A Summary Analysis Of The Orthodox Presbyterian Church’s Report On Republication -- By: Richard C. Gamble

Journal: Reformed Presbyterian Theological Journal
Volume: RPTJ 04:2 (Spring 2018)
Article: A Summary Analysis Of The Orthodox Presbyterian Church’s Report On Republication
Author: Richard C. Gamble


A Summary Analysis Of The Orthodox Presbyterian Church’s Report On Republication

Richard Gamble

Professor of Systematic Theology
Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary

The goal of this paper is twofold. First, it seeks to trace the history of debate within the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) over the issue of the republication of the covenant of works. Second, it seeks to summarize the recent report of the OPC committee to study republication.1

A Contentious Debate

All substantive theological debates have a traceable history. The historical roots of the report of the OPC on republication in the covenant of works are found in the early days of Westminster Seminary (Philadelphia). Two OPC professors at the seminary – John Murray (1898-1975) and Meredith Kline (1922-2007) – did not see eye-to-eye on the nature of Old Testament covenants.2 Eventually, the more junior professor, Kline, left Westminster in 1965 to teach at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He flourished while there and subsequent to his retirement from Gordon-Conwell he brought his mature teaching to Westminster Seminary (Escondido), where he taught for another twenty years. His book-length publications spanned four decades.

Kline was a controversial figure during his lifetime. His approach to the Old Testament covenants generated much discussion. No small part of this controversy stemmed from his strong objections to Greg Bahnsen’s teachings on theonomy, an issue closely related to one’s understanding of the covenant.3 Controversy over Kline’s theology escalated in 2004 when D. Patrick Ramsey wrote an article for the Westminster Theological Journal critiquing Kline’s view of the relationship between the Adamic covenant of works and the Mosaic covenant.4

Subsequent to Ramsey’s article, Kline’s students at Escondido, as well as others influenced by his writings, began to come into their own relative to understanding the relationship between the Adamic and Mosaic covenants. In 2009, three Westminster California faculty members published a collection of essays on the topic, The Law is Not of Faith.5 That volume argued in favor of the Mosaic covenant as “in some sense” a republication of the Adamic covenant of works.6 Thus, they advocate the position that the covenant of works is, in some sense, echoed or ...

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