Integrative Paper Proposal

Writing my Integrative Paper

My integrative paper topic for fulfilling the requirements of completing the MAR degree at RTS is a theological comparison of the views of Reformed theologians Geerhardus Vos and Meredith G. Kline on the Mosaic covenant.  The proper placement of the Mosaic covenant in the context of redemptive history, understanding its purpose in the unfolding plan of God, and applying legitimately to the Christian church today has been a topic of interest for me for several years.  Kline’s view of the Mosaic covenant is weighted toward its discontinuity with the New covenant in Christ, while Vos’s view is that of organic continuity between the Mosaic and New covenants.  It appears that the views of Vos on the relationship of the Mosaic covenant to the New are in line with the majority report among conservative American Presbyterians, although there is a sizeable minority who side with Kline’s view.  This disagreement between Vos and Kline (and those who follow in their interpretations and applications) is one of many divisive issues in conservative Reformed circles (especially in America), and I suspect that further research into their positions will reveals areas of agreement and disagreement, but nothing worthy of division or separation between brothers in the Lord who consider themselves evangelical, Reformed, and Presbyterian.  I hope to read both Vos and Kline as primary sources for my integrative paper, to compare and contrast their theological interpretations of the Mosaic covenant and its relationship primarily with the New covenant, highlighting instances where their perspectives can be harmonized (and noting when they are seemingly at odds).  I foresee the methodology of my research roughly following the proposed outline contained in this proposal, while I reserve the right to modify the outline (with the knowledge and consent of my integrative paper advisor) if I uncover significant unforeseen items during research.  Generally, I plan to compare and contrast Vos’s and Kline’s understanding of the nature of biblical covenants, their descriptions of the essence each of the major biblical covenants between God and man, their descriptions of the relationship between the Mosaic, Abrahamic, and New covenant, their thoughts on the conditional language of the Mosaic covenant (and others), their thoughts on the biblical relationship between law and faith, their views on the purpose(s) of the Mosaic covenant in redemptive history, and the applications they draw for applying the Mosaic covenant to the Church today.  I plan to conclude my integrative paper with suggested directions for pursuing this topic further, drawing brief sketches of how theologians in the schools of “Vos”, “Kline”, and others have attempted to provide answers to the question of how the Mosaic covenant may be properly related to the New covenant in Christ.

I envision this topic integrating many of my studies at RTS with my anticipated vocation as an ordained minister of the gospel.  The subject of law and faith, and more specifically the relation of the Mosaic covenant to the New covenant believer today seems to be very important for the pastor of a local congregation.  One of the most common and vexing questions for many Christians in the church is how they may know God’s will for their lives, and how specifically to meet and obey the Lord’s expectations and commands on their lives.  Understanding precisely how the Mosaic covenant is applicable to Christians today will affect how I will counsel, exhort, preach, teach, and live as a servant-leader of the flock.  It seems to me that employing the discipline of redemptive-historical biblical theology (as I learned in my biblical studies classes, systematic theology classes, and The Christian Life class) will provide a useful hermeneutic for answering this question in such a way that was not available to me before my seminary studies at RTS.  Moreover, the “history of doctrine” perspective I studied in the historical theology and systematic theology classes will provide helpful historical perspective on how God’s church has attempted to answer this question throughout the centuries.  Furthermore, the pastoral perspective on theology for the Christian life that I experienced in studying pastoral theology (and while observing and interacting with my professors and classmates) will no doubt greatly influence my method and demeanor in directing the implications of my research to all Christians I come in contact with.

Below is my proposed outline for the research paper:

