- Hardcover: 160 pages
- Publisher: Crossway; 1 edition (August 31, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1433533340
- ISBN-13: 978-1433533341
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 262 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #245,298 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness Hardcover – August 31, 2012
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“This book is vintage DeYoung—ruthlessly biblical.”
—John Piper, Founder, desiringGod.org; Chancellor, Bethlehem College and Seminary
“My heart resonated deeply when I first heard Kevin speak on this subject. His message is a wake-up call to God’s people—timely, prophetic, and desperately needed in our day. As a gifted theologian and thinker, Kevin tackles many of the biblical intricacies and nuances of true holiness. As a pastor, he evidences sincere compassion and concern for the condition of the flock. As a fellow pilgrim, he gets to the heart of ways of thinking and living that keep us from reflecting our holy God in this dark world. As a servant and lover of Christ, he holds out a vision of the beauty and power of personal holiness.”
—Nancy Leigh DeMoss, author; radio host, Revive Our Hearts
“Holiness was once a central component of following Christ. But for many today, the Christian life is little more than a celebration of cheap grace and pseudo-liberty, with a high tolerance for sin. In this well-written and much-needed book, Kevin DeYoung thoughtfully points us to an unpopular yet strangely liberating truth—that God is holy and expects us to be holy. With no hint of legalism or drudgery, Kevin offers a balanced and engaging view of law and grace. Kevin DeYoung is one of my favorite writers, and this book demonstrates why. I repeatedly said 'Yes!’ as I turned these pages. I’m convinced that Christ-followers desperately need to read, discuss, and live out the timely, God-exalting message of The Hole in Our Holiness!”
—Randy Alcorn, Founder and Director, Eternal Perspective Ministries; author, If God Is Good and Heaven
“Grace is too amazing to save us from sin’s guilt only to leave us under its cruel tyranny. In this book, Kevin DeYoung reminds us that the gospel is the ground of our justification and sanctification. At the same time, he reminds us of the many exhortations in Scripture to pursue godliness as the fruit of our union with Christ in the power of the Spirit. The Hole in Our Holiness offers important reflections on a crucial topic in the ongoing conversation about the joys and struggles of the Christian life.”
—Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California; author, Calvin on the Christian Life
“One might expect a book about holiness to be heavy on finger-pointing, leaning toward legalism, and embarrassingly out-of-touch. But The Hole in Our Holiness is none of those things. Instead, Kevin DeYoung gets specific about what Spirit-infused, gospel-driven effort toward holiness looks like. Going way past ‘try harder’ and ‘believe better,’ this book implants in readers not just a longing to be holy but real hope that it could happen.”
—Nancy Guthrie, Bible Teacher; author, Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament Bible study series
“J. C. Ryle wrote his classic Holiness out of a concern that ‘practical holiness and entire consecration to God are not sufficiently attended to by modern Christians in this country.’ It is with the same prescient concern and pastoral insight that my friend Kevin DeYoung has written what I consider to be the modern equivalent, urging a new generation of Christians to obey God's command to ‘be holy, for I am holy.’ May The Hole in Our Holiness do for our time what Holiness did in a previous age: promote gospel-centered holiness in Christians and churches around the world.”
—C. J. Mahaney, Senior Pastor, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky
“I have loved being under Kevin's teaching during my college years, specifically on this matter of holiness. This is indispensable reading material for all who desire a life of piety. Though we are fallen people, Kevin points us to our potential for godliness and how our progress in this area is of the utmost importance. Get your highlighter ready!”
—Kirk Cousins, former starting quarterback, Michigan State University; quarterback, Washington Redskins
“The strength of this book lies in its biblical understanding that all great renewal is founded upon knowing the goodness and holiness of God. We are commanded to be holy because he is holy, and only in Christ can we be trained accordingly: ‘For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age’ (Titus 2:11). I pray that Kevin’s words would be read widely and that the church might be known as a people ‘zealous for good works’ upon seeing the Father’s holiness and Christ’s redeeming work.”
—John M. Perkins, President, John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation and Development
About the Author
Kevin DeYoung (MDiv, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan. He blogs at the Gospel Coalition and has authored or coauthored numerous well-known books such as Just Do Something and The Hole in Our Holiness, as well as the award-winning books Why We’re Not Emergent and Why We Love the Church (with Ted Kluck).
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However, while this book makes some excellent points, I did not find it to be quite as practical. Why?
First, it sometimes seems to be more a theological explanation for why pursuing holiness doesn't contradict justification by grace through faith. That's great, and important, but I was looking for a more practical guide about the pursuit of holiness. I understand the theology already. I suppose I was hoping for a book more about spiritual disciplines, which it's not.
