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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Moody Press; First edition (17 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802458408
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802458407
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 278,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

If there is "nothing new under the sun," perhaps the main task now facing the Western church is not to reinvent or be relevant, but to remember. The truth of the gospel is still contained within vintage faith statements. Within creeds and catechisms we can have our faith strengthened, our knowledge broadened, and our love for Jesus deepened.

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Great book if you want to know the Truth and understand it as its simply explained. A truly great read!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 40 reviews
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
A Book Worth Remembering 10 May 2010
By John Gardner - Published on
Format: Paperback
Chances are pretty good that many people reading this are wondering, What in the world is a catechism? The short answer is that it is a method of teaching Biblical truth in an orderly way. The word "catechize" comes from the Greek word katecheo, which is the word Paul used several times in the New Testament translated "instruct" or "teach" (see for example, 1 Cor. 14:19, Gal. 6:6, and Acts 18:25). Typically, a catechism teaches the doctrines held by the church through a series of questions and answers, with references to supporting Scriptures.

More specifically, the Heidelberg Catechism is one of several historic church documents produced around the time of the Reformation for the purposes of instructing children (and adults) in the doctrines of the new Protestant faith. It was published in 1563, written primarily by Zacharias Ursinus, who was a professor at the University of Heidelberg. The catechism contains 129 Questions & Answers, arranged into 52 Lord's Days. The idea was that students being taught the catechism would memorize a set of Q&A's each week, reciting them in their catechism class (a predecessor of "Sunday School") on the Lord's Day.

The Heidelberg is divided into three main sections: The Misery of Man, Man's Deliverance, and Thankfulness. Or, as the sections are more commonly known, "Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude". These sections teach us systematically our need for salvation, God's work in accomplishing our salvation, and the Christian's response to salvation. The catechism also focuses largely on three elements: The Apostle's Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord's Prayer.

If you've never read a book on the Heidelberg Catechism before, you're not alone. In fact, C.J. Mahaney mentioned this in his endorsement of the book: "I'm sure this will be the best book on the Heidelberg Catechism I've ever read. I know it will be the first." After reading the book, though, I am convinced that this would rank among the best books written on the subject even if there were many!

The format of the book is simple but effective. There are 52 chapters, corresponding to the 52 Lord's Days. In each chapter, DeYoung offers a short exposition of the Q&A's for that week and the Scripture verses on which the answers are based. This would make the book an ideal tool for aiding in the teaching of the catechism, or for a weekly family devotional.

DeYoung does tend to use a lot of big, intimidating theological words in his writing, but balances this out very well with analogies that explain those concepts in "layman's terms" (though always with the goal of building the theological vocabulary of the layman). For instance, here is his explanation of "imputation", one of the more complicated components of our doctrine of salvation:

"Jesus was not punished because He actually possessed sin in himself, just as we are not justified because we actually possess righteousness in ourselves. Rather, both things happen by imputation. Imputation means instead of holding $500 in your hand, someone else wires it to your account. The money is not actually in your physical possession, but it is legally and truthfully considered to be yours. This is what imputation is all about, God counting to us a perfect life of obedience richer than we've ever lived. Thus He grants us a perfect righteousness we have no chance to ever achieve."

The foreword states that there are likely things in this book with which readers will not agree. This will be particularly true of Baptists, as the Heidelberg Catechism presents a very Reformed/Presbyterian understanding of the sacraments. That being said, I (as a Baptist) greatly appreciated DeYoung's treatment of baptism and other potentially divisive doctrines. In the chapter for the first of two Lord's Days dealing with baptism, DeYoung presents a Bible-saturated explanation of the purpose of baptism, highlighting the many Truths shared in common by paedo- ("infant baptism") and credobaptists ("believer's baptism"). Any Baptist, Presbyterian, or any other Protestant should be able to affirm everything he says here.

In the following chapter (winsomely titled "Vivacious Baby-Baptizing"), he then lays out a very thorough and unapologetic defense of infant baptism. Personally, I quite enjoyed reading this chapter, as it answered a lot of misconceptions about the Reformed (as opposed to the Roman Catholic) paedobaptist position that I have had. While I am still not in 100% agreement with DeYoung on this issue, I am in full agreement that this is a peripheral doctrine, where there is room for disagreement and healthy debate within the realm of orthodoxy.

