace is only operative where sin abounds.

    Other problems might be mentioned but I believe these suffice to alert us to the fact that this is a new scheme and that it introduces harmful deviations into the reformed system of theology.
  9. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    But surely there is a problem of confusing terminology here. A hypothetical republication of the covenant of works isn't a (real) republication of the covenant of works because it is hypothetical. It is only graciously highlighted by God in order that the Israelites may seek salvation by grace, because they see more clearly that the way of the covenant of works is hopeless.

    Therefore it is God's gracious provision - in a special way under Moses, but also under Christ, viz. His hypothetical presentation of the CoW to the Rich Young Ruler - as part of the Covenant of Grace to drive men to Christ.

    A (real) republication of the CoW would involve God encouraging people to seek salvation by works. That would be a lie and would be cruel, apart from anything else.
  10. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    I think the republication Rev. K refers to is not hypothetical but actual. Although instituted in the garden, it remained in force after the garden, but because of human sinfulness, its fulfillment by mortal man has always been impossible. And any formal republication of the CoW in any of the subsequent eras is neither a lie nor cruel, nor an encouragement to people to seek salvation by works. Rather it points out the fullness of our misery and our need of a redeemer.
  11. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    Of course, subsequent to Ramsey's article the Klinean disciples published "The Law is Not of Faith" as their magnum opus to Klinean covenant theology. But as demonstrated by Kerux, Venema, and Mark Jones in their respective reviews of the "Law is Not of Faith", the Klinean disciples not only failed to refute Ramsey's analysis, they confirmed it.

    Here's more from Ramsey:

    Confusing Law and Gospel | Patrick’s Pensees
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 13, 2011
  12. louis_jp

    louis_jp Puritan Board Freshman

  13. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    But this isn't a republication. The CoW was published once and for all to Adam and us in him in the Garden. By nature - even although we may be born under the administration of the CoG -we are born as breakers of the CoW and with obligations to it which we can't meet.

    It is purely hypothetical and therefore not truly a republication of the CoW. It is a teaching aid of God's grace to those who have broken the CoW and have demerited God's goodness. It is of God's goodness to sinners and therefore part of the CoG.

    Therefore it's just plain misleading and bamboozling to talk about a republication of the CoW.
  14. Tbordow

    Tbordow Puritan Board Freshman

    As someone who believes Kline's covenant theology, no one has yet pointed out to me how Kline was teaching anything different than Charles Hodge. Hodge sees the covenant of grace in the Mosaic, as well as a national covenant, which we sometimes call typological, and the hypothetical idea that Lane mentions above. Here is what Hodge taught, and as far as I know nobody questioned whether it was confession or not, though he admits there is much disagreement on this subject. It would be helpful if someone pointed out the difference between Hodge and Kline, because I don't see it.

    "Besides this evangelical character which unquestionably belongs to the Mosaic covenant, it is presented in two other aspects in the Word of God. First, it was a national covenant with the Hebrew people. In this view the parties were God and the people of Israel; the promise was national security land prosperity; the condition was the obedience of the people as a nation to the Mosaic law; and the mediator was Moses. In this aspect it was a legal covenant. It said, ‘Do this and live.’ Secondly, it contained, as does also the New Testament, a renewed proclamation of the original covenant of works. It is as true now as in the days of Adam, it always has been and always must be true, that rational creatures who perfectly obey the law of God are blessed in the enjoyment of his favour; and that those who sin are subject to his wrath and curse. Our Lord assured the young man who came to Him for instruction that if he kept the commandments he should live. And Paul says (Rom. ii. 6) that God will render to every man according to his deeds; tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil; but glory, honour, and peace to every man who worketh good. This arises from the relation of intelligent creatures to God. It is in fact nothing but a declaration of the eternal and immutable principles of justice. If a man rejects or neglects the gospel, these are the principles, as Paul teaches in the opening chapters of his Epistle to the Romans, according to which he will be judged. If he will not be under grace, if he will not accede to the method of salvation by grace, he is of necessity under the law." (Hodge - Systematic Theology)
  15. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    What a wonderful statement. This is not an astute theological comment on my part, just a heartfelt response :)
  16. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Now I am not as up to snuff on this but from what I understand about the Ferry article is that when Ferry was discussing Pastor Ramsey's critigue he was using Kline's old view instead of Kline's mature view which was the one that Pastor Ramsey was critiquing. From what I understand the Kerux journal points this out.

    From what I am seeing Ferry did a poor job.

  17. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I think the point about Hodge is a mute point actually. I believe Rev. Winzer called me on that at one time when I used it in a discussion against paedo-baptism. Besides, Hodge can be wrong also. Especially if he is looking like Kline or Kline looking like him. Maybe he just hasn't been called on it. I don't know.
  18. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    "Now back to our regularly scheduled programming." When was the last time you heard that after breaking news was forthcoming?

    So far I am inclined to think that some in the Modern Reformed Church have confused us with their thoughts. I know I have been capable of it and still am. Just because someone is a well respected theologian doesn't mean that they are above being incorrect. I sense that the topic of the Mosaic Covenant is one of the hardest to digest because of the various views on it. I also believe that Kline and his thought has been a bit off kilter. Just my 2 cents worth.
  19. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Thought this was interesting also and applicable to the conversation.

    Last edited: Sep 21, 2011
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