DeYoung, Kevin. Taking God at His Word: Why the Bible is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough and What it Means for You and Me. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014. 144 pp. $17.99. Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook.com | Westminster Books
“Can I really trust the Bible?” asks the Christian college freshman exiting her introduction to religion class at the local state school. “Shouldn’t we just concentrate on following Jesus?” asks the well-intentioned young man seeking to wade through the seemingly murky waters of interdenominational interpretative infighting. “How can the Bible help be cope with my recent tragedy?” asks the mother incapacitated by the reality of living through yet another miscarriage. Its quite likely that you who are reading this have asked these or similar questions regarding the trustworthiness, authority and sufficiency of Scripture. Its questions like these which should lead readers to Kevin DeYoung’s recent offering, Taking God at His Word by Crossway.
From the beginning readers will notice the pastoral touch with which DeYoung cradles his pen. Besides having a title which rivals even the longest of 17th-century Puritan treatises, DeYoung writes with an eye towards the person in the pew. It is my impression that this book is written for young adults as well as believers in need of a simple foundation for reading their Bible. Reared in a culture of skepticism, twenty and thirty somethings are quick to question that which is received or passed down. In fact, this is has been the perennial issue since the Enlightenment, manifesting itself in historical-critical scholarship and filtering down through contemporary voices such as Bart D. Ehrman and Elaine Pagels among other popular skeptics of the Christian faith. DeYoung encourages readers at every point to cherish the biblical faith. In eight chapters, DeYoung winsomely explains the necessity, authority, clarity and beauty of God’s word. Chapter one begins with a call to be a “Psalm 119” lover of God’s word, a call which undergirds the entirety of DeYoung’s rich yet simple text. He states, “Psalm 119 is the explosion of praise made possible by an orthodox and evangelical doctrine of Scripture.” (Loc 154).
DeYoung exalts God’s Word to its rightful place—God’s word to his people. Chapter 3 is perhaps the most helpful chapter for readers. The false divide between Jesus and the Bible is successfully bridged by connecting the redemptive work of Christ and redemptive words of Scripture. DeYoung asserts, “Scripture is enough because the work of Christ is enough.” (Loc 618). Any notion of Jesus apart from Scripture is a false one. An additional corrective from DeYoung is Jesus’ view of Scripture. When modern scholarship all too quickly dismisses any historical claims to the biblical narrative, DeYoung invites readers to look to Jesus. What Scripture says, for Jesus, God says. He states, “The only Jesus who stands above Scripture is the Jesus of our own invention.” (Loc 1330). Jesus never dismissed or corrected Scripture, he just dismissed and corrected deficient interpretations of Scripture. DeYoung helps us to read Scripture the way Jesus did—as God’s word to his people.
At one point I would have liked for Pastor DeYoung to define his terms more precisely. He uses the label “liberal” freely in chapter two without explaining exactly to whom he refers. A small discussion (or even end note) regarding translations of Scripture could have boosted DeYoung’s work and helped young readers understand the reliability of Scripture among multiple translations. Admittedly this is a minor point as numerous books within DeYoung’s appendix provide this kind of discussion and more.
Taking God at His Word packs a mighty punch in a compact package. DeYoung encourages readers to hear God speaking today. This easy to handle text should satisfy the interested high school reader to the pastor with a Saturday afternoon to spare. This should in no way minimize its impact. DeYoung delivers a refreshing dose of doctrine which will do anything but bore his readers. Scripture is God’s sufficient, clear and inerrant word for man. Taking God at His Word presents readers with a 21st century doctrine of Scripture that invigorates and excites. It doesn’t answer every question, but it serves as a worthy starting point. It is eminently biblical, thoroughly pastoral, and immensely helpful to a millennial generation constantly faced with questions and doubts about God’s word in a skeptical world. Even seminary-trained and seasoned pastors will find a breath of fresh air from DeYoung as he calls us all back to delight, desire and depend on the word of God. If readers return to the Psalms and wonder in awe with psalmist over the beauty and veracity of God’s word, then DeYoung has accomplished his task.
Thanks to Crossway Books for a complimentary Kindle edition of this book for review!