Meredith Kline and Subscriptionism

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by CalvinandHodges, Jul 22, 2008.

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  1. CalvinandHodges

    CalvinandHodges Puritan Board Junior


    A question I posed on a different thread had some tell me to post a new topic. So here is the question:

    Can one hold to the teachings of Meredith Kline and be a member in good standing of a Church that holds to the Westminster Standards or the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith?

    Thanks in advance,

  2. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I would say no. Especially if one's denomination holds to a strict-subscription.
  3. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    What is the difference between loose and strict subscriptionism? And how loose is possible before it is no subscriptinism at all? What are the definition of terms here?
  4. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Well in my mind anything that is not Strict-Subscription is no-Subscription.
  5. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    De facto or de jure? He's the big guru of many liberal PCA pastors, and they make no secret of the fact.
  6. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritanboard Commissioner

    Please list/itemize the issues where Kline is at odds with the WCF. Thanks!
  7. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Yes, since regardless of what one thinks about the confessional nature of certain views taught by Dr. Kline, the biblical (and confessional, I might add) requirement for adults having membership in the visible church is not confessional subscription, but rather a profession of faith.
  8. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Several Reformed Baptist churches I know of say they hold to the 1689 but then take an exception that the Pope is THE antichrist. For the sake of that one exception then, are they nonconfessional when they use the 1689 and honor it otherwise?
  9. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    Chris is right on this point. Did you mean to say officer vs. member?

    Assuming you meant officer, I think Dennis' question is appropriate. Especially since not everyone on this board (including me!) are completely familiar with all of Kline's work.
  10. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritanboard Commissioner

    My knowledge of Kline is pretty sketchy (just the suzereinty treaties stuff). Can anyone delineate the issues?
    [BUMP] Anybody? Anybody? Anybody?
  11. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    I know of one issue of Kline's is the Framework Hypothysis, which is pretty wacky.
  12. Jon Peters

    Jon Peters Puritan Board Sophomore

    The OPC does not have strict subscription but system subscription. It's very hard to tell exactly what that means. However, Kline was a minister in good standing in the OPC. So the answer to your question is yes, one can hold to some Klinean distinctives and be an officer in good standing (at least in the OPC).

    For the sake of clarification, are you referring to his views of the law and the COW in particular?
  13. Jon Peters

    Jon Peters Puritan Board Sophomore

    Would your view of strict subscription allow one to have scruples with some minor points in the standards, or must one agree with every word? Just curious.
  14. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior

    Friend, your logic doesn't follow because individual members of the church do not set precedents. Each case is examined on its own merits and since Kline's teaching was not challenged as being unconfessional in a church court, we only charitably assume that it was compatible with the Standards. But a charitable assumption is not the same as the church officially pronouncing his teaching as being compatible with the Standards.

    Presume an elder in an OPC believed that the Mosiac Covenant was essentially an administration of the covenant of works and not of the covenant of grace, and pretend charges were never brought against him. Since the church never rendered an official decision, and the man continued in good standing, it doesn't follow that his view is therefore confessional (because it obviously is not).
  15. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    If the problem is Kline's view of creation (i.e., the aforementioned Framework Hypothesis), then one can be "confessional" with regard to the WCF and still be a faithful presbytery, depending on presbyteries and such. For instance, there are FHers in the ARP and the PCA. In some cases, I suppose they take exceptions on the days of creation, but there are others who hold to the FH and assume there is no discord with the WCF. I don't buy that argument, but I'm just saying it's out there.
  16. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    This is true in regards to the OPC and PCA as both have come out with papers concerning the days of creation and pretty given the ok to FH.
  17. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritanboard Commissioner

    I'm looking for any areas of his theology (mostly CoW) where his view departs from standard interpretations of the WCF.

    This morning I made the mistake of asking one of my residents, Dr. Dan Fulller, to give me his "take" on Kline. He exploded with: "You want to read his review of my book where he says that I'm the most dangerous person in Christendom!?!" Oops! My bad. Note to self: don't ask former professors to comment on people who trash their works.
  18. Jon Peters

    Jon Peters Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think you read too much into my comments. Taking my comments as they stand there is no flaw in my reasoning. I never said such views were confessional, nor was that the question asked. What I said was that Kline was in good standing, therefore someone with Klinean beliefs may be in good standing in the OPC.

