In chapter 2, Clark begins his section on the crisis as he sees it in confessional Reformed churches. This chapter outlines what Clark sees as the quest for illegitimate religious certainty (QIRC).
He defines QIRC as ".. the pursuit to know God in ways he has not revealed himself and to achieve epistemic and moral certainty on questions where such certainty is neither possible nor desirable." (p39)
Clark believes that churches are realigning "theological and ecclesiastic priorities" (p44) in response to "liquidity, or the prevailing sense that nothing is fixed, certain or reliable any longer." (p42) These new priorities reflect a search for solid truths, controlling principles if you will, that give coherence to all other facts. The problem is that these "truths"in many cases represent not only "non-confessional marker(s) of Reformed identity" but are actually "opposed to the Reformed confession." (p44)
The three examples given by Clark are 6 day, 24 hour creation (6/24); Theonomy/Reconstructionism and Covenant Moralism.
Clark argues that to insist upon 6/24 as a matter of confessional orthodoxy is misguided as the WCF 4.1 ("In the space of six days..) was never meant to enforce the literalist view upon adherents. This would be a simplistic reading of the WCF forgetting that "the intent of the divines was to preclude (what they perceived to be) Augustine's nominalist view of the days of Genesis 1 as a literary device without any genuine connection to the acts of creation itself." (p49) Making it a boundary marker also serves to let the wrong people "in" (e.g. Seventh Day Adventists) and keep the right people "out" (e.g. B.B Warfield, Machen, et al).
He goes on to argue that Theonomists engage in QIRC by trying to resolve the tension between living this side of the cross and how to engage with the law. They want to flatten out the tension by bringing in the law wholesale (although they conveniently don't circumcise their children and are happy to wear mixed fabrics).
As to Federal Vision advocates or Covenant Moralists, Clark believes that they engage in QIRC by trying to resolve the tension between being simultaneously justified and sinful. By introducing works into final justification, they flatten out the tension and make the doctrine more palatable and reasonable.
All in all it was an engaging and thought provoking chapter. Something that struck me again and again was how this Reformed approach to epistemology should be a safe place for people desperate to escape the misguided doctrinal certitude of many fundamentalist churches. Geneva is the place to find a safe haven, not with Rome or with latte quaffing readers of 'A Generous Orthodoxy'. Calvin and his successors were teaching a balanced "chastised epistemology" in non-revealed matters long before the emerging crowd embraced the term and used it to encompass even perspicuous doctrinal truths.