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4 Stars Out Of 5
A Blast from the Past
October 3, 2011
Disclosure of Material Connection:
I received this book free from Moody Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
"The only thing more difficult than finding the truth is not losing it". Kevin DeYoung's opening sentence in the introduction is a great summary of what he is looking to accomplish with The Good News We Almost Forgot. A reconnection with a time tested piece of the past; as well as an opportunity to draw on the wisdom of the past as a reference to seeking out a path for the future.
DeYoung is senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan. He is an accomplished author and a seminary trained minister with an obvious reverence and love for the subject matter of this book: The Heidelberg Catechism. Developed in the 16th century, and in use ever since, the catechism is segmented into 52 sections corresponding to 52 Lord's Days over the course of the year. Written to instruct through Q&A format (which after all, is a textbook definition of a catechism), there are 129 questions answered that will lead the reader on a reflective journey of one's faith and beliefs. It is often mentioned in the same paragraphs as the Bible, Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress or Thomas ÃÂ¡ Kempis' The Imitation of Christ in terms of wide usage and staying power as a classic of Christian literature. While it might not be well known these days, it does have a storied history and can be pointed to with confidence as a safeguard of Christian instruction.
DeYoung utilized the catechism in the original Q&A format supplemented with clarifying commentary for each Lord's Day section that will assist the reader in studying and understanding the instruction contained within the catechism.
While I would classify the book as a commentary, I did not find it to be a bible study. I have seen other editions with the catechism that include scripture passages that would facilitate a more detailed individual bible study than DeYoung's book, although there are ample Scripture references that one could research and read.
While it does seek to instruct in the Gospel, I did not find it a resource one could easily use in evangelism. For personal deep meditative periods, it might serve one well. As a tool to reach unbelievers, you probably would not give it as the first book for someone to read in their newly found faith walk. Maybe it was different in the 16th century, but I do not see it working that way now. While it may give you a good grounding in understanding the gospel that could translate into your being better equipped to share the gospel, I do not dispute. As a ready tool to evangelize, this is not what I believe it was intended to do in its' original form, nor do I think DeYoung claims it to be that.
It clearly has roots in reformed theology but I did not find it overly so. But you need to know that is the basis for the development of this catechism. If that concerns you, be so warned. As a devotional that you would be willing to invest time in weekly, the two or three questions and answers you could reflect on and wrestle with in each Lord's Day section would be an edifying journey to take. But be prepared to put some time into it if you are looking to get a lot out of it. A surface read of the catechism would have you miss quite a bit that time would allow to seep in. This is not a casual read by any stretch. Reflection on Scriptures is a weighty matter and this book, with the supplementary commentary provided by DeYoung is up to the task at hand. Clearly, The Good News We Almost Forgot is a sound addition to the classics section of your library.
This book is jammed-packed with theological truths in short chapters. Each chapter begins to ask questions and they are answered at the same time. As mentioned earlier this book is divided into three sections as the Catechism answers questions on the Apostles' Creed, which discusses the doctrine of Heaven and Hell and addresses if Jesus actually descended into Hell. Next, is the Ten Commandments, which goes through each commandment in light of the New Testament. Finally, on the Lord's Prayer and how we need to be a praying people.
This is a great introduction to a classic. Rev. DeYoung is a gifted teacher and speaks in an earthy and honest style that I find refreshing. If you have any interest at all in the creeds and confessions of the Church then you'll enjoy this book.