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Welcome to a Reformed Church: A Guide for Pilgrims Paperback – March 17, 2010
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As a minister in a Reformed Church, I am delighted to be able to commend this book by Daniel Hyde, as it provides one of the most useful studies of the basics of Reformed belief, worship, and practice that I have come across. I will be commending it not only for people wishing to know more about the basics of the reformed faith, but also for those who sit in Reformed churches and need to know more deeply their heritage. --Dr. Mark Jones: Pastor, Faith Presbyterian Church (PCA) Vancouver, British Columbia
Daniel Hyde's popular introduction to the Reformed faith will provide a wonderful tool for busy pastors who are looking for help in welcoming new believers into membership in the local church. Welcome to a Reformed Church will also serve as a kind of road map for those who are new to the Reformed faith- to its history, confessions, doctrinal commitments, and patterns of worship and ministry. In its own way, this book is a great example of the kind of 'hospitality' Reformed churches are called to show those whom the Lord is gathering in their fellowship by His Spirit and Word --Dr. Cornelis Venema: President and professor of doctrina studies, Mid-America Reformed Seminary Dyer , Indiana
Daniel Hyde has written an invaluable road map for pilgrims new and old so they can know what Reformed churches believe and why. With this book, Christians can navigate the often-confusing landscape of different denominations and understand what makes Reformed churches unique, and more important, biblical. Pastor Hyde's work is clear, succinct, informative, and faithful to the Scriptures. I highly recommend this work to anyone who desires to understand the theological pillars of the Reformed faith. --Dr. J.V. Fesko: Academic dean and associate professor of systematic theology, Westminster Seminary California Escondido, California
About the Author
Rev. Daniel R. Hyde is the pastor of the Oceanside United Reformed Church in Carlsbad/Oceanside, California, a congregation of the United Reformed Churches in North America. A native of Long Beach, California, Rev. Hyde was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church. He was converted to Christ at age 17 in a Foursquare Church and encountered the Reformed faith at an Assemblies of God college, where he earned his bachelor s degree in religion. He earned his master of divinity degree from Westminster Seminary California, where he was mentored by Drs. W. Robert Godfrey, Michael Horton, and R. Scott Clark. He earned his master of theology in Reformation and post-Reformation theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, where his thesis advisors were Drs. Joel R. Beeke and Derek W. H. Thomas. Rev. Hyde has written a number of books, including Jesus Loves the Little Children, The Good Confession, What to Expect in Reformed Worship, God with Us, With Heart and Mouth, and In Living Color. He also has written numerous articles and chapters for books. He lives in Oceanside with his wife and college sweetheart, Karajean, their sons, Cyprian, Caiden, and Daxton, and their dachshund, Xerxes.
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Top customer reviews
Rev. Hyde offers readers a primer on the history and doctrine of the Reformed Church, focusing mainly on the 3 Forms of Unity (Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and Canons of Dordt).
Although a Reformed Evangelical Baptist, I am indebted to the 3 forms more than any other confession, catechism, or doctrinal formulation. I welcome with joy this brief book which introduces many to a heritage that is little-known in the broader American Evangelical Church.
Rev. Hyde takes great care to represent Reformed theology as a religion of the heart and mind. Hyde states,
"God has established an inseparable connection between truth and godliness. If truth remains in our heads but does not proceed to dwell in our hearts and find expression in our conduct, then we are no different, James says, than the devils (James 2:18-19)."
Many have criticized Reformed theology as being arrogant and cerebral. While there are some who may unfortunately represent the Reformed heritage in such a way, this certainly is unrepresentative of the whole. Hyde commends Scottish Presbyterian John "Rabbi" Duncan's quote, "I'm first a Christian, next a Catholic, then a Calvinist, fourth a Paedobaptist and finally a Presbyterian. I cannot reverse the order." Hyde reminds us that we are first Christians, and secondly catholics. Catholic in the sense that we affirm solidarity with the church behind us, the church around us, and the church ahead of us.
