Sunday, April 27, 2014

Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung

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?

You can download a study guide and read an excerpt of the book here.

Kevin DeYoung (Mdiv, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan. He blogs at the Gospel Coalition and has authored or coauthored several books.

Crossway Books, 144 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for an independent and honest review.

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