Kline on the "Essential Unity" of Covenant Administrations

Discussion in 'Covenant Theology' started by ReadBavinck, Jan 12, 2012.

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  1. ReadBavinck

    ReadBavinck Puritan Board Freshman

    "Finally, this concept of Intrusion ethics does not obscure the unity of the Covenant of Redemption throughout its various administrations. It does bring into bolder relief the basic structure of that covenant in its historical unfolding and in so doing inevitably displays its essential unity."

    Meredith Kline, The Structure of Biblical Authority (Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 1989), 160.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2012
  2. ReadBavinck

    ReadBavinck Puritan Board Freshman

    "The revelation of the law in the context of redemptive covenant action indicates that conformity to the law is a soteric achievement of the grace of Yahweh who delivers from bondage. . . ."

    "Since the administration of the covenant of grace is an historically progressive development and the Decalogue appears as an integral element in the organic unfolding of covenant revelation, it is natural that the Decalogue’s abiding principles are formulated in terms appropriate to the Mosaic age. . . ."

    Both quotes are found in Meredith G. Kline, “Ten Commandments” in The New Bible Dictionary, ed. by J. D. Douglas (London: Inter-Varsity Press, 1962), 1251-1252.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2012
  3. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Chris. I love you guys. I want to talk about Probation and Israel and the Covenant of Works in the Mosaic. Can we go at that? We can start with Kline if you want. I have Read him on this. I agree, Read Bavinck. Can we also bring him into this?

    I might being set up, but I found the presuppositions in the Kingdom Prologue to have already been accepted in our generation in his premise because of our day and age in dispensationalism. Just my humble opinion. He really didn't use the historical stances and just expected us to accept his claims. Just my humble opinion.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2012
  4. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Just as a side note. I want you to define Grace or Charis.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2012
  5. ReadBavinck

    ReadBavinck Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks for the invite, but discussing "Probation and Israel and the Covenant of Works in the Mosaic" is way too big a topic for me to handle on a message board.

    The book you mention looks good. Thanks.
  6. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    What does Kline mean by "intrusion ethics" or what is his definition of them? Is this just a 'fancy' way of talking about typological teaching elements in OT ethics that made them particularly suited to the OT Israelites in their redemptive historical situation? What does the word "intrusion" refer to?

    Did Kline believe in a general moral equity in OT ethics - underlying particularly the judicial laws - that was of relevance to the NT Israel of God, i.e. us?

    What was Kline's view of the Fourth Commandment?
  7. ReadBavinck

    ReadBavinck Puritan Board Freshman

    Concerning your questions about intrusion ethics, it would be well worth your time and money to buy a copy of Kline's book, The Structure of Biblical Authority, and read the chapter called, "The Intrusion and the Decalogue." You can buy it here, or read it as it first appeared in the Westminster Theological Journal here.

    I'll leave it to others to point you to the right places in his works concerning the judicial laws and his view of the Sabbath.
  8. Petty France

    Petty France Puritan Board Freshman

    Intrusion ethics refers to the question of whether or not Israel was justified and moral in their invasion and eradication of the Canaanite tribes. Many have made the accusation that Israel was demonstrating antiquated and ancient barbarism by resorting to such "genocidal" tactics. Or in other terms, Israel was behind the times. They had not yet reached the supposed moral superiority of the nations that conquered, deported, and enslaved rather than killed their subjects. In response, the simple answer is that they were commanded to do this by God which automatically makes it justified or moral. But Kline took it a needed step further by saying that Israel's invasion of Canaan was typological of the final judgment when Christ returns and vanquishes the wicked from this world. In that sense this is an "intrusion ethic." It is an intrusion of future eschatological judgment foreshadowed in the invasion of Canaan. This is complemented by talking about how God had promised the land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants. The designation of Canaan as the kingdom land of God's people made it holy. Thus anyone who occupied it without covenantal rights, in other words the non-Hebrew nations, were by definition usurpers and parasites in the paradise of God's people. With such things in mind, Israel's invasion and annihilation of the Canaanites was not behind the times, it was not barbaric, and it was not genocide. It was an intrusion of what is yet to come played out before the eyes of the world. Israel's destruction of the Canaanite tribes foreshadows Christ's destruction of the reprobate on the appointed day.

    This places Israel as a resumption of Adam in the garden. Adam was supposed to keep the garden pure from invasion and corruption. He failed to do so. Through this typological cleansing, God placed Israel in Canaan, the new Eden, and gave them the law which they had to obey in order to maintain their tenure in it. They did not keep that law, polluted the holy land, and were vomited out by it. Likewise, this world is promised to Christ and his seed, the elect, which means that every single reprobate person living in this world is occupying something that is not meant for them. The church not being a theocratic fusion of sacred and secular realms, we do not take up arms against the world through actual violence like Israel. We stand at the edge of the Jordan, as it were, waiting for the appointed time when we will join Christ's side and lay claim to his promised inheritance. This judgment and cosmic renovation will result in the new heavens and new earth, the final and perfect Eden, where the last Adam will dwell with his people forever. Until that time, Christ's kingdom makes progress and gains the victory as souls are delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of the beloved Son.

