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Death by Love by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears

December 11, 2008

There is nothing that I enjoy more than studying good, sound Biblical theology, however what good is the soundest theology if we don’t apply it to our life and be transformed by it with the help of the Holy Spirit. This is what Mark Driscoll attempts to do with his book Death by Love, more specifically applying the theology of the Cross. He generally states this in the first paragraph of the preface by telling us:

Because no one is born into this world with a theology, each generation must rediscover the truths of Scripture for itself. In doing so it must labor to connect the unchanging answers of God’s word with the ever-changing questions of its culture. Sometimes this project is successfully undertaken, and the result is a glorious resurgence of a faithful and fruitful Christian church. Sometimes this project is unsuccessfully undertaken, and the tragic result is false teaching that renders the church impotent to see the power of the gospel unleashed because she either has a false Jesus or is embarrassed by the real one. (9)

And later he narrows down his methodology when he tells us that:

This book is an attempt at faithfulness to the timeless truths of Scripture that have served the church well since the first promise of Jesus’ suffering was pronounced by God to our first parents in the garden. We hope to present the timeless truths of the cross in a timely manner that is biblically faithful, culturally, relevant, and personally helpful. Our objective is to think God’s thoughts after him as revealed in Scripture, and if at any point we fall in this, we ask God’s forgiveness and your kindness. (12, 13)

Mr. Driscoll does indeed stay faithful with God’s Holy Word, yet this book is written in a way that enabled him take “the many sides of the great jewel of the cross” and show us how to apply it to our dark and desperate world. He begins with an introduction entitled “We Killed God: Jesus is Our Substitutionary Atonement.” In each of the following chapters Pastor Driscoll describes a situation with a real person that he has talked with in his role as a pastor in one of the most unchurched cities in America, Seattle, WA. At times these peoples stories will break your heart, other times they will stir up a part of you that cries out for justice, however at all times we see people that Christ has died for. After he gives us this understanding of the people he pastors, Mark Driscoll then writes a letter to them explaining how the Cross of Christ can be applied to them and how this finished work can heal them.

This book does a wonderful job taking the totality of Christ’s work on the Cross and applying it to peoples’ lives. The following are the theological aspects of the Cross that Mark Driscoll tackles in this book: substitutionary atonement, Christus Victor, redemption, new covenant sacrifice, the gift of righteousness, justification, propitiation, expiation, unlimited limited atonement, ransom, Christus Exemplar, reconciliation, and the revelation of God in Christ Jesus. After each chapter there are further questions asked and answered, presumably by co-author Gerry Breshears. Combine all of this with an appendix with a thorough reading list of books that delve even deeper into the Cross and you get a wonderful book that glorifies the beauty of the Cross.

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