4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
More of this please!,
This review is from: Don't Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day (The Gospel Coalition) (Paperback)
Don't Call It a Comeback, Edited by Kevin DeYoung, Published by Crossway
"Don't Call It a Comeback" is one of a number of books that publishing house Crossway set for release in early 2011. It is not the work of a single author, but instead has a number of contributors who, when their theological pedigrees are combined, pack enough weight that they would make knocking out undefeated Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight king Anderson Da Silva look easy (for those non-UFC fans, Da Silva has been the number one, undefeated, hard-man champ for four years straight). Some notable names who we can expect to hear a lot more from in the months and years to come include Kevin DeYoung (editor), Colin Hansen, Tim Challies, Russell D Moore, Jonathan Leeman, Justin Taylor, Thabiti Anyabwile, Darrin Patrick and Tullian Tchividjian to name but a few.
What then, is the books thesis? According to Deyoung, the books two main aims are,
1) "To introduce young Christians, new Christians, and underdiscipled Christians to the most important articles of [the Christian] faith"
2) "To reassert the theological nature of evangelicalism."
Thus, having completed the book and been set the task of reviewing it, I must pose the question "Does it deliver on its aims"? To this I answer a resounding YES, it most certainly does! Divided into three parts, the book seeks to cover Evangelical History (Part 1), Evangelical Theology (Part 2) and Evangelical Practice (Part 3). Part 1 on Evangelical History is the shortest of the three containing only two chapters by Kevin DeYoung and Colin Hansen. DeYoung tackles the issue of how to effectively reach the next generation with the gospel without selling out, whilst Hansen provides a whistle-stop tour through church history.
Part Two- The Meat on the Bone
Part two contains eight chapters and could be said to be the "meat-on-the-bone" of the book. It is within this section that the aims of the book are met, in that the authors deal with some of the most important beliefs that have been held historically by those who have claimed the title of evangelical. Whilst remaining fairly introductory in the depth of its content, the contributors manage to explain clearly, yet concisely why it is so important to possess a right view of God, Jesus, Scripture, the Gospel, the New Birth, Justification, Sanctification and the Kingdom. The content is neither exhaustive nor `scholarly' in its treatment of the issues but I don't believe this is a reason to criticise or give the book a lower rating. After all, the book is aimed at `introducing' young, new and underdiscipled Christians' to the really important `details' of biblical Christianity, and that's exactly what it does. One chapter that I believe deserves a stand-out mention is Greg Gilbert's chapter on the Gospel. There is a lot of misunderstanding today about what the Gospel is, with many younger Christians being influenced by the Emergent `conversation'. Within this movement there is much talk of `being' the gospel or `living' the gospel. This talk of `being' and `living' is all very confusing if you ask me. What I need is someone to give me GOOD NEWS because `being' and `living' the gospel does not resolve the fact that I am a guilty sinner who is subject to a holy and righteous God. Within the emergent paradigm there is a lot of `kingdom now theology' or the `gospel of the kingdom' but as Gilbert asserts,
"The only way into the kingdom is through the cross. Yes, Jesus came to inaugurate a kingdom, which will one day be established with perfect justice and righteousness. But that is good news only because he also came to save a people from the wrath of God so that they could be citizens of that kingdom, and the means by which he did that was his penal substitutionary death on the cross"
Part Three- How Then Shall We Live?
Whilst part two deals with evangelical orthodoxy (right beliefs), part three is concerned with evangelical `orthopraxy' (right practice). In this section of the book, some contemporary ethical and Christian living issues are addressed. Issues as relevant as one's vocation ("It's Sometimes a Wonderful Life: Evangelicals and Vocation," Ted Kluck), social justice ("Social Justice: What's God Got to Do, Got to Do with It," Darrin Patrick), and as touchy as Homosexuality ("Homosexuality: Grace, Truth, and the Need for Gentle Courage," Eric Redmond and Kevin DeYoung) are all treated in individual chapters, along with other hot topics such as abortion, gender confusion, the local church, worship, and missions.
I particularly enjoyed the chapters on vocation, homosexuality and abortion as these are areas in which I am not particularly well read. Ted Kluck provided much encouragement in his assertions that, more often than not, God's vocational calling on our lives is not the pie in the sky dream, but, as Martin Luther once put it, more the dairy maid milking the cow. My generation have been raised on the curriculum of self-esteem, being reared to believe that we all possess an inherent genius and almost `deserve' to be successful by worldly standards, yet the reality is that, for the majority of us, our careers will consist of nothing more than punching rivets into metal or tapping keys on a keyboard for years on end. The good news however, is that God has called us to this for a reason and we are to honour and glorify him through our work.
Redmond and Deyoung's treatment of the sensitive issue of homosexuality was a joy to read as they lovingly and graciously showed how the Bible is in no way ambiguous about God's design for sexual relations, and finally Justin Taylor's coverage of abortion was heart-wrenching to say the least. Reading that, each year, in the US, 1.37 million unborn babies are killed reduced me to tears as the weight of the evil of selfish abortion was pressed upon my soul. How can one call themselves Christian yet continue to support abortion? The vivid account of an abortion given by a former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic filled me with a righteous indignation as I read of how the baby, entirely helpless, wriggled and squirmed in its attempt to escape the clutches of the abortion probe. I once heard K.P. Yohannan exclaim that "God's heart bleeds at the cumulative sound of the cries of the unborn babies being murdered in the womb all over the world!" On reading the abortion account in Taylor's chapter I must say that I echo Yohannan's statement.
As a whole "Don't Call It a Comeback" equips evangelicals, young and old, with a handy, albeit introductory tool, to aid them in their understanding of what it means to be an evangelical follower of Jesus. To be evangelical is to listen and submit to the authority of the Bible, to be connected to historical Christianity and to believe that Jesus, the God-Man died for our sins that "whosoever believes in Him, should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). I recommend this book without hesitation as it is an easy, informative and enjoyable read and, whilst not perfect or exhaustive in its treatment of the issues, it highlights what it means to be truly biblical and evangelical. If you are a young Christian buy this book. If you know a young Christian, buy this book for them. If you have considered yourself a Christian for quite some time, yet still do not know what to believe and why, then buy this book. I know of no other introductory book currently available that is as wide-ranging in its coverage, faithful in its treatment and gracious in its delivery as "Don't Call It a Comeback" is.