Friday, April 23, 2010

What I Like About "Why We Love the Church"

A few weeks ago I wrote about a book entitled Pagan Christianity. In that book, Frank Viola challenges the basis of many of the practices of the modern church.

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.


Aussie John said...


"....we simply need to improve on the things we are already doing in order for things to improve."

This thinking has been repeated, ad nauseum, in this country, for the last 30-40 years.

Sola Scriptura? Hmmnnn!

Eric said...


I think I saw you once write in a comment that we need a reformation in the church. I couldn't agree more.

Jacob said...


I've greatly enjoyed reading your blog. If you haven't done so, I'd encourage you to read through these two thoughtful reviews of Pagan Christianity.

Albert McIlhenny:

Ben Witherington:


Eric said...


I'll take a look. My concern with most reviews of "Pagan Christianity?" is that amount to little more than name-calling. They also say that Barna and Viola don't understand the history of the church. Frankly, I don't care much for church history if it comes in conflict with the biblical model.

Anyway, I'll look at these reviews. Thanks.

Arthur Sido said...


I had a similar reaction (see: ) I really wanted to like it, DeYoung is a solid guy (and his church is like five minutes from where I sit). My biggest issue is that they create a false either-or situation, either you love the traditional, institutional church or you don't love the church at all.

Eric said...


I agree with you about the false either-or situation.

The book was frustrating because they just didn't really deal with core issues. Instead, they started with an opinion ("traditional church is good") and they set out to prove it.

I want to read your review, but I'm going to wait until after I've written my second post (just so I don't end up writing exactly what you have said).