Kevin DeYoung

Life and Books and Everything: Evangelical Elites

In this episode, Collin, Justin, and I discuss how we use the term ‘elite’. Is it positive or is it a term of derision? Elites, and especially Evangelical elites, have been criticized a lot lately. Giving this matter some consideration, we offer our thoughts, turning the focus both internally and externally, with both positive and negative critiques. But first… books! We’ve been reading a lot. You’ll hear about productivity, theology, classic fiction, and of course a lot of history.

Timestamps:
Books First! [0:00 – 2:25]
Collin is surprised. [2:25 – 7:36]
Kevin is restrained. [7:36 – 19:18]
Justin is almost finished. [19:18 – 28:54]
Elites in the Spotlight [28:54 – 37:54]
Hating on Elites [37:54 – 43:03]
Evangelical Elites [43:03 – 46:40]
Public Religious Research Institute Survey [46:40 – 49:08]
Elitists Out of Step [49:08 – 53:35]
Kevin Responds [53:35 – 58:34]
Elites Not Reading the Room [58:34 – 1:02:11]
The Inner Ring [1:02:11 – 1:03:15]
Encouragement [1:03:15 – 1:07:18]
Books and Everything:
Collin:
Brand Luther: How an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a Center of Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe–and Started the Protestant Reformation, by Andrew Pettegree
Pilgrims and Priests: Christian Mission in a Post-Christian Society, by Stefan Paas
Kevin:
Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, by Oliver Burkeman
Them Before Us: Why We Need a Global Children’s Rights Movement, by Katy Faust and Stacy Manning
Wonderfully Made: A Protestant Theology of the Body, by John W. Kleinig
The Viking Heart: How Scandinavians Conquered the World, by Arthur Herman
1984, by George Orwell
Justin:
Proverbs: A Shorter Commentary, by Bruce K. Waltke and Ivan D. V. De Silva
The Zealot and the Emancipator: John Brown, Abraham Lincoln, and the Struggle for American Freedom, by H.W. Brands
Lincoln in Private: What His Most Personal Reflections Tell Us About Our Greatest President, by Ronald C. White
Lonesome Dove: A Novel, by Larry McMurtry
Articles on Elites:
“The Galli Report 10.08.21,” by Mark Galli
“The Failure of Evangelical Elites,” by Carl R. Trueman
“Evangelical Elites, Fighting Each Other,” by David French
“The Inner Ring,” by C.S. Lewis

Kevin DeYoung (PhD, University of Leicester) is senior pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina, Council member of The Gospel Coalition, and associate professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte). He has written numerous books, including Just Do Something. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have nine children: Ian, Jacob, Elizabeth, Paul, Mary, Benjamin, Tabitha, Andrew, and Susannah.

Life and Books and Everything: ‘Robert E. Lee: A Life’, with Dr. Allen Guelzo

In this latest episode of the LBE podcast, I have the privilege of sitting down with one of my favorite authors, Dr. Allen Guelzo, to talk about his new book, Robert E. Lee: A Life. We address how General Lee could be both opposed to slavery and commit treason to defend it, how the South came very close to victory and how would that have changed history, how Lee’s fatherlessness affected his leadership, and our thoughts on the removal of statues.

Timestamps:
Dr. Allen Guelzo, First-time Listener [1:02 – 2:47]
Guelzo’s Other Historical Works [2:47 – 12:53]
The Making of a Great Course [12:53 – 14:13]
Writing a Biography of Robert E. Lee [14:13 – 19:21]
What Movies Get Right and Wrong about Lee [19:21 – 24:47]
“…the biography of someone who commits treason?” [24:47 – 29:24]
A Christian Way of Doing History [29:24 – 36:18]
Neither Saint Nor Devil [36:18 – 44:41]
Robert, Son of the Great Light Horse Harry Lee [44:41 – 48:37]
Before and After the War [48:37 – 51:53]
What if the South had won? [51:33 – 58:30]
Lee and Slavery [58:30 – 1:04:20]
Should statues be removed? [1:04:20 – 1:09:22]
Books and Everything:
Robert E. Lee: A Life, by Allen Guelzo
The Great Courses
Tenth Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia: 175 Years of Thinking and Acting Biblically, by Philip Graham Ryken
Edwards on the Will: A Century of American Theological Debate, by Allen Guelzo
Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President, by Allen Guelzo
Gettysburg: The Last Invasion, by Allen Guelzo
Redeeming the Great Emancipator, by Allen Guelzo, et al
Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction, by Allen Guelzo
Faith of the Fatherless, by Paul Vitz
“Of Monuments & Men,” by Allen C. Guelzo and John M. Rudy

