I have finished reading Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. My reaction the book is, “It is about time!” It is about time that there were some authors who have gone counter-cultural and written about the church, Christ’s Body & Bride, from a positive and biblical perspective. I give this book a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars. It is missing the final .5 star only because I felt a couple chapters could have had a little more “meat”.
You can get some of my positive feedback on the book by looking at some of my earlier blog posts. So, I would like to end with a couple impressions from the book’s epilogue: Toward a Theology of Plodding Visionaries. In this ending the authors bring out that if people truly understood the doctrine or original sin a lot of this “anti-church”, “church is lame”, “disgruntled with church” thoughts could be greatly reduced.
Unfortunately it seems that many who promote discontentment with the church also fall into the heresy of denying (or mocking or ignoring) the clear biblical teaching of original sin (it was “officially” declared heresy at the Counsel of Ephesus in AD 431). Original sin has this way of getting in the way of their idealistic utopian view of humanity that just needs to love more and act more like Jesus (without necessarily needing to be born again) to solve all the world’s problems. Yet if we truly understand the doctrine of original sin, we will have a more realistic view of the world, ourselves, the church, and the need for Jesus to die on the cross for the sins of the world. Instead of bashing the church we will begin to see her as Christ sees her and realize how Christ is using her to be the hope of the world.
Here are some of the authors’ concluding thoughts:
“In summary, the gospel is not about what we need to do for God. It’s a message about what God has done for us. It’s a declaration of God’s plan of redemption unfolding in history with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (1 Cor. 15:1-8).
By contrast, the marching orders of the church today are often nothing more than dressed up moralism. We have a gospel of activism, with no rest for the weary, only a summons to do more for the world. This kind of gospel, though it’s presented as the glowing alternative to all that supposedly plagues the church today, will quickly cause a church to collapse under the weight of its own idealistic demands. We need to recover the doctrine of original sin if for no other reason than so we can once again discover God’s glorious grace.
The church is not an incidental part of God’s plan. Jesus didn’t invite people to join an antireligion, antidoctrine, anti-institutional bandwagon of love, harmony, and reintegration. To be sure, He showed people how to live. But He also called them to repent, called them to faith, called them out of the world, and called them into the church.
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:7). If we truly love the church we will bear with her in her failings, endure her struggles, believe her to be the beloved bride of Christ, and hope for her final glorification. I still believe the church is the hope of the world – not because she gets it all right, but because she is a body with Christ for her Head.
Don’t give up on the church. The New Testament knows nothing of churchless Christianity. The invisible church is for invisible Christians. The visible church is for you and me” (pp 225-226).