Welcome to a Reformed Church: A Guide for Pilgrims, by Daniel R. Hyde, 178 pages, paper. Published by Reformation Trust of Ligonier Ministries. Retail price is $12. Reviewed by Rev. J. Kortering.
First of all, we say a word about the author. He serves as pastor of the Oceanside United Reformed Church in Carlsbad/Oceanside, CA. He earned his Master of Divinity degree from Westminster West and his Master of Theology degree from Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, MI.
His qualification to write this book is not limited to his formal theological studies. He became a Christian in high school. During his senior year he had the radio tuned to a Christian radio station in Los Angeles County: KKLA. On came a show that began, curiously, with the sound of hoof beats. Then came the introduction: “Welcome to the White Horse Inn.” He asked his father, “Dad, who are these guys?” From that point he began his pilgrimage to learn about the Reformed faith and about Reformed churches. From this experience, he writes.
This book fills a great need within the family of Reformed churches. In his introduction, he carefully identifies the place of Reformed churches among others:
While there are variations from one Reformed church to another, what I hope to communicate to you in this basic welcome to the Reformed churches as a whole can be summarized in three points. First, Reformed churches are Christian churches. They are Christian churches because they believe the Bible is the Word of God, that there is only one God who exists eternally as a Trinity, and that Jesus Christ our Savior is both God and man. Reformed churches hold these beliefs in common with all Christians in all times and places. In the words of Vincent of Lerins (d. 45), “We hold that faith which has been believed everywhere always by all.” Second, Reformed churches are Protestant churches along with Lutheran churches because they reject the claims of the pope to be the head of the church, acknowledging instead that Jesus Christ is the Head of His church, and that He rules and governs His church by His Word and His Spirit, not by the dictates of men. Third, Reformed churches are just that—Reformed churches. They are a subset of Protestant churches in that they believe sinful humans are saved by grace alone, from eternity past to eternity future, and that we experience this grace of God earned for us by Christ alone when the Holy Spirit uses certain means that God has appointed in the church: the preaching of the Word of God, which is the Bible, and the celebration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
As God is working to draw into these churches many that were not born there, this book is of great value. This relates to the mission of the church among the heathen. They must be shown the true gospel, which is the Reformed faith. It is also useful for believers who faithfully witness to others outside the church. In the book Rev. Hyde focuses mainly upon America and Europe, which are full of churches that have departed from the faith. If God is working among them at all, individuals will ask the same questions about the Reformed faith because they struggle with the faith where they are. They are on a pilgrimage worked in their heart by the Holy Spirit. Many questions arise out of teachings and practices of churches that contradict the Bible. This relates to many who claim to be Reformed as well. This is ably demonstrated in Collin Hansen’s book, Young, Restless, Reformed. Many of these young, restless, and Reformed do not understand what is truly Reformed. We thank God for providing good tools to be used for this work.Welcome to a Reformed Church is one of these tools. Let me explain why.
First, the subject matter of the book addresses every issue that is pertinent for one to understand what a Reformed church is. He accomplishes this by the nine chapters of the book. I will list them here. 1. Roots: Our History; 2. Confessions: Doctrinal Foundations; 3. Scripture: The Final Authority; 4. Covenant: God’s Story; 5. Justification: Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone; 6. Sanctification: The Christian Life; 7. Church: Distinguishing Marks; 8. Worship: Of God, by God, for God; and 9. Preaching and Sacraments: Means of Grace. In summary form, he focuses on what Reformed churches believe, how they live, and how they worship. The book sets forth the fundamental truths common to all Reformed churches. In addition he provides two appendixes: first, by means of question and answer he addresses many specific questions that people raise about Reformed churches, and second, he provides a very brief bibliography of Reformed writings to help the inquirer grow in greater measure in all the areas covered briefly in the b