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Grace for Sinners
4 Stars Out Of 5
Good Intro to Reformed Theology
July 16, 2012
Grace for Sinners
Discovering our place within the history of our church and rooting our theology to our spiritual forefathers answers many of the problems we face today. The novelties are rarely novel. They are the dried regurgitation on the bib of the early church. That's what makes a book like Welcome to a Reformed Church valuable--it seeks to do two things: first, explains a misinterpreted term (reformed) and roots that term in its historical context.
As much as a I advocate for a broad understanding of the term reformed today so that it can rightly include our Baptist brothers and those who consider themselves reformed who are loosely Calvinistic, you can't provide the leeway without first tethering the rope to the tree.
And lest you think reformed folks value being reformed over being a Christian, Guy Prentiss Waters says in the foreword,
We say, with the nineteenth-century Scottish Presbyterian theologian John "Rabbi" Duncan (1796-1870), â€˜I'm first a Christian, next a Catholic, then a Calvinist, fourth a Paedobaptist and finally a Presbyterian. I cannot reverse the order'" (xv).
And later Hyde echoes this, "This term, Reformed, was a shorthand way of saying, â€˜Churches that are reformed according to the Word of God'" (12). Everything commended from the confessions on is tethered to Scripture.
Hyde develops his definition around core distinctives of reformed theology: history, confessions, Scripture, Covenant as God's Story, Justification, Sanctification, the Church's Distinguishing Marks, Worship, & Preaching and the Sacraments.
As a guide, I found it helpful. My only concern is that those who are not familiar with reformed thought especially found in the confessions and creeds may be overwhelmed by larger quotations from these documents. In some of these instances, a glass of water might have served the weary pilgrim better than the garden hose.
The emphases on a living faith was refreshing. The Reformed are accused of being all head and no heart but Hyde points out that the Heidelberg Catechism and the Westminster Catechism gives nearly 40% of their emphases to "holy living" or "sanctification" (88; see an helpful illustration about good works and justification on page 92). Passionate Christian living is a core tenant of reformed theology.
Welcome to a Reformed Church ends with an helpful question and answer section and a bibliography to help those who are interested in learning more. I would recommend keeping a few copies of this book on hand for those who have serious questions or interest in the reformed church. Especially in a church context, it could be used with great benefit for those searching.
A free copy of this book was provided by Reformation Trust.
Very helpfull for those interested in gaining a deeper understanding on why the church, especially the reformed church, does what it does. Great historical and scriptural support, easy to read for both pastor and lay person, and user friendly layout. Serves as an excellent read for the regular reformed church attendee (member) or the interested visitor.