Kevin DeYoung (PhD, University of Leicester) is senior pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina, Council member of The Gospel Coalition, and associate professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte). He has written numerous books, including Just Do Something. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have nine children: Ian, Jacob, Elizabeth, Paul, Mary, Benjamin, Tabitha, Andrew, and Susannah.

Life and Books and Everything: Abortion, Threats to the Church, and Depicting Jesus

In this episode, Justin and I take a long, hard look at abortion in America. With the new law in Texas making news, and a potential challenge to Roe v. Wade, we try and help get back to basics with practical resources for changing hearts and minds regarding abortion. We also ask where the primary threat to the American church is coming from. Is it secularism from the outside, or corruption and sin inside? And in a moment of light disagreement, we discuss the pros and cons of depicting Jesus in media like The Chosen. Plus, the book recommendations that are not at the top of everyone’s mind.

Timestamps:
Eradicate Porn [0:00 – 2:30]
Nebraska vs. Michigan State [2:30 – 6:06]
Abortion [6:06 – 32:12]
Is the greatest threat to the Church internal or external? [32:12 – 50:26]
Problems with Depicting Jesus in The Chosen [50:26 – 1:03:01]
Non-Top-Ten Book Recommendations [1:03:01 – 1:11:55]
Books and Everything:
Resources on Abortion:
The Case for Life, by Scott Klusendorf
SLED argument against abortion
Pro-Lifers Shine on Twitter
Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice, by Francis Beckwith
Abuse of Discretion: The Inside Story of Roe v. Wade, by Clarke Forsythe
Eternal Perspectives Ministries, with Randy Alcorn
Robert P. George and Patrick Lee
Marvin Olasky, book on abortion forthcoming from Crossway
Non-Top-Ten Book Recommendations:
– From Justin:
Commentary on the New Testament, by Robert Gundry
Wrestling with an Angel: A Story of Love, Disability and the Lessons of Grace, by Greg Lucas
Know the Truth: A Handbook of Christian Belief, by Bruce Milne
– From Kevin:
True Devotion: In Search of Authentic Spirituality, by Allan Chapple
Wisdom in Leadership, by Craig Hamilton
The Book of the Dun Cow, by Walter Wangerin, J r.
The Everlasting Man, by G.K. Chesterton

Kevin DeYoung (PhD, University of Leicester) is senior pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina, Council member of The Gospel Coalition, and associate professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte). He has written numerous books, including Just Do Something. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have nine children: Ian, Jacob, Elizabeth, Paul, Mary, Benjamin, Tabitha, Andrew, and Susannah.

What Does It Mean to Weep with Those Who Weep?

