Thursday, March 12, 2009

Death By Love: Book Review

Mark Driscoll has recently been a publishing phenomenon. Hot on the heels of his The Radical Reformission, Confessions of a Reformission Rev, Vintage Jesus, Vintage Church and Porn-Again Christian, comes his latest book, Death By Love. Having recently finished it, I have to highly recommend it.

The book, after an introduction on the importance of penal substitution, consists of twelve pastoral letters to people he knows. They're a mixture of Christians and non-Christians, and through the letters, Driscoll applies an aspect of the cross of Jesus Christ to their specific situation. So, for someone struggling with the sin of molesting a child, the aspect of justification is brought out. Or for someone wanting to know what God is like, the aspect of God's self-revelation on the cross is highlighted.

Driscoll has sometimes been criticised of being arrogant and heavy-handed, but here his pastoral concern is very apparent. Further, it is clear that he is solely concerned with the welfare of people, and in leading them to appreciate the cross of Jesus, in all its many aspects and facets.

The situations described are terrible, with reader discretion possibly required for younger readers, or those particularly sensitive souls. Yet having felt the utter hopelessness and sheer horror of some of the people's problems, the good news of the cross shines through all the clearer.

Some minor things, though, annoyed me enough to raise in a review. Firstly, sometimes his handling of Scripture leaves a lot to be desired. I know that sometimes mistakes are easily made, but he completely misrepresents the slaughter of the innocents as Herod seeking to kill the first-born sons in Bethlehem. Mixing his Bible stories, somewhat!

Also, as the pastoral letters were originally written to twelve separate individuals, who wouldn't have been reading the letters to the others, then he has to explain specific details in each of the letters. For the reader, this then means that the details of the Day of Atonement, with the two goats, one sacrificed and one the scape-goat are repeated time and again. Yes, it's probably helpful to be reminded, but it did seem overkill.

These minor issues, though, aren't enough to prevent me saying that Death by Love is an incredibly helpful and very necessary book. With lots to think about, and good examples of application of biblical truth to specific people and their needs, it is a great book for pastors especially, but also for any Christian to take and learn from.

No comments:

Post a Comment