An Interview With Kevin DeYoung About the Bible, Michigan State Basketball, and the Cosby Show

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A candid, unposed, unplanned photo of Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at University Reformed Church, in East Lansing, Michigan. He writes a lot of books. He likes sports. He was kind enough to answer some questions for me about his most recent book, Taking God At His Word

Your book about why you love the church featured an endorsement from J.I. Packer in which he wanted to stand up and cheer. I notice that JI didn’t endorse this book. Did you and JI Packer have a falling out?

I’m not sure what happened. One minute I’m sending him page proofs, and the next minute he’s all like “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

What motivated you to write this particular book?

The doctrine of Scripture is one of those doctrines that is always under attack and the attacks take many different forms. It’s not always liberals shouting that the Bible can’t be trusted. Evangelicals can deny (practically) the sufficiency of Scripture or throw up their hands in the midst of controversy as if they don’t believe in the clarity of Scripture. I wanted to write a book that addressed perennial concerns by simply stating what the Bible says about itself. There are a lot of books on defending the Bible, reading the Bible, and interpreting the Bible. I thought we need a short book on the nature of the Bible itself.

Did you go through a period of mourning when MSU was eliminated from the NCAA Basketball Tournament?

You don’t even want to know. I was so frustrated. It really felt like our worst game of the year. I don’t know why we kept doing the weave up top and never drove the ball or fed the rock to Payne. This was our year to win the tournament. But hats off to the Huskies. They were the best team over the last six games. I’m just glad we could go to church after the Spartans lost on Sunday afternoon. That put things in perspective.

These days, it’s considered cool and trendy to question everything, including God’s word. What would you say to the Christian who is struggling with a particular doctrine of scripture? Examples would be election, homosexuality, God’s sovereignty, etc.

Start with Jesus. What did he think of the word of God? He said the Scriptures were unbreakable (John 10:35). He vowed not to loose one little bit of his Bible (Matt. 5:7-19). He believed what Scripture said, God said (Matt. 19:4-5). We need to get our own views of Scripture squared away and squared with Christ’s. Then we have to absolutely commit ourselves to believing whatever the Bible teaches, no matter how backward it seems to our neighbors or how much we wish it said something else. Whom will we trust? Ourselves? Our science? Our experiences? Or God?

Who did you have in mind when you wrote this book?

I wanted to write a simply book that could be read by anyone in the church. There are a number of great mid-level and academic books on Scripture. Most of those won’t be read by small groups and college fellowships and lay elders. I’m hoping this book puts some of the best doctrinal cookies on shelf where most everyone can munch away.

One of the biggest concerns I have for my generation is their lack of knowledge regarding the Cosby family. Do you share my concern?

Seriously. Clean, funny, conservative in values, and it introduced a lot of us to a few things about African American culture. Just be sure to stick with the earlier seasons. The later episodes have the Cosby house too crammed with cute kids, long lost relatives, and other wannabes looking for a sitcom spinoff.

You seem to write a new book every three weeks or so. What’s next?

I have a new book coming out in June called “Just Do Something, But Then Stop Doing That Thing So You Aren’t So Crazy Busy.” Actually, I’m probably taking a little break. I have a children’s book on the storyline of the Bible which comes out next year. After that, there is nothing in the works. I need to buckle down and work on my doctoral studies.

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