The Hole in our Holiness

holeinholiness Kevin DeYoung’s book, The Hole in Our Holiness, came out last year. I read it a couple weeks ago, because I listened to a series of conference talks that DeYoung gave at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC. The talks whetted my appetite for more of the same; I wasn’t disappointed by the book, which thoughtfully unpacks the topic of holiness, grounding the exposition in Scripture.

After discussing what holiness is and why we should pursue it, De Young tackles some of the apparent contradictions inherent in the topic: My heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9); how can I say that I am holy? If we believe that it’s grace alone through Christ alone and there’s nothing we can contribute to salvation, why is it biblical to pursue holiness? DeYoung uses church history’s legacy of teaching on holiness to give insight into Scripture’s teaching and balance our own modern failings. Quotes from the reformers, Puritans, etc., were carefully chosen and woven in, adding meat to a readable text.

I was a little surprised to see an entire chapter devoted to “Saints and Sexual Immorality”. DeYoung argues that in our culture, this is one area where professing believers have been pressed into the world’s mold without even realizing it: holiness is obviously lacking in this area, and De Young takes the opportunity to outline what holiness would look like in some aspects of our lives, especially in regards to our entertainment. The entire chapter is a much needed application in a culture that is entertaining itself to death, often through sex.

Holiness is a topic that we’re not naturally drawn to. DeYoung recognizes this: “The pursuit of holiness feels like one more thing to worry about in your already impossible life” (10). But The Hole in Our Holiness does what a good sermon does: humbles and convicts without crushing. I put it down feeling challenged but also informed, encouraged and hopeful. Holiness, which is so neglected by modern evangelicalism in teaching and practice, is what God wants for His people, and it is possible by the Spirit.

Having heard the conference talks before I read the book, though, I really wished that DeYoung had included one talk in chapter form in the book. The lecture on conscience was the first address I had ever heard on the topic (Jiminy Cricket doesn’t count). While the book only touches on the idea of conscience, DeYoung expounds it in his talk: what is conscience? Why do we have one? How do we use it to pursue holiness? Why does Scripture talk about different kinds of consciences? It made me think in a fresh way about conscience and I have been more aware of it and of using it since I listened to the talk.

If you haven’t read the book, it would be worth your time. If you don’t think you have the time, after listening to just the one talk on conscience, you might change your mind. Sweet Dutch last name, too.