An Interview with Danny Hyde – “Welcome to a Reformed Church”
With the release of the new book, Welcome to a Reformed Church, I had the privilege of interviewing its author, Daniel (Danny) Hyde. I trust you’ll find this interview edifying and his book even more so.
Rev. Daniel R. Hyde has been the pastor of the Oceanside United Reformed Church in Carlsbad/Oceanside, California, since it was planted in 2000. He is the author of seven books (see his bibliography here). He has a M.Div. from Westminster Seminary California and will complete his Th.M. this May under Joel Beeke and Derek Thomas at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary with a thesis entitled, “Of Great Importance and of High Concernment: The Liturgical Theology of John Owen (1616–1683).”
1. Danny, your recent book, In Living Color, initially began as a pastoral letter to your congregation in response to Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ. How did you come to write your latest book, Welcome to a Reformed Church: A Guide for Pilgrims?
Thank you for this opportunity to discuss my book, Nathan. As a church planter in an area with no other Reformed church I am always looking for clear, concise, and cogent literature to give out to the droves of visitors, inquirers, and curious onlookers that come to my congregation. The book found its infancy several years ago. I was giving out dozens and dozens of other small books that sought to explain the basics of the Reformed faith, but they either were too small or too narrowly focused on only a few doctrines. What I needed was an introductory book that I could give visitors that would also explain in a substantial way what we are all about. At the same time I wrote a church webpage with the title of the book, which then it lengthened into a little booklet for our literature rack, then into a proposal that was rejected by a publisher, and finally into a better proposal and manuscript that Reformation Trust so graciously accepted.
2. You were not raised in a Reformed church. How did you end up not only joining a Reformed church but eventually being an ordained minister in a Reformed denomination?
I was baptized as a Roman Catholic, sort of jointly raised in Calvary Chapel and the Roman Catholic Church early in my youth, and then converted in a Foursquare church. I went on to an Assemblies of God liberal arts college and was a youth pastor in a non-denominational Pentecostal church for three years. So, no, I did not grow up in a Reformed church! My journey to the Reformed church started with disillusionment in college over the religion I saw there. I praise God, though, as my theology professor was an Assemblies of God minister but also a staunch believer in the so-called five points of Calvinism. He gave me books and a lot of his time. I eventually began listening to the White Horse Inn radio program with Mike Horton and Kim Riddlebarger, went to a service one Lord’s Day and thought I was in heaven. I still was a youth pastor in that non-denom Pentecostal church, but after I graduated college, I enrolled at Westminster Seminary California, met a brother who attended the Christian Reformed Church (the same denomination Mike and Kim were ministering in), and that was that.
3. Why do Reformed churches speak about creeds and confessions; isn’t the Bible enough?
In my particular tradition, the Dutch Reformed, we speak of believing our creeds and confessions because (quia) they agree with the Word of God. Like I wrote in my book, The Good Confession, every Christian and church has a creed or confession, it’s just a matter of being honest about what it is and whether it is biblical. So we have them to express what we believe, to protect us from false doctrine, and as a means of unifying us in the pattern of sound words.
4. You spend an entire chapter discussing Covenant Theology. You note that the “concept of covenant” is what “unifies all the acts in the ‘greatest drama staged’” (p. 52). For those still exploring Covenant Theology, can you please provide some examples of how a belief in Covenant Theology makes a Reformed church practically different on any given Lord’s Day compared to other Protestant churches?
Yes, our covenant theology is eminently practical. After all, a covenant is the means whereby God has drawn close to his people since the Garden. Basically, covenant theology is practiced in our worship. In a covenant God speaks in grace and his people respond in gratitude, and we follow that pattern in our liturgy, as God speaks in the call to worship, and we respond in song, etc. Covenant theology also informs our preaching. We view the congregation as a covenant people, meaning, it is a mixed assembly. Thus the preacher must never tire of preaching repentance faith, the necessity of conversion and regeneration, all while he proclaims Christ through his text.
5. At the end of your chapter titled, “Justification: Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Christ Alone” you state, “This is a story we must hear and learn over and over again” (p. 86). Could you please expand on this statement?
The gospel is for sinners. Christians are sinners. I trust readers can make the conclusion. It’s always fascinating to listen to what’s being preached in churches. In many, the gospel is assumed to be believed so it’s on to the more important matters of practical Christian living: being a good mom, caring for your finances as God wants you, etc. In others, everyone is assumed to be an unbeliever so the constant refrain of God’s love and the necessity to come forward in an altar call is heard. In others, preaching becomes a doctrinal lecture. Well, I find Paul so fascinating in this discussion. He desired to preach Christ and him crucified, he wrote of justification over and over again, and he used that doctrine as a source of comfort and ground for the Christian life.
