We come now to Part 3: The Instability of the Republication Paradigm (Chs. 9–12). In this section, the authors of MM draw out what they believe are further implications of the republication paradigm, implications they see as disturbing the system of doctrine of the Westminster Standards. They charge Klinean republication with disturbing the Westminster Confession’s system of doctrine in four main areas:
- The covenant of works (Chapter 9): Klinean republication deviates from the Confessional definition of the covenant of works.
- The covenant of grace (Chapter 10): Klinean republication implies that the Mosaic covenant is a mixed covenant that contains incompatible principles of works and grace. In this way, Klinean republication is “a clear departure from the confessional conception of the Mosaic covenant as a pure covenant of grace in its substance” (MM 100, emphasis added).
- The merit of Christ (Chapter 11): Klinean republication compromises the necessity of Christ’s meritorious obedience and clouds the unique glory of Christ’s merit.
- The doctrine of good works (Chapter 12): Klinean republication creates spiritual schizophrenia in the piety of OT and NT believers, encouraging them to a sense of entitlement, viewing God’s rewards for their good works as something they merited, rather than as his gracious acceptance of their flawed works.
Finally, in their Conclusion, they summarize their critique by listing 18 ways in which the republication paradigm disrupts the Confession’s system of doctrine. Most of these 18 points were already discussed at greater length in the body of the book.
Part 1 provides the background. They argue that Kline developed his republication paradigm in the context of the controversy over the teachings of Norman Shepherd. Kline over-reacted against Shepherd and went into a pendulum swing that deviated from the plumb line of the Westminster Confession.
Part 2 pinpoints what they perceive to be Kline’s fundamental error—his redefinition of merit in non-ontological terms as whatever God says it is. But that is just the beginning. Kline really went off the rails when he applied his new definition of merit to Israel in the post-Fall Mosaic covenant. This key move stands at the heart of the republication paradigm and is what allows Kline to say that sinners can merit or extract blessings from God.
Part 3 examines the ramifications of Klinean republication with regard to four important theological topics. Their implicit aim is to show that Klinean republication ought not to be tolerated in a church such as the OPC that confesses the Westminster Standards.