Book Review: Taking God At His Word

In his latest book – Taking God at His Word, author and pastor Kevin DeYoung is on a mission to show us why the Bible is knowable, necessary, and enough and he attempts to tackle this in a book that weighs in under 150 pages (103 on my Nook reader).

Taking God at His Word - by Kevin DeYoungDeYoung admits in the opening pages of his book that he wants to “convince you (the reader) that the Bible makes no mistakes, can be understood, cannot be overturned, is the most important word in your life, and the most relevant thing that you can read each day.”

This is not an easy task, but DeYoung brings a convincing argument to the reader within the very first chapter of the book.

In a somewhat unorthodox fashion the book begins with it’s conclusion.  The rest of the chapters in the book are the necessary building blocks that work to show us what Kevin has set out to show us using Psalm 119 as the foundation. It’s not too difficult to see that young believers will most assuredly be the ones to benefit from this kind of book. DeYoung writes simply, passionately, and very matter of factly about his argument, and I believe this book will be used to help new believers understand why as Christians we do what the title suggests – take God at His Word.

“Psalm 119 shows us what to believe about the word of God, what to feel about it, and what to do with it.”

The books aim is to show us these truths:

1) God’s Word says what is true.

2) God’s Word demands what is right.

3) God’s Word provides what is good.

4) God’s Word is enough.

5) God’s Word is clear.

6) God’s Word is necessary.

I’ve read several of Kevin DeYoung’s books – most recently the book Crazy Busy, and I believe that this is one of his best so far. Some of Kevin’s books have been hit or miss in my opinion, but I’ve always enjoyed seeing Kevins personality come out within each book.  He is a very likable guy and you get a sense of knowing his heart for the Gospel, and as a writer myself that is something that I also strive for. This book is above and beyond his previous works and is very solid and enjoyable to read.  In a day and age when the authority and reliability of Scripture is under attack it is refreshing to see someone stand upon the Word of God as the foundation for living life.  The chapters flow well together, each one builds upon the next, giving the reader a well rounded argument for why we should believe this book is the inspired Word of God. Personally I found that his exposition of Psalm 119 in Chapter One alone to be worth the price of the book.

Being a lover of theology I also enjoyed his appendix on thirty of the best books on the Good book. If you are looking for similar books that delve deeper into this topic, Kevin has provided you with a great list of resources for the beginner, the intermediate, and the advanced reader.  Some noteworthy titles that he mentions – The Historical Reliability of the Gospels by Craig Blomberg, Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen, and Hermeneutics, Authority, and Canon by D.A. Carson.

Kevin says some very challenging things in this book, but perhaps the most perplexing of those is a statement he makes early on in the book. He writes

“Too often, Christians reflect on only what they should believe about the word of God.  Psalm 119 forces us to consider how we feel about the word of God.  The Psalmist delights in it. The Psalmist desires it. The Psalmist depends on it.”

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about my feelings towards the Scriptures because I know just how misleading my feelings can be. Reading Psalm 119 however does force us to consider how we feel about the Word of God.  I see how the Psalmist responds and I ask myself how well do I respond to the Word of God? How strong is my desire to know His Word?  How much of it do I truly understand?  Do I strive to keep the Word of God as the Psalmist does?  These are the questions that Kevin asks us and whether we like it or not, we must come to terms with these kinds of questions.

My only real complaint about the book is the length of the book itself.  I don’t fault the author so much as I fault the reader for this. Since the explosion of social media, it seems as though the readers want their information in bite size pieces. The Twitter and Facebook generation doesn’t want to read long books (nor long blogs) any longer.  (Note: at 793 words right now I gotta wrap this one up!). So writers are constantly being challenged to write shorter books to hold the attention span of an audience who won’t read a book if it is over 200 pages. This has advantages as well as disadvantages. It is good for writers to get to the point of what they want to share (DeYoung does this very well), but so much can be left out in the process. I felt as though this book could have gone much deeper into the topic and I believe DeYoung knows this as well, which explains the appendix at the end.  He is encouraging the reader to dig deeper, and is providing them with a list of resources in which to do it.

If you are looking for a great book on the authority and reliability of the Scriptures – Taking God At His Word is a good place to start.

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