Mar 23, 2010

Welcome to a Reformed Church: A Guide for Pilgrims, from Reformation Trust Publishing

10 Min Read

In his new book, Welcome to a Reformed Church, Daniel R. Hyde sketches the historical roots of Reformed churches, their scriptural and confessional basis, their key beliefs, and the ways in which those beliefs are put into practice. The result is a roadmap for those encountering the Reformed world for the first time and a primer for those who want to know more about their Reformed heritage.


“In the providence of God through Rev. Daniel Hyde, you have in your hands an excellent instrument to use in developing the life and ministry of new members, church leaders, and all disciples. This book illustrates the blessings of the historical legacy of the Reformed church with confessional integrity to equip believers and churches with evangelical breadth and theological depth. This is sound doctrine for sound lives. The key to the apostolic church is prominently displayed and easily accessible throughout the pages of Welcome to a Reformed Church.”

—Dr. Harry L. Reeder, III, Senior pastor, Briarwood Presbyterian Church (PCA) Birmingham, Alabama

“As one who has made much the same journey as I did, Rev. Hyde offers a thoughtful and compelling guide to the distinctive emphases of the Reformed churches for those coming to them. He explains how those wonderful doctrines are worked out in the life and worship of Reformed and Presbyterian churches. If only I had had a book like Rev. Hyde’s Welcome to a Reformed Church, my own journey would have been a bit easier, for I would have had someone to ‘connect the dots’ for me.”

—Dr. Kim Riddlebarger, Senior pastor, Christ Reformed Church (URCNA) Anaheim, California

“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

“Daniel Hyde’s popular introduction to the Reformed faith will prove 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 to those whom the Lord is gathering into their fellowship by His Spirit and Word.”

—Dr. Cornelis Venema, President and professor of doctrinal studies Mid-America Reformed Seminary Dyer, Indiana

“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 own heritage.”

—Dr. Mark Jones Pastor, Faith Presbyterian Church (PCA) Vancouver, British Columbia

“Daniel Hyde has done the church (and church planters) a great service by giving us this well-written, concise, easy-to-understand book explaining what it means to be a ‘Reformed’ church. Yet, at the same time, this is a theologically deep book that will send us back to Scripture and our confessions so that we might understand just what the church really is. In a day of great doctrinal confusion, especially about the church, I know of no better tool to give to those who want to know more about Reformed churches.”

—Rev. Kevin Efflandt Pastor, Bellingham United Reformed Church (URCNA) Bellingham, Washington

“As a fellow import to the Reformed faith from the Pentecostal/ charismatic movement, I can say that Daniel Hyde has summarized our Reformed distinctives in a clear and concise manner, answering many of the questions modern evangelicals ask. I heartily commend this book to newcomers in my church and all Reformed churches.”

—Rev. Jerrold Lewis Pastor, Lacombe Free Reformed Church (FRCNA) Lacombe, Alberta


Introduction - ”Dad, who are these guys?” I remember my question and my dad’s answer as if it were yesterday. I was a senior in high school and a new Christian, and I was sitting at the dining room table on a Sunday evening doing my homework while listening to the radio. As all good young Christians in my area were told to do by their youth pastors, I had the radio tuned to the large 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.” I had no idea what the four hosts were talking about that night, but apparently my dad did— “Oh, those are a bunch of Lutherans,” he said.

Page xxv - To get a sense of the role I foresee for this book in a believer’s transition to a Reformed church, imagine yourself walking through the doors of a church you have never before visited. This book is like walking into the foyer or narthex; there you look around, meet some people, and begin to take note of things about this church. Eventually, you move on and enter the sanctuary; in much the same way, books by R. C. Sproul and Michael Horton (mentioned in Appendix 2) take you deeper into the Reformed faith. Finally, you sit in a pew and the worship service begins. Likewise, a heavy-duty book of systematic theology or any title of the sixteenth- and seventeenth century Reformed and Puritan theologians takes you to an even greater depth of experience.

