Whenever you set out to teach a topic you have a myriad of challenges in front of you. What does the Bible say? What have other teachers written about this? How does it apply? When someone attempts to do this well, that is faithfully and accessibly, it is a daunting task—for most of us. Kevin DeYoung, however, seems to be a bit different. He’s able to tackle complex and urgent matters faithfully and accessibly.
You could argue that the most pressing issue for the church is to be clear on is the Bible. What we need today is to have confidence in the authority, clarity and sufficiency of God’s Word. Thankfully, DeYoung grabbed his pen and went to work.
In his new book Taking God at His Word: Why the Bible is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me, we have this pressing matter succinctly addressed. The book is short (a mere 146 pages) but it is not light nor unaccessible. And his is the beauty of it; a well-written, clear, helpful book on the Bible. DeYoung provides a systematic study, interacts with individual passages, works through implications, and shows how this doctrine has been historically regarded. In other words, he approaches the Bible from a systematic, exegetical, biblical, pastoral, and historical perspective of theology.
Imagine a college football coach calling a team meeting after his players receives accolades from the media and fans for their on the field performance. Instead of pats on the backs he sits them down and gets serious, pointing out a couple of troubling trends with their play. The team may feel good and even look good to fans, but to the discerning eye there are major omissions that bring concern.
In The Hole in Our Holiness, Kevin DeYoung is like that coach (or at least a team captain) on the gospel-centered team. He is pulling aside the squad, amid rounds of applause for its resurgent emphasis on gospel grace, and pointing out the danger of an underdeveloped theology and practice of holiness.
DeYoung writes: “The sky is not falling, and it won’t until Jesus falls from it first. But we don’t have to pretend everything else is wrong to recognize we don’t have everything right. There is a gap between our love for the gospel and our love for godliness. This must change. It’s not pietism, legalism, or fundamentalism to take holiness seriously. It’s the way of all those who have been called to a holy calling by a holy God.”
DeYoung is calling people back to the biblical concept and practice of holiness. This is an ambitious undertaking in and of itself, but what’s more, DeYoung sets out to do it clearly and concisely (in just 144 pages!). In spite of the challenge, I think he hits a home run. …
The sub-title gets at what the authors are after: The Old Faith for a New Day.
This is refreshing. In this book you have nearly two dozen young evangelical leaders writing on very important topics. The goal is to print and bind that old faith as articulated by young leaders. This, in my view is very encouraging and refreshing. I praise God that many today are not looking inward for creativity and meaning but rather looking outside and even backwards for truth unchanged, tested and strong.
The book is edited by Kevin DeYoung. Himself a very good writer and thinker, DeYoung shows his ability to lead a project and get many different voices to sing in harmony and, well, sound good. Unity of voice is always the challenge with a group writing project. These guys do a good job being different but the same.
Along these lines, you have to admire them for taking such a big chunk of the pie for this book. At the end of the day it’s who we are, what we believe and how we live. This is not an easy task. They do a good job putting in a lot of what really matters.
I am having a hard time putting this book down. In fact morning guy was angry at evening guy today, as I stayed up well past midnight to plow through the first half of the book. The authors keep challenging me to be consistently discerning in my ecclesiology. Here is a choice cut quote:
I can’t help but feel that lurking beneath the surface in much of the current dissillusionment with the church is a dis-ease with the traditional message of salvation…People are passionate about the poor, the environment, and third-world debct. But they seem embarrassed by a violent, bloody atonement for sin, let alone any mention of the afterlife that hangs in the balance. Everyone, it seems, has a vision for the church that Jesus talked about in Matthew 16.18–the church against which the gates of hell shall not prevail. Many people read this today as a word about the church’s role in liberating the oppressed, bringing shalom, or storming ‘the authroity structures and control centers of evil.’ But the reference to the ‘gates of hell’ is a Jewish euphemism for death (see Isa. 38:10, which uses the Hebrew term sheol). Jesus’ initial description of the church focused not on changing the world but on the hope of eternal life.” (Why We Love the Church, DeYoung & Kluck), pp. 50-51