Will the Reformed world turn on the Klineans?

When the Institutional Reformed wanted to beat up on Bahnsen (after he died, especially) and his students, they used Kline’s arguments.  When this was happening I warned that Kline came very close to dispensationalism and that Bahnsen’s “TR Critics” didn’t really have a coherent response.  I then predicted that they would have trouble applying God’s law today.

Of course, I am no longer a theonomist, but I think I was right.  Current sanctification debates bear this out.  I will make another prediction:  Mainstream Reformed will no longer find Kline useful.  They will turn on him. Outside of pockets on the West Coast, Kline’s students views on Two Kingdoms and Republication will be outcasted.

The irony is that I am somewhat sympathetic to Kline now.

8 comments on “Will the Reformed world turn on the Klineans?

  1. Benjamin P. Glaser says:

    Ironically Kline and the Suttonites have the same problem. They have a template (Kline being the treaty and Sutton his 5 points) and they see the whole Bible through that template and just slavishly apply it nearly regardless of context.

    This is where their exegesis/application always runs afoul.

  2. Colin says:

    Jacob, is it irony that since you are “no longer a theonomist”, you’ve become “somewhat sympathetic to Kline now”? Not unlike someone hypothetically who’s no longer a Calvinist because they have become somewhat sympathetic to Arminianism?

    But you are right to observe that the calvinistic critics of Theonomy have no “coherent response”. OTOH, classic dispensationalism is a coherent response to Theonomy in that it is the logical alternative hermeneutic of both Theonomy and covenant theology. Hence, the only consistent non-Theonomist would be an adherent of old school Dispensationalism. But regular inconsistent non-Theonomists such as yourself, would be, unsurprisingly, in that camp of Kline sympathizers. Where else could you possibly go? The Anabaptist Mennonites or Hutterites?

    I think the Modern Reformed sucked up Kline only because his neo-Dispensationalism allowed them the appearance of a hermeneutical loophole to avoid the civil and logical implications and demands of God’s Moral Law. Autonomous men love legal loopholes.

    As for your prediction about the future of Klineanism, I hope it does become “outcast”. It was the 2nd worst fad to hit the modern reformed world (the first was Neo-Orthodoxy).

  3. By no means am I a Klinean. They do a terrible job interpreting the prophets. But at the end of the day I would rather find new joys in the narratives of Scripture and justification by faith alone than preach yet another sermon on the evils of gay marriage and big government. And that last one is Brian Schwertely’s critique. He noted that theonomists today are more likely to rail against statism than defend (even if they do uphold) justification by faith alone.

  4. Shawn Mathis says:

    “He noted that theonomists today are more likely to rail against statism than defend (even if they do uphold) justification by faith alone.” AMEN. I tire of hearing many of them trying to “save” America but not “save” the American church from gross heresy and false practices.

    • Hello Pastor Mathis.

      Thanks for commenting. I sympathize with a lot of what theonomists are saying, especially under the Obama regime, but if we don’t Reform worship first, what precisely have we gained?

  5. Colin says:

    25 years ago, a Theonomist pastor by the name of Dr. Carl Bogue wrote a book called the “Scriptural Law of Worship” (published by Presbyterian Heritage Publications). This was a brief classic defence of the RPW. It was reprinted in several Theonomic periodicals (e.g. The Counsel of Chalcedon, etc).

    And James Jordan, way, way back in his Theonomic days (circa early 1980’s) wrote articles and books promoting psalm singing in worship. He also reprinted articles on John Calvin’s Sermons.
    Though, admittingly, he wasn’t an advocate of a strict view of the RPW.

    Dr. Bahnsen was concerned enough about worship that he engaged in a public printed debate on Exclusive Psalmody (he was pro-RPW, but anti – EP) Ditto, Ken Gentry who preached against EP but for the RPW.

    The point being that the topic of worship has not been ignored by Theonomists. However, so much ink has already been spilled about “reforming worship” from the Neo-Puritan, Banner of Truth crowd, that Theonomists don’t see it as a priority when so much has already been written and preached about the topic.

    Additionally, you have some strict RPW churches who have already perfectly reformed their worship (according to them), yet they refuse to fellowship with other strict RPW churches. (E.g. The Free Church of Scotland VS. the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland Vs. the Associate Presbyterian Church of Scotland, VS. The Free Church Continuing, etc). Then there are many American RPW churches who refuse to fellowship or associate with other American RPW churches. Ditto in Australia as well. So while all these reformed churches made “reforming worship” their top priority, They all became isolationist sects as a result of their inward focus on worship.

    And if you think Theonomy is merely or mostly about preaching against the “evils of gay marriage” or “big government”, then you know nothing about Theonomy.

    They have preached against the evils of denying Justification by Faith alone. (they were the leading early critics of the Federal Vision heresy. But what more needs to be said about JFA that hasn’t already been said by the 19th century Scottish theologian, James Buchanan in his classic work on “Justification”? Or by John Owen in similar classic treatment of the topic? Or Even Charles Hodge’s exposition on Romans. Or Robert Haldane’s commentary on Romans?

    Criticizing Theonomists for a lack of JFA material is like criticizing the Scottish Covenanters for their lack of defending the doctrine of the Trinity or the virgin birth of Christ.

    Gary Demar once pointed out that Theonomy (or Christian Reconstruction) is a “theology of emphasis”. In a modern world where God’s moral law is depised or forgotten, Theonomists have chosed to emphasis that which has been depised. Just like the Covenanters had chosen to emphasize the national covenants in their day, albeit rather naively. And like the Puritans who wanted to emphasize the purity of the church and of the state in their day, albeit unsuccessfully.

    I think a three way alliance of Theonomists, neo-Covenanters and Neo-puritans would be a powerful force for the advancement of the gospel and the kingdom of God. If only we’d all stop bickering over each others alleged short comings.

    • Theonomists always say “You don’t understand the position.” I don’t let it phase me anymore. I used to go to the flagship theonomic churches for ten years. I’m fairly sure I know what I am saying.

      I grant that Bahnsen was a good churchman. Contrast him with Rushdoony. Morecraft is literally in a league by himself. I don’t want to bring up all the baggage with Gentry.

      Why does Gary Demar promote Jordan’s literature today? You can’t say “We stand strong for JFBA” and sell FV literature at the same time.

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