Book Review: Welcome to a Reformed Church by Danny Hyde
Danniel Hyde, Welcome to a Reformed Church: A Guide for Pilgrims (Orlando: Reformation Trust, 2010). 178pp. Paper. $12.00
Occasionally, Reformed churches are caricatured as “boring, cold, and serious” (147). Daniel Hyde, however, shows in Welcome to a Reformed Church: A Guide for Pilgrims that quite the opposite is true of those that function according to God’s Word. His book then is a “guide for pilgrims,” which winsomely introduces newcomers to Reformed churches in order “to clear up any misunderstandings” (xxvi). It does this by examining their history, confessions, doctrines, and practices.
The first chapter provides a summary of church history, showing how Reformed churches are Christian as they confess early church creeds, Protestant because they protested Roman Catholicism, and “Reformed according to the Word of God” (12). Chapters two and three provide confessional and scriptural grounds. Many Christians believe the Bible but do not know what it teaches. Confessions, then, are beneficial summaries of doctrine arising from Scripture. The fourth through sixth chapters explain key doctrines. Hyde explains that Covenant unites Scripture, and then he details the covenants of works, grace, and redemption. He then explains justification according to which sinners are imputed righteousness. Finally, he describes sanctification whereby the Spirit enables believers to begin to obey God’s law. Chapters seven through nine present church practices. First, true churches preach the gospel, administer the (two) sacraments, and exercise church discipline. Second, true worship is according to God’s Word. Finally, Hyde explains that the Holy Spirit works in preaching and the sacraments to create and confirm faith respectively. Two appendices are also included: one which answers commonly asked questions, and one which includes helpful bibliographies for further study.
One strength to note is that this book provides an attractive, charitable introduction to Reformed churches. Another is that it is well organized, clear, and provides summaries with accurate distinctions. Furthermore, Hyde emphasizes that these distinctions are “not motivated…by ego or arrogance, but by a sincere desire to see all God’s sons and daughters in churches that feed their souls” (105). Finally, the book utilizes and points readers to excellent sources.
There are not many weaknesses. One might be that the target audience is a bit ambiguous. If the reader is “confused about all of the so-called ‘churches’ dotting the religious landscape” (xxiv), then it seems a bit lengthy. For instance, some material regarding preaching and the sacraments is repeated to provide various nuances. However, if the reader is “moving toward involvement in a Reformed church” (xxv) and seeking slightly greater detail, then the book is well-tailored. It seems more helpful to this second step.
These areas noted, however, do not detract from the over-all value of this book. It is an erudite yet clear and charitable introduction to Reformed churches for those who are interested in them. It also contains many helpful reminders for those who are already members. In the former case, I would definitely recommend buying it. In the latter case, you might buy two: one for yourself and one to share with a non-Reformed friend.
Brandon Hoffman, MAHT Student