Friday, November 13, 2009

Book Review: Why We Love the Church


Why We Love the Church
In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion
by Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck
Ⓒ2009, Moody
229 pages

For whatever reason, How to Read a Book, nearly killed my desire to read. I can't explain why. It wasn't a bad book, and it wasn't too technical. I just found myself entirely unmotivated to read an finish it. And since I can't really read more than one book plus the Bible at a time, it sat on my end table as the list of "to be read" continued to grow. Having finally plowed through it (again, it was beneficial, dunno why it was so hard) it was fun to watch the stack slowly shrinking.

Why We Love the Church was a book I almost felt guilty picking up. I knew I would like the book for a number of reasons: 1) My wife read and enjoyed "Why We're Not Emergent," so I knew I'd like it. 2) I recently heard DeYoung being interviewed by Mark Dever, and thoroughly enjoyed it. 3) DeYoung looks like my doctor. And though my doctor is a fan of a certain team up north, I like my doctor...and he's a solid associate pastor in town, so--even though that has nothing really to do with DeYoung--it set me at a favorable disposition with him.

The guys received their fair share of flack for calling out what they didn't like in the emergent movement in their last book, and it's clear that neither guy wants to keep writing books about what they don't like. (By the way, they each have written individual books on other topics as well.) While this book does address the de-institutionalization of the church (Barna's "Revolution" is referenced a lot) it's not really a call to what they are not, but a pleading for people to give the church a chance, from two men who love the church. It's a great combination, for Kluck attends the church DeYoung pastors, so you get to hear both sides of the coin. Neither guy presents their church (or any church, for that matter) as perfect, yet they show how keeping your eyes on the gospel will increase your affection for the church.

Basic observations:

A book written by a man prominent in FGBC circles wrote a book with is footnoted quite regularly as "what not to think" about the church. This affected me in two ways: a) It reminded me of the guilt I felt for not enjoying this author's book and having serious objections to his premise. To be a "team player," I felt like it was my responsibility to not object to the book, yet just couldn't bring myself to support it. b) Because of this "team player" peer pressure, I don't see our Fellowship ever dealing with a low view of ecclesiology and for a fellowship of churches, I don't see it ending well when we're willing to undervalue the church. (Or at least are unwilling to discuss the differences.)

While there are some who are trying to arrange and justify a perspective that undervalues the collection of saints together on the Lord's Day, this is not a new problem. I mourn for the people who call our church home yet are unfaithful to assemble with us, claiming it has not effect on their walk. They're wrong. But unfortunately, their absence also means they are typically not open to being shepherded to see things another way and therefore find their walk stuck in an unhealthy rut. Breaks my heart.

DeYoung is quite funny. Kluck observes in the book how Al Mohler and Alistair Begg can be funnier than "christian stand-up comics" because their humor is spot on to issues in church life. In many ways, I feel DeYoung is the same way. I really enjoy Kluck's writing style, and he has a fun sense of humor, but DeYoung presents things (perhaps because I can relate as a pastor) in a way that simply cracks me up!

Kluck is quite theological. This was the most exciting observation to me. Kluck is evidence of what happens when a member of the church is engaged and Christ is faithfully proclaimed. I expected Kluck to simply bring some observations and humor to the table, but instead, he is competent to deconstruct the errors of "revolutionary thinking" (the mindset that you don't need the organized church). Kluck thinks at a deeper level than many pastors I know, a testimony to his church.

Our love for Jesus is directly proportional to our love for the Bride. If you know someone who professes Christ but is hindered by past hurt (perceived or real) from the church, this would be a great book to give them. If you are considering some "revolutionary" ways to grow in your walk that actually separate you from the Body, this is a book you should read, for it will remind you why you should love and need the body.

I'm certainly glad I finally got to this one on my list!

1 comment:

Darby Livingston said...

Great book. I enjoyed it as well.