Despite this and a few other areas where non-Reformed Christians may have differences, this is a book that will benefit every Christian. DeYoung is probably the perfect author for a book of this nature. He is "gladly" Reformed, and firm on the theological distinctions that make him so, but focuses on the vast number of doctrines (including the "essential" doctrines) on which all Christians should agree, rather than the few secondary doctrines on which we may not. He acknowledges the largest criticisms against the Reformed tradition (that it grants "moral license" to sin, and that it provides no incentive for evangelism), and graciously rebukes Calvinists who give legitimacy to these criticisms by continuing in sin and not evangelizing.

By far the best part of the book is its epilogue, entitled "The Crust and the Core". Here he gives the best explanation I've ever read for striking the balance between being a discerning, intellectually informed theologian and being a warmhearted, approachable, loving, evangelistic Christian. A slightly different version of this section of the book was published on DeYoung's blog last year, and you can read it in its entirety if you search for it there. Highly recommended! (But you should buy the book anyway, even though I said this was the best part...)

I am thankful to have received a free copy of this book from the 2010 Band of Bloggers gathering.
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Excellent 9 April 2010
By Tim Challies - Published on
Format: Paperback
When I was a teenager, Tuesday nights were Catechism nights. I would go to church and, under the tutelage of the pastor, both study and memorize what I affectionately called "Ye Olde Heidelberger." The deep truths of that document provided a firm foundation for my growing faith. Even as a teen I realized that at the very heart of the Heidelberg Catechism is the gospel of Jesus Christ. And yet I cannot deny that it has been many years since I last studied it. In Good News We Almost Forget Kevin DeYoung dusts off that old Catechism and proves that it is as relevant today as it was 450 years ago. Its truths are timeless, its encouragement unchanged. I am grateful to Kevin for introducing this venerable document to a new generation of believers. May they find hope and joy in the One it celebrates.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A Clear Overview of Christian Doctrine 1 Jun. 2010
By Ron Coia - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Much needed in today's non-brain engaging pop-psychology self-help churchianity 29 Dec. 2010
By Nancy A. Almodovar - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For years my husband and I were in a modern evangelical church where we learned how we could take our "five stones" and knock down the "goliaths" in our lives, or march around our "jericho walls" and keep praising till they came down. We'd only heard that "catechisms" were for those "dead denominational" churches or were somehow "catholic" in a derogatory manner. Then, by God's gracious providence (you'll learn what that term is on Lord's day 10 in this book) He led us to the reformers via two ways: reading history and reading a great theological book (Old Paths by JC Ryle...someone else today's evangelicals should read pronto). We discovered the Heidelberg Catechism, the Cannons of Dordt and the Belgic Confession of Faith (Three forms of Unity as they're called). Practical and theology were were told were mutually exclusive. Not so we soon discovered. In order to know how to live our Christian life you need to know what exactly is the Christian life and that takes knowing, knowing the teachings of the Bible or what they call "doctrine" and you need to know What God has required, What God has Provided and Who it is who provided it as well as How that provision has been made and how what was required has been completely satisfied; not by you or your faith but rather by the perfect obedience of Christ the Righteous One.
I came across this book while looking for some ebooks for my new Kindle (which if you don't have, I highly recommend getting for yourself). I've decided to read a chapter a day making it more of a devotional or daily reading book...I'm glad I did. I've now been when you can call Dutch Reformed for about 3 years and the wealth in the Catechism never ceases to amaze me. However, what makes this book so wonderful is that DeYoung, with a pastoral heart and theological head brings the reader to an understanding of these timeless truths with the tenderness a shepherd should and with a bit of humor, heartwarming stories and care for those who, by continued exposure may have forgotten the treasure they possess in these historical documents, and for those of us just discovering these treasures makes their discovery or recovery all that more exciting. So impressed with this book were my husband and I that we decided to give it to two of our nieces who while they've made their public professions of faith, do so within an evangelical environment not too different than what we were brought out of. We longed for them to be grounded in the truths of Gospel, Grace and Gratitude and found DeYoung's impassioned plea for believers of all ages an appropriate venue to help them understand Law, Grace and Gratitude as well as The Apostle's Creed so that they too may cherish them hiding them in their hearts and helping those around them come and discover the Catechism in all its beauty.
If you grew up Reformed and forgot the sweet taste of these truths I encourage you to taste and see how good our God is to us.
If you grew up being told "catechism" was for dead churches, I challenge you to read this book and witness how very alive the faith of the Reformed churches is and to feast of their bounty and be nourished in the Doctrines of Grace as recovered by the Reformers and laid out for you in tasty morsels which will only make you hungrier for real theology that effects the head, heart and hands.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Appreciating the Beauty of the Gospel and the God who brings it 10 Aug. 2010
By Aaron Armstrong - Published on
Format: Paperback
When I was a kid, the only time I ever heard the word "catechism" was when a friend grumbled about how he couldn't be wait to be done with it when he was thirteen. I had no idea what a catechism was, but sounded horrible--obviously it was some sort of hellish torture device. So imagine my surprise when I eventually learned that it was a simply a series of questions and answers about the Bible. (In all fairness, I've also come to realize that for someone who doesn't believe the Bible or have a desire to know more about Jesus, it would seem rather hellish.)

