In response to my review, a few of my friends suggested that I read Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion. This book, written by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck, is a sort of counterpoint to Pagan Christianity.
I finished reading this book over a week ago, but I wanted to wait a while to write a review so that the authors' thoughts and premises could swim around inside my head. This is an important book, so I want to be thorough in this review.
Since there is much to say, I'm going to write two reviews. This, obviously, is the first. In a few days, I'll blog again with a post entitled What I Don't Like About "Why We Love the Church."
I have to admit that heading into this book, I wanted to like it a lot. After all, I serve as pastor of a traditional church and this book, at least based on the cover, seemed to be a defense of much of what we do. Additionally, I have previously read Kevin DeYoung's book Just Do Something and liked it a lot.
A quick summation statement: Overall, I was disappointed by Why We Love the Church. I'll speak much more about this in the next post. For now, let me just say that I found the arguments in favor of the modern, traditional, institutional church to be lacking in biblical basis.
Despite that, there are several positive aspects to Why We Love the Church.
First, DeYoung and Kluck are solid on the gospel. They leave no gray areas when it comes to core doctrines such as original sin. This book was written in part to oppose those within the emergent church who would give up on core doctrines of the faith. I appreciate the authors' strong stands on these issues.
Second, DeYoung and Kluck have a love for the church. In an age when the church is (sometimes rightly, sometimes not) seen as doing more harm than good, the authors loudly say that they love Jesus Christ's church despite its flaws. For this I commend them.
Third, the authors are correct is stating that the secular culture does not understand Jesus Christ. On page 78, they write, "...we're kidding ourselves if we think most non-Christians (or Christians for that matter) have any idea who Jesus really was and the claims He made." They write this in response to those who say that people like Jesus but don't like the church.
Fourth, DeYoung and Kluck rightly believe that the church in North America has very significant problems today. They write on page 207, "The church in North America is suffering from a crisis in ecclesiology. The crisis is most Christians don't have any ecclesiology. As much as people love to talk about community these days, very few practitioners have given serious thought to the doctrine of the church."
Despite these positive aspects, as I said before, this book was disappointing. I'll share my thoughts on that later.
Let me just close this post with this thought. I find it ironic that DeYoung and Kluck on the one hand recognize that there is an ecclesiological crisis in the church, but on the other hand seem to think that we simply need to improve on the things we are already doing in order for things to improve.
That's not much of a solution.