In The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness (Crossway, 2012), Kevin DeYoung argues that working hard to be more like God in our moral character or “pursuing Godliness” is not legalism and antithetical to the gospel but rather a necessary expression of “gospel passion.” He rightly rejects “sanctification-by-checklist” (34) and a naïve perfectionism. Instead, he calls for those who have experienced redemption through Jesus to express their relationship with Christ through caring deeply for the pleasure of God in our growing holiness or sanctification (74). He intends for his work “to make you hopeful about holiness, not make you hang your head” (107).
DeYoung excels at writing in an engaging and accessible manner, and this book is no exception. In a cultural context that veers to the extreme of locating “holiness” in social reform and political action or in private devotion and religious experience, DeYoung’s voice is a needed reminder to define holiness in biblical and theological terms. Personal character and social responsibility are twin fruits of the one root of a holy life, a life devoted to pleasing God as a response to God’s merciful redemption in Christ Jesus. While lacking in practical guidance found in other books on the subject such as J.I. Packer’s Rediscovering Holiness: Know the Fullness of Life with God (2009), DeYoung’s book will inspire the redeemed reader to fill the hole in one’s holiness.