The Good News We Almost Forgot, Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism

For a number of years, we recommended the book based on the Heidelberg Catechism, From Rebellion to Redemption, by Randal Working, to use in making kingdom disciples. We were most disappointed when it went out of print. There are two documents we believe are basic in discipling God’s covenant people. One is the Westminster Shorter Catechism and the other is the Heidelberg Catechism. While those of us in the PCA subscribe to the Westminster standards, we have great love and appreciation for the Heidelberg.

Kevin DeYoung, no stranger to our audience, especially having authored books such as: Why We’re Not Emergent, Why We Love the Church, and Just Do Something, has stepped up to the plate and given us another great resource for disciple making in giving us The Good News We Almost Forgot, Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism.

Having read this book, I stand with Sinclair Ferguson who described this book as “a crash course in life.” I have grown to love and appreciate the Heidelberg. DeYoung gives a good descriptive comparison between the two Catechisms. While both begin with a very famous question and answer-WSC “What is man’s chief end? To glorify God and enjoy him forever.” HC “What is your only comfort in life and death? “That I am not my own, but belong-body and soul, in life and death-to my Saviour Jesus Christ…”

DeYoung says while the WSC begins with God’s glory, the HC begins with God’s grace. He goes on to say, “We’d be hard pressed to think of two better words to describe the theme of biblical revelation.”

Now we have a resource to replace or where possible supplement the first book mentioned above. This book contains 52 brief chapters of two-three pages. During those 52 chapters you can work your way through the HC. When Paul told Titus, in Titus 2, to teach what is in accord with sound, healthy, doctrine, working through the HC will be a tremendously valuable road to travel in teaching clear, healthy, and sound doctrine.

One paragraph will give you the flavor for DeYoung’s excellent work. “Many people, well-meaning church leaders included, are eager to boil down Christianity to the great commandments, or the Sermon on the Mount, or the Beatitudes, or Micah 6:8, or some other powerful summary of God’s ethical intentions. But if all I have are God’s ethical intentions for my life, I’m in a worse fix than simply losing my tail like Eeyore. My own efforts to be a good person are, in comparison to what God requires of me, positively miserable. I’ll be damned, discouraged, and dismayed if being a follower of Jesus means nothing but a new set of things I’m supposed to do for Him. Instead, my following Jesus should be, first of all, a declaration of all that He had done for me.”

Having focused on making kingdom disciples in our ministry at CEP, DeYoung’s explanation of Lord’s Day 48 regarding the meaning of the petition in the Lord’s Prayer, “your kingdom come…” reminds us of what discipleship is all about.

“Your kingdom come” means Rule us by Your Word and Spirit in such a way that more and more we submit to you. Keep your church strong, and add to it…” The kingdom is all about God and his rule and authority and the churches role is to keep that strong healthy sound doctrine as the basis of our entire life individually, as well as the church’s life corporately. DeYoung reminds us, “The kingdom is not about excellence in behavior. It’s about our willing submission to God and living a life of love that befits those who belong to such a lovely King.”

That, my friend, is what it is all about and The Good News Almost Forgotten, will help keep us focused in our daily walk and life in the church and the kingdom. Yes, this book is about theology, knowing and loving it because at one level or another, Christians are theologians. The HC will help us to be better theologians and kingdom disciples.

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Charles Dunahoo pastored churches in Georgia and Alabama before being called to his present position as Coordinator for the PCA of Christian Education and Publications (CEP).

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