What follows is an interview with Pastor Danny Hyde of Oceanside United Reformed Church about his recent address to the annual NAPARC meeting, which encouraged them to pursue Reformed ecumenicity. Pastor Hyde blogs at Meet the Puritans and is the author of numerous books on Reformed theology, such as Welcome to a Reformed Church.
1. Thanks so much for your willingness to answer a few questions, Pastor Hyde. First, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became a Reformed minister?
Thank you for the opportunity, Zac. I am a born and bred native of SoCal. After being baptized in the Roman Church out of custom and superstition, my father was converted at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. I spent some time there as a young child in Sunday school, as well as in Mass during holidays with family. After the brokenness of my family finally came to a climax, I was finally converted in a Foursquare Church before heading off to college to play basketball. It was there that I became disillusioned with my Charismatic and Pentecostal experience. I went on a spiritual journey, investigating every major world religion before God found me at the right time, at the right place with the purity of the gospel in the Reformed confession. I went off to Westminster Seminary California with the goal of planting a Reformed church in an area of SoCal that had no Reformed church.
2. You obviously have a lot of responsibilities within your congregation, so why did you consider it important to attend the NAPARC meeting in Chicago?
I am thankful that I am given time off from my labors here at OURC to speak to a wider audience. When I was asked to be the annual speaker at NAPARC I was humbled that I of all people would be asked to do that. As a total outsider to the alphabet soup known as the conservative Presbyterian and Reformed world, I have my own particular vantage point on the problems that plague us. And I pray that I also have a unique perspective on the way forward. So, it was important because I believe that in our unity we find our strength to be salt and light in our culture that I agreed.
3. From an historical standpoint, why are there are so many different Reformed and Presbyterian denominations in America (I count twelve in NAPARC)? Also, what keeps them apart?
The different denominations find their roots in distinct reformations in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. For example, the United Reformed Churches (URC) and Free Reformed Churches (FRC) are rooted in the Netherlands reformation. There are historical reasons why the mother churches of these denominations in the Netherlands were distinct, which led to their distinctness when they arrives in North America. Because these churches originally spoke Dutch, and were from the European continent, this meant there would be differences with Presbyterians in England and Scotland who spoke English. So when these people came to the New World and later United States, their circumstantial and well as doctrinal differences became distinct denominations.
4. What was your message to the NAPARC delegates?
My message was a follow-up to Dr. W. Robert Godfrey’s address last year, A Reformed Dream. It was entitled, “From Reformed Dream to Reformed Reality: The Problem and Possibility of Reformed Church Unity“. In a word, the problem of unity is our sin, but the possibility is the power of the Holy Spirit.
[To read the manuscript of Pastor Hyde’s address, click here]