Romans 12:15 is a divine command and a vital aspect of Christian maturity. As God’s holy people (Rom. 12:1), Christians are to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. In recent years, the second half of the verse in particular has been emphasized as a key component in caring for victims, in listening to the stories of the oppressed, and in showing compassion to the hurting.
These emphases are right and proper. Oftentimes the first thing we must do with sufferers is simply come alongside them, acknowledge their pain, express our condolences, and assure them of our love and prayers. Many of us can testify firsthand that when we look back at seasons of intense grief, we don’t remember the exact words people shared, but we do remember the people who showed up and sat with us in our tears. I love what Romans 12:15 teaches about Christian compassion and pastoral care. The verse is a needed reminder for any of us who may be tempted to treat suffering with indifference or to approach hurting saints as broken people in need of a quick fix.
“Weep with those who weep” is an important, biblical command. But it should not be taken as a one-size-fits-all formula that demands a rigid application in every situation where people are sad or distraught. Surely, the second half of Romans 12:15 does not mean that the only response to grieving people is to grieve with them. Diving into facts, pursuing objectivity, listening to all sides—these are not invalidated by Romans 12:15. “Weep with those who weep” does not dictate that the reasons for our weeping can never be mistaken. In short, the verse must mean something like “weep with those who have good, biblical reason to be weeping.”
If that sounds like an unnecessary neutering of a beloved verse, consider three observations.
One, almost everyone interprets the first half of Romans 12:15 along the lines just stated above. That is, no one thinks God wants us to rejoice with those who rejoice over the Taliban coming to power. No matter how genuine the rejoicing may be, Christians should not join with those who celebrate abortion or parade their sexual immorality or delight in racial prejudice. Instinctively, we know that the first half of Romans 12:15 means something like, “rejoice with those who have good, biblical reason to be rejoicing.”
Two, a rigid application of Romans 12:15 is untenable in real life. The point of the verse is not to train our emotions to match every emotion we encounter, but rather to be a thoughtful, considerate person who doesn’t sing a dirge at a wedding or bring a kazoo to a funeral. I remember after the 2016 presidential election hearing some disappointed Christians say that other Christians were obliged to weep with them as they grieved the outcome of the election. Romans 12:15, it was said, commanded others to share in their sorrow. But of course, on that application, Christians were also obligated to celebrate with those who cheered the results of the election. The verse cuts in both directions. A reasonable application of Romans 12:15 does not insist on being as sad as the saddest person in our lives, but in being considerate to others who feel differently about disputable matters or are going through different experiences than we are.
Three, strictly speaking, Jesus did not always weep with those who wept. He certainly didn’t feel obligated under every circumstance to match the mood of those around him. When the crowds were rejoicing on Palm Sunday, Jesus wept (Luke 20:41), and when the women were mourning for Jesus on his way to the cross, he told them not to weep for him (23:28). Jesus was always kind, but almost never sentimental. To those brokenhearted over their sin or looking to him for deliverance from their suffering, his tenderness knew no end. But to those grieving the puncturing of their pretensions or indignant because of the truth he proclaimed, Jesus could be unsparing in speaking what they did not want to hear.
What, then, does it mean to weep with those who weep?
For starters, we should remember that others may not feel the same way at any given moment, or in response to the same events, as we do. If one mother’s son just got accepted to his dream school, while another mother’s son has been turned down every place he’s applied, the Apostle Paul would have the sad mother be happy for her friend and vice versa. Love is not rude, which means obnoxiously mismatching the mood of those around you is inconsiderate at best, and a sin at worst.
But more than that, Romans 12:15 is fundamentally about maintaining the warmth and unity of Christian fellowship. That’s why verse 15 is followed by commands like “live at harmony with one another” (v. 16), “do not be haughty” (v. 16), “do what is honorable,” (v. 17), and “so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (v. 18). Raining on parades and dancing at gravesides does not help keep the peace.
Be thoughtful. Be compassionate. Be quick to lend a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on. Christians look to comfort the sad.
But our sympathy is not untethered to all other considerations. Weeping in itself is not sacrosanct. The one who laughs the loudest is not always laughing for good reason. Likewise, the one who shares most conspicuously his pain is not always lamenting for good cause. Our suffering is not sovereign.
Romans 12:15 is a precious verse meant to provide pastoral wisdom in the church and inject personal sensitivity into our relationships. We honor the verse by obeying what it means to command, not by insisting on what is impractically one-sided, out of step with the context, and inconsistent with the example of Jesus.

Kevin DeYoung (PhD, University of Leicester) is senior pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina, Council member of The Gospel Coalition, and associate professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte). He has written numerous books, including Just Do Something. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have nine children: Ian, Jacob, Elizabeth, Paul, Mary, Benjamin, Tabitha, Andrew, and Susannah.

