Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness brings out Kevin DeYoung’s talent: it’s readable, engaging, and fresh, yet doesn’t pull punches or water down theology. It is thought-provoking for those who are theologically astute and yet is approachable enough for those who are intimidated by big words and long sentences. And though his style is that approachable, it is still quality writing that this English major enjoys.
DeYoung is a pastor in the denomination my church is a part of, committed to the Heidelberg Catechism (good works flow out of gratitude, and a Gospel-comfort emphasis); our circles were gospel-centered before it was cool. Yet, DeYoung has noted the tendency of a Gospel focus to lead people to antinominalism at worst (no law at all, no effort needed) and laziness or indifference at not-any-better; this book addresses this error directly and succinctly.
Holiness is the New Camping
Is it possible you look at personal holiness like I look at camping? It’s fine for other people. You sort of respect those who make their lives harder than they have to be. But it’s not really your thing. […] The pursuit of holiness feels like one more thing to worry about in your already impossible life. Sure, it would be great to be a better person, and you do hope to avoid the really big sins. But you figure, since we’re saved by grace, holiness is not required of you, and frankly, your life seems fine without it.
He opens with this catching camping illustration and then, later in the book, isn’t afraid to call it like he sees it:
Emphasizing free grace is not the problem. The problem is in assuming that good works will invariably flow from nothing but a diligent emphasis on the gospel. Many Christians don’t know what to do with commands and are afraid to talk directly about obedience. The world may think we’re homophobic, but nomophobia (fear of the law) may be our bigger problem. The irony is that if we make every imperative into a command to believe the gospel more fully, we turn the gospel into one more thing we have to get right, and faith becomes the one thing we need to be better at. If only we really believed, obedience would take care of itself. No need for commands or effort. But the Bible does not reason this way. It has no problem with the word “therefore.” Grace, grace, grace, therefore, stop doing this, start doing that, and obey the commands of God.