Say What You Will About Klineanism, At Least It's an Ethos

ProtoProtestant identifies one reason why Meredith Kline matters:

Revelation 20 knows nothing of a political dominion of the church over the earth during this millennial age of the great commission. That expectation is a delusion of the prophets of theonomic postmillennialism, who, in their impatience with the way through the wilderness, have succumbed to carnal cravings for worldly power. It is revealing that in order to defend their false forecasts they find it necessary to scorn as losers those whom the Scriptures honor as overcomers, indeed as “more than conquerors” (cf. Rom 8:35-37), the martyr-witnesses who overcome Satan “because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony, and they loved not their life unto death” (Rev 12:11). One cannot but be appalled at the railing of certain of these reconstructionist postmillenarians against the Holy Spirit’s soteric ministry thus far in the church age. What has been in the eyes of heaven a triumphant working of the Spirit of Christ, effecting the salvation of all God’s elect in every nation and every generation without fail, a sovereign fulfilling of the good pleasure of God’s will to the praise of his grace—this is dismissed by the pundits of this postmillennialist cult as dismal failure and a history of defeat. Nothing betrays more clearly than this blasphemous contempt for the gospel triumphs of the Spirit how alien to biblical Christianity is the ideology of theonomic reconstructionism. (Glory In Our Midst: A Biblical-Theological Reading of Zechariah’s Night Visions, 53-54)


16 thoughts on “Say What You Will About Klineanism, At Least It's an Ethos

  1. There was a term for one of the milder dictatorships in in Central America in the 80’s – dictablanda. Is Kellerian tranformationalism not just a kinder gentler version of the postmil theonomiic project? They’re pretty sure they can fix/influence/transform/Xianize everything from art walks to the criminal justice system. Right?


  2. Maybe it works different coming from baptisterian evanjellyfish, but I need every crook and nanny of Klinean parsing to ward off Romanism. Well, that may be overstated, but the Gaffin-Shepherd-FV-Jones train pulls into Vat City and I can get Rome done better than their prayer closet prescription.


  3. Lee Irons—-“excommunication from the church of the New Covenant is not a covenant curse…. Barring repentance and restoration, such apostates will indeed suffer an eschatological curse, but the curse comes from a separate covenant, the Adamic covenant of works. The New Covenant has Christ as its mediator and surety (Heb 7:22; 8:6); therefore, properly speaking, it threatens no curses, but offers nothing but blessings. Even an excommunicated person may repent and return to the covenant fold, lay hold of Christ and his righteousness, and receive the blessings. In a covenant of works, by contrast, restoration is impossible once the covenant has been violated. ”

    from the earlier Kline, By Oath ConsignedI—It is true, as we have seen, that in historical exegesis particular covenants emerge which are in themselves promise covenants…. But when we recognize this proper soteric purpose we are not to reduce the redemptive covenant to that proper purpose. The mission of Christ offers an analogy, or better, another way of looking at the same thing. The Scriptures declare that the Son of God entered the world to destroy all the works of the Devil (I John 3:8). Surely, too, his coming actually issues in the condemnation of those who believe not (John 3:18). Accordingly, when John 3:17 says that Christ’s coming was not to condemn but to save the world, it must be interpreted not as a statement of the total design of the messianic mission but as an indication only of the proper purpose of Christ’s coming. If, then, redemptive covenant is not to be reduced to its proper purpose of grace, much less are we to equate the proper purpose of the redemptive covenant with the generic nature of covenant systematically defined so as to cover both pre-redemptive and redemptive covenant administrations. Unfortunately, Covenant Theology has exhibited a strong bent towards such a reduction of covenant to election…. “


  4. More from the earlier Kline, speaking as a “theologian of today” without “the visionary limitations of an Old Testament prophet.” Don’t say “dispensationalist” or “Marcionite” before you read what Kline wrote.

    MK—By circumcision, the sign of the consecratory oath of the Abrahamic Covenant, a man confessed himself to be under the juridical authority of Yahweb and consigned himself to the ordeal of his Lord’s judgment for the final verdict on his life. The sign of circumcision thus pointed to the eschatological judicial ordeal with its awful sanctions of eternal weal or woe. In the case of a covenant with the fallen sons of Adam, their nature as covenant breakers from their youth would seem to preclude any outcome for the divine ordeal other than condemnation. Yet the very fact that Cod makes a covenant with such subjects reveals that along with justice the principle of redemptive grace is operative here with its totally new and unpredictable possibilities. The covenant is a law covenant but it is a redemptive law covenant….

    MK—“I indeed baptize you with water . . . he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Matt. 3:11). John called attention to the great difference; his own baptism was only a symbol whereas the coming One would baptize men in an actual ordeal with the very elements of divine power. But the significant fact at present is not that John’s baptism was only a symbol but that, according to his own exposition of it, what John’s baptism symbolized was the COMING MESSIANIC JUDGMENT….

    MK–The newness of the New Covenant does not consist in a reduction of the Covenant of Redemption to the principle of election and guaranteed blessing. Its law character is seen in this, too, that it continues to be a covenant with dual sanctions….There is no reason to regard Jeremiah’s description of the New Covenant as a comprehensive analysis, on the basis of which an exclusive judgment might then be rendered, excluding the curse sanction from a place in New Covenant administration. Even the aspect of New Covenant consummation that Jeremiah does deal with he views from the limited eschatological perspective of an Old Testament prophet…. The theologian of today ought not impose on himself the visionary limitations of an Old Testament prophet. By virtue of the fuller revelation he enjoys (c/U Lk. 10:24; I Pet. 1:10-12) he is able to distinguish these two distinct stages in the history of the New Covenant and to observe plainly that the imperfection of the covenant people and program has continued on from the Old Covenant into the present phase of New Covenant history. It is in accordance with this still only semi-eschatological state of affairs that the administration of the New Covenant is presently characterized by dual sanctions, having, in particular, anathemas to pronounce and excommunications.”


  5. DGH, off topic, but your opinion of Matthew Avery Sutton’s American Apocalypse? I’ve seen a few favorable mentions of it, but even the Kindle edition is a mite higher than I like to pay. Help me decide whether to pull the trigger or not.


  6. This may be old news around here but you know what’s funny? Keller credits Kline as being one of the major influences on his theology. Incidentally, i just listened to Keller’s free sermon “imitating the incarnation”. I dare anyone to forward and listen to the last 5-10 minutes


  7. different Dan, I reviewed the book for the WSJ this spring. I don’t have the link handy. To put it succinctly, apocalypticism is there in evangelicalism. Does it explain everything? Not sure.


  8. DGH, I’ll find the link. (All about) I grew up in the 60’s and early 70’s under the tutelage of amillenial teaching (before it was corrupted by optimism), but you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting some species of dispensationalist. I have long had a feeling that their influence on post WWII evangelicalism has not been fully appreciated in the histories I’ve read. My suspicion is that since so many of them were apolitical, they just are not as interesting to academics today, who seem to be preoccupied with explaining the rise of the religious right. But I recall a time when evangelicalism actually had a strong component of evangelism, and the premills had a huge role in that. (End of all about me).


  9. different Dan, true. But the politics of dispensationalism are all over U.S. support for Israel (which is not to discredit that support).

    Heck, I won two Scofield Bibles in congregational competitions and in 1967 during the Six-Day war, I thought the world was going to end before I was eligible for sex.


  10. Being ‘new to the greenwood’ on this issue, I can say that Kline’s views are ‘freeing’. I do believe that I have been a prisoner of transformationalism and dominionism in the past, and also made to feel like a ‘less-than’ when I didn’t go all out on certain causes and candidates.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.