Recovering the Reformed Confession - Thoughts?

Discussion in 'The Confession of Faith' started by TaylorOtwell, Apr 18, 2009.

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  1. TaylorOtwell

    TaylorOtwell Puritan Board Junior

    I am nearly finished reading through Dr. R. Scott Clark's Recovering the Reformed Confession. I have found it to be very insightful and beneficial, and I would heartily commend it to anyone interested in recovering a confessional theology, piety, and practice. Particularly, his discussion that connects Christian liberty with only singing inspired songs in corporate worship was very helpful, and probably my favorite section of the book. It made me long to see confessional Reformed worship recovered in the churches.

    Has anyone else read the book? If so, what were your thoughts?
  2. PresbyDane

    PresbyDane Puritanboard Doctor

    No sounds good though :)
  3. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    I really enjoyed the book.
    I especially liked his fleshing out of the "Illegitimate Quest for Certainty" and the "Illegitimate Quest for Experience" (i think that's what he called it).

    Many times we can fall to one of these errors...either seeking certainty where there is none given us by God, or seeking experience apart from the Word which God has given us to experience Him in a deep communion by His Spirit.
  4. TaylorOtwell

    TaylorOtwell Puritan Board Junior

    I agree. When I was in college (2004-2008), I found QIRE one of the biggest problems facing the other professing Christian students. The concept of God ordaining specific means of grace (word, sacramant, prayer) was neglected and misunderstood. Instead, the Scriptures were substituted for a so-called "still small voice" in the "heart of hearts". To speak against this method of relating to God is often ridiculed as being "cold and dead". But, in my opinion, true, Biblical sanctification will never occur unless the Reformed understanding of the means of grace are recovered.
  5. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    Would like to read it but would want to balance it with another book which has support for singing hymns also.
  6. dbroyles

    dbroyles Puritan Board Freshman

    I appreciate these thoughts on Recovering the Reformed Confession. I can't wait to dig into the book!
  7. Hamalas

    Hamalas whippersnapper

    I really want that book! Now all I need is some money. :think:
  8. Josiah

    Josiah Puritan Board Senior

    I have wanted to purchase this book also but havnt had the money to do so. I do enjoy reading the RSC's posts on the Heidelblog, especially concerning QIRE.
  9. CatechumenPatrick

    CatechumenPatrick Puritan Board Freshman

    Anecdotally, I read Clark's RRC and Hart's Lost Soul of American Protestantism right before I presented a paper at a conference on the nature of religious belief this past April. Before (and esp. after) the conference I realized that these two books go to the heart of who we are as Reformed. You see, we have a fundamentally different way of defining ourselves and thinking about our identity qua-Reformed than most other believers (religious or non-), summed up in the concept of being "confessional." I discussed this to many professors of religion/theology and sociology of religion who do not come from such a tradition, and I found that they simply could not understand such self-identification by reference to a public document of propositional beliefs that has, in most cases, a clear interpretation. My friend (also an OPC member who hold an MDiv from RTS) asked a question about the future of such confessional self-understanding and scholarship in the academic world at this conference, and I said (much to the frustration of many there) that it has a dismal future in many departments because most people have no categories whatsoever to understand such confessional believers, and they must redescribe and ultimately misrepresent believers like me (/us) (in postmodern, narrative, or whatever terminology happens to be popular).
  10. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior

    Getting a copy of RRC for free


    As much as I would like you to own the book I would rather have you read it for free than not read it!

    You can order a copy for free via inter-library loan from a public or school library. If you are a student in a school you may ask your library to do it or you may go to your local public library and ask them to order it for you. This service (may be reduced because of the financial crisis) is tax-funded and is usually free or inexpensive.

    You might also ask your church librarian to order a copy or ask your local library to order and shelve a copy.



    -----Added 4/20/2009 at 02:52:02 EST-----

    Hi Sara,

    I understand your reluctance, but what would you say if you learned that the singing of uninspired hymns wasn't a part of the Reformation and that the practice only began when we began to lose our way?

