Monday, 25 July 2011

Kevin DeYoung et al. on The Old Faith for a New Day (2)

Kevin DeYoung (ed.), Don’t Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day (Wheaton: Crossway, 2011), 252pp., ISBN 9781433521690.

Earlier post:

Kevin DeYoung et al. on The Old Faith for a New Day (1)

The first part of this book – Evangelical History: Looking Forward and Looking Back – contains two essays.

In the first. Kevin DeYoung describes ‘The Secret to Reaching the Next Generation’ (21-31) in terms of being faithful, of being like Jesus. Expanding on this, his five suggestions are: (1) Grab them with passion (requiring us to be gripped by the gospel ourselves); (2) Win them with love (rather than trying to be ‘cool’ and spending too much time figuring out cultural engagement); (3) Hold them with holiness (since only godly, mature Christians can produce godly, mature Christians); (4) Challenge them with truth (noting that ‘we reach out precisely by not dumbing down’); and (5) Amaze them with God. He says of this last point:

‘I beg of you, don’t go after the next generation with mere moralism, either on the right (don’t have sex, do go to church, share your faith, stay off drugs) or on the left (recycle, dig a well, feed the homeless, buy a wristband). The gospel is not a message about what we need to do for God, but about what God has done for us. So get them with the good news about who God is and what he has done for us’ (29).

The second essay in this opening section is by Collin Hansen on ‘The Story of Evangelicalism from the Beginning and Before’ (33-44). He begins by defining evangelicalism as ‘a network of affinity that shares a common history and core theology’ (33). Leaving the rest of the book to deal with the theology, he offers a ‘sweeping tour’ through the common history, seeking to show ‘how evangelicals have balanced conviction and cooperation, continuity and creativity’ (34).

His tour goes back to Athanasius and others in the early church establishing a christological consensus. It takes in Augustine and Anselm, Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin at the time of the Reformation, Edwards, the Wesleys, and Whitefield during the ‘Great Awakenings’, and others up to Carl Henry, Billy Graham, and Harold Ockenga of more recent years. He concludes:

‘Evangelicals believe in the powerful gospel of Jesus Christ that penetrates any culture. On the basis of the divinely inspired Word, evangelicals proclaim the good news that God justifies by faith alone those who believe in Jesus, whose atoning death and triumphant resurrection make it possible for sinners to be born again by the power of the Holy Spirit. Wherever you see cooperation around these core convictions of the gospel handed down through the centuries, you see the evangelical movement’ (44).

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