Twenty Years Later

I was in my final year at Gordon-Conwell. It was a beautiful morning–sunny, deep blue, not a cloud in the sky. I had an early morning class on that Tuesday. Maybe it was Minor Prophets, something with Hebrew I think.
I made the short walk across campus to my dorm room and picked up the phone. I had to check with my church. Something about a bulletin announcement or the preaching schedule. The church was in between pastors at the time, and I was helping out with some of the scheduling and some of the preaching. As it turned out, I was glad not to be preaching the next Sunday.
My friend on the phone asked me what I thought about the plane that had just crashed into the Twin Towers. I had no idea what he was talking about. This was 2001. I didn’t own a cell phone. I had no t.v. in my dorm room. Most of the time I went to the computer lab to check my email. We hung up the phone and I decided to figure out what had happened–probably one of these prop plane accidents. Didn’t John Denver die like that a few years ago?
I walked upstairs to the t.v. lounge, expecting the room to be quiet. It was around 10:00 in the morning. No one would be there. I was half right: the room was completely quiet, but everyone was there. I can’t remember if I saw the first tower fall, but I’m pretty sure I was in the room when the second tower fell. Unreal. Unbelievable.
I remember walking up and down the Holy Hill on campus, praying, thinking, somewhat fearful, knowing that since every flight in the country had been grounded, if I saw a plane in the sky it was very bad news. I remember everyone trying to call home and not getting through. I remember driving the two miles over to Gordon College to pick up my fiance so we could be together. I remember the special prayer service and how honored I was to pray with Peter Kuzmic during that time. I remember gathering in the one dorm room with a working t.v. to watch President Bush, and later Billy Graham.  I remember having to pray in chapel later that week and not knowing what to say, except that I should say something from Psalm 46.
I remember how personal the loss was for so many in Boston. I’d flown out of Logan too.
I remember all the American flags–everywhere, on mailboxes, on street corners, in store windows, even in Massachusetts. I remember hearing “I’m Proud to be an American” on the radio and crying instead of laughing. I remember how everything I was looking forward to–graduating, getting married, finding a church–seemed distant and on-hold, like maybe normal would not return, maybe nothing would be the same.
Life would be normal again. As least for most of us. Maybe too normal. Thousands walked into the church again. They didn’t stay. I told myself I would pray for my country every day for the rest of my life. I haven’t.
It’s hard to believe that this year’s freshman class doesn’t remember anything about 9/11. Those arriving at college in the past few weeks were three or four when the Towers fell. Barely out of diapers when the Pentagon was struck. They may know nothing about Todd Beamer’s “Let’s roll” or President Bush’s “I can hear you” or his opening pitch at Yankee Stadium. That’s bound to happen. I’m sure I don’t know as much about Pearl Harbor as I should. But let’s not allow the memory to become too distant.
Where were you?
Teach our history. Share your story. Thank God for mercies. Pray, repent, and don’t forget.

Kevin DeYoung (PhD, University of Leicester) is senior pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina, Council member of The Gospel Coalition, and associate professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte). He has written numerous books, including Just Do Something. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have nine children: Ian, Jacob, Elizabeth, Paul, Mary, Benjamin, Tabitha, Andrew, and Susannah.

