Over the Christmas holidays (summer time in Australia) I got stuck into a book called The Good News We Almost Forgot by Kevin DeYoung which I’d been wanting to read for a while. I basically bought it without knowing anything about it, other than the fact that I’d read another book by DeYoung (called Just Do Something) and really liked his down to earth approach backed by solid biblical teaching. I also knew basically nothing about catechisms, so I was intrigued by the subtitle “rediscovering the gospel in a 16th Century Catechism”. For those who don’t know, a catechism is;
a summary or exposition of doctrine and served as a learning introduction to the Sacraments traditionally used in catechesis, or Christian religious teaching of children and adult converts.
This book takes the Heidelberg Catechism, which DeYoung was introduced to as a youngster in the Reformed Church in America (RCA), and makes it accessible to a new generation of readers by expanding on each of the 52 Lord’s Days within the catechism, offering clear insight and explanations of key doctrinal tenets of the Christian faith complete with Bible references to substantiate his points. Each ‘Lord’s Day’ within the Catechism involves a series of written questions and answers, which follow the structure of the salvation story outlined by Paul in the book of Romans: guilt (on the part of believers as ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ – Romans 3:23 and following), grace (given freely by God as a gift – Romans 3:24) and gratitude (on the part of believers towards the God who justifies, saves and sanctifies them – Romans 8, 12 & Colossians 1:9-14). Granted Catechisms can be quite dry, dusty old documents to some, but DeYoung successfully brings the text to life in a way that not only makes it interesting, but links directly with scripture and helps Christians understand the central truths of the faith with clarity and purpose.
If you’re looking for a daily/weekly Bible study that takes you back to basics and then stretches your thinking beyond the four walls of your own preconceptions to see the truth of the gospel – the good news revealed in scripture then this study on the Heidelberg Catechism is one I’d highly recommend. Even if you’ve never encountered a catechism before or have bad memories of memorising creeds at primary school, I believe this book will bring both the catechism and the Bible to life and make you grateful for those who have gone before and have sought to summarize the truth in this way and for faithful pastors, teachers and leaders like Kevin DeYoung who understand that old truths are still ever so timely today.
I’ll end this review with two endorsing quotes found on the back cover, both of which echo my experience with this book to a great degree.
“A crash course in life-changing biblical teaching, a wake-up call to the slumbering, a blood transfusion for the spiritually anemic, a solid meal for the mature – and much more: conversational, cutting where needed, gospel-filled – and clear.”
– Sinclair B. Ferguson (Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia SC).
“Kevin DeYoung dusts off that old Catechism and proves that it is as relevant today as it was 450 years ago. Its truths are timeless, its encouragement unchanged. I am grateful to Kevin for introducing this venerable document to a new generation of believers. May they find hope and joy in the One it celebrates.”
– Tim Challies (Blogger at challies.com & Editor of Discerning Reader).