Second, I felt the book could use another edit. In other books, I found DeYoung very engaging, but I found this book to be a little meandering. Sometimes I had a hard time tracking with his main point because he continually qualifies and apologizes for things he says. For example, he says things like, "Holiness isn't about returning to some past time when moral standards were different. On the other hand, I'm not saying we can't learn from older generations." There are repeated examples like this. I wanted to say to DeYoung, "Just state your main point concisely and stop worrying about offending everyone."
Third, some sections felt like they were written for a youth group. That's great, just not what I was looking for. For example, the section on sexuality is mainly about boundaries in dating.
Path: DeYoung takes time to explain the empty phrases we often throw around when it comes to our personal walk with Christ. We can be lured into thinking that all that is expected of me is to “rest in grace,” “give myself over to him,” etc. Here are summarizations of each chapter.
Chapter One: the gap in our holiness between where we seem to be content to sit, and where Christ wants us to be.
Chapter Two: Why were we redeemed? In order to be holy.
Chapter Three: What does holiness actually look like?
Chapter Four: If God does not expect any effort toward holiness on our part, why all the imperatives?
Chapter Five: Holiness is possible, and that spurs us on.
Chapter Six: The Holy Spirit enables, the Gospel pushes us forward, and faith is why we stick with it.
Chapter Seven: Your union with Christ means you are a new creation. Act that way.
Chapter Eight: God wants us to be holy, even with our sexuality.
Chapter Nine: Union with Christ ought to spur us on to communion with Christ through Prayer, the Word, the Church, the Sacraments.
Chapter Ten: Holiness is a process, keep growing.
Sources: The author rights on the same topic as men such as Bridges, Sproul, and Packer, so naturally he references them. He also looks back regularly to the Puritans.
Agreement: I appreciated the author’s work for several reasons:
He kept the book readable.
He pushed for a more balanced approach, not a unique approach
He explained his critiques
He supported his observations and teaching with ample Bible references
His Bible references were throughout the chapter, not tucked away in endnotes
There were study questions at the end to work through by one’s self, or in a group
Disagreement: I would disagree partially with his view of the Law, but that is relatively minor in the argument of the book as a whole.
Personal App: I can obey because he made me new. I will obey because he told me to.
Favorite Quote: “Then there’s the reality that holiness is plain hard work, and we’re often lazy. We like our sins, and dying to them is painful. Almost everything is easier than growing in godliness. So we try and fail, try and fail, and then give up.”
“…Worldliness is whatever makes sin look normal and righteousness look strange.”
“Defeatist Christians who do not fight against sins because they figure they were “born this way” or “will never change” or “don’t have enough faith” are not being humble. They dishonor the Holy Spirit who strengthens us with supernatural power.”
“Sanctification is not by surrender, but by divinely enabled toil and effort.”
It would be worth another read and I would recommend it to someone who:
- wonders if they can ever beat a sinful habit.
- has no idea what God expects of them.
- tells me, “Just let go, and let God, brother.”
- wants to know why sexual purity is such a big deal.
- wants to better understand union with Christ.
Other books along the same theme that I would recommend are:
Bridges, Jerry. The Pursuit of Holiness. Colorado Springs: Navpress, 1978.
———. The Transforming Power of the Gospel. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2012.
———. Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God’s Unfailing Love. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1991.
Mahaney, C.J., and Rovin Boisvert. How Can I Change?: Victory in the Struggle Against Sin. Edited by Greg Somerville. The Pursuit of Godliness. Gaithersburg, Maryland: Sovereign Grace Ministries, 1993.
Piper, John, and David Mathis. Acting the Miracle: God’s Work and Ours in the Mystery of Sanctification, 2013.
Someday, I want to read a book like this and feel hopeful. Too often, the message in books like this is that 1) growth in holiness is a part of the Christian life, 2) BUT you are truly justified by faith alone, 3) BUT keep the rules, and 4) IF you are not, maybe you are not really a Christian. It is hard to feel like I am measuring up to God's requirements after reading a book like this (here's a hint: I'm not, which is why I am fully dependent upon the blood of Christ).
On the whole, I do think this is a good book. He's right that Christians must consider whether they are truly pursuing righteousness. Good trees do bear good fruit. I do believe in progressive sanctification, particularly as described by David Powlison (which DeYoung talks about later in the book). His chapter, "Saints and Sexual Immorality", is particularly good. I wish I had read it, and lived it out, before I married. I am glad that I read it now. So is his discussion of union with Christ. These two topics are worth the price of the book.
Still, though I believe that the pursuit of holiness is absolutely essential to the Christian life, I agree with the guys from the White Horse Inn that before understanding our responsibilities (imperatives), we must first understand what Christ has done for us (indicatives) and continue to go back to the cross again and again when we are unsure. I would recommend this book, but perhaps encourage you to read it alongside something by Tullian Tchvidjian (e.g., Surprised by Grace) and pray for grace and growth in holiness.