The World Is Catechizing Us Whether We Realize It or Not

I love the Olympics. I got up early and stayed up late to watch whatever I could in real time. As a family, we figured out the various NBC platforms and turned on something from the Olympics almost all the time for two weeks. I’d put our knowledge of Olympic swimming and (especially) track and field up against almost anyone. I’m a big fan of the Olympics.
But something was different this time around. And judging from conversations with many others, I’m not the only one who noticed.
You couldn’t watch two weeks of the Olympics—or at times, even two minutes—without being catechized in the inviolable truths of the sexual revolution. Earlier in the summer, I watched parts of the Euro, and you would have thought the whole event was a commercial for rainbow flags. And yet, the packaging of the Olympics was even more deliberate. Every day we were taught to celebrate men weightlifting as women or to smile as a male diver talked about his husband. Every commercial break was sure to feature a same-sex couple, a man putting on makeup, or a generic ode to expressive individualism. And of course, Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird were nearly ubiquitous. If America used to be about motherhood and apple pie, it’s now about birthing persons and lesbian soccer stars hawking Subway sandwiches.
Some will object at this point that the last paragraph is filled with a toxic mix of homophobia, heteronormativity, cisgender privilege and a host of other terms that were virtually unknown until five minutes ago. But those labels are not arguments against biblical sexual morality so much as they represent powerful assumptions that no decent person could possibly believe that homosexuality is sinful behavior, that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that switching genders is a sign of confusion more than courage. What NBC presented as heroic and wonderful was considered wrong and troublesome by almost everyone in the Christian West for 2,000 years. Is it possible that instead of deconstructing the beliefs that have marked Christianity for two millennia, we might want to deconstruct the academic jargon our culture has only come to affirm within my lifetime? Remember, it was only in 2008—hardly the dark days of the Middle Ages—that Barack Obama said he did not support marriage for same-sex couples.
I know there are many issues confronting the church today. In some contexts, there may be a lack of love toward outsiders, or a fascination with conspiracy theories, or a temptation toward idolatrous forms of Christian nationalism. You may think that the drumbeat of the advancing sexual revolution is still far off in the distance, a problem in someone else’s village but not in yours.
The wider world is not tempting young people with the blessings of chastity and church attendance.
But no one lives in an isolated village anymore, and the wider world is not tempting young people with the blessings of chastity and church attendance. People older than me may have enough Christian maturity and cultural memory to roll their eyes at the sexual revolution’s round-the-clock bombardment. But if you are a Millennial or Gen Z (or whatever comes next) your first instinct is likely to be more upset with Christians offering criticism of Megan and Sue kissing than with the fact that their kissing is demonstrably not Christian.
It is worth remembering David Well’s famous definition: worldliness is whatever makes righteousness look strange and sin look normal. Here’s the reality facing every Christian in the West: the money, power, and prestige of the mainstream media, big time sports, big business, big tech, and almost all the institutions of education and entertainment are invested in making sin look normal. Make no mistake: no matter how good your church, no matter how strong your family, no matter how gospel-centered your Christian school or homeschool, if your children and grandchildren are even remotely engaged with contemporary culture (and they are), they are being taught by a thousand memes and messages every week to pay homage to the rainbow flag.
The Christian family, Christian church, and Christian school must not assume that the next generations will accept the conclusions that seem so obvious to older generations. We must talk about the things our kids are already talking about among themselves. We must disciple. We must be countercultural. We must prepare them to love and teach them what biblical love really means. We must pass on the right beliefs and the right reasons for those beliefs.
We must prepare our children—and be prepared ourselves—that following Christ comes with a cost (Luke 9:23). The Jesus who affirmed marriage as between a man a woman (Matt. 19:4-6), the Jesus who warned of the porneia within (Mark 7:20-23), the Jesus who warned against living to be liked by others (John 12:43), this Jesus demands our total allegiance (Matt. 28:20).
The world is already busy promoting its catechism. The only question is whether we will get busy promoting ours.

Kevin DeYoung (PhD, University of Leicester) is senior pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina, Council member of The Gospel Coalition, and associate professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte). He has written numerous books, including Just Do Something. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have nine children: Ian, Jacob, Elizabeth, Paul, Mary, Benjamin, Tabitha, Andrew, and Susannah.

Life and Books and Everything: Current Events

Catching up with friends after a long summer is one of the great joys of life. In this first episode of Season 4, Collin, Justin, and I chat about some of our summer activities as well as some of the events that are currently happening in our world. They range from the serious (How should we pray for the Church in Afghanistan?) to the silly (Cornhole must become an Olympic sport!) And some intriguing book recommendations along the way.

Timestamps:
Welcome Back [0:00 – 1:04]
20 Free Copies of Rediscover Church for Your Church [1:04 – 4:12]
Praying for the Church in Afghanistan [4:12 – 12:55]
Field of Dreams Game [12:55 – 21:55]
Olympics [21:55 – 32:01]
The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill [32:01 – 52:05]
Summer Book Report [52:05 – 1:07:09]
Books and Everything:

Rediscover Church: Why the Body of Christ Is Essential, by Collin Hansen & Jonathan Leeman
Collin:
Churchill: Walking with Destiny, by Andrew Roberts
Reading the Times: A Literary and Theological Inquiry into the News, by JeffreyBilbro
Faithful Presence: The Promise and the Peril of Faith in the Public Square, byBill Haslam
Justin:
The Gospel according to Daniel: A Christ-Centered Approach, by Bryan Chappel
Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries), by Paul House
Hearing the Message of Daniel: Sustaining Faith in Today’s World, by Christopher J.H. Wright
Keep in Step with the Spirit, by J. I. Packer
In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette,by Hampton Sides
After Humanity: A Guide to C.S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man, by Michael Ward
Kevin:
Ancestors: The Loving Family in Old Europe, by Steven Ozment
Justifying Revolution: The American Clergy’s Argument for Political Resistance, 1750-1776, by Gary L. Steward
Heralds of God, by James S. Stewart

Kevin DeYoung (PhD, University of Leicester) is senior pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina, Council member of The Gospel Coalition, and associate professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte). He has written numerous books, including Just Do Something. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have nine children: Ian, Jacob, Elizabeth, Paul, Mary, Benjamin, Tabitha, Andrew, and Susannah.

