Kevin DeYoung: Author of TAKING GOD AT HIS WORD

Published on April 22, 2014 by Igor Mateski

Crossway, 2014 | 144 pages

Because the doctrine of Scripture is so basic to everything Christian, it is a focus of study that every generation must learn afresh. And although in this discussion it is largely true that “Warfield already said it,” it needs saying again. And it must be said in light of new challenges and contexts. This is a Christian “fundamental” if ever there was one.

Kevin DeYoung is the latest to address the issue in his insightful and yet popular-level book, Taking God At His Word (Crossway, 2014). In his usual appealing style he focuses on Scripture’s authority, clarity, necessity, and sufficiency. Or, as he says it, “God’s word is final; God’s word is understandable; God’s word is necessary; and God’s word is enough” (p.45). DeYoung’s enjoyable book is marked by substance, brevity, and accessibility – a popular yet very helpful book on a most important subject. And so we were happy he could talk to our readers about his new work.


Books At a Glance (Fred Zaspel):
First, let’s talk about your own aims in this book. There have been many books on the doctrine of Scripture. And you say up front that yours is neither an “academic” work nor a sustained apologetic defense of Scripture. So just what were you setting out to accomplish? And to whom are you writing?

DeYoung:
We need those academic books and apologetic books. I’ve benefited from both kinds. But I wanted to write something a bit simpler–a book that explains what the Bible says about itself. I hope this is the sort of book that can be read not only by pastors or seminary students, but my college freshman, small groups, elder boards, and anyone interested in knowing what to believe about Bible, according to the Bible.


Taking God At His WordBooks At a Glance:
You point out that the psalmist (in Ps. 119) delights in God’s Word, and from there you exhort your readers to do the same. Can you suggest some practical steps here that will lead the believer to delight more in God’s Word?

DeYoung:
I think delight in God’s Word is the product of practice and conviction. On the conviction side, we won’t delight in Scripture unless we know that it is truly God speaking to us. And when it comes to practice, Psalm 119 sets out a good pattern: we should sing, speak, study, and store up God’s Word; obey it; pray it; and praise God with it. Delight grows with discipline.


Books At a Glance:
Let’s talk about the sufficiency of Scripture. What is (and is not) meant by this expression? And in what ways might Bible believers themselves need reminding of this?

DeYoung:
The Bible doesn’t tell us everything we want to know about everything. We get ourselves in trouble when we make the Bible address questions it never meant to answer. Sufficiency means the Bible tells us everything we need to know for life and godliness, for salvation in Christ and obedience to Christ. We don’t need special love letters from Jesus or little boys to go to heaven and back to know what is true about everything that is truly important in the Christian faith.


Books At a Glance:
How is the sufficiency of Scripture connected to the sufficiency of Christ?

DeYoung:
According to Hebrews 1, 2 Jesus Christ is superior to angels and all the prophets and all the rituals because he is God’s full and final revelation. In these last days, God speaks to us not by many and various ways, but through his Son. And he speaks through his Son by the revelation of his redeeming work that we find first in the Gospels, and then unpacked by the Spirit through the apostles in the rest of the New Testament. This means that Scripture is enough because the work of Christ is enough. They stand or fall together. The Son’s redemption and the Son’s revelation must both be sufficient. You can’t have a complete redemption and an incomplete revelation.


Books At a Glance:
People often puzzle over the doctrine of the clarity of Scripture. After all, even the apostle Peter acknowledged that some of what Paul wrote was difficult to understand! And look at all the various Christian denominations! What is meant by the clarity of Scripture? In what sense do we say the Bible is “understandable”? And what is at stake in this question?

DeYoung:
The doctrine of the clarity of Scripture does not teach that everything in the Bible is patently obvious. The Westminster Confession of Faith, for example, teaches that the main elements of biblical truth can be known, but this does not mean everything can be known with equal certainty. We still need study and prayer. We still have to test Scripture against Scripture. The clarity of Scripture does not obviate the need for hard work. What it reaffirms is that God is a communicative God who knows how to get across what he wants us to know. It may sound humble to wallow in hermeneutical nihilism, but the very character of God is at stake. Does he want to be known and can he make himself known, even to his feeble human creatures?


Books At a Glance:
What would you suggest is the most important or decisive consideration in the doctrine of inerrancy? When the question arises, what should Christians keep uppermost in their minds?

DeYoung:
The danger in denying inerrancy is that we must then set ourselves above Scripture, at least above parts of it. We become the final authority. Our feelings, our experience, our reasons, our journals, our parents–something or someone else must stand above Scripture and correct Scripture when we deny inerrancy.


Books At a Glance:
Your book focuses on four leading attributes of Scripture: its authority, clarity, necessity, and sufficiency. But you also manage to talk about some of its other attributes, such as its ability, its practicality, its originality, and its unity. For such a brief book it is remarkably comprehensive, and it really is a wonderful read for Christians everywhere. I hope it will be put to use widely. Thanks so much.

DeYoung:
Thanks for those kinds words and thanks for the good questions. If God can use this book in any way to get people reading their Bibles, trusting their Bibles, and loving their Bibles, I’ll be thrilled.

 

Buy the books

TAKING GOD AT HIS WORD

Crossway, 2014 | 144 pages

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