    I understand that most people do not now worship in the same way we did from c. 1530-1789 but we should not assume that the way we worship now is necessarily correct or the way it's always been done.

    The book isn't really all about what we sing in worship. The book is about how we define the adjective "Reformed." Are there as many definitions as there are definers?

    I hope you'll give it a read.


  11. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    There's an interesting critique of the book by Paul Manata here at Triablogue.

    BTW, when I ponder the title of this book I think of the American Church moving back to the original text of the Westminster and Belgic Confessions.
  12. markkoller

    markkoller Puritan Board Freshman

    Personally, I think this book is one of the most important books to come out in a long time. It should be required reading for every pastor/elder or seminary student.

    The current "Reformed" world seems to have a very selective memory of its own history, especially its confessions. I fall into that category as well since I have only recently been convinced of exclusive Psalmody. Dr. Clark was helpful in bringing me over to that position.

    Thanks Dr. Clark for your amazing work!!!
  13. DonP

    DonP Puritan Board Junior

    Wow that sounds good. I also think many are seeking to be "right" so they can do it right, and thus miss doing it right, which is in liberty and not by a rule, but by drawing close to the Lord and having the Spirit convict and guide us and give us new desires to please God. forming Christ in us and conforming us to Christ.
    Is this addressed at all?
  14. ExGentibus

    ExGentibus Puritan Board Freshman

    I have finally found it at a bookstore on this side on the pond that has it in stock and ordered a copy today. Can't wait for it to arrive.
  15. ubermadchen

    ubermadchen Puritanboard <strong>Outlaw</strong>

    I've read it and I agree QIRE and QIRC helped explain a lot of things I've seen in reformed and the larger evangelical culture. I found his arguments on EP to be a bit lacking but that could have been due to the limited amount of space he had to write on it. Overall, it was a good read and something that I would recommend to others in the reformed camp.
  16. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritan Board Doctor

    I have started it and greatly appreciate it so far.
  17. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    I welcome any book which encourages folk to take the reformed tradition seriously; but I have grave reservations when I read in this particular book that confessionally reformed teachings are to be regarded as a part of a quest for illegitimate certainty. Such "sociological" terms should be abandoned and the question of biblical warrant for holding these positions should be discussed on its own merits.
  18. DonP

    DonP Puritan Board Junior

    Can you clarify or puts some quotes in.

    Is he saying the Confession would be an illegitimate way to have certainty of what is right or truth?

    I wrote PM him and asked if he addresses strict subscription, he said yes but didn't say which side he fell on. What does he say about this?
  19. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    Comments from Paul Manata's critique:
  20. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Leaving aside the methodological difficulties associated with "biblicism" and "rationalism," the main problem is that Dr. Clark is presenting his own peculiar preferences in the reformed tradition as the reformed tradition itself. The days of creation is a blatant problem. It is there in black and white. This cannot be denied, and therefore the book attempts to explain it away. He makes a passing criticism of the reformation idea of a "standard" translation of the Bible. The concept of "Christendom" is dismissed wholesale as a mistake, even though it is maintained by every reformed confession and by means of it the reformed movement was able to exercise such an influence in society as led to the formation of the great tradition Dr Clark is both recommending and revising. While I sympathise with the book's criticism of revivalism, it is painful to hear that well attested and accepted movements like the Great Awakening is to be condemned as another quest for illegitimate certainty. Revivals are manifestations of religious principles, and should be tested according to the teaching which they promote, not outrightly rejected as if all religious experience is spurious. Lastly, the section on confessional revision is somewhat simplistic in its presentation. It fails to acknowledge that reformation confessions were rewritten specifically to foster broader religious unity. They were not revised for the purpose of validating the latest theological fad, but to form provincial, national, and international ties with brethren of the same mind. But the book has some very strong points as well. Foremost is the reformed view of the church and its worship which is presented in it. At last somebody in the academic establishment is willing to voice concerns over the anarchy which prevails in many denominations springing from the reformed tradition. I pray this concern is fostered and leads to a thorough reformation.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2009
  21. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    I agree. Too many in the Reformed community have lost their way with regard to confessional fidelity. Even in my seminary days, I remember getting into a heated discussion in the break room one day over how many "exceptions" he was to take to the WCF. And we have a steady stream of works coming from within the Reformed community that are written contra-confessionally. I am only about 1/3 of the way through the book, but it seems to be a good antidote to such drifting away from our Reformed Standards.
  22. Vytautas