6. Over more recent years a new label has gained wider acceptance and prominence; that is, the label, “Reformed Charismatic.” Can Reformed theology legitimately be coupled with Charismatic theology, and furthermore, what are your general thoughts on this movement’s influence amongst Reformed churches?
Given my background, I think I can speak to this with some legitimacy. Reformed theology and Charismatic theology are antithetical theologies. One says “it is finished” and that we have “every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies” while the other says there is something more. I do not see how a theology that proclaims itself as “the full or whole gospel” can be appropriated by Reformed churches without grave consequences to assurance, worship, and preaching. I would say to those who consider themselves “Reformed Charismatics” that the Reformed tradition believe in the Holy Spirit, believes in a personal communion with him and the Father and Son, and believes in a vibrant experience of his person and work. The greatest example of that is from the Puritan pen of John Owen, who wrote nine books and over 1,200 pages that came to be known as his work on the Holy Spirit (Banner of Truth edition, volumes 3 and 4.
7. In your discussion of the sacraments you mention certain liberties in regards to baptism. However, when you discuss the Lord’s Supper you simply state that the “Lord’s Supper is purely administered when bread…and wine are given…” (p. 109). Are there any liberties in regards to the elements of the Lord’s Supper as you state there are for the mode of baptism? For example, can “wine” legitimately be replaced with the unfermented fruit of the vine (grape juice)?
The issue of what kind of bread—leavened or unleavened—has been a matter of indifference in the Reformed tradition. The issue of wine versus grape juice, of course, has a complicated history here in the States due to prohibition and politics. In our congregation we offer both, to accommodate to the consciences and scruples of those to whom we minister.
8. After discussing the Scriptures you state, “…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” (p. 48). Can you give some examples as to how a church today may confess the aforementioned about the Scriptures but practically deny it?
The most obvious example to me is how so many Bible-believing churches hardly read the Bible in public worship. The Scripture readings have been dropped. At best, the pastor will read a verse or two throughout his “sermon.” Not to simply bash evangelical churches, let me give an example close to home. In my own circles when many churches never stop and think about what they do and why, but simply say, “It’s always been done that way.” A final example would be the total appropriation of technology into the church without stopping to think, first, what media has gone already given, and why, and second, what effect will this have on the church in the future? I tried to deal with this in my book, In Living Color.
9. Is worship different in Reformed churches and why?
Yes it is. In the “Introduction” I recognize for most who come to a Reformed church for the first time that it is a different. It is different because the attitude is one of reverence for the holiness of God. This strikes people as cold, boring, lifeless, and joyless, but we express our joy and love for God out of reverence. It is different because the modus operandi is to do only what God commands and requires, and not what fills the seats or feels good. Another difference is that the preaching of the Word, at least in my denomination, takes up the majority of time in a given worship service.
10. How does Reformed Theology impact the daily piety of a Christian?
As the Heidelberg Catechism begins, “That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.” Reformed theology emphasizes that we are servants of Christ and that everything we do flows out of gratitude for that amazing truth—I devote myself to his Word, I devote myself to prayer, I devote myself to his church, I devote myself to his people.
11. If the preached Word is the “primary means of grace” (p. 134) how does a Reformed church reach unbelievers with the gospel who do not attend a public worship service on the Lord’s Day?
First and foremost by the preaching itself, which means members must be motivated to be salt and light, give their testimony often, and invite unbelievers with them to hear what God has done. We believe in the priesthood of all believers and the doctrine of vocation so that means Christians are free to serve God and to live for him in the world as he commands. As a church plant, we have a strong focus on this as well as things like hospitality, using contacts members have with others in the community, and through the means of the internet, literature, and audio.
12. What exhortation would you give to a Christian who is considering joining a Reformed church?
I would say that you need to understand the Christian life as a pilgrimage and that in this life we are called to unite ourselves to a true church, to the most biblical church we can find. I pray that a Reformed church’s teaching ministry would serve as a road map on your pilgrimage, as we prepare ourselves to enter the celestial city that has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
13. Finally Danny, how can my readers get their hands on a copy of Welcome to a Reformed Church?
Go online to Ligonier’s website or give them a call (800-435-4343). They have a great deal through their “Spread-the-Word” program where individuals and churches can get the book for as low as $3 per copy.
Thank you, again, brother, for the opportunity to share my story and the story of this book.
Thank you Danny for your service to the Body of Christ through works such as Welcome to a Reformed Church and for taking the time out of your busy schedule for this interview.