Page xxvi - My prayer in writing this book is that I can begin to clear up any misunderstandings you might have about what Reformed churches believe and even begin to open your eyes to a new world, a new way of looking at “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

Page 2 - My purpose in this chapter is to help you appreciate that Reformed churches did not come out of nowhere. As I noted in the introduction, Reformed churches are Christian, Protestant, and Reformed. They are Christian because they trace their roots to the early church of the centuries after the apostles died (100–500). The Reformed churches—also known as “Calvinist” churches, after the theologian and pastor of Geneva, Switzerland, John Calvin (1509–1564)—are Protestant churches because, like the “Lutheran” churches—after the theologian and pastor in Wittenberg, Germany, Martin Luther (1483–1546)—they trace their roots to the sixteenth-century “Protestant Reformation” of the Roman Catholic Church in Europe.

Pages 29-30 - That Reformed churches are confessional is extremely important, because many churches and groups in our day, such as Calvary Chapel, the Foursquare Church, and the Assemblies of God, say they are Christian and Protestant churches rooted in the Reformation. But while it may be true that a “family tree” could be traced from these churches back to the Reformation, they are not reformational churches because they are not confessional churches. They are related—and I say this with the utmost respect—only as a distant cousin would be considered a part of one’s family. In fact, these churches say something like, “We believe no creed but Christ,” or they believe that having creeds and confessions is nothing but a Roman Catholic practice.

Page 33 - The creeds and confessions are the official public faith of the Reformed churches. To fully answer the question, “What is a Reformed church?” you must read our historical creeds and confessions. A simple summary, such as this book, cannot do full justice to the breadth of the Reformed faith, but can only introduce you to major emphases.

Pages 47-48 - It is important to note that almost every evangelical Protestant church in our day would subscribe on paper to these statements about the Word of God. But the real question is whether the confession that Scripture is God’s inspired, canonical, authoritative, sufficient, and perspicuous revelation actually affects how Christians in any particular church practice their faith and live their lives. Simply stated, every church you may visit says, “We believe the Bible,” but your response should be, “Show me.”

Page 88 - 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.

Pages 103-104 - One memorable event of my childhood was a time when my “grandpa” took only me out to lunch at a local smorgasbord. Since I did not know what a smorgasbord was or what I was supposed to do, he explained to me that there would be a large table with all kinds of food. Then he told me what I thought was the best part: “You get to pick and choose anything you would like.” Sadly, we live in an age in which the church is viewed more or less as a smorgasbord. There are all kinds and types of churches, providing consumers multiple options from which to pick and choose what they like. This was somewhat true in the time of the Reformation, as there were Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anabaptist, Lutheran, and Reformed churches. Today the situation is even more confusing, since so many organizations call themselves churches. We have everything from theological cults, such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to thousands of garden-variety nondenominational churches, to the so-called “mainline” churches, and everything in between. The Belgic Confession’s words are just as true today as they were when originally penned: “all sects which are in the world assume to themselves the name of the Church” (Art. 29).

Page 110 - Where can seekers of the truth find the authentic Jesus Christ, His authentic gospel, an authentic church? By looking for the three biblical marks of preaching, the administration of the two sacraments, and the exercise of godly church discipline, the diligent and discriminating person may find the genuine article. With so many “churches” in any given local community, it is imperative that one find a congregation that is a true Christian “church,” one in which Jesus Christ truly meets with His people in Word and sacrament, and shepherds them by the discipline of His undershepherds, the pastors and elders.

Pages 131-132 - Television, radio, computers, and cell phones are all media of communication. As studies have shown, these media seriously affect how we think, learn, experience the world, and relate to one another. But God has chosen to use different media to communicate. His means (Latin, media) of communication are utterly “foolish” to the world because they do not demonstrate great power as the world defines power (1 Cor. 1:18–31). Yet, with God’s power behind them, His means of preaching and the sacraments affect people far more deeply and effect His grace in them in a far greater way than any of our technological wonders.

Our final chapter on Reformed distinctives deals with the means by which God communicates His grace to us. As Christians, we need more than verbal communication, that is, God speaking to us and conveying information to us. We also need Him to communicate to us in a more holistic way. We need Him to communicate Himself to all our senses and to all the aspects of who we are. A wife needs her husband to do more than give her advice on how to fix her problems; she needs to feel his sympathy, his understanding, and his love. So it is with us as the bride of Christ.

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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.