DeYoung starts out with an extended discussion on Psalm 119, a “love poem,” as he describes it, about the Bible. He wants everyone to read these inspired words of God and respond with “Yes! Yes! Yes!” This leads to the whole point of the book and he is very clear early on about what the purpose is for writing this small volume about God’s Word. “In effect, I’m starting this book with the conclusion. Psalm 119 is the goal. I want to convince you (and make sure I’m convinced myself) 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” (16).
He also makes mention about the type of book this is (and what it’s not). “While I hope this volume will motivate you to read the Bible, this is not a book on personal Bible study or principles for interpretation. Nor do I attempt an apologetic defense of Scripture, though I hope you will trust the Bible more for having read these eight chapters. This is not an exhaustive book, covering all the philosophical, theological, and methodological territory you might see in a fat, multivolume textbook…. This is a book unpacking what the Bible says about the Bible.”
By and large, DeYoung accomplishes his specific goal well.
After his initial chapter focused on Psalm 119, chapter 2 concentrates on how God speaks to us today only through the Bible. He contends with claims that God speaks directly to people without means and encourages us to take to heart what God has written down for us over the centuries. This discussion leads to the next four chapters that deal with the characteristics of God’s Word: 3) Sufficiency 4) Clarity 5) Authority 6) Necessity. Chapter 7 is a summary of what Jesus himself thought about the Bible of his day while the final chapter explains in more detail why the Bible is really everything we’ll ever need. He covers quite a bit of ground in short, accessible chapters, navigating the waters with multiple Scriptural quotes and extended sections of the Bible, each of which he takes time to explain.
As a Reformed pastor and professor, you would assume that DeYoung would insert some faulty theology into the pages of his book. That’s not really the case. Surprisingly, there would be very little we would contend with and almost all of the conclusions and applications he makes we would accept. It is certainly due to the topic at hand: many conservative reformed Christians hold to a stout view of Scripture like we do. But it is also partly due to the fact that he doesn’t waver from the subject into other areas where we might disagree.
As you might expect, he quotes those whom the Reformed are most fond of: Calvin, Sproul, and even the Westminster Confession, without mentioning Luther once or any of the other writings out there that give us a wonderful description of what God’s Word really is and what God’s Word really does. But that shouldn’t take away from the accuracy of the book or the obvious passion the author has for the authority of the Bible. It is, admittedly, a cursory look at the subject, but he handles each section with a clarity and with a writing style that is easy to follow and interesting all along the way.
As the author mentions, this is not an exhaustive treatment on the subject fit for seminary students who want to know every detail about the ins and outs of Scripture over the millennia. But it is a beneficial volume for the pastor and his people who want a refresher on the importance of God’s Word for their lives. I think it would be a wonderful little book to hand to a member or a prospect who wants to gain a better understanding about God’s Word in general and why this ancient collection of documents is the sole focus of our faith.
Because of the simplicity of its outline and the logical order of each chapter, it could easily be made into a Bible study. In fact, the author has provided a free study guide for his book that can be found at www.crossway.com/kdystudyguide. I haven’t scoured the questions on this guide in depth, but after a quick look, it might serve at least as a starting point if you want to construct something on your own.
Overall, “Taking God at His Word” was time well spent and a worthwhile read. Your members who might not have the background you do in all things Scripture would probably gain some insight and understanding that they didn’t have before if they took this book in their hands. And, Lord willing, it would motivate them to read the Bible itself that much more.