As my friend Buddy likes to say, the subtitle of a book means more than the title. That is certainly true of Kevin DeYoung’s newest book, The Good News We Almost Forgot. The add-on is, “Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism.” See what I mean? Buddy was right.
I feel like C. J. Mahaney when he states in his review, “I’m sure this will be the best book on the Heidelberg Catechism I’ve ever read. I know it will be the first.” Like most people, I have never read a book on this or any other catechism. I’m glad I did, though.
For those of you who have not heard of the Heidelberg Catechism, it was published in 1563 as a way to help with a systematic study of the teaching of the Bible. It takes readers through important theological concepts framed within the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Apostles’ Creed. Ladened with Scripture references, the Heidelberg Catechism helps Bible students to get a bird’s-eye view of Reformed Christian doctrine.
As for DeYoung’s book, it is organized in a similar format as the Catechism. DeYoung divides the Catechism into 52 readings, one for each Lord’s Day. In addition to the original text, he provides a short, 2-3 page commentary exploring the themes and offering practical applications in an engaging, readable way. From the virgin birth to the resurrection, from the Trinity to divine providence, from the Sabbath to justice, this book offers a brief discussion on a variety of topics pivotal to the Christian life.
The one point of criticism that I have of this book is the chapter on infant baptism, and it is not because I’m a believer-baptism proponent. I am eager to find out why others believe in infant baptism, and search for lucid pieces that explain it. This was not one of them. DeYoung falters here in his confusing, rambling, and (in my opinion) illogical connection of circumcision to paedo-baptism. He has to make too many logical jumps and assumptions about entering into “covenantal communities” that he appears to ignore too many passages in the New Testament about baptism. As I reread what I wrote, perhaps my critique is more with infant baptism as a whole rather than DeYoung’s defense of it.
While it may be odd to read a commentary of a commentary of the Bible, but I highly recommend this book for devotions, public reading, or as an introduction to Christianity. I think that you’ll enjoy this work, and gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of both the Heidelberg Catechism and the Bible.