“Taking God at His Word” By Kevin De Young (2014)
This is a short book on a significant topic to all Christians and is worth your money and time. It’s a refreshing and much needed reminder about the authority of scripture. As DeYoung puts it, “this is a book unpacking what the Bible says about the Bible.” For those of us who spend time with our bibles this is an important feature to remember.
DeYoung hopes his book will have an impact on his readers, “the goal of this book is to get us believing what we should about the Bible, feeling what we should about the Bible, and to get us doing what we ought to do with the Bible.” These are lofty goals but worthy ones as well.
The book reminds us why we read the Bible and points us back to where the scriptures claim their authority. This is helpful to confirm us in our reading and to prepare us to defend ourselves (and the Bible) when we come under attack for our beliefs.
I was happy to be reminded that when we say things like “I don’t know why this is in there” or “I wish it didn’t say this but it does” we are placing ourselves over and above God himself. We are, in essence, saying that we know better than God what ought to be the case. This is a helpful reminder, especially for those of us in a discussion about the place of homosexuality in the church.
Another good reminder is that all scripture is God-breathed and equally authoritative, if not (I would add) equally applicable these days. The “red letters” the words of Christ, aren’t more God-inspired than the rest, there is no hierarchy in the authority, it’s not as though the Gospel of Mark is more true than Exodus, at least not if we hold that God inspired the whole Bible. This means that when we talk about difficult questions we need to consider the balance of scripture and not consider the words of Christ (or lack thereof) as particularly relevant. Where things fit within the whole teaching of the Bible, within the whole framework of Scripture matters and DeYoung does an admiral job of describing how Jesus understands scripture.
Of course, none of it matters to those outside the faith, and much of what this book argues will be laughable to many people. DeYoung knows that and points out that when you get down to the most fundamental principles you are always dealing with tautologies. For example if you say science can prove all things and you will prove this by using science (or reason is the only way to prove something, which you will prove by using reason) then you are in the same logical place as someone saying the Bible teaches us everything we need to know about God who goes about proving it using the Bible. So this is really not an apologetic book, it isn’t written to convert people or to prove the Bible’s authority to those who reject such ideas. It is written for the edification of those who are on board and could use a little brushing up the place of the Bible in their lives.
It’s a good book, with good advice, a friendly sounding authorial voice that likes to make things clear and keep things short. The writer of proverbs would have been proud.