“He reasoned with them from the Scriptures.” These are Luke’s words referencing Paul’s preaching at Thessalonica. They are also an apt summary of what Kevin DeYoung does in Taking God as His Word.
He speaks about the Bible. Or, better, he allows the Bible to speak. That is both painstaking and an appropriate nod to the Scriptures. He cannot say what it true about the Scriptures without letting them speak for themselves. “You can’t establish the supreme authority of your supreme authority by going to some other lesser authority.” (p. 21) He is a good Van Tillian. Opening the classic texts of Scripture that deal with the Scriptures, he brings his world to God’s word.
Kevin is a solid reformed and evangelical writer. He knows the Word and he knows his world. He is clear without being condescending, profound without being verbose, and he is accurate without being pedantic. In fact, he avoids words like condescending, verbose, and pedantic – and that is the point. As I said before, when speaking about the Bible, he allows the Bible to speak for itself.
Kevin speaks to a postmodern audience. By that I do not mean an unbelieving audience. He is willing to converse with all comers, just like the Scriptures themselves, but all that come have been affected and infected with postmodernism’s malaise. The child of postmodernism bases his ultimate convictions on bankrupt philosophy, empty rhetoric, and sound bites rather than sound theology. DeYoung simply and patiently answers most of the current questions and objections by pointing to the source of all truth.
The heart of the book expounds four attributes of the Bible – its sufficiency, clarity, authority, and necessity. He provides his own brief, practical summary. “Counselors can counsel meaningfully because Scripture is sufficient. Bible study leaders can lead confidently because Scripture is clear. Preachers can preach with boldness because their biblical text is authoritative. And evangelists can evangelize with urgency because the Scripture is necessary.” (p. 90)
I am a preacher and I read a good deal of sermons and other writings of my fellow pastors. In such a line of work, you develop a sense for those who have studied so thoroughly that they can speak plainly of profound things. They can put the cookies on the lower shelf. Others gloss over their lack of preparation with a rhetorical flourish. They put frosting over the charred chocolate chip cookies. That is not DeYoung. His prose is pro, he is easy to understand, but you can tell that he has done his exegetical and theological spadework. He has patiently listened to the Scriptures himself before he ventures forth from the study to speak about them to others. Theologically he is accurate while being approachable. The cookies, like the Scriptures (Deut 30:14), are all within reach.
There is currently an epidemic of Biblical ignorance. There is also an indifference to the vast scholarship that has surrounded the truth claims of the Christian faith. At the end of the book, there is a list of excellent books to consider. He lists them for beginner, intermediate, and advanced. It is worth a good read, after the Bible, of course.
The goal of the book is, I think, to be white noise – to counter the clamorous objections to the Bible so that people can simply read it for themselves. The Bible is worth another look. It is a dangerous and convicting book. “It is life changing to come face to face with the world’s most wonderful book.” (p. 23) “We need the revelation of God to know God, and the only sure, saving, final, perfect revelation of God is found in Scripture.” (p. 88)