April 2007

A while back I posted this picture just for fun and said I’d explain later how it came about.

Meredith Kline Teaches on Suffering

The photo was taken by Thuy Dang, then registrar at Westminster Seminary in California. (She is now sadly deceased.) Here’s the context in which that picture was taken.

It was spring semester, 1995, and I saw Professor Kline and Lee and Misty Irons (front right) eating lunch. So I went over to join them. Kline looked up as I came over and teasingly said, “Only like-minded people are allowed at this table.”

“I’m like-minded,” I said, sitting down. “Only I’ve become a postmillenialist.”

“What?!” roared Kline, leaping from the bench to assume the position pictured. Thuy Dang, who happened to be on the spot with a camera, snapped the shot.

Once the drama had concluded, Thuy explained that she was taking photos to be included in brochures and other promotional material for the seminary. “You can put that picture in the section on Nouthetic Counseling,” I quipped. We all laughed.

We chatted for a bit through lunch. I don’t recall what about. When it was time to go, I said, “I just want to make sure you know I was kidding about what I said earlier.” (I was referring of course to my claim that I’d become postmillenial.)

“Except for the part about nouthetic counseling!” Kline replied.


Meredith G. KlineMeredith G. Kline, my teacher and friend, died peacefully on Friday night, April 13, 2007. How can I sum up what I learned from this fellow bondservant of the Lord? There is too much to say.

In 1996 I was serving a year-long internship at an OPC in Orange County, CA preparatory to entering the ministry. One day, I drove down to Westminster Seminary to do some research and to see Kline. He and I and Lee Irons chatted in his office for a bit. He asked how my internship was going.

I told him that the pastor overseeing my internship did not care for my preaching. The pastor told me I was not offering the congregation practical solutions to their problems and practical hopes. I was just giving them “pie in the sky when you die.” (That was not my own phrasing but what the pastor actually and repeatedly said.)

Kline smiled a beatific smile and said, “Give me more of that pie in the sky.”

It was a sweet moment. He knew that there was nothing more important, nothing better, nothing more glorious in ministry than to hold out that heavenly hope. In one way or another, he had spent all our class time and all our conversations holding out that hope to me, teaching me to hold it out to others.

Kline did this because the heavenly hope was his own food and drink. He did not say “Give them more of that pie in the sky” though that sentiment was obviously implied. He said “Give me more.” He taught this hope to us because it was the only hope he had. And nothing distracted him from it.

There’s an old joke about some preachers that they are “so heavenly minded, they’re no earthly good.” Kline knew that this was impossible. He knew that the only value a pastor had to the sheep was to be utterly heavenly minded. And he knew his own heavenly mindedness was his only value to us, the prospective preachers and teachers who sat in his classes.

Meredith Kline is not ashamed to stand before his Redeemer this day. He has exactly what he wanted, exactly what he hoped for, exactly what he taught. Having attained to this “first resurrection,” he awaits with contentment the fuller and more perfect joys of the second.