The Intrusion And The Decalogue -- By: Meredith G. Kline

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 16:1 (Nov 1953)
Article: The Intrusion And The Decalogue
Author: Meredith G. Kline

The Intrusion And The Decalogue

Meredith G. Kline

THE often canvassed subject of Old Testament Ethics still beckons the investigator onward in search of a more adequate solution of its peculiar complex of problems. In this search no other standard of righteousness is available to one who would think his Maker’s thoughts after Him than the standard which emerges in the description of the words and ways of God which have been inscripturated. But if it is in this very connection that the problems appear, what is the investigator to do? What, indeed, but to recognize that problematic as the divine activity seems to his ethical sensitivities, perverted as they are and so often confused by faulty interpretation of the Word, it yet conveys a revelation of law. So will he give himself again to the exegesis of the Word in the conviction that the solution of the ethical problem must be one and the same as its accurate and adequate formulation. The attempt is, therefore, made here to seek a solution in terms of a somewhat fresh formulation of certain distinctive elements in the religion of the Old Testament.

The Concept Of Intrusion

It is by tracing the unfolding eschatology of Scripture that we can most deftly unravel the strands of Old Testament religion and discover what is essential and distinctive in it. For eschatology antedates redemption. It appears immediately after creation. Farther back we must not force it lest we distort eschatology from the consummation doctrine of divine revelation into the eternal tension of a Barthian imagination and reduce the creation to a myth.

Creation is not eschatological. But it does provide the pattern for eschatology. It does so necessarily, for the creature must pattern his ways after his Creator’s. Since the Creator rested only after He had worked, it was a Covenant

of Works which, immediately after Creation, was proffered to Adam as the means by which to arrive at the Consummation. In the sense that it was the door to the Consummation, the Covenant of Works was eschatological.

That door, however, was never opened. It was not the Fall in itself that delayed the Consummation. According to the conditions of the Covenant of Works, the prospective Consummation was “either/or”. It was either eternal glory by covenantal confirmation of original righteousness or eternal perdition by covenant-breaking repudiation of it. The Fall, therefore, might have introduced at once a Consummation of universal damnation. The delay was due rather to the principle and purpose of divine compassion by which there was introduced the Covenant of Grace, with its historical corollary Common Grace, as the new way of arriving at the Consummation. For...

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