    Without this kind of understanding, passages of scripture like Psalm 109 and Psalm 137 seem downright brutal and inhumane. They reflect, however, a burning zeal for holiness and the protection and purity of God's people. Excommunication in the church serves the same purpose. The casting out of an apostate on earth reflects what will happen to him on the last day, should he fail to heed this warning in repentance. The church is the kingdom of God in a greater way than Israel was which means that we must be just as zealous to remove impurity and holiness from our midst. We don't do so by execution, as was mentioned before, because we are not a geopolitical entity. Nevertheless, church excommunication is a prolepsis of the final judgment just as Israel's invasion of Canaan was, each suited to its redemptive historical time and covenantal polity.
  9. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Just an observation -- reformed theology dealt comfortably and consistently with the imprecations in the Psalms long before "intrusion ethics" were invented. There undoubtedly is something brutal and inhumane about divine justice. It reminds us what sin has made us. "Man honoured wanting knowledge is like beasts that perish quite." It is also the persuasive to do all things necessary to escape it. "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?" Naked grace is not God's grace. God's grace always comes clothed in the garment of righteousness.
  10. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    I've never used the expression "intrusion ethics" - I would have to study it to see if it unecessarily complicated things or made things simpler - but I believe that there are many elements of the Jewish polity that were typological teaching aids which have their fulfilment in different ways, eschatalogically, ecclesiastically and in the civil realm. What is somewhat redemptively-historically bound must be carefully examined and interpreted for us to learn properly from it.

    In some senses Christ's Holy War, by means of the Sword of the Spirit rather than the sword of iron began here:

  11. Petty France

    Petty France Puritan Board Freshman

    I appreciate your observation. I did not mean to say that Reformed theology was at a loss with regard to these passages prior to the articulation of "intrusion ethics." Still, it does help nuance and enrich our understanding of how God deals with sin throughout redemptive history from start to finish.

    ---------- Post added at 04:13 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:09 PM ----------

    Amen. The jargon most likely would not preach very well. The substance, as Rev. Winzer pointed out, remains a powerful persuasive to the unrighteous.
  12. ReadBavinck

    ReadBavinck Puritan Board Freshman

    Interestingly, the reason Kline saw intrusion ethics as capable of highlighting the continuity of the Covenant of Redemption is because he shared with those who came before him a vision of the glory of God as the chief end of God’s covenantal work. So, though intrusion ethics highlight the differences between the historical covenants, they also point us toward the glorious telos that they all share.

    Geerhardus Vos, for example, touched on this subject—with Psalms in mind like the imprecatory Psalms Samuel mentioned above—in his article the “Eschatology of the Psalter” (pp. 338-340).

    “No doubt the Psalter contains much of what is most humanly human in all religious occupation with God: the need and desire and prayer for help in distress. In their extremity of danger and affliction the Psalmists sustain and reassure themselves by the thought of the great deliverance which the end must bring. . . .

    "Ploughers might plough upon Israel's back and make long their furrows, the waters might overwhelm them, it could not extinguish the conviction, that the future and the end belonged to the chosen of Jehovah. Specifically the thirst for justice over against enemy and avenger quenched itself in anticipation at this deep fountain of judgment to be opened up at the last. But in the midst of all this soteric motivation the higher point of view of the subserviency of Israel’s salvation to the glory of God is never lost sight of. When the Psalmists make eschatology the anchor of salvation, this is not done in a self-centered spirit. . . .

    “Where the prayer assumes the form of a desire for vindication and deliverance through judgment and destruction of the enemy, it might seem as if the center were shifted from God to man. Still on closer examination this appears not to be so. When the praying subject is Israel and the opposing party the hostile pagan world, the conflict between these two, of course, coincides with that between Jehovah and the world, between light and darkness. . . .”

    For those who want to read more, Vos’s article is hidden in the back of The Pauline Eschatology (Phillipsburg: P&R, 1979).Those who have read Kline's article will notice other striking similarities between his article and Vos's.

    ---------- Post added at 10:04 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:57 PM ----------

    And note Calvin's comment on Psalm 109:15:

    "Some may inquire how it comes to pass, that the prophet, in desiring that their sin may be continually before God's eyes, does not likewise add, let their name be blotted out from heaven, but merely wishes them to be cut off, and to perish in the world? My reply is, that he spoke agreeably to the custom of the age in which he lived, when the nature of spiritual punishments was not so well understood as in our times, because the period had not yet arrived, when the revelation of God's will was to be full and complete. Besides, it is the design of David, that the vengeance of God may be so manifest, that the whole world may acquiesce in his equity as a judge."

    Of course, Reformed theologians have dealt with the imprecations in the Psalms before Kline articulated the category of intrusion ethics; he didn't just invent this.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
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