What Kingdom Story Are We Telling?

We can’t tell the story of the Bible in all its fullness without talking about the kingdom. Not only does Jesus make the kingdom a central theme in his teaching, we also see the importance of the kingdom in Acts and in Paul. And the whole concept, of course, has its roots in the Old Testament, in God’s kingship over his people and in Israel’s own kingly office. In other words, the kingdom–predicted, coming, and already here–is essential to the storyline of Scripture.
But the kingdom of God is not just one thing in the Bible. We will obscure the storyline of Scripture more than illuminate it if we fail to make distinctions in our kingdom language. Likewise, we can miss the big story of what God means to do in our world if we misunderstand how the different aspects of the kingdom fit together.
In classic Reformed theology, Christ’s kingdom is distinguished in three ways.
First, there is the regnum potentiae, the kingdom of power. This is the dominion of Jesus Christ over the universe, the providential and judicial administration of all things which Christ exercises by virtue of being the eternal Son of God.
Second, we can speak of the regnum gratiae, the kingdom of grace. This refers to Christ’s reign over his saved people, the spiritual kingship which Christ exercises by virtue of being our Mediator and the head of the church.
Finally, there is the regnum gloriae, the kingdom of glory. This is Christ’s dominion in the age to come. The kingdom of glory is the kingdom of grace made perfect and complete.
Of course, in one sense Christ’s kingdom is one and only one. We should not think of these distinctions crassly as three different nations. But the distinctions are important. As God, Christ rules over the kingdom of power, to which all creatures belong. As Mediator, he rules over the kingdom of grace on earth, to which the elect belong. And as Conqueror, he rules over the kingdom of glory in heaven, to which angels and the redeemed belong. To be sure, there is not one square inch in all the universe about which Christ does not cry out, “This is mine!” And yet, Christ does not reign over every square inch in the same way.
Telling the Right Story
One reason for emphasizing these distinctions is to make sure that we are telling the right story when it comes to the kingdom. In explaining the petition “thy kingdom come,” the Westminster Larger Catechism tells us to “pray that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed, the gospel propagated throughout the world . . .the church furnished with all gospel officers and ordinances . . .that the ordinances of Christ may be purely dispensed, and made effectual to the converting of those that are yet in their sins, and the confirming, comforting, and building up those that are already converted: that Christ would rule in our hearts here, and hasten the time of his second coming, and our reigning with him forever” (Q/A 191). The Catechism gives us a magnificent prayer for the growth, strength, and health of the church.
But that’s not the end of the answer. Here’s the last line of WLC 191: “and that [Christ] would be pleased so to exercise the kingdom of his power in all the world, as may best conduce to these ends.” Notice the gospel-centered logic of the Larger Catechism. Christ rules over all things for the good of the church. The kingdom of power is subservient to the kingdom of grace (giving way to the kingdom of glory), not the other way around.
The story is of Christ so ruling over the nations of the world that the church might be built up.
This means the kingdom story we are telling is not the story of Christ saving his people so that they might change the world, transform the culture, or reclaim a nation. Instead, the story is of Christ so ruling over the nations of the world that the church might be built up. To be sure, we will be salt and light in a dark and decaying world, but the prayer the Westminster divines would have us pray is for God to so rule over the world for the sake of the church. As J. G. Vos observes in his commentary on the Larger Catechism, “the kingdom of power is not an end in itself, but a means to the furtherance of the kingdom of grace and the hastening of the kingdom of glory.” We pray, then, for the success of the kingdom of power, but to the end that the kingdom of grace may flourish and the kingdom of glory may be brought near.
A version of this article originally appeared in byFaith Online.

Kevin DeYoung (PhD, University of Leicester) is senior pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina, Council member of The Gospel Coalition, and associate professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte). He has written numerous books, including Just Do Something. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have nine children: Ian, Jacob, Elizabeth, Paul, Mary, Benjamin, Tabitha, Andrew, and Susannah.