Kevin DeYoung knows all about this. Growing up in the Christian Reformed Church, the Heidelberg Catechism was a part of his life. While he always appreciated it, it wasn't seen as something terribly exciting. But it was in his seminary days, seeing the reaction of his fellow students, that he was reminded of just how meaningful the Heidelberg Catechism really is. "My classmates were seeing something many of my peers had missed. The Heidelberg Catechism is really, really good" (p. 16).

That, ultimately led DeYoung to write The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism. DeYoung structures the book as a devotional commentary, sharing his insights on each of Heidelberg's 129 questions over 52 Lord's Days. The catechism's questions are run opposite each of DeYoung's essays, allowing readers like me to appreciate the Heidelberg for itself.

That, honestly, is one of the things I appreciate most about The Good News We Almost Forgot. I love learning about historical Christian thought and seeing the catechism's structure--covering the broad topics of guilt, grace, and gratitude while explaining the Apostles' Creed, the Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer--is fascinating. The authors understood well the necessity of our understanding our sinfulness before we can grasp the importance of God's grace. That's not to say that they spend an inordinate amount of time on it; as DeYoung notes, "The guilt section is by far the shortest with only three Lord's Days and nine Questions and Answers. The authors of the Catechism wanted Heidelberg to be an instrument of comfort, not condemnation" (p. 25).

And a great comfort it is. Reading the Heidelberg itself was, in some ways, more enjoyable than reading DeYoung's commentary. It's a very pastoral document, challenging readers and encouraging them in their understanding of Christian doctrine. One of my favorite Question and Answers is Q. 28:

"How does the knowledge of God's creation and providence help us?

"We can be patient when things go against us, thankful when things go well, and for the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing will separate us from His love. All creatures are so completely in His hand that without His will they can neither move nor be moved." (p . 58)

It's simple, yet profound.

DeYoung's commentary, meanwhile, is lively and fast-paced; if you've read any of his other books, this will be no surprise to you. He doesn't try to come off as showy, but he is very sharp. I especially enjoyed his defense of the virgin birth on pages 75-78. Here, he writes:

"Is the virgin birth really that essential to Christianity? The answer . . . is a resounding Yes! First, the virgin birth is essential to Christianity because it has been essential to Christianity. That may sound like circular reasoning, but only if we care nothing about the history and catholicity of the church. . . . But if Christians, of all stripes in all places, have professed belief in the virgin birth for two millennia, maybe we should be slow to discount it as inconsequential. . . . Second, the gospel writers clearly believed that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived. . . . If the virgin birth is false, the historical reliability of the Gospels is seriously undermined. Third--and this intersects the Catechism--the virgin birth demonstrates that Jesus was truly human and truly divine. How can the virgin birth be an inconsequential spring for our jumping when it establishes the very identity of our Lord and Savior? . . . Fourth, the virgin birth is essential because it means Jesus did not inherit the curse of depravity that clings to Adam's race. . . . So if Joseph was the real father of Jesus, or Mary had been sleeping around . . . Jesus is not spotless, not innocent, and not perfectly holy. And as a result, we have no mediator, no imputation of Christ's righteousness (because He has no righteousness to impute to us), and no salvation. So yeah, the virgin birth is essential to our faith."

In my mind, DeYoung's final exhortation is probably the most meaningful part of this book. After writing a book on theology and loving theology, he reminds readers that theology is worthwhile if it works its way down to our core. Anything else makes us unbalanced.

"If it is worth anything, our theological heart will pulse throughout our spiritual bodes, making us into people who are more prayerful, more godly, and more passionate about the bible, the lost, and the world around us. We will be theologically solid to the core, without the unnecessary crust. Kind of like the Heidelberg Catechism. And kind of like Jesus too." (p. 244)

The Good News We Almost Forgot is a delightful, pastoral read that reminds readers to appreciate the wisdom of the saints who have come before us--because their insights can remind us of the beauty of the gospel, and the God who brings it.
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