Impossible Christianity by Kevin DeYoung

Impossible Christianity is a breath of fresh air for those Christians feeling weighed down by false guilt over unbiblical expectations.

Impossible Christianity by Kevin DeYoung. Crossway, 2023. 160 pages.

cover of impossible christianity
  • Reading Level: Adults, ages 16 and up
  • Recommended For: ages 16 and up

When I was a brand new college graduate, I read Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges with a friend. And it transformed my life. Impossible Christianity reminded me of that book, and I have no doubt it will be a breath of fresh air to many Christians who are weighed down by false guilt over unbiblical expectations.

DeYoung loves a good subtitle, and this book has a significant one: “Why following Jesus does not mean you have to change the world, be an expert in everything, accept spiritual failure, and feel miserable pretty much all the time.” Whew!

Those familiar with DeYoung’s work will recognize much of the material in this book. He begins by unpacking some of the unbiblical expectations we collectively put on ourselves, moves to an examination of biblical assurance, and ends by challenging readers to live in the light of God’s grace. I found myself thinking of his book Crazy Busy during several parts because he makes some similar points: the many prayer requests and good causes shared by my fellow Christians on social media do NOT require me to suddenly take on all those burdens myself. That’s not what the Lord has called me to do.

DeYoung challenges some common misconceptions of biblical “requirements.” For instance, some believe that “real” Christians would aspire to a life of financial simplicity, owning few possessions and giving away most of their money. DeYoung reminds readers, “The Bible is emphatically against the normal way rich people view and use their money. The Bible is not against wealth and possessions as such.”

DeYoung ends the book with a chapter of startling statistics, startling because they are so opposite what we hear in the media. The world is getting better in so many measurable stats. We have every reason to be happy in the Lord and not be anxious. We are called to go forth confident of our position in Christ, eagerly repenting of our sin and drawing comfort in the Lord’s forgiveness. We are not called to constant (mental) self-flagellation and doom and gloom.

This book is more applicable to adults jaded by years of trying to measure up in the church than it is to teens who tend to be more idealistic as a group. Some older teens and college students, particularly those who’ve grown up in the church, may enjoy it, but I’d recommend Just Do Something or Do Not Be True to Yourself as a better fit for that age group.

Considerations: none

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5

  • Literary/Artistic Rating: 4
  • Worldview Rating: 5

Read more about our ratings here.

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Betsy Farquhar

Betsy is the Managing Editor at Redeemed Reader. When she reads ahead for you, she uses sticky notes instead of book darts and willfully dog ears pages even in library books. Betsy is a fan of George MacDonald, robust book discussions, and the Oxford comma. She lives with her husband and their three children in the beautiful Southeast.

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