    Vytautas Puritan Board Freshman

    Clark ment that people use 6/24 creation as a boundry marker of who is reformed, and not that the belief in 6/24 creation is QIRCy.
  23. Prufrock

    Prufrock Arbitrary Moderation

    I realize the thread is a few weeks old, but I was able to go through this book again a few days ago; and--while there is certainly room to differ from the author on the application of some of the principles, especially for those coming from a more Scottish Presbyterian background--I can think of few better resources out there for introducing more mainline friends and colleagues to the meaning of Confessionalism. The book is accessible, clear, easy to read and presents well the importance, virtue and benefit of being confessional, along with giving an historical framework in which to understand this topic. I would highly recommend giving this to friends and family who aren't quite sure what you mean when you claim to be "Confessional," especially those who see our worship practices as strange and novel.
  24. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    In the latest Ordained Servant is a review by Rev. Alan Strange of Mid-America Reformed Seminary:

    Ordained Servant

    Summary line from the review:

    <i>The restoration that we need is not to be had by the sort of blueprint that Clark would impose on the church. </i>
  25. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior

    Thanks to the kind invitation of the editor, a response is forthcoming next month. Let's just say that the author does not recognize his own book in the review.

    Recent Reviews of RRC Heidelblog

    Shaun Nolan and Matt Bohling give the book a somewhat more positive review on their Ordinary Means podcast this month:
    The Books Podcast Ordinary Means

    You can see links to other reviews here: (not all the posts under this heading are reviews but many are)

    Recovering The Reformed Confession — Blogs, Pictures, and more on WordPress
  26. jogri17

    jogri17 Puritan Board Junior

    Just ordered a copy via inner-library loan.
  27. CharlieJ

    CharlieJ Puritan Board Junior

    This review seemed a bit overly negative. I agree with many of the negative points he made, but found quite a few positive points in RRC as well.

    I find myself in general agreement with the sentiments expressed by Triablogue, Rev. Strange, and Rev. Winzer. The QIRC and (to a lesser extent) QIRE labels are poor choices. You can't know whether six-day creation is a quest for illegitimate certainty without knowing two things -

    1) God's intention in giving Genesis 1
    2) a person reached the 6/24 position through an a priori method.

    #1 is essentially begging the question, since your perception of what God intended to communicate is determined by your position on the passage. #2 would require knowing that a person reached the 6/24 position through the a priori proposition "Genesis 1 must teach the exact timing of the creation." In reality, every 6/24 I have met holds their position based on a posteriori engagement with the passage. Thus, on both counts, Clark fails to prove a QIRC. Similar issues plague the other examples. I also think his archetypal/ectypal distinction, though true, is overblown in connection to the QIRC. However, that doesn't make his conclusions invalid. I just would have appreciated a more neutral (honest) label, such as "Things that are wrong in Reformed theology."

    As far as QIRE goes, I think he has a stronger case for the category, although what he puts in there is open to question.

    Overall, I thought the book was helpful to my learning. It certainly helped me think through my confessional identity and theology of worship (I find it interesting that Catholics have an explicit category "liturgical theology" but we don't). It exposed me to a different viewpoint on the American Awakenings and the role of the means of grace. I found it stylistically appropriate, neither condescending nor obscure; it is an engaging read.
  28. Josiah

    Josiah Puritan Board Senior

    I recently ordered my copy of RRC and I cant Waite to read it! :up:
  29. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    Actually, the review was quite charitable. Note that there was much more critique of Clark's misrepresentation of Edwards that Strange did not lay out due to space limitations. Based on my own reading, I can see it would take quite a few pages to do a detailed unraveling of what was constructed on that topic.
  30. SolaGratia

    SolaGratia Puritan Board Junior

    I got mine yesterday!
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