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Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion Paperback – July 1, 2009
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If you’ve written off the church, I dare you to read this book.
-Joshua Harris, author of Stop Dating the Church
Jesus loves the church. Yes, the church is imperfect, and we have made mistakes. But if we love Jesus, then we will love what Jesus loves. This book moves us to a thrilling portrait and future of what the church that Jesus loves and builds can look like and the hope we can bring to the world.
-Dan Kimball, author of They Like Jesus But Not the Church
Well, they’ve done it again. The two guys who should be emergent, but aren’t, have followed up their first best seller with what I hope and pray will be a second. In Why We Love the Church DeYoung and Kluck have given us a penetrating critique of church-less Christianity and a theologically rigorous, thoroughly biblical, occasionally hilarious, but equally serious defense of the centrality of the church in God’s redemptive purpose. In spite of her obvious flaws, DeYoung and Kluck really do love the church, because they love the Christ whose body it is. You don’t have to agree with everything they say to appreciate and profit from this superbly written and carefully constructed book. This is a great read and I recommend it with unbridled enthusiasm.
-Sam Storms, senior pastor, Bridgway Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
If you’re looking for reality, authenticity, and honesty, you’ve found it in this book. Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck, shrewd observers and faithful practitioners, have once again written a book that is like the best of foods--good tasting and good for you. Their style is easy, creative, and funny. They are theologically faithful, fresh, and insightful. They are sympathetic with many concerns and even objections to much in the church today, yet are finally defensive, in the best sense of the word. They are careful critics of the too-popular critics of the church. Theyare lovers of Christ and His church. I pray this book will help you love Christ’s church better, too.
-Mark Dever, author of 9 Marks of a Healthy Church
Two young men, a pastor and a layman, here critique the criticisms of the institutional church that are fashionable today. Bible-centered, God-centered, and demonstrably mature, they win the argument hands down. As I read, I wanted to stand up and cheer.
-J. I . Packer, professor of theology, Regent College
If Jesus thought the church was worth dying for, it may just be worth living in. While not ignoring the sins of the church, DeYoung and Kluck remind us why church bashing is often shallow, and why the institutional church remains the most authentic place to encounter the good news of Jesus Christ.
-Mark Galli, senior managing editor, Christianity Today
An attitude of indifference to the church has become tragically common within American Christianity. As a result, many people fail to make a solid commitment to congregational life and responsibility. The New Testament is clear--to love Christ is to love the church. Kevin and Ted provide a powerful word of correction, offering compelling arguments and a vision of church life that is not only convincing, but inspirational. This book will deepen your love of the church--and for Christ.
-R. Albert Mohler, President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
About the Author
TED KLUCK is co-author of Why We¿re Not Emergent and author of Facing Tyson, 15 Stories, Paper Tiger and Game Time. His award-winning writing has also appeared in ESPN the Magazine, Sports Spectrum Magazine and on ESPN.com¿s Page 2. An avid sports fan, he has played professional indoor football, coached high school football, trained as a professional wrestler, served as a missionary, and has also taught writing courses at the college level. He currently lives in Michigan with his wife and two sons.
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To accomplish this goal the duo divides the chapters where Kluck sympathizes with the arguments of the unchurched while De Young provides the historical and theological groundwork for God’s design for the church.
The major strength of the book is its accessibility and edgy style. I have never read a book with such an informal and personal tone. The book is winsome for its main audience which is the disgruntled churchgoer disenchanted by the institutionalized Christian religion. Kevin De Young’s chapters on the historical: one holy catholic church was very helpful and substantive. He shows that a Christian without a church is outside the scope of historic biblical teaching. In fact the Christian’s participation and membership in the local church is normative.
De Young’s attempt to define the church was also a very thoughtful exercise in carefully thinking through what church is and what church does. Should there be order in the church? What about worship services? What about house churches? Is the term church just the plural term for Christian?
De Young shows that a church that desires to be free from any kind of order or liturgy is both unrealistic and untenable. It may feel free for the first several meetings but at some point order must be established and therefore defeats the desire for order. He gives the helpful illustration of a home where there are chores, curfews, fixed meal times, bed times, rules required for decision making. Furthermore the Bible does not have a leaderless church.
Another strength of the book was its argument for church membership. De Young leans heavily on John Stott who said, “the Lord didn’t add them to the church without saving them, and he didn’t save them without adding them to the church. Salvation and church membership went together; they still do.”
One weaknesses of the book is that it made me feel very uncool. A lot of name dropping of events, names, songs, or shows that I just don’t know or can’t relate to. Another distraction I found was all the references to their former work, Why we’re not emergent. I wasn’t sure if the previous book was required but it felt like a covert sales pitch for me to buy yet another book from them.
De Young’s section on the importance of preaching was refreshing to read. The argument made by the unchurched Christian is a sermon is boring and unnecessary. Community should be emphasized over preaching. Again Stott becomes a valuable ally to show that preaching is indispensable to Christianity as he traces a sermonic thread from Jesus to the apostles through Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Irenaeous, Eusebius; through the preaching of John Chrysostom, the Friaris, the Dominicians, through the Reformers, the Puritans, the Methodists, all the way down to contemporary evangelicals.
Of the three reasons he gives for the necessity of preaching point three is the best: preaching is proclamation. The preacher kerux is not the word for teacher or apostle but for a herald. He shows that, “he is not a leader of an inductive Bible study.. he is not engaged in give-and-take dialogue.. he is not simply to give testimony to what the Lord is doing in his life.. he is a herald declaring the message for the King.”
De Young concludes that the solution to bad preaching is not no preaching but better preaching, “preaching full of meat and marrow; preaching that manifestly comes out of the Scriptures and leads us back to them week after week; preaching that is unquestionably soaked in godliness and the presence of God; preaching delivered with passion and humility as from a dying man to dying men.”
I found the last chapter very helpful as they try to show the mission of the church is not social justice but the glory of God. Kevin De Young shows that we need to learn contentment in our churches and grow patient with our leaders. In fact what causes us to abandon churches is not a failure to understand ecclesiology but hamartiology. The nature of sin is strong and causes the church to deviate from her mission. People will always be sinners and the problem of sin is always relevant meanwhile the salvation of Christ is always available.
I would recommend this book for the younger crowd who are unfamiliar with classical definitions of the church. The tone of the book is a good mix of informal conversation (Kluck) with more technical and theological explanations (DeYoung).
Handling the individual criticisms - from historical to theological to personal to missional - the authors examine the validity of each charge against the church and seek a God honoring response. While affirming the shortfalls of God's people, they affirm the Biblical framework set up by God in His word. Their conclusion is simple and straightforward. The criticism that garners headlines is often overblown and exaggerated, while the good work of God's people is often ignored and neglected. They call believers to see the great work of God in the church and be a part of the unfolding plan outlined within the pages of scripture. In the end, we are always to be reforming (making sure we are in line with God's word) but never reinventing! This book truly puts forth a solid ecclesiology while invoking within the reader a great love for the church! Such a love needs to be renewed in us all from time to time.
The only drawback to the book is the unevenness of the chapters. DeYoung writes from a pastoral perspective while Ted Kluck writes from the man in the pew position. Both have their strong and weak chapters, but some of the connections from chapter to chapter are a little choppy. It is a small drawback that only slightly takes away from the strength of the book.