Kevin DeYoung has a knack for breaking complex theological topics into crisp categories. He uses humor, analogy, and imagination.
In The Hole in Our Holiness, DeYoung says we might view holiness is like he views camping. He quips, “Who decided that vacation should be like normal life, only harder?” He goes on about camping at his church’s week of family camp: “And even if the kids have a great time, the weather holds up, no one needs stitches, and the seventeenth hot dog tastes as good as the first, it will still be difficult to get all the sand out of my books.”
Maybe that’s how we view holiness. You sort of respect those people who want to make life harder than it has to be, but that’s not really your thing. “Sure it would be great to be a better person, and you do hope to avoid the really big sins.” But your life is already crazy difficult. Why worry about holiness when we’re saved by grace anyway and, quite frankly, life would be just fine without it?
The subtitle is Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness. Or, you could say, he wants to help you like “camping.”
He explains that God saved us unto holiness, so that we might be holy. So while holiness might feel foreign and distant, it’s actually central to the Christian life. Yes, we’re saved by grace alone through faith alone (Eph 2:8-9), but we’re also created for good works that we might walk in them (Eph 2:10).
DeYoung shows that holiness isn’t mere rule keeping, or imitating the previous generation, or finding your true self. It’s being renewed in the image of God towards obedience as we become more and more Christlike.
Holiness is a “Spirit-powered, Gospel-driven, faith-fueled effort” to the end of the Father’s deep delight in us. It is becoming who you were born again to be as children of God.
He centers this good news on our union with Christ. We can only become like Christ as we are united to Christ. Obedience only flows out of relationship with Jesus. “Just as a once-for-all, objective justification leads to slow-growth, subjective sanctification, so our unchanging union with Christ leads to an ever-increasing communion with Christ.”
In 146 pages, the gospel-saturated, biblically-rich, theologically-deep argument in The Hole in Our Holiness transforms the once-distant topic of holiness from a foreigner to a friend. You may even start to like “camping”!