I am almost finished with my response to the book Merit and Moses. There is one last topic I would like to address, and that is the topic of typology.
According to the Republication Paradigm, the Adamic covenant of works was republished in a form adapted to the post-Fall situation in the land of Canaan as a type of heaven. The obedience of certain special officers of the Mosaic theocracy under this typological works arrangement typified the active obedience of Christ that earns heaven for the elect. The authors of MM think this construction involves a “flawed and confusing typology” (MM 129). They offer three arguments.
(1) Republication teaches Israel the wrong lesson
The authors of MM write:
It is unconvincing to say that this view of “typology” would actually serve to drive the Israelites away from their own works and toward the Lord Jesus Christ. The lesson of the typological level may just as easily drive them to their own works and away from Christ (as it did in the case of the Pharisees) .... If the typological blessings are dependent on meritorious works, why shouldn’t the Israelites conclude that the reality of heaven is also obtained in the same way? (MM 129, 143).
Response: If the Israelites concluded that “heaven must be earned,” they were right to conclude that. That’s precisely the lesson God wanted them to learn! Of course, the only way heaven can be earned is not by our own righteousness but by a federal representative. Paul is quite clear that the law, with its works principle, was given as a pedagogue in order to imprison the people of God under sin until the coming of the Messiah so that we might attain righteousness, not by law-keeping, but by faith (Gal 3:22-24).
It is true, as the authors of MM recognize, the proud Pharisees erroneously thought they could keep the law and earn heaven by their own obedience. But they only thought that because they refused to heed the pedagogical lesson of the law. Those who were godly in Israel knew they could not keep the law perfectly. They learned this lesson, not by looking at the works principle in the Mosaic economy in the abstract, but in terms of the overall trajectory of Israel’s history under the law. The story of the OT is not of Israel’s success but of Israel’s repeated failure to keep the law, leading to the exile. That is why the godly in Israel were “waiting for the consolation of Israel .... and the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:25, 38).
(2) Types must typify grace
This brings us to the second argument of MM attempting to show the “flawed typology” of Klinean Republication. They claim that all OT types were a means of grace, as part of the covenant of grace, for the people of God in that time. But the works/merit principle of a covenant of works does not communicate grace.
In order for something to be a type, it must first be a symbol. That is, it must be a real means of grace for the people of God living in the time of its use .... In the nature of the case, a means of grace is governed solely by grace. How can something defined by merit in contrast to grace communicate grace to the one who performs it? (MM 130-31 n23).
In other words, all types must typify grace. Therefore, they argue, the works principle or merit cannot be typified in the OT. Indeed, this would also mean that there could not be any figures with typological merit in the OT whose obedience prefigures the meritorious obedience of Christ.
Response: This principle (that all types must typify grace and cannot typify the works principle) would rule out Adam from being a type of Christ. But Paul says Adam was a type of Christ (Rom 5:14), precisely in his capacity as a federal head under a covenant of works.
And what about the types prefiguring the day of judgment throughout the OT? For example, Noah’s flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the plagues of Egypt, the conquest of the Canaanites, the expulsion of Israel from the land in the exile. These are not symbols of grace but of wrath.
This arbitrary principle that all types must typify grace and be a means of grace has no biblical basis as far as I can see. Biblical typology is not a monochromatic, one-dimensional vehicle for “communicating grace.” It is much more complex and variegated than that.
(3) Types may not be imperfect
Their third argument supposedly exposing the “flawed typology” of Klinean Republicationism is based on the assumption that there must be “correspondence and harmony” between the type and the antitype (MM 130). But the obedience of the OT saints was imperfect. Not only was the obedience of the OT saints imperfect, it was “inherently demeritorious ... and thus deserving of God’s judgment” (MM 87). Therefore, the flawed obedience of the OT saints cannot be typological of Christ’s perfect and meritorious obedience. The difference between the Israel’s obedience and Christ’s is “absolute,” since “the one is fatally flawed, the other is flawless” (MM 130).
Response: If a type must be perfect in order to be a type of Christ, there could not be any types of Christ at all! The OT sacrifices were flawed and imperfect. Indeed, “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb 10:4). Nevertheless, despite this manifest lack of correspondence, the OT sacrifices typified Christ’s perfect atoning sacrifice. The OT priests were sinful and had to offer sacrifices for their own sins before they could offer sacrifices for the sins of the people (Heb 5:3). Nevertheless, despite this manifest lack of correspondence, the OT priests typified Christ’s priesthood. The OT kings, such as David and Solomon, were all sinners to a man and all failed in various ways to live up to the standard of the kingly office, yet no one doubts they were types of Christ in his kingly office. Nothing could be more expected and natural than that the type be imperfect. After all, the type is not the antitype; the shadow is not the reality.
These are their three arguments attempting to show that Klinean Republication is based on “flawed typology.” But the arguments are easily answered. Two of the arguments are based on highly questionable assumptions (that types can only typify grace, and that types must not be imperfect). The authors of MM have offered no credible objection to Kline’s view that the imperfect obedience of certain OT saints was ordained by God to typify the active obedience of Christ.