Kevin DeYoung is one of a rising corp of young reformed pastors who God is using to call the church back to its theological moorings. He is a clear communicator of God's truth both from the pulpit and by means of the printed page. The author of several books, none of which are lengthy or of great depth, DeYoung's latest product is a testimony to the sufficiency, clarity, and necessity of the Bible. Millennials will like his light and conversational approach. In fact, this volume would serve as a helpful "get started" text to hand to those who are just beginning to consider the Scriptures. I personally found the last two chapters, "Christ's Unbreakable Bible" and "Stick With the Scriptures" to be the most practical. Although the content of this book is solid, it is at the same time sketchy and incomplete (as I have found all of DeYoung's books to be). That criticism is not meant to be negative as much as to serve as a caution to those who may feel that they will be getting more from the book than is actually there. I was left with the sense that the author had much more to say and that this book was rushed to press before it was ready. DeYoung provides a helpful annotated bibliography at the end of the book, but it too is incomplete. If the target audience happens to be those who like "fast-food doctrine," then this book will likely achieve its aim. But for those who prefer more substantial "theological fare," they will find themselves still hungry by the time they are finished.
Kevin DeYoung, in his latest book Taking God At His Word, encourages us to use the acronym SCAN so we might better remember that the Bible is sufficient, clear, authoritative, and necessary for all of life. I've taken him up on that encouragement, and now have a greater appreciation for the Scriptures. Don't be fooled, however; you nonetheless won't find Kevin claiming that God's Word will answer our every question, be wholly understandable, or that we won't still give in to the temptation to tackle life by our own devices after spending time in it. Sometimes believers just need to be reminded of the fundamental principles and concepts of Scripture. Taking God At His Word brings those reminders and provocative questions to boot.
Very interestingly, Kevin uses Chapter 1 to describe how King David in Psalm 119 did not spare the least of his emotive vocabulary to express how one ought to feel about Scripture, why Scripture must be believed, and what to do as a result of it. Kevin explains that he especially chose Psalm 119 due to the Christian's general attitude about it_ that it's long, repetitious, and difficult to understand. All that may be true, but it doesn't change how the particular psalm informs the follower of Christ that he/she should delight in, desire, and depend upon Scripture. Or as Kevin states, Psalm 119 is a Hebrew love poem about God's Word, and rightfully so. Why should the Christian revere the Bible in this way? It goes back to SCAN.
Take the Bible's sufficiency, for starters. It seems that many genuine Christians crave extra-biblical revelation from the Lord, whether in the form of prophetic dreams and visions, or straight one-on-one conversation, etc. It's as though they think that hearing a mystical, low-bass sounding voice from somewhere that appears to be in the direction of heaven would make one closer to God than ever. Such ideas seem wonderful and desirable, but they're truly anti-biblical, and create a sense of false hope and awe. The worst is that the source of this could very well be the army of the devil himself. After all, Satan masquerades as an angel of light. The point, as Kevin makes in Chapters 2 and 3, is that God has already spoken, and is still speaking to each of us on an individual basis in His written Word, and ultimately through His Son Jesus Christ. Sure, it would have been incredible to be nearby when Moses encountered the burning bush, or among Christ's inner circle while He was being gloriously transfigured, etc, but we have God's sufficient and complete revelation. It just happens to be written down, but that makes it no less exactly what we need. And also don't forget that no one in the Bible actually had the Bible. We are privileged to have it, to say the least. And if we are convinced that God is actually speaking as we read the Bible, then we won't itch to hear a disembodied voice that claims to be Him.
The Bible, as Chapter 5 of Taking God At His Word states, is also clear. That doesn't mean Christians will know everything. Only God is omniscient. It also doesn't mean that every passage is wholly comprehensible, otherwise child-like faith in God's altogether unsearchable wisdom wouldn't be required on our part. What it does mean is that God has made sure every human being can grasp the things that matter most. Whether it's the most important concept of salvation or the doctrines that ought to impact every-day living, Scripture is clear, regardless of what naysayers claim.
Chapter 6 is a straight arrow. In it, Kevin discusses why on any subject you might consider, Scripture is the sole authority. God is King. He created all things and everyone. He governs all affairs, does as He pleases, and has rightful claim on our lives. And because He is also Scripture's Author, the buck stops at His throne. He is above all, and answers to no one. Case closed.
Chapter 7 then, if you've been following, takes us to the Bible's necessity. Without Scripture, it is impossible to know God factually or personally. That is, again, because He has chosen to reveal Himself to the extent we need in the inspired Word. If Scripture was not available to us, we also wouldn't know history as only God can know it to be true. Without God's written revelation, we wouldn't understand that Israel is His chosen people. If the Bible did not exist, it would be impossible to know, let alone understand, why and how [fallen] man needs to be saved.
