Cross-Examining Moses’ Defense: An Answer To Ramsey’s Critique Of Kline And Karlberg -- By: Brenton C. Ferry

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 67:1 (Spring 2005)
Article: Cross-Examining Moses’ Defense: An Answer To Ramsey’s Critique Of Kline And Karlberg
Author: Brenton C. Ferry

Cross-Examining Moses’ Defense:
An Answer To Ramsey’s Critique Of Kline And Karlberg

Brenton C. Ferry

Brenton C. Ferry is pastor of Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Mt. Airy, N.C. This article is written in response to D. Patrick Ramsey’s “In Defense of Moses: A Confessional Critique of Kline and Karlberg,” WTJ 66 (2004): 373-400. Page references to Ramsey’s original article are included in the text in parentheses.

Recently Patrick Ramsey wrote, “[T]he church as a whole has not been overly successful in discerning the Christian’s relationship to Moses.. .. Sadly, all too few have clearly and properly assessed and appreciated his role in the history of redemption” (373–74). Among the many, he identifies Meredith Kline and Mark Karlberg as unfaithful to the Reformed heritage, relating to Moses not as a friend but a foe (400).

Insinuating that Kline’s view is systemically antinomian, Ramsey’s purpose is to demonstrate that Kline’s understanding of the Mosaic Covenant is incompatible with the Westminster Standards by offering three arguments. First, a similar viewof the Mosaic Covenant (Subservient Covenant) was rejected by the Westminster Assembly (378). Second, the Westminster Standards differ with Kline and Karlberg on the blessings and curses (384). Third, the Westminster Standards differ from Kline and Karlberg on the discontinuities and continuities between the Old and New Testaments (390). The purpose of this response is to demonstrate that Ramsey has misrepresented Kline’s position and to quell whatever ecclesiastical influence Ramsey’s misrepresentation may have.

I. The Argument from the Subservient Covenant

Ramsey likens Kline’s position to the Subservient Covenant view (held by Cameron and Amyraut), a position that was not adopted by the Westminster Assembly because it denied the organic unity between the Mosaic and the New Covenants: “The view that bears the closest resemblance to Kline and Karlberg is the Subservient Covenant. If this view is proven to be contrary to the Westminster Confession of Faith, then it must follow that. .. their view is also rejected by the Confession (378).” Explaining this, Ramsey says Kline’s position agrees with the Subservient view in that, for Kline and Karlberg, “The Mosaic Covenant is distinct from the Covenant of Works and Covenant of Grace.” This analysis is false. Karlberg says,

[Amyraut] departed from the traditional Reformed viewpoint by positing a three-covenant view, the covenant of works (creation), the covenant of grace (Abrahamic, New), and the subservient covenant (Mosaic). Amyraut’s hypothetical, subservient


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