I am S. J. Hatch and welcome to my site. I am a Bible teacher, part-time theological writer, and aspiring Reformed catechist.
My spiritual journey. I did not grow up Presbyterian, Reformed, or in any way Calvinist. I initially came to faith in Christ in a non-denominational U.S. Navy Chapel, and my family transferred to the local United Methodist Church when I was in middle school in the early 1980s. That church, however, was more interested in protesting the Reagan Administration than in preaching the Gospel. My time there was a kind of spiritual exile, and when I went to college at the University of New Hampshire I was open to campus ministries but rejected organized religion and the church. I came to see in due time that campus ministry could not substitute for the Body of Christ, the church. The last half of my time in college, I began attending a Baptist church, which gave me an image of what the Body of Christ could look like. After college, I moved to Northern Virginia and became exposed to Eastern Orthodoxy through a colleague at work. Having seen the shallowness of both Protestant liberalism and Protestant evangelicalism, I was initially attracted to the apparent depth of that tradition, but the more I read of Eastern Orthodox theology the more I tripped over the lack of emphasis they placed on the justifying work of Christ on the Cross. To me, that was central to the Gospel, and for that reason, I turned back from the road to Constantinople. My exposure to Eastern Orthodoxy, however, challenged me to research the roots of the Protestant tradition. For me, key to my coming to the Reformed tradition was reading J. I. Packer’s seminal work on the Puritans, The Quest for Godliness, which showed me that Protestantism did have real depth at one point. Also important was Michael Horton’s The Making of Modern Evangelicalism, which explained how American Protestants lost that depth and why we have many of the pathologies that exist in contemporary evangelicalism. Reading these books was like finally coming home theologically.
My Theological Focus. Having grown up a Methodist and attended Baptist, Anglican, and Presbyterian churches, in the mid-1990s I began taking classes through (the now-defunct) Chesapeake Theological Seminary, largely to sort out what I really did believe about the Christian Faith. That has driven a life-long interest in theology. I graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary in Washington D.C. in 2007 with a Masters in Religion, and from Westminster Theological Seminary with a Masters in Theology in 2019. While I appreciate the exposure I have had over the years to different Christian traditions, for me I have to agree with B. B. Warfield that the Reformed tradition is the Bible come into its fullness. Having grown up in a church that eschewed confessions and creeds, I have come to embrace a confessional faith as necessary for the Christian life.
The Background for This Site. The name “Tides and Covenants requires some explanation. I grew up on the coast of Maine, so tides and coves are things that I was well familiar with, but the name of this site actually comes out of a couple of interests I have had over the years. When I started at Chesapeake Theological Seminary, I first was exposed to covenant theology. The unity that covenants provide to Scripture and God’s overarching work gripped my imagination: the work that Christ Jesus did in saving us is part of the overarching account of God’s working from creation to consummation. For all the fascination that people with things like Star Wars or the Lord of the Rings, the biblical narrative is a true narrative to get excited about. It is my intention to explore that covenantal thread through Scripture. “Tides,” is an old term for “seasons.” Years ago I was in an Old School Presbyterian church that did not observe any religious holy days other than the Lord’s Day (Sunday), and this was a totally new concept for me. Although I did not fully agree with the Puritan and Old School rejection of the church calendar, being part of that church did start me on the path of exploring the historical basis for the church calendar. I’ve combined these two interests in this site through the Bible reading plan or lectio continua that aligns different readings through different seasons–or “tides”–of the year. I hope you find the site interesting and I thank you for visiting!