Calvinist Intrusion

Institutes 2.11.3 is exactly what Kline is talking about with his term Intrusion.:

This is why we read that the saints under the Old Testament esteemed mortal life and its blessings more than we ought today. Even though they well knew they were not to stop there as at the end of their race, yet because they recognized what the Lord had imprinted on them to be marks of divine grace to train them according to the measure of their weakness, they were attracted by its sweetness more than if they had contemplated his grace directly. But as the Lord, in testifying his benevolence toward believers by present good things, then foreshadowed spiritual happiness by such types and symbols, so on the other hand he gave, in physical punishments, proofs of his coming judgment against the wicked. Thus, as God’s benefits were more conspicuous in earthly things, so also were his punishments. The ignorant, not considering this analogy and congruity, to call it that, between punishments and rewards, wonder at such great changeableness in God. He, who once was prompt to mete out stern and terrifying punishments for every human transgression, now seems to have laid aside his former wrathful mood and punishes much more gently and rarely. Why, on that account they even go so far as to imagine different Gods for the Old and New Testaments, like the Manichees! But we shall readily dispose of these misgivings if we turn our attention to this dispensation of God which I have noted. He willed that, for the time during which he gave his covenant to the people of Israel in a veiled form, the grace of future and eternal happiness be signified and figured under earthly benefits, the gravity of spiritual death under physical punishments.

“More” than what?  More in Israel than in non-theocratic common eras before and since (2.10.23): “Christ the Lord promises to his followers today no other ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ than that in which they may ‘sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’ [Matt. 8:11].”

And what was the lesson God wanted us to learn from Israel?  How to build an earthly nation that God would prosper?  On the contrary (2.10.20):

I shall warn my readers beforehand to remember to open up their way with the key that I previously put into their hands. That is, whenever the prophets recount the believing people’s blessedness, hardly the least trace of which is discerned in the present life, let them take refuge in this distinction: the better to commend God’s goodness, the prophets represented it for the people under the lineaments, so to speak, of temporal benefits. But they painted a portrait such as to lift up the minds of the people above the earth, above the elements of this world [cf. Gal. 4:3] and the perishing age, and that would of necessity arouse them to ponder the happiness of the spiritual life to come.

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24 Responses to Calvinist Intrusion

  1. Pingback: Calvin and “Intrusion” Ethics? « Heidelblog

  2. mboss says:

    RubeRad,

    Thanks for posting this. Very helpful. My wife and I have been studying the Pentateuch recently and just last night we were discussing this precise issue. Looks like I will be cracking open the Institutes tonight.

    Mike

  3. RubeRad says:

    Here’s a quote from Kline:

    Anything after the fall is very abnormal. But once you recognize, or having said that, nevertheless you can speak about the common, the non-Holy, as sort of the “normal,” and looked at from that point of view, what’s going on [in Israel], is the unusual — when into this “normal” situation where believers and unbelievers are treated the same, God intrudes a program that gives expression to the fact that an election has taken place, between the reprobate who are going to be damned forever, and an elect people in Christ who are going to be saved and inherit the holy Kingdom of God. When you see how different that is from the common, then you sort of need a word for it, so I coined the word Intrusion: the breaking in of holiness; the breaking in of the redemptive principle; the injection of the Holy Kingdom of God into the midst of this common, non-holy world — that’s an intrusion, the exceptional thing.

    This from about 29 minutes into lecture 7 of this index, where Kline introduces his conception of Intrusion, starting with the primary example of intrusion, i.e. the incarnation, as well as the tiny intruded theocracy of the ark. As Kline goes on to explain, the implications of Intrusion are that, in Israel, the Common principle of Love your Neighbor is temporarily suspended in favor of Kill your Neighbor and take his house (in an intrusion of consummation justice). Contrariwise, the common-grace principle of “rain falls on the just and the unjust” is temporarily suspended in favor of a works-covenant principle of earthly prosperity for obedience, and earthly curses for disobedience (blessings & cursings)

  4. Timothy says:

    Great quotation… I still don’t know how theonomists try to claim him. It boggles the mind.

    I love how he says this concerning those who don’t get it: “The ignorant, not considering this analogy and congruity, to call it that, between punishments and rewards, wonder at such great changeableness in God”

  5. Todd says:

    Timothy

    I don’t think theonomists try to claim Kline. They usually deKline even to take him seriously ever since he critiqued Banshen way back when.

  6. Bruce S. says:

    Maybe Timothy is saying theonomos are claiming Calvin? No?

  7. Todd says:

    Oh, I thought he was commenting on Rube’s post before his. Thanks.

  8. Zrim says:

    I’m just glad someone else is picking up the slack around here…

    Timothy, I can get as far as seeing how soft theonomists mine Calvin. It’s the hard-heads that boggle me. It reminds me of when I used to pound square pegs into round holes in kindergarten. But Mrs. Kisch was a patient woman.

