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Impossible Christianity: Why Following Jesus…
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Impossible Christianity: Why Following Jesus Does Not Mean You Have to Change the World, Be an Expert in Everything, Accept Spiritual Failure, and Feel Miserable Pretty Much All the Time (edition 2023)

by Kevin DeYoung (Author)

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Kevin DeYoung speaks to anxious Christians who feel inadequate or overwhelmed in their faith and assures them that they can experience lasting joy in a life of sincere and simple obedience.
Member:AlexPintovidal
Title:Impossible Christianity: Why Following Jesus Does Not Mean You Have to Change the World, Be an Expert in Everything, Accept Spiritual Failure, and Feel Miserable Pretty Much All the Time
Authors:Kevin DeYoung (Author)
Info:Crossway (2023), 160 pages
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Impossible Christianity: Why Following Jesus Does Not Mean You Have to Change the World, Be an Expert in Everything, Accept Spiritual Failure, and Feel Miserable Pretty Much All the Time by Kevin DeYoung

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This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
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WHAT'S IMPOSSIBLE CHRISTIANITY ABOUT?
On the one hand, the twenty-eight(!) words of the subtitle give a handy summary of what the book is about—but there's still more to say. But it's difficult to summarize outside of that without going on too long. Still, it's worth a shot.

While exploring things like personal wealth, corporate guilt, and the call to individual holiness and sanctification, Kevin DeYoung reminds readers that our goal isn't to change the world, it isn't to achieve a perfection in behavior or ability, nor is it to wallow in our shortcomings and weaknesses. Rather, we are to press on when we stumble, ask God for forgiveness and help; keeping our eyes on our goal, see how far we've come; and rejoice in the work of grace in our lives—knowing that our Father is pleased with us.

There's more to it than that (obviously, he spends eight chapters developing what I just used two sentences to convey). But that's a decent thumbnail sketch.

THE HIGHLIGHTS
In chapter 2, "Who Is It That Overcomes the World?," we get an exploration of some of the more challenging material in 1 John. This treatment of 1 John and assurance is enough to justify picking the book up in the first place (for me, anyway. But I doubt I'll be alone).

Where DeYoung will take these ideas from the epistle to encourage believers, to see signs of their faith and draw assurance from them, too many have taken the same words to use as tests of faith, to spur an attitude of "I must do more to earn God's favor" or "I need to prove my devotion."

While avoiding any kind of "cheap grace" (or whatever people call it today), DeYoung points to John's heart in dealing with "little children" and encouraging their continuation in the faith.

He does something similar in Chapter 7 when reminding us of God's Fatherhood and what the Scriptures tell us about Fatherhood. It's an encouragement to fidelity and activity, not a whip to drive us to it. We're called to virtues, not to-do lists—to reflect a character, not to change the world. The world (or at least things in our immediate vicinity) may be changed as a result, but that's not our goal. Rather (as he argues in Chapter 8 ) is to live a quiet life of faithful discipleship.

I COULD'VE USED A BIT MORE
DeYoung is known for frequently being on the pithy side with his books, and that's certainly the case here. As it is characteristic of him, I don't want to complain about that too much—I knew what I was getting into when I picked this book up.

Still, it felt a bit too brief. I wanted a little more from some of the chapters—a little more explanation, a little more depth, a little fuller idea of what he was trying to convey. It's hard to explain while speaking broadly (and without citations because it's an ARC), but I need 10-20% more of everything.

One thing, in particular, I wanted fleshed out was some criticisms he pointed at Christians who teach that we're constant failures and should feel that weakness. I'd have appreciated less vagueness—direct citations, or at least references in a footnote would've been helpful so I could compare what he was arguing for to what he was arguing against.

SO, WHAT DID I THINK ABOUT IMPOSSIBLE CHRISTIANITY?
I think that's my largest complaint—the book's just a bit too brief. DeYoung was his typical engaging, clear (with the exception listed above), and helpful self in these pages. His illustrations and examples from his own life were amusing and helpful. If nothing else, I enjoyed reading the book.

On top of that criteria (in this type of book, it's the least important), the book was helpful, encouraging, and gracious. Which is what it set out to be, so kudos for that. There was some material that was good to chew on, some healthy reminders of truths easy to forget or neglect, and a few moments to inspire a renewed activity.

Would I have appreciated more? Yes. Do I appreciate what DeYoung delivered? Also, yes. I'm afraid I come across as too critical, so let's be clear—I wanted more of something helpful so it could've been more helpful.

From the smile-inducing opening illustration to the closing paragraphs of benediction (what a great addition to this book)—this was a pleasure to read. I do recommend this book and encourage others to pick it up.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Crossway via NetGalley in exchange for this post and my honest opinion—thanks to both for this. ( )
  hcnewton | Aug 7, 2023 |
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