Thursday, October 4, 2012

Book Review: The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung

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Here's another offering from an author whose blog I've followed for quite a while but whose book is my first. Kevin DeYoung writes often for The Gospel Coalition and has written many other books prior to this one, which really shows in his clear and contemporary writing style. The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness is DeYoung's exortation for Christians to embrace the command from God to be holy as He is holy, and to pick up our responsibility by responding in obedience - in the right way.

DeYoung's argument is that Christians today are concerned with many things, but have forgotten to care deeply about holiness. He explains - gently and urgently, not with any judgment or self-righteousness - that holiness should be a primary focus in the personal and corporate life of all Christians, leading to the production of "good fruit" which bears witness to the gospel of Jesus. Growing in holiness, therefore, is balances obedience to the gospel (faith) and evidence of it in the Christian's life (works).

The means of achieving this are very biblical, as you can expect from DeYoung, and grounded in solid theology. He describes the process as being Spirit-powered, gospel-driven, and faith-fueled. In other words, holiness is something that requires faith on the part of the believer to obey God's commands, becomes possible through the power of the Holy Spirit in us, and centers around Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.

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There are no magical pills or extraordinary behaviors of pursuing holiness. Instead, the ordinary acts of prayer, bible reading, fellowship in church, and the sacraments are highlighted as the means of producing the extraordinary result. Many modern Christians may see these as outdated, monotonous, legalistic, and unspectacular means, but DeYoung reminds us that these daily acts produce fellowship with Christ in a personal relationship, manifested in community with others doing the same. It is these very ordinary daily obediences that allow Christ to sanctify us, as this is His work and not ours. He offers no shortcut or simple way of achieving what can only be attained through laboring and longsuffering, as the Bible does no such thing either.

A final highlight of The Hole in Our Holiness is DeYoung's address on holiness within our sexual lives. This has to be one of the most relevant of all themes, particularly because of the American culture's fixation with and desensitization to sexuality. It did seem to stand out a bit as a targeted topic, but after reading it I could see why this was so. I won't say more on this but recommend you read it yourself to find out why it was a necessary focus in this book on holiness.

As far as the narration goes, it was superb. Adam Verner does a solid job of characterizing the tone of the book, he's easy to understand, and reads at a good pace (one of my personal particulars).
Overall, this book sits confidently on the shelf (or Kindle) next to others on holiness from the likes of Jerry Bridges and JC Ryle. While it's easy to read, it's challenging to swallow because it's Scripturally grounded and convicting. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to go deeper in their relationship with Jesus - you won't be disappointed!

Desiring God interviewed the author and posted the series in 7 videos, addressing these topics from the books. I found the clips to be a great introduction to the book, and well worth the time if you're interested in possibly picking up the book.

  1. What's The Hole in Our Holiness?
  2. My Sanctification in Redemptive History
  3. The Imitation of Christ
  4. The Most Neglected Theme in Sanctification
  5. The Many Motivators for Personal Holiness
  6. Extraordinary Holiness Through Four Ordinary Means
  7. How Far is Too Far Before Marriage?
I listened to this audiobook through's reviewers program and was given a copy to download in exchange for my unbiased review.


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