  9. RubeRad says:

    Don’t you mean deVanderKischsma?

    If you’re going to whine about it, tomorrow I’ll post a puff piece I had decided against.

  10. Zrim says:

    No, I went to public school in Farmington Hills. Mrs. Kisch was Jewish I think. Todd, does that sound Jewish to you?

  11. Todd says:

    “Todd, does that sound Jewish to you?”

    You studied under Molech – you wouldn’t understand the answer anyway

  12. Timothy says:

    Oops, sorry. I should have made that more explicit that I was referring to Calvin.

    It is interesting but I just read a post by a theonomist that will go unnamed that said Theonomy as they know it now was only in seminal form in the Reformers (like Calvin). This statement came out of now-where for me.

    Whenever discussion about the Reformed confessions or Reformers comes up, they act like it was fully present in all its Bahnsenian glory (theology of glory that is)! But the 2Kers are always willing to admit that they were inconsistent with their doctrine of spirituality of the Church.

  13. Zrim says:

    Todd, try me.

    Timothy, exactly.

  14. Todd says:

    Yes it sounds Jewish. I just finished crafting a letter to our local principal thanking her for all her public school has done for our kids (we are moving out of state). Should I ask Bret to edit the letter?

  15. Zrim says:

    Should I ask Bret to edit the letter?

    I think that might be, ahem, “intrusive.”

  16. Joe Brancaleone says:

    Glad to know Calvin as well as Kline were able to read the account of civil punishments in the context they are given in scripture.

    I’m reading and re-reading Bahnsen’s chapter on “Israel’s Theocratic Uniqueness” in his No Other Standard response to theonomy critics. I’m just not seeing the implications he draws from the OT texts he prooftexts in supposed refutation of Kline and the like. While he cites Deut. 4:6-8 (over and over) to prove that the Mosaic legislation was to be a model for other nations to imitate, I see that passage as support of the contra view he is supposing to refute. Especially when taken in context.

  17. Joe Brancaleone says:

    “Whenever discussion about the Reformed confessions or Reformers comes up, they act like it was fully present in all its Bahnsenian glory (theology of glory that is)!”

    That is a misnomer yes. From best I can tell, what existed in past ages was various theocratic notions (for example the magistrate has authority to enforce the first half of the decalogue as well as the latter half), but Bahnsen’s particular thesis of comprehensively presumed continuity is unprecedented.

  18. Timothy says:

    Yes, that is what seems so apparent, Joe. It is the pink elephant that is out of the bag (to mix metaphors).

    What is even funnier, is that there is no set principle even among theonomists as to how and in what way the Mosaic Civil Laws apply, to what degree, etc.

    That is what cracks me up… It is supposedly THE way of bringing God’s Law to the nations and bring the Nations to God’s bar and standard. For all the rationalism of its hermeneutic, it is sometimes quite irrational.

    We are the ones who relativize God’s law in our ethic; and yet, the last time I heard no 2ker ever changed their mind as to what degree having images of Christ was right or wrong or to what degree idolatry was wrong.

    For those who are more read in Kline than I, is this ethic of theonomy what he called a multi-perspectivalism which is quite contrary to the Christian ethic? Or am I thinking of someone else?

    When theonomists talk to their cohorts, they are allowed to speak of such disagreements and lack of proof in the Reformed tradition of such continuity; but when they talk to us miserable offenders, life is greener on their side of the hill.

  19. RubeRad says:

    While he cites Deut. 4:6-8 (over and over) to prove that the Mosaic legislation was to be a model for other nations to imitate, I see that passage as support of the contra view he is supposing to refute.

    Exactly! If I ever publish a book against Theonomy, it will be titled No Other Nation. (And I have promised our buddy kazooless that the dedication will read: For (blah blah), without whom this book could not have been written, and for Kazooless, without whom it would not have been necessary)

  20. RubeRad says:

    For those who are more read in Kline than I, is this ethic of theonomy what he called a multi-perspectivalism which is quite contrary to the Christian ethic? Or am I thinking of someone else?

    I doubt Kline was ever so generous to Theonomy as to use a friendly label like “multi-perspectivalism”. And I think that is a catchphrase that comes from Poythress (and/or Frame). At this page, see Symphonic Theology (which I haven’t read myself). Maybe you’re thinking of this paper in which MGK asserts that Bahnsen and himself differ by more than just perspective?

  21. Timothy M says:

    Ahh, thanks RubeRad. I believe it was the latter article I was thinking of.

  22. Echo_ohcE says:

    multi-perspectivalism surely refers to Frame.

  23. RubeRad says:

    A couple more choice quotes added…

  24. Pingback: Water Is Thicker Than Blood

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