1. Introduction: Definition and essence of a biblical covenant
     a. Covenant of works.  What is being affirmed and denied when labeling a covenant as based on “works”?
          i. Vos
          ii. Kline
     b. Covenant of grace
          i. Vos
          ii. Kline
     c. Individual biblical covenants
          i. Adamic
               1. Vos
               2. Kline
          ii. Noahic
               1. Vos
               2. Kline
          iii. Abrahamic
               1. Vos
               2. Kline
          iv. Mosaic
               1. Vos
               2. Kline
          v. Davidic
               1. Vos
               2. Kline
          vi. New
               1. Vos
               2. Kline
2. Relationship of the Mosaic covenant to the Abrahamic covenant
     a. Continuity vs. discontinuity
          i. Vos
          ii. Kline
     b. Organic growth vs. different roots
          i. Vos
          ii. Kline
     c. Fulfillment and abrogation
          i. Vos
          ii. Kline
3. Relationship of the Mosaic covenant to the New covenant
     a. Continuity vs. discontinuity
          i. Vos
          ii. Kline
     b. Organic growth vs. different roots
          i. Vos
          ii. Kline
     c. Fulfillment and abrogation
          i. Vos
          ii. Kline
4. Conditionality in the Mosaic and New covenants
     a. How is the Mosaic covenant conditional in a way that the New covenant is not?  Ramifications for the doctrine of salvation?
          i. Vos
          ii. Kline
     b. Are Israelites elect in some historical sense that is distinct from eternal election?  Ramifications for the doctrine of the Church?
          i. Vos
          ii. Kline
     c. Is the Babylonian Exile of Israel a chastening of God’s covenant people, or is it more than that (a cursing of God’s covenant people)?  How does this relate to Galatians 3 (especially 3:21)?
          i. Vos
          ii. Kline
5. Relationship of law to faith
     a. Faith implied in law
          i. Vos
          ii. Kline
     b. Law implied in faith
          i. Vos
          ii. Kline
     c. Hypothetical offer of salvation inherent to law?
          i. Vos
          ii. Kline
     d. Law and the first/last Adam
          i. Vos
          ii. Kline
6. Purpose of the Mosaic covenant in redemptive history
     a. Moral Law
          i. Vos
          ii. Kline
     b. Ceremonial Law
          i. Vos
          ii. Kline
     c. Civil/Judicial Law
          i. Vos
          ii. Kline
     d. Theocracy, Exile, and Eschatology (including discussion of Romans 5:20 as historia or ordo salutis)
          i. Vos
          ii. Kline
7. Applications of the Mosaic covenant in the Church today
     a. Illegitimate applications
          i. Moralism
               1. Vos
               2. Kline
          ii. Judaized Christianity (Legalism)
               1. Vos
               2. Kline
          iii. Israel/Church distinction (Dispensationalism)
               1. Vos
               2. Kline
     b. Legitimate applications
          i. Reformation doctrine of the three uses of the Law
               1. Vos
               2. Kline
          ii. Typology
               1. Vos
               2. Kline
8. Paths of Further Pursuit for Researching the Relation of the Mosaic Covenant to the New Covenant.
     a. Authors in the “Vos” School
     b. Authors in the “Kline” School
     c. Authors in other Christian traditions and schools of thought

Preliminary Bibliography

G. Vos.  Biblical Theology.  (Mosaic Period)
G. Vos.  Hebrews: The Epistle of the Diatheke (Parts 1 & 2).
G. Vos.  The Alleged Legalism in Paul’s Doctrine of Justification.
G. Vos.  The Doctrine of the Covenant in Reformed Theology.
G. Vos.  The Pauline Eschatology.
M. G. Kline.  Kingdom Prologue.  (Late)
M. G. Kline.  Covenant Theology Under Attack. (Late)
M. G. Kline.  God, Heaven, and Har Magedon. (Late)
M. G. Kline.  Treaty of the Great King. (Early)
(Essentially)
     M. G. Kline.  The Two Tables of the Covenant.
     M. G. Kline.  Dynastic Covenant.
     M. G. Kline.  Commentary on Deuteronomy (from Wycliffe Bible Commentary).
M. G. Kline.  “Ten Commandments” in the New Bible Commentary. (Early)
M. G. Kline.  Law Covenant. (Early)
M. G. Kline.  Of Works and Grace. (Late)
M. G. Kline.  Gospel Until the Law. (Late)
M. G. Kline.  Comments on the A. A. Hodge One-Covenant Construction of the Redemptive Order. (Late)
M. G. Kline.  (Review of) Jesus and Israel: One Covenant or Two?, by David Holwerda. (Late)

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2 Responses to Integrative Paper Proposal

  1. dante mably says:

    Just ran across your blog while looking to see if a particular Kline article was online. I also noticed that you completed your thesis. I too am an RTS grad (2007); my thesis had Vos and Kline as influences but unfortunately, my reader turned out to be antagonistic to Kline and redemptive-historical BT in general. I imagine Griffith was very helpful.

  2. marjorygreul says:

    Thanks for this great site!

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