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The Geeky Calvinist
5 Stars Out Of 5
A Good Introduction to the Reformed System of Doctrine
February 14, 2017
The Geeky Calvinist
Welcome to a Reformed Church: A Guide for Pilgrims written by Daniel R. Hyde and published by Reformation Trust Publishing. The purposes of Welcome to a Reformed Church is twofold to introduce a newcomer to the Reformed faith and to give an apologetic reformed framework to those who hold to the tenants of Reformed theology. To understand what Reformed theology teaches as well as its practical outworkings, Hyde delves into the historical roots of what it means to be fundamentally Reformed. This can be difficult to do since there are a plethora of avenues Reformed theology can branch off into but what Hyde masterfully demonstrates are the basic ideas of the espousers of Reformed theology.
Welcome to a Reformed Church is broken down into nine main sections which include the historical roots of the Reformed system of doctrine, the creeds and confessions of said system, and finishing up with seven important outworks of Reformed theology. Hydes work also includes a great appendix which has a question and answer section which helps the reader interact with Hyde with frequently asked questions about what it means to be Reformed.
If you are a new Christian looking to understand the basic tenants of reformed theology then this is the book for you, or if you are looking for a refresher of what it means to be reformed then this book would also be a great resource for you. I have seen this book given to people looking to become members of a local reformed Church and I would commended it to teaching leader who is looking for recourses to train both the diaconate and session in the basics of reformed theology.
This book was provided to me free of charge from Reformation Trust Publishers in exchange for an unbiased, honest review.
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), Ã¢â¬ËI'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, Ã¢â¬ËChurches 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.