A Review: Death by Love Part 4

Death By Love: Letters From the Cross

By Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears

Driscoll, Mark, and Gerry Breshears. Death By Love: Letters From the Cross. Wheaton , Ill.: Crossway Books, 2008.

Mark Driscoll is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, one of the fastest-growing churches in America. He is president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network and leads the Resurgence Missional Theology Cooperative.

Gerry Breshears is professor of theology and chairman of the division of biblical and theological studies at Western Seminary. He and Driscoll also coauthored Vintage Jesus.”[1]

Review:

Chapter Seven: Expiation

The character of this chapter is Mary a girl that over and over has been violated by predators.  Mary continually in many ways was abused by those that were supposed to love her.  She does not understand the doctrine of expiation that Christ fulfilled through dying on the cross.  Driscoll first makes a case for her defilement being caused by both active and passive sins.[2] He is speaking of both those sins that she committed and the ones that are committed against her.  Giving a further framework for understanding defilement Driscoll gives three categories of defilement, with the supporting scripture.  “First, places become defiled by sin…Second, things, such as the marriage bed, become defiled by sin…Third, people are defiled by sin.”[3] All the categories of defilement act in the same way, they bring a sense of shame.  Mary has both previously been sinned against defiled and now is struggling and sinning against others.  When we are defiled or defiling others we want to cover up our shame.  Driscoll uses the analogy of a fig leaf to cover up our shame.  To do this he gives four roles for the fig leaves.  “The first fig leaf is worn by the good girl…the second fig leaf is worn by the tough girl…the third leaf is worn by the party girl…the fourth leaf is worn by the church lady.”[4] All of these different ways of covering the shame of defilement lead one to believe that Christ has not expiated us through the cross.  Jesus Christ was the scapegoat; he took our shame upon himself.[5] Driscoll rightly gives word pictures about cleansing, for Mary to apply to her life; in order to actively live out an expiated life.  This chapter deals with something that definitely is timely in a world that has a high level of abuse to children and teens.  Mary’s situation is not that uncommon and I pray that God will use a book like this to bring people to himself.

Death by Love

Chapter Eight: Unlimited Limited Atonement

This chapter is of special importance to both Driscoll and I, for him he writes this as a letter to his son, for me it is the doctrine that I have struggled with the most.  I found this chapter most helpful to understand this complex doctrine.  On page one sixty eight there is an immensely useful chart on differing views on atonement.  Ranging from Universalism and Pelagianism (both heretical) to Unlimited Atonement, Limited Atonement, and Unlimited Limited Atonement.  This chapter although my favorite does not provide pithy quotes, but directly presents unlimited limited atonement as the most biblically supported.  He summarizes the approach he takes to Unlimited Limited Atonement by saying, “this both/and approach of unlimited limited atonement explains the biblical statements about Jesus’ dying to reconcile all things to the Father.”[6] The atonement has always been and always will a doctrine that will be attacked from both inside the church and outside the church.  Driscoll although the conclusion of this chapter is a modified Calvinist view, and presenting a somewhat progressive understanding of limited atonement, finds its grounding in the sovereignty of God through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  Foundationally, I found this chapter to defend the middle ground that I always hoped to hear from a pastor, that does not forsake the authority of scripture for cultural authority.

This is the fourth post of six, to see the other ones please search Death by Love.


[1] From the back cover of the book.

[2] Driscoll, Mark, and Gerry Breshears. Death By Love: Letters From the Cross. (Wheaton , Ill.: Crossway Books, 2008), 147.

[3] Ibid. 148-149.

[4] Ibid. 150-152.

[5] Hebrews 12:1-3

[6] Driscoll, Mark, and Gerry Breshears. Death By Love: Letters From the Cross. (Wheaton , Ill.: Crossway Books, 2008), 173-174.

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Filed under Application, Book Review, Gospel Foundations, Mueller

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