“Don’t Call It A Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day” ed. by Kevin DeYoung
I’ve read several multi-author books before, but this was something new: 22 authors in under 240 pages! It was a whirlwind of topics and voices, but was edited together with surprising cohesion and clarity.
There’s an awful lot to like about Don’t Call It a Comeback. I loved the concept of the project, which had the aim of introducing “young Christians, new Christians, and underdiscipled Christians to the most important articles of our faith and what it looks like to live out this faith in real life“. This book delivers on that promise, and is an excellent introduction to a wide variety of topics — ranging from church history to systematic theology to contemporary issues such as social justice, gender confusion, and abortion — for those who have not read widely or deeply (which describes many, if not most, of the professing believers in my generation).
The book also has a secondary benefit in that it introduces readers to a lot of pastor/blogger/authors (all of whom were under 40 at the time of publishing) who represent an up-and-coming wave of leaders for the Church. Each chapter ends with a short selection of books suggested for further study on the topic. In short, if a young, new, or underdiscipled Christian were to want to delve into a serious study of theology and cultural issues, he would do well to start with the books, authors, and blogs mentioned in this book.
Though the writers have a variety of styles and approaches, each chapter is very accessible for inexperienced readers. The authors do not assume that readers have prior knowledge of the terminology and historical figures typically mentioned in books of a theological nature, yet the tone is never condescending. Neither does it come across as elementary; experienced and knowledgeable readers have much to learn here as well!
While it is a given that in any book by multiple authors some chapters are going to be better than others, there were no chapters that felt sub-par. Even the “weakest” link (and I couldn’t tell you who that might be) is pretty darn strong! But there were a few chapters that stood out to me as favorites. Kevin DeYoung’s chapter “The Secret to Reaching the Next Generation” is worth the price of the book all by itself, and Russell Moore’s chapter on the Kingdom (“Heaven after Earth, Heaven on Earth, or Something Else Entirely?”) is predictably excellent given his work on the equally excellent book The Kingdom of Christ.
Overall (as you can probably tell), I loved the book, but it wasn’t perfect by any stretch. Sometimes one of the most difficult things to do in a book review is to judge the book that was written, rather than the book I wish had been written. I’ve tried to do that, but there are a few things I really wish had been a little different.
The nature of this book required brevity on each topic, leading to a necessary lack of depth. As I said, it’s meant to be an introduction. Still, in many instances I felt adding just one clarifying word, phrase, or sentence would have made a big difference without adding to the length or readability of the book. For example, Tullian Tchvidjian’s chapter “Worship: It’s a Big Deal” (which appeared previously as an article by the same title at worship.com) is a truly great introduction to the value of corporate worship. However, it says nothing about expressions of worship as a way of life outside the context of the Body of Christ gathered on the Lord’s Day. Granted, Ted Kluck’s chapter largely dealt with this side of worship earlier in the book, but given this book’s intended audience, I would like to have seen something to the effect of telling readers that “worship” is a concept not limited to Sunday services. Honestly, simply adding the word “Corporate” to the front of the chapter’s title probably would have been sufficient to make this distinction.
I also came to the end of the book expecting and hoping for some sort of charge. The foreward by D.A. Carson is wonderful, and I thought it deserved an opposite bookend after the final chapter. Something to tell the young, new, underdiscipled Christians where to go next to continue their studies, and to encourage them to find someone to help with their discipleship. Those things were mentioned in the foreward and introduction, but I would have liked to see them reiterated once more.
These few minor reservations aside, this is a great book. It’s one I will gladly place on the short list of books I’d recommend to a young, new, or underdiscipled Christian. Buy it here.