Hole in our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung

holeinholinessbookcoverKevin DeYoung is the Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church, a prolific author and a father of seven! One of his many other titles is ‘Crazy Busy’, a previous book of the term. It isn’t difficult to imagine how that title came into being. DeYoung graduated summa cum laude from Hope College in Michigan in 1999 and received his M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts in 2002.

The author believes that young Christians, wary of ‘legalism’ and ‘religiosity’ tend to ignore one of the most important goals of our redemption and one of the means by which we can demonstrate the truth of the gospel: holiness. DeYoung puts it succinctly: ‘There is a gap between our love for the gospel and our love for godliness.”

‘Hole in Our Holiness’ is not without its faults, but is most certainly worth reading and deserves serious consideration. I mention this intentional irony – for it is, in a sense, the basic message of the book itself. We as people are flawed – seemingly insurmountably so. However, these flaws are not in fact irredeemable and we have been justified by Christ for a purpose. That purpose is that we would be with God, and this is only possible by us becoming like God, which necessitates that we become holy.

This theme, lofty as it may seem, appears in the bible hundreds of times and is clearly a great deal of (indeed probably the chief) aim of why Christ died for us. Yet it is no longer en vogue, as DeYoung argues, and is seen almost as a historic throwaway – a puritanical antiquation as laughable as abstinence and fasting (examples used in a deliberately ironic fashion).

DeYoung exhorts us throughout the book to consider what holiness is and to pursue it with as much fervor as we can manage. This is not to diminish grace, but to give respect to the Divine project of making us into his image and restoring the shattered mirror to its intended Glory. In fact, to be Holy is to be actually human.

There is a fine line between legalism and the pursuit of holiness, but DeYoung does a good job distinguishing between the two: ‘Faith and good works are both necessary. But one is the root and the other the fruit’. DeYoung says that we are saved through no effort or merit of our own; but that we are justified through Christ in order that we may undertake good works. In His infinite wisdom, the Father justifies us and enables us to be holy, without the attending ruinous effects of moralizing, legalism and hypocrisy.

The book provides practical advice for those seeking holiness including, Prayer, reading the Word, being part of community and partaking in the Lord’s Supper. DeYoung has many insights which I found valuable, and poses questions that are laudable in intent and depth. Possibly the single most instructive aspect of the book was a simple question he poses to help ascertain whether or not something is truly Holy. In any thing one does, sees, contemplates – ask “Can I thank God for This? Can I be Truly Grateful to Him for This?” If the answer is “Yes”, it is holy – whether that be something as mundane as a hotdog or baseball game, as beautiful yet simple as a landscape or flower, or as grand and glorious as the self-sacrifice Christ made in both incarnation and crucifixion.

In our path to holiness, DeYoung argues, the Spirit exposes our sin, illuminates God’s Word, and reveals the Glory of God to us. Walking in obedience to God with the aid of the Spirit toward a goal of holiness is not an unfashionable throwback to yesteryear. Rather it should be a central concern of all Christians. That this book encourages us toward that end makes it a must read.

Review by Craig Webber

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