Monday, January 21, 2013

Book Review of the Good News I Almost Forgot by Kevin DeYoung

The Good News We Almost Forgot
by Kevin DeYoung
ISBN 978-8024-5840-7
Moody Press
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Last year, as I began my tenure as the pastor of the United Churches, I jumped in during the middle of the school year by having question and answer "talkbacks" about the sermon and the other liturgical texts that were assigned for that Sunday. Many found that  profitable, but others felt that this informal style was not structured enough like a traditional Sunday School class.

This year, in an attempt to try something different and get a few more people plugged in, I tried to do something a little bit more oriented toward discipleship. Technically, we have been spending the year studying the Heidelberg Catechism. But more specifically, the discussion has been guided by going step by step through The Good News We Almost Forgot by Kevin DeYoung. 

In the introduction to the book, DeYoung does a great job outlining the basics of the Heidelberg Catechism and why it might be helpful to Christians who want to go deeper in their faith. He instructs the readers that the catechism was a 16th century document designed to instruct students in the core beliefs of the Christian faith through a series of scripted questions and answers. He shares that these questions and answers generally span a year of study. He also shares his own journey of using the catechism to enhance his own study and spiritual growth, and how he found this study profitable.

 Each subsequent chapter takes on the catechuminal questions and answers for that specific week until all 52 weeks of the study is complete. At times DeYoung does quite well at discussing the ancient document in a relevant manner. He anticipates questions of his readers well. He relates some of the theological issues to everyday life.

There are other times, I have discovered, that the class I am teaching feels that DeYoung is overly enamored with theological detail, so much so that they have a hard time understanding what he is saying, where he is going, and why it is relevant.

Like much of the reformed documents and statements of faith, and the work of those who do thoughtful, intelligent reflection on them, I find The Good News We Almost Forgot to be a helpful book for church leaders and laity alike. I may not agree with the catechism or DeYoung on every point, but I find detailed descriptions of Christian belief such as this helpful. These spiritual leaders help believers think through their faith, and understand it better. And the church could always use deeper, more thoughtful Christians.

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