I haven’t read or been inclined to read Kevin DeYoung’s newest book Why We Love the Church other than the fact that I love the church too. But just because I love the church doesn’t mean I should read the book. In fact, if I really love the church I will probably not read this book and spend more time with the church instead. As a matter of act, the probability of my not reading this book increased after reading someone who did.
Well-written Vs. Good Book Reviews
As the theological diversity of the various commentators on Bill McKinnon’s review reveal, one does not have to agree with Kinnon or Piper to appreciate a well-written, negative book review. However, a distinction should be made between a well-written and a good book review. While Kinnon’s review offers an occasional citation from DeYoung (aka RevKev), he frequently makes ad hominen arguments. Instead of critiquing the issue at hand, he critiques DeYoung himself. For instance: “Following the natural path of unrestrained hubris, RevKev recently decided to take on the theology of the Bishop of Durham, NT Wright, and Wright’s book on Justification.” Kinnon offers no interaction with DeYoung’s critiques of Wright (not that I am hungry for more!). McKinnon’s condescending tone and pet names for DeYoung and Kluck throughout leaves the reader with a general uneasiness about the review.
Defective Ecclesiology in Why We Love the Church?
However, Kinnon levels some pretty solid critiques, including DeYoung’s Emergent Straw Man and his failure to think through the enormous debt associated with the idolatry of church buildings. Apparently, “in 2006, the American church owed 28 billion dollars in mortgages, loans and church bonds…” He also argues against what DeYoung and Kluck favor—20 hours of sermon preparation for 30 minute messages each Sunday. Is this a good use of a pastor’s time? Perhaps some of that time could be used in spending more with with the church, with unbelievers, and on mission?
Young, Proud, and Reformed?
Kinnon’s closing remarks reveal an issue present among young Reformed folks (whether this is true of DeYoung/Kluck I do not know). He writes: “DeYoung/Kluck are the young celebrities of the Truly Reformed book audience. They are content to splash and scream in their end of the theological swimming pool. The rest of us are idiots for swimming where we choose to swim.” I would hope that DeYoung and Kluck would be grieved by this statement. What is the issue? Theological and personal hubris. Pride. Wielding Reformed theology as an extension of one’s own strength, rather than relying on the pre-existing strength of the Gospel. Good Reformed theology is winsome, charitable, and humble. Far from considering others idiots, it lovingly engages others in theological debate. Eager to learn, not merely to defeat. Good Reformed theology makes the gospel central, not Reformed theology central. It embodies the character of a crucified Christ.
Whether you read the book or not, I hope you’ll take the time to learn from Kinnon’s post. He makes some good points about the church, and ultimately reveals how desperately she/we needs more redemption and less division. Who knows, maybe I will end up reading Why We Love the Church after all. Regardless, may we all come to love her more, with the love of Christ.