Great Resources on the Church Calendar by Danny Hyde

danny-hydeHere at the Reformed Reader, we’re honored to have URCNA co-laborer and author, Danny Hyde, jump in and do some guest posting.  Just to put in a shameless plug for Danny, check out some of his books:

Jesus Loves the Little Children: Why We Baptize Children (Danny’s outstanding defense of paedo-baptism)
With Heart and Mouth: An Exposition of the Belgic Confession (An excellent historical, theological, and exegetical commentary on the Belgic Confession of Faith)
God With Us: Knowing the Mystery of Who Jesus Is (Danny on Christology)
The Good Confession: An Exploration of the Christian Faith (Danny’s workbook outlining the Reformed, that is to say the Biblical, faith!)
What to Expect in Reformed Worship: A Visitors Guide (This is self explanatory!)

I just wanted to give a word of introduction to Danny before posting his first contribution on some excellent resources on the church calendar.



For those of us in the historic Reformed tradition, we celebrate what our forefathers call “the evangelical feast days.” As we move closer to that time of the year in which we celebrate Christ’s work in his death (Good Friday), resurrection (Easter), ascension (Ascension Day), and pouring out of his Spirit (Pentecost), the average Reformed preacher does not have much to draw on in terms of available books. One such book, long out-of-print (although Wipf & Stock may reprint it in the near future), is Stages of Experience: The Year in the Church, trans. J. E. Anderson (Baltimore: Helicon Press, 1962). Stages is a brief (104 pages) introduction to these high points of the church’s calendar, written as an ecumenical symposium, made up of Brother from the Taize ecumenical community in France, an Anglican, a Danish Lutheran, a Dominican, a Swiss Calvinst, and an Russian Orthodox theologian.

The first strength is the opening chapter, “The Year of Grace,” by the Taize brother, Francois Stoop. He gives an inspiring exposition of Ephesians 1:9–10 and 3:10ff., in which Paul pronounces God’s eternal mystery, executed by Christ, and made known to and through the Church. The mystery of Christ in his redeeming and restoring work is the Church’s gift to the world. Stoop also draws heavily on St. Irenaeus’ doctrine of recapitulation, found in Against Heresies.

The second strength is that the subsequent chapters each take up an the evangelical feast in order and give a theological explanation of the work of Christ. Of special note is the Danish Luthern K. E. Skydsgaard’s chapter on “Good Friday.” Two points stand out in this chapter. First, he opens with a section reminiscent of J. Gresham Machen on the historicity and objectivity of our faith in the death of Christ. Second, he dispels the notion that Good Friday, or any other day for that matter, is in any way a “holy day.” This was surprising as the typical caricature of Lutherans in opposition to the Reformed is that Lutherans celebrate special days as holy while we do not. In this chapter he also quotes question and answer 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism! The other chapter that stood out was the Reformed Jean-Jacques von Allmen’s chapter on “The Ascension.” In it von Allmen gives a four-fold explanation of the theology of the ascension in a succinct way.

There are three weak-points that I perceive, in this work, though. First, this book is way too short for such a vital and often misunderstood topic, especially for those of us in Reformed churches. Second, there is no historical survey of the development of these days from the ancient church and through the Medieval period, let alone in the Protestant Reformation. A book such as this still needs to be written. Third, as with all compilation books, unfortunately I did not benefit much from the Catholic and Orthodox chapters on Easter and Pentecost, respectively. Despite this I would highly recommend this book as an introductory resource for theology of the major themes of the feast days upon which we celebrate Christ and his accomplished salvation.

Danny Hyde
Oceanside, CA

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