    I think what tends to happen in discussions like this is that any mention of Kline that is not negative is perceived to be supportive. In my previous comment I took no position on Kline's teaching per se, just that he was a minister in good standing. And, by the way, there are lots and lots of his followers ordained in the OPC, PCA and URC (among others) and these men go through ordination exams all the time. In effect, presbytery after presbytery are sanctioning Klinean distinctives as being within the bounds of whatever type of confessional subscription that church has. You may not like that, it may not be the "official" position of the church, but it is reality.

    For what it's worth, I don't like system subscription (it's too mushy) and believe that Kline (or a follower) could likely not be ordained in a church that held to some version of strict subscription. I think, for instance, that you'll find very few Klineans in the RCUS.
  19. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior

    Forgive me, brother, it seems that I did read too much into your comments now that you've replied to me. And you're right, a distinction needs to be made between the scruples that different presbyteries may allow and the official teaching of the church.

    Do you know if Klineans frequently scruple with different areas of the Standards during presbytery theology exams? Or do they simply view their position as confessional? I don't recall anyone scrupling for a Klinean distinctive (maybe they should!) at any presbytery that I've been at. :think:
  20. Jon Peters

    Jon Peters Puritan Board Sophomore

    I don't know the answer to that question. However, it was no secret that men were being licensed and ordained in the Southern California Presbytery (amidst all the Theonomists) who held to Klinean distinctives. Perhaps the men became so focused on creation days that everything else sort of went by the wayside.
  21. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Maybe a very good subject for a split off thread:

    If ordinations standards of strictness vary; what happens when someone "sneaks" in during a lax time and is ordained or when other views are being fought and so everything else "goes by the wayside.".

    Does the church need to go through and do a "purge" then? Or should periodic reviews be done?

    And what about pastors who suddenly find out that they were okay last year and now they are being ousted after 15 years of service because when he was ordained his church decided that the day-age theory was tolerable but today it is close to heresy?
  22. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    A huge question! When a church is expanding, like the PCA, they're likely to be in a hurry to hire people to fill pulpits. Ordaining Arminians and Baptists has been illegal in the PCA for twenty years, but it's still done with boldness. Who's to say what the motive is in the people who do it? Ignorance? Sneakiness?

    To me the bigger but related question is: why do denominations start out orthodox and almost inevitably go sour? Who is at fault? Our Protestant system? Our culture? The natural tendency for people to follow the path of least resistance? The Devil? A combination of these things and others?

    Step one is to violate one section of a churches rule book; usually a small one. Then you go bigger, and bigger, and before long the orthodox are in a minority and can't do anything, like in the CRC. How does it happen, and what can you do about it?
  23. Jon Peters

    Jon Peters Puritan Board Sophomore

    I certainly don't endorse some of the theology of the book, but Gary North in Crossed Fingers does a good job at exploring this topic.
  24. ADKing

    ADKing Puritan Board Junior

    Kline departs from the confessional standards on a whole host of issues. This is particulalrly clear in his last book: God Heaven and Har Maggedon. Without taking the time to spell out his postions and argue with each of them they are:

    1. Creation
    2. The Trinity as formulated in the Nicene creed
    3. The Covenant of Grace
    4. The Third Use of the Law as reflected in his labelling Sabbath keepers essentially "Judaizers".

    These are not minor variations from the standards but a wholesale attack on the reformed system, In my humble opinion.

    -----Added 1/12/2009 at 06:29:20 EST-----

    I know it has been a while since this thread went cold. However, this topic periodically comes up. I have recently re-set up my library since moving to Wichita and thought I would post some quotes from Kline's own words on these things. Often people seem to think that Kline is so deep and hard to understand and thus all of his heterodox statements must not really be heterodox afterall. Judge for yourself...

    (From God, Heaven and Har Magedon pp.195-196 in which he is arguing against the sabbath applying to the NT church)

    Another serious theological problem besets the identification of the Christian first day as the Sabbath. The Sabbath ordinance of six days of kingdom labor leading to the reward of sabbath rest was not only a component of the premessianic typological system but, as a sign of the Torah covenant, it was an exponent of the works principle that governed Israel's possession of the typological kingdom under the Law. The alleged continuance of the Sabbath in the church would carry that principle of works with it into the New Covenant administration of Gospel grace. The advocacy of such a continuance of the Decalogue ordinance of the Sabbath is therefore, in effect, a Judaizing contention.

