In the past year so there, a discussion (not a conversation!) has been going on about the nature of sanctification. Much of this as taken place on the internet, among people who are (or seem to be) friends or at least acquaintances. One of those men was Kevin DeYoung. He believed that he should write a book examining the Reformed Tradition’s view of sanctification. I, for one, is glad he did. The Hole in Our Holiness is that book.
Kevin avoids the temptation to write a polemic against other views. Instead, he is more positive approach, instructing people line upon line. He generally writes concisely, making the book accessible for lay people. He is not overly technical either. The most technical chapter is “Be Who You Are” because it covers our union in Christ. He does a good job explaining what it is, and how our sanctification flows out of that union.
DeYoung begins by addressing the odd gap that exists in broader Reformed circles. We speak much of being gospel-centered, but we don’t seem to be making as much progress in our sanctification as we would think. Isn’t the gospel sufficient? Yes, it is. And yet God has appointed various means of grace.
DeYoung covers the topics of the pattern of piety, the relationship between gospel indicatives and gospel imperatives, the possibility of godliness, and the role of the Spirit, the gospel and faith in our efforts. He has a chapter addressing the problem of sexual immorality, which he considers the blind spot of our generation. The chapter on abiding covers the ordinary means of grace, and the reality of progress.
The goal is not to explain and examine various views of sanctification like Packer’s Keep in Step with the Spirit. It is more like Ryle’s classic, Holiness, and Marshall’s The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification (especially with its focus on union with Christ). It covers lots of territory.
There is one thing missing though. There is not a chapter about putting sin to death. That would have been a good addition.
DeYoung pulls from a number of theologians from the past and present. He pulls from the Reformed Confessions and Catechisms from the past as well. But he uses contemporary illustrations and examples. Some of them are personal, but he’s not exposing all his dirty laundry either. He draws a good balance in an area where many go to extremes. You know he’s a sinner, but this is not a confessional laying out his darkest sins.
I do recommend this very readable book that seeks to assist us in sealing up the hole in our holiness. You would most likely benefit from reading this book. It is not overwhelming though it can be convicting and also encouraging.