“Another way of putting it is to say that the modern challenge is how to live with uncertainty. The basic fault lines today are not between people with different beliefs but between people who hold these beliefs with an element of uncertainty and people who hold these beliefs with a pretense of certitude. There is a middle ground between fanaticism and relativism. I can convey values to my children without pretending a fanatical certitude about them. And you can build a community with people who are neither fanatics nor relativists.”
This seems like at least part of the difference between Fundamentalism and Confessionalism when it comes to religious truth. What has been called “the intolerance of Presbyterianism” is often mistaken for what is conceived of as Fundamentalism. Machen’s instincts were to reject the category of Fundamentalism. Whatever else correctly informed those instincts it sure seems to me that the smart money was on that sort of hedging since it turns out that, amongst other things like a blatant culturalism, Fundamentalism was simply another variety of the modernism he meant to reject. It thought it could do better at withstanding modernism than what was to be already found in Presbyterianism. But, despite the conventional wisdom of fighting fire with fire, the accommodations of Liberalism didn’t need to be answered with the certitudes of something like Fundamentalism. Rather, they needed the intolerances of Reformed confessionalism.