    Kline on the Trinity... ibid. p.13

    As an epiphany the Glory that constitutes heaven is identifiable with God. At the same time, this Glory epiphany is a created phenomenon. The account of the creation of heaven in Gen 1:1 is the record of the origin of the Glory epiphany, the creational investiture of Deity with majestic splendor (Ps. 104: 1,2). The heavenly Glory then is a created embodiment of Deity. It is, morover, a permanent embodiment...This Glory-manifestation of the Spirit and the Incarnation of the Son are alike in that each is a permanent embodiment of a person of the Godhead in a created entity, the epiphanic glory and human nature respectively.

    And again...p.16

    A reverse ordering of these two persons of the Trinity [i.e. the Son and the Spirit--my own editorial comment] obtains when they are viewed in terms of the eternal generating of the Son-proper account being taken of what we have been observing about the Endoxation of the Spirit and its relation to the Incarnation of the Son. It is not simply that in this economic relationship there is a temporal priority of the Endoxation of the Spirit to the Incarnation of the Son, but that the edoxate Spirit performs a fathering function with respect to the incarnate Son. It is by the Holy Spirit that Jesus was conceived, the Glory-Spirit, the Power of the Most High, coming upon Mary and overshadowing her (Luke 1:35). The Father begets the Son through the Spirit. In this process the Spirit is the second person and the Son the third. And as in the spiration of the Spirit so in the begetting of the Sonthe economic relations of the divine persons are to be seen as analogues of their eternal immanent relations. The fathering of the incarnate Son by the edoxate Spirit warrants inclusion of the Spirit along with the Father as a sunject in the eternal divine begetting, the generating process of which the Son is the object. It is a desiteratum, therefore, that a reference to the Holy Spirit, corresponding to the filioque phrase in the creedal account of the spiration of the Spirit find a place in our confessional formulation of the eternal filiation of the Son.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2009
  25. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    :eek: Can anyone give me one reason not to conclude that this is rank heresy?
  26. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritanboard Amanuensis

  27. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

  28. ADKing

    ADKing Puritan Board Junior

    And just one more on grace/works in Abraham (pp.102-103)

    That Abraham's obedience functioned not only as the authentication of his faith for his personal justification but as a meritorious performance that earned a reward for others (and thus as a type of Christ's obedience) is confirmed in the Lord's later revelation of the covenant promise to Isaac (Gen 26:2ff). The Lord declared that he would bestow these blessings on Isaac and his descendants "because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws" (v. 5; cf. v. 24). Abraham's obedience was not, of course, the ground for anyone's inheritance of heaven, but it was the ground for Israel's inheritance of Canaan, the prototype of heaven, under the terms of the Mosaic covenant of works. Eternal salvation would come because of Christ's obedience, but because of Abraham's obedience Christ would come as to the flesh from Israel (Rom 9:5) and thus salvation would come from the Abrahamites, the Jews (John 4:22).
  29. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior

    If one has not actually read anything by the late Meredith Kline one ought not to comment on this thread.

    Another point, Meredith went to glory as a minister in good standing in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. He was never disciplined by that denomination. They had 50 years, that's 5 decades. He published "Because it Had Not Rained" in 1958. It's online.

    Finally, he wrote on a great number of topics. I surely hope that for whatever criticisms we might come to have of some of Meredith's views we will appreciate him as a faithful, confessional defender of the Scriptures as the inerrant, inspired word of God.

    30 years ago Meredith was one of the few in the Westminster circle, (it was a minority who voted against Shepherd) even though he was on the Gordon-Conwell faculty by then, who understood what Norm Shepherd was saying and what the effect would be on Reformed theology.

    Frankly, and I know there are a lot of theonomists and sympathizers here, he should get credit for being willing to stick his neck out re theonomy when most everyone else in Reformed academia was unwilling even to read Bahnsen, much less engage him seriously.

    Meredith was not a wacko or a crank. He was a brilliant OT scholar who read multiple ancient semitic languages and modern European languages.

    You can see much of his work online.

    Before you condemn him unheard, in violation of the 9th commandment, please take some time to read widely in MGK yourself.

    -----Added 1/12/2009 at 09:09:56 EST-----

    Kline was right about Dan Fuller. So was Godfrey.

    I don't know what your relationship to him is but you can tell him that Scott Clark says that he has much for which to repent. Yes, I said repent. He did a lot of damage with his books.

    What Dan Fuller wrote isn't biblical, it isn't Reformed and it's the seedbed for the Shepherd nonsense, the FV and a good bit of modern moralism.

  30. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Great work, Pastor King.
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