As a theologian and churchman from a denominational body which Dr. Clark identifies as belonging to the sideline of the current Reformed and Presbyterian churches in North America (although I would consider it, confessionally, at its best, to represent the historic mainstream, and numerically, to rival any other contemporary branch), I welcome this robust entry into the discussion of what it means for us to be confessional and Reformed in the twenty-first century. While I am personally encouraged by and enthusiastic about what has been called the young, reformed awakening, we still await a renaissance of a genuinely confessional reformed theology, piety and practice. The issues that Professor Clark raises here, will have to be addressed, answered and agreed upon (at least in some measure), if we are to move ahead. Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest. Scott Clarks historical work, diagnosis and critique, and constructive, churchly, confessional recommendations are all worth a rigorous and respectful engagement. As one who comes from a decidedly experiential Calvinistic tradition and from a family heritage of rather definite theological convictions [which have prompted some to suggest to us the motto often wrong, but never in doubt], Professor Clarks reflections upon the Quest for Illegitimate Religious Certainty (QIRC) and the Quest for Illegitimate Religious Experience (QIRC) are worth more than a little reflection. While I am personally encouraged by and enthusiastic about what has been called the young, reformed awakening, we still await (and long for) a renaissance of a genuinely confessional reformed theology, piety and practice. Scott Clarks historical work, diagnosis and critique, and constructive, churchly, confessional recommendations are all worth a rigorous and respectful engagement, and point us in a number of helpful directions. As one who comes from and happily identifies with a branch of the Reformed tradition far from immune to Dr. Clarks critique, I welcome this volume as a faithful conversation partner, seeking to administer the wounds of a friend for the sake of the church and the glory of God in this world.
In a day when many follow charming personalities, fundamentalism, heterodoxy, individualism, and postmodernity and attempt to commandeer the Reformed tradition, Dr. Clark ably challenges such efforts. Dr. Clark brings a much needed corrective for basing Reformed identity in its understanding of the Scriptures through its historic confessions and creeds and a robust understanding of historic Reformed worship. Well-researched, thoughtfully presented, and provocative, Dr. Clarks work is a must-read for ministers, elders, and for anyone who claims to be Reformed.
At a time when 'all that is solid melts in the air' and distinct colors fade to grey, R. S. Clark reminds us of the loveliness, depth, and richness of Reformed Christianity. Not only a TULIP, but a confession that bears fruit in both faith and practice, the account that you will find in this book may challenge, but its point is not to be missed.
It is difficult work to be a prophet, to create a sense of dis-ease in hopes of reformation. And yet, R. Scott Clark here issues a prophetic call to evangelically-oriented Reformed churches to recapture a more robust sense of the Reformed tradition and to reshape their sense of Reformed identity. While the sermon is bracing, it may prove to be the helpful and hopeful jolt which will produce a modern-day reformation for Gods glory and his peoples good.
In addition to being a first-rate scholar, Dr. Clark is a brave man. He's not afraid to remind us of the substance and meaning of many aspects of our historic Reformed confessions which we now either take for granted, or which are at odds with a number of our current practices. In Recovering the Reformed Confession, Dr. Clark reminds us of what it means when we "confess" that we are
Reformed.' It means focusing upon those things set forth in our confessions (the highest common denominator), instead of neglecting them or even denying them. In addition to gently pointing out where our words don't match either our praxis or our deeds, Dr. Clark offers a number of practical ways we can recover our confession, and thereby recover a distinctlyReformed' faith and practice.