A Prayer for America on Independence Day

Below is the pastoral prayer I offered this morning in our worship service at Christ Covenant. Several members of the congregation asked for a copy of the prayer, so I thought I would post it here on my blog. Perhaps it will be edifying to others and can inform the prayers of God’s people.
Gracious heavenly Father, on this day where we celebrate the 245th anniversary of the independence of the United States of America, we come before you to pray for this country.
We give thanks for the many blessings and evidences of divine favor that belong to us in America. We live in what may be the most powerful and most prosperous nation ever on the face of the earth. For hundreds of years, for millions of people from all over the world, this has been a land of hope–the hope of religious freedom, the hope of self-government, the hope of liberty. In the Declaration of Independence, our Founding Fathers spoke of certain unalienable rights–rights not granted by the government, but given to us by you, our Creator, which our government is obliged to protect.
The United States of America began with the conviction that a nation should be founded upon truth. Not opinions or preferences or feelings, but upon truths. Self-evident truths that remain true no matter the time, the place, or the culture. And central among these truths is the Christian belief that all men are created equal. Made in your image, no one possesses more intrinsic worth for being born rich or poor, male or female, black or white, aristocrat or artisan, financier or farmer. We give thanks for the God-given rights and hard-fought freedoms we enjoy in this country.
And we repent as a people for all the times–past and present–where we have squandered your blessings, where we have not lived up to our national ideals, where we have treated persons equal in your eyes as unequal in ours. Forgive our country for the sins of chattel slavery, Jim Crow, and racism. Forgive us for the legalized killing of the unborn. Forgive us for rampant, brazen sexual immorality. Forgive us for poor memories and hard hearts. Forgive us for our ingratitude, for hardly any people at any time anywhere in the world has had access to as much biblical truth as we have.
We ask for your grace to be shed abroad in our land. We do not deserve your favor. You have made no promise that the United States of America will long endure. And yet, if it be for the good of your heavenly kingdom, would you see fit to deal kindly with this our earthly country.
Give wisdom and humility to the governing authorities. Grant to them the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom. Protect those who protect us at home and abroad. Renew in us a desire to love one another and so fulfill the law of Christ. Make us a virtuous people, a courageous people, a reasonable and resolute people.
Frustrate the plans of all those who promote what is false and celebrate what is wicked. Defend the rights of the weak and the cause of those facing injustice.
Give us an appropriate patriotism–giving thanks for the blessings you have poured out on America–without ever trading the riches of the gospel for the thin gruel of mere civil religion.
Strengthen the church of Jesus Christ. Send your Spirit to descend with power upon every Bible-preaching pulpit. Bring true revival to our land–healing our divisions, leading us to repentance, teaching us the truth, and bringing us together to the cross.
For as many more years as you give us as a nation, may we be a land where the truth of Christ is known, the good news of Christ is sent out, and the body of Christ is made strong. We ask, then, in the deepest biblical sense possible, O God, that you would truly bless America.
We pray all this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the only King and Head of his church, Amen.

Kevin DeYoung (PhD, University of Leicester) is senior pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina, Council member of The Gospel Coalition, and associate professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte). He has written numerous books, including Just Do Something. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have nine children: Ian, Jacob, Elizabeth, Paul, Mary, Benjamin, Tabitha, Andrew, and Susannah.

Life and Books and Everything: The Meaning of America

For this special Independence Day bonus episode, I go solo to talk about what America means and how Christians should relate to our nation. The most contentious debates that we currently have are about history, and we can’t agree on which story to tell about America. I also talk about two books that approach this problem of America’s story differently.

Timestamps:
Revised and Expanded Piper [0:00 – 1:22]
What we disagree about is history. [1:22 – 6:52]
Is there such a thing as an American? [6:52 – 10:58]
Book 1: Covenant, Crucible, Creed [10:58 – 23:49]
Book 2: Celebration and Criticism [23:49 – 30:57]
6 Quick Thoughts [30:57 – 46:47]
Books and Everything:
After Nationalism: Being American in an Age of Division, by Samuel Goldman
Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story, by Wilfred McClay

Kevin DeYoung (PhD, University of Leicester) is senior pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina, Council member of The Gospel Coalition, and associate professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte). He has written numerous books, including Just Do Something. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have nine children: Ian, Jacob, Elizabeth, Paul, Mary, Benjamin, Tabitha, Andrew, and Susannah.

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