The final chapter brings it all together. In it, Kevin points out Paul's instruction to Timothy to stay the course, to stick with the Scriptures as taught by his mother Lois and grandmother Eunice. Believers today would be wise to obey that same instruction. We ought to cherish the Bible teaching we received growing up. And if you weren't raised in a Christian home, or didn't grow up a Christian, then cherish what you received from the shepherd(s) that led you to faith in Christ. Yet of course along with that, there's nothing more important than refusing to waver from what God has given us in the Bible. It contains all we need for this life, and the next. What the words of Scripture actually do, where they ultimately came from, and the all-wise training they provide, makes the Bible the only perfect written work. It is the only truth, and is to be obeyed. Paul understood that, as did Timothy; we must imitate their faith and faithfulness.
Thank you Kevin DeYoung, for refreshing our souls by revisiting the Bible's fundamental, unchanging, everlasting truths. Your passion for the Word is contagious, and I hope everyone that reads Taking God At His Word will now start to view Scripture through the same lens King David did in Psalm 119!
DeYoung's goal in writing this book is to convince us, "that the Bible makes no mistakes, can be understood, cannot be overturned, and is the most important word in your life, the most relevant thing you can read each day." He wants to get us believing what we should about the Bible, feeling what we should about the Bible, and doing what we ought to do with the Bible.
By his own description, this is not an exhaustive nor academic theological study. He writes about what the Bible says about itself. It is not a defense of the canon (although good books on that topic are included in the Appendix). His aim is to let the Bible speak for itself.
He begins with Psalm 119 as a framework. He ends with 2 Timothy 3:14-17 and the encouragement, continue. In that last chapter he reveals his intended audience: Christians who are familiar with the Bible, read the Bible, have been taught the Bible, and already have a devotion to it. Don't wander, he says. Stick with Scripture.
I found this book to be different than I expected. Much of it is about what the Bible says about itself. There are some pretty detailed sections dealing with Scripture in a more rigorous manner. DeYoung also quotes from authors and tells stories, however, like one in the last chapter from Newton's life. He also, at one point, appeals to the opinions of early church fathers and the history of the church. So it is mixed in style, from looking at some original language on one end to stories and silly poems on the other end.
People who do not believe in the truth of the Bible will not be convinced to do so by this book. The best use of this book would be for people who have grown up in the church and are now questioning what they believe about the Bible. New Christians will also find in this book a basis for establishing their belief about the Bible.
Food for thought: "The word of God is more than enough for the people of God to live their lives to the glory of God." (42)
There is one section of DeYoung's book with which I take issue. "And we must not separate redemption from revelation. Both were finished and fulfilled in the Son. _ Even the later teachings of the apostles were simply the remembrances of what Christ said (John 14:26) and the further Spirit-wrought explanation of all that he was and all that he accomplished (John 16:13-15)." (38)
What I don't understand here is what is to be done with the "revelation" Paul received of the "mystery" of the church - that the Gentiles were to be included (see Gal. 1:12). That was something all the other apostles evidently missed. And what about Paul going up to Jerusalem after fourteen years "in response to a revelation" (Gal. 2:2)? What about Agabus receiving a revelation that there was going to be a severe famine (Acts 11:28)? And what about the revelation Paul received of the "mystery" that we will be changed in an instant (1 Cor. 15:51-53)? And what about John's revelation, including the words of Jesus to the seven churches? Do all of those fit into DeYoung's statement about "finished" revelation?
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for an independent and honest review.
Winsomely reaffirming our foundations in Scripture
April 4, 2014
In "Taking God At His Word", Kevin DeYoung has provided a winsome and thoughtful doctrine of Holy Scripture. His method applies what "the Bible says about the Bible" in a "simple, uncluttered, straightforward, and manifestly biblical" manner. DeYoung displays the veracity of Scripture through cogent, yet accessible, arguments. He takes select and various passages from the Bible and discusses the nature of Scripture in areas such as its truthfulness, authority, clarity, sufficiency and necessity.
It is evident that DeYoung takes this subject matter passionately and I found myself praising and worshipping God as a result of the truths which he expounded on throughout the book. Taking God At His Word is Biblically sound, theologically rich, and spiritually encouraging to the follower of Christ.
I have read most of Kevin DeYoung's books and have been greatly blessed. His latest book "Taking God at His Word" is no exception. He gives a clear, concise, unapologetic view of the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture. He is not afraid to challenge the higher critics or scientists when it comes to defending the relevance of Scripture to all of life. Much more could be said but I highly recommend this book to unbelievers who would like to know what a Christian believes about the Bible and to believers as to what we affirm about the Bible.