Meredith Kline: Baptist Criticism of WCF is Correct



Source: Lecture 31

See also A Presbyterian (Finally) Gets Acts 2:39 Right

To understand how paedobaptists have misunderstood Romans 9:6ff, see They are not all Israel, who are of Israel

Make sure to read Jamin Hubner’s two chapters in Recovering a Covenantal Heritage titled “Acts 2:39 in its Context: An Exegetical Summary of Acts 2:39 and Paedobaptism”

9 thoughts on “Meredith Kline: Baptist Criticism of WCF is Correct

  1. markmcculley

    The later Kline disagree with the earlier Kline about “new covenant curses” . But don’t say “dispensationalist” or “Marcionite” before you read what the earlier Kline wrote. And then we can ask each about the “continuity” of the early and late Kline.

    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. …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.”


  2. markmcculley

    Ferry’s key point is that in the 1968 publication, By Oath Consigned, Kline argues that the Mosaic covenant is renewed in the new covenant. Kline writes—“for Jeremiah, the New Covenant, though it could be sharply contrasted with the Old (v. 32), was nevertheless a renewal of the Mosaic Covenant.”

    The problem with Ferry’s argument is that what Kline taught in 1968 is not what Kline taught twenty, or thirty, or fourty years later. No less than Mark Karlberg himself has critiqued Ferry for his failure to recognize this point…. Karlberg points to an important principle in reading Kline’s works: the later works correct and revise the earlier works.

    Kline’s student, Lee Irons, has also noted this important principle, arguing that Kline’s position on the relationship between the Mosaic Covenant and the new covenant in By Oath Consigned is revised in his later work, Kingdom Prologue. Irons argues–In Kingdom Prologue], he no longer defines the New Covenant as a renewal of the Old/Mosaic Covenant (i.e., as a law covenant) and instead stresses the contrast between the Old and the New Covenants. The Mosaic Covenant was a covenant of works and was breakable. The New Covenant is a covenant of grace and is fundamentally unbreakable (although the sense in which it is unbreakable must be carefully defined).


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