Hyde also reminds us that Reformed theology highlights the importance of Sanctification. While many may first think of God's sovereignty and Justification as key Reformed doctrines, the Reformers cared just as much about holy living. Hyde notes:
"Our Reformed fathers focused heavily on holy living. The volume of teachings they devoted to sanctification in their confessions and catechisms is striking. The Heidelberg Catechism devotes forty-four of its 129 questions and answers, more than one-third of its material, to sanctification, while the Westminster Larger Catechism devotes an impressive eighty-two of 196 questions and answers (42 percent) to this subject. By this emphasis, the Reformed churches declared that Calvinism is no mere religion of "head knowledge," and we cannot live as if it makes us the "frozen chosen," as we are sometimes derisively known. It is a religion of head and heart."
The last emphasis that I found helpful was Hyde's treatment of the Church and the centrality of the means of grace through Word and Sacraments. He reminds us that,
"It is the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, then, that creates the people of God. The gospel not only saves us from our sins and the wrath of God, it places us in vital union with Jesus Christ and other Christians. Thus, the church is the fruit of the gospel; it is not our own creation, but a creation of the triune God of grace."
The only disappointment I had was Hyde's neglect of the Reformed Baptist heritage in its 1644 and 1689 confessions. Perhaps Hyde doesn't acknowledge the London Baptist confession as representative of what constitutes a "Reformed Church". He does however make mention of the likes of William Carey and Adoniram Judson when citing Reformed involvement in Missions. I certainly hope that Hyde's neglect of the Reformed Baptist heritage, even in brief, was due to the focus of his work and need to redact accordingly. If, however, he doesn't view the Reformed Baptist confession as part of the "Reformed Church", then he should also not list Baptist missionaries in his effort to defend Reformed Theology against the attack that missions is neglected in such circles. You can't have it both ways Rev. Hyde. If even you added a paragraph to mention the Reformed Baptist confessions, you would at least have been free from the perception that you selectively mention Baptist missionaries, while seemingly not viewing Baptists as "Reformed" in your broader historical treatment.
The Bottom Line:
Rev. Hyde does us all a great service in this book, which serves as a great primer to the great confessional heritage of the Reformed Church. He corrects common stereotypes that Reformed folk are uptight prudes who care only about how one thinks about God. The fact is that the Heidelberg Catechism was written and affirmed by folks whose lives were on the line, thus manifesting a piety that involved firm convictions of mind AND heart.
Hyde was once a Pentecostal, who was turned on to the 5 points of Calvinism by a Pentecostal College professor, who he remains somewhat indebted to. My story is very similar. Where our stories vary is that Hyde has found refuge in a rich confessional tradition, whereas I have learned from the confessions a great deal, but remain an Evangelical. I happen to subscribe to the 3 Forms with a few minor adjustments. I see myself a product of the confessional tradition, but remain a Reformed-minded Evangelical. In this sense, I think I heed "Rabbi" Duncan's words (with the following revision):
"I'm first a Christian, next an Evangelical, then a Calvinist, fourth a Covenantal Baptist and finally an Anglican (liturgy and partly ecclesiology). I cannot reverse the order."
The author provides the context for the Reformation and walks readers through the confessional history of the Reformed church. Hyde summarizes the sola's of the Reformation (sola gratia, sola fide, sola Christus, Sola Scriptura, and Soli Deo gloria). Additionally, the author skillfully explains critical doctrines such as justification by faith and sanctification.
Hyde discusses the distinguishing marks of a reformed church, namely, faithful preaching, the administration of the two ordinances, and church discipline.
While the book proves valuable, I have personal qualms with a few of the positions that are typical proclaimed as Reformed. First, infant baptism is promoted, a view that does not have biblical support. Second, the author endorses the so-called Regulative Principle, the view that maintains Christians ought to worship God "in the manner he has commanded us in his Word." On face value, this view seems credible. Who would promote a view that embraces anything other than what God has commanded? The problem here appears to be a cultural issue. For example, reformed thinkers would be mistaken to marginalize what Sovereign Grace ministries is accomplishing. Reformed theology and contemporary God-centered worship is difficult to argue with! Clearly, these are debatable matters that can be discussed in a thoughtful and civil way.
Overall, Welcome to a Reformed Church is a worthwhile read.