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Taking GOD at His WORD: An Interview with Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, answers questions about his new book on the Word of God.
Taking GOD at His WORD: An Interview with Kevin DeYoung

Q: You explain that Psalm 119 describes how we ought to feel about the Word of God—that we should delight in and desire it. How do these two things show themselves practically in our everyday lives?

Are we grieved when God's Word is violated by others and by ourselves?

Kevin DeYoung: For starters, there is an affective element. We should be eager to study the word. We should look forward to good preaching. We should love to sing the Bible and hide it in our hearts. Beyond that, the surest way to measure desire and delight is to see what we actually do with the Word of God. Do we read it regularly? Do we welcome its rebuke and gladly accept its instruction? Are we grieved when God's Word is violated by others and by ourselves? Can we say with the Psalmist that it is good to be afflicted, that we might learn God's statues?

Q: The second chapter begins with the testimony of a man who claims to have heard the audible voice of God. You make the point that through the Bible, God speaks to us personally. Practically speaking, how can a Christian make the Bible feel personal without twisting it to be some sort of horoscope or self-help book?

Kevin: The Bible should feel personal. It is God's living and active word (Heb. 4:12). The author of Hebrews quotes from the Old Testament by noting "the Holy Spirit says" (Heb. 3:7). God is still speaking through the words he inspired. Practically, there are a number of things we can do to personalize the Bible: pray Scripture using the handy mnemonic "rejoice, repent, request", read the Psalms, look for promises, insert first personal pronouns. But of course, before we make the Bible say something to us, we need to understand what the original authors intended to say and what the text meant to the original audience.

The Bible should feel personal.

Q: You emphasize the importance of the little word "is" in the phrase, "The Bible is the Word of God." Why?

Kevin: When it comes to the doctrine of Scripture, deviations are subtle but significant. Some Christians are happy to say the Bible contains the Word of God or becomes the Word of God. They will gladly speak of Scripture's authority. But the inspiration doesn't reside in the text so much as in the Spirit speaking through the text. This makes the authority subjective rather than objective. The Bible no longer is the Word of God. Karl Barth and Neo-Orthodox theologians lauded the importance of the Bible but they did not hold a traditional Reformation view of inspiration and authority. It's common to find evangelicals making the same (mis)step today.

Q: You write that one of the primary factors in matters of theological difference is where one finds ultimate authority: the Bible, the Church, the Self, or elsewhere. What are some ways you see this idea playing out in American culture today?

Kevin: In church circles, the question of ultimate authority is what divide Catholics, liberals, and evangelicals. Who or what has the last word? Is it a magisterium, our personal experience, or the Scriptures alone? In the culture at large we see, not surprisingly, that many of our differences come back to this same question of ultimate authority. We all give the final say to some person or institution—science, parents, impressions, experience, government, peer review, whatever. The task before the church is to be relentlessly and winsomely biblical. We can't settle for slogans. We need to open our Bibles and look carefully at actual chapters and verses. If we want the world to find the truth, it starts with us being better Bereans.

I've never met anyone who reverences the Bible more than Jesus did.

Q: How do we keep from committing "bibliolatry" or making the Bible a god itself while still loving and holding high the Word of God? Is this a concern? Why or why not?

Kevin: Frankly, it's not a big concern. I've never met anyone who reverences the Bible more than Jesus did. Of course, we can approach the Scripture without love, without humility, and without anything more than a desire to make ourselves puffed up and powerful. But that's not bibliolatry. That's plain old pride.

Q: In one sentence, what you would like your reader to gain from reading Taking God at His Word?

Kevin: God wrote the Bible, so if God is altogether right and wholly without error, I can trust that everything taught in Scripture is true, beautiful, and for my good.

Kevin will be dropping by if you'd like to ask any questions about his book and its ideas.

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Taking GOD at His WORD: An Interview with Kevin DeYoung