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Bill Baldwin

This just gets more and more depressing. So much of this could have been cleared up with an email or a phone call. I wonder where and how the communication broke down.

David Rothstein

Lee, I have been following your series with interest. I hope you don't mind an attempt at some (hopefully) constructive criticism.

You say, on the one hand: "While [Kline] would not have agreed with the authors of MM that for a work to be meritorious it must be performed by one who is ontologically equal with God, he did agree that it must be perfect, in accordance with his justice" ("Response to the Core Argument, Part 1").

But then you later say, "Now, it is true that Kline occasionally spoke of a kind of 'meritorious' obedience in the post-Fall situation ... But Kline recognized that any 'merit' on the part of sinners in the post-Fall situation is in a special category by itself—it is emphatically typological merit" ("Response to the Core Argument, Part 2").

I think you have introduced a terminological problem into your second proposition that has the effect of rendering it incompatible with your first. Specifically, if you say, on the one hand, that perfect obedience is essential to the definition of merit (and I agree), then you cannot then turn around and speak of imperfect obedience as accruing "typological merit."

These two things are incompatible because the modifier, "typological," *does not negate the thing that it modifies*.

Consider by way of illustration: A typological kingdom is *actually* a kingdom (albeit not an enduring one). That is to say, the fact that it is typological does not therefore make it a non-kingdom. Likewise, a typological sacrifice is actually a sacrifice (albeit not efficacious), a typological inheritance is actually an inheritance (albeit not ultimate), etc. etc. The fact that these things are all merely "typological" does not negate the meanings signified by the respective nouns, "kingdom," "sacrifice" and "inheritance."

Thus, in the same way, the terminology, "typological merit," signifies a thing that is no less truly merit because it is merely "typological."

So it really doesn't matter how emphatic you are that the merit accrued is merely "typological"; your critics will still (rightly I think) hear you taking back with the other hand what you gave with the one (in your definition).

For this reason, I think that if you want to be consistent with your definition of "merit" as entailing perfect obedience, then you will have to relinquish your distinction between "typological" and "true" merit, and stick with a more traditional distinction, such as that between typological (albeit non-meritorious) obedience and antitypical (meritorious) obedience. Of course to do this would be to give up the idea that imperfect obedience can be meritorious in any sense.

Your only other option would be to change your working definition of "merit" to include imperfect obedience. Or so it seems to me.

Make sense?


Obedience that is truly meritorious must be perfect. Obedience that is typologically meritorious does not have to be perfect.

David Rothstein

In order to try to make your second sentence compatible with your definition I would want to clarify it as follows:

"Obedience that is typologically meritorious does not have to be perfect because it is actually non-meritorious."

But the question is, does this make sense? As I indicted, and for the reason I gave above, I don't think so.


It makes sense to me. Obedience that is typologically meritorious is not really meritorious. It is only "invested with typological significance," namely, of functioning as the ground of the reward, which is the same thing as being meritorious. Kline uses this language in God, Heaven, and Har Magedon, pp. 127-28.

We have to be careful not to reify merit. It is not a concrete thing but an abstract concept. It is a legal relation or connection between obedience and reward. Whenever obedience functions as the legal ground of the reward in the context of a covenant based on the works principle, the obedience is meritorious. It earns the reward. Thus obedience can be meritorious in the original covenant of works with Adam or in the covenant of works with Christ as the second Adam (in both cases, it would have real merit), or it can be meritorious in a typological covenant of works governing a typal kingdom (in which case it would not have real merit but only typological merit -- but it is still correct to say this obedience has merit because of its legal relation to the reward).

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