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Death by Love: Letters from the Cross (Re:Lit:Vintage Jesus) Hardcover – September 12, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Seven Last Words: An Invitation to a Deeper Friendship with Jesus by James Martin
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Best-selling author Father James Martin offers a series of meditations on the seven sayings Jesus made from the cross. Learn more | See related books

Editorial Reviews


"Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears demonstrate with great pastoral skill how rich the gospel is for addressing the common and not so common battles of daily living. The Christian message of a man dying on a cross to rescue wayward sinners and sufferers can seem remote and irrelevant. Yet, Mark and Gerry take the many facets of this diamond we know as the grace of God revealed to us in Christ's life, death, and resurrection and show how powerfully relevant it is for us today. What is so encouraging is that their emphasis on living the Christian life is rooted solidly in the person and work of Jesus. As a pastor and counselor, I was encouraged personally as I read each story and strengthened in my confidence that the gospel is truly sufficient for all who seek rest in a weary world. This book is brutally honest about sin and suffering and wonderfully hopeful as they point us to our true Savior."
Timothy S. Lane, Executive Director, The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation

"Unabashedly bold and yet at times touchingly tender, Mark Driscoll's voice has the ring of a modern-day Puritan. The authors have written a book that will, like few others, encourage, comfort, instruct, challenge and perhaps even occasionally enrage the body of Christ. Death by Love has all the makings of a modern classic of applied Reformed spirituality, with a pastoral twist. It deserves to be read, weighed, and deeply considered."
Gary Thomas, Author, Sacred Marriage; The Beautiful Fight

"In an age when many Christian leaders plunder pop psychology or tear pages from the latest self-esteem bestseller to bring 'practical' help to struggling people, Death by Love demonstrates that the greatest help and the only true solutions to our corrupt natures are found at the cross of Christ. The stories portrayed in the chapters of this book are all too real, but more importantly, the pastoral responses offer riveting applications of the cross for true and lasting transformation."
Bruce A. Ware, Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"It seems that most if not everything cherished as the historic Christian faith is under attack today. Nowhere is this attack more fiercely waged than against the theology of the cross of Christ. A key reason for my confidence in this book is its brilliant presentation of the historic theology of the cross and how it defends reprehensible attacks against it."
Gregg R. Allison, Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"It has been said that the church of the next generation will be led by those who can teach doctrine winsomely. Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears demonstrate that kind of leadership, and this work is an example of their skill. It is practical and powerful. It applies the sufficiency of Jesus to the real-life challenges we face in the church each and every day. If you work with hurting people you need Death by Love."
Dan Jarrell, Teaching Pastor, ChangePoint Church, Anchorage, Alaska

"I can't remember the last time a book about theology made me this emotional. I got angry and uplifted and stunned and encouraged in almost every chapter! This is an inspiring book from an ingenious idea. Since Christian theology was formed in real-life letters written to real people in the New Testament, why not teach theology through letters to real people in the twenty-first century? Mark Driscoll is an outspoken, in-your-face pastor. Gerry Breshears is a soft-spoken, precise theologian. Death by Love, written by both, reads like an epistle from the apostles Paul and Peter-precision-tooled and passionate and completely impossible to put down. This may be the first time you ever found theology both outrageous and logical, challenging and comforting, but never boring."
Rene Schlaepfer, Senior Pastor, Twin Lakes Church, Santa Cruz, California

"There is joy in reading a teaching pastor and a preaching teacher firmly rooted in historical doctrine. The authors connect squarely with our ever-changing culture, declaring the central doctrine of Jesus' death and why it is important. Both Mark and Gerry write with expected frankness, clarity, and depth of conviction. Thank you."
William D. Mounce, President, BiblicalTraining.org

"For anyone who thinks that theology is dry, boring, and disconnected to real life, read this book. Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears not only demonstrate the relevance of theology to life but convincingly show how it has the most compelling and satisfying answers to life's tough issues."
Clinton E. Arnold, Professor and Chairman, Department of New Testament, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

"Another incredible book by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears! At times this book will be painful for you to read, but it won't leave you where it finds you. It will leave you more in love with the God who died for you. It will leave you more resolved to devote your one and only life to his cause. I highly recommend this book, for students, professors, Christ followers, or those seeking the truth about Jesus. It will challenge the way you think and change the way you live."
John Bishop, Senior Pastor, Living Hope Church, Vancouver Washington; Founder, only god network

About the Author

Mark Driscoll is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Church, a multi-site congregation based in Seattle that spans 15 locations in five states. He is the founder of Resurgence (theResurgence.com), co-founder of the Acts 29 Network, and the author of numerous books, including Death by Love and Vintage Jesus. Pastor Mark’s sermons reach millions of listeners online, and in 2010 Preaching magazine named him one of the 25 most influential pastors of the past 25 years. Pastor Mark and his wife have five children.

Gerry Breshears (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is professor of theology and chairman of the division of biblical and theological studies at Western Seminary. He also serves as an elder and on the preaching team at Grace Community Church in Gresham, Oregon.


Product Details

  • Series: Re:Lit:Vintage Jesus
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway (September 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433501295
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433501296
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #190,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Death by Love is Mark Driscoll's fourth book (or eighth if you count the "A Book You'll Actually Read" series of booklets released earlier this year by Crossway) and the second to be released in the 2008 calendar year. It follows Vintage Jesus, Confessions of a Reformission Rev. and The Radical Reformission. Along with Vintage Jesus it is the second to be co-written with Gerry Breshears. Death by Love is unique among Driscoll's books in that it is serious in tone from the first page to the last; gone is the sometimes-irreverent humor and gone is the biographical theme. In place comes a deadly-serious look at deadly-serious theology.

The book is written in quite a unique format. Following the model of the biblical epistles, Driscoll writes letters to his congregation--individuals who have come to him for pastoral counsel through the years of his ministry. He writes letters to address their issues in light of the gospel. "Our approach is an effort to show that there is no such thing as Christian community or Christian ministry apart from a rigorous theology of the cross that is practically applied to the lives of real people.
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Format: Hardcover
Mark Driscoll is accused of being many things. I would like to accuse him of being spot on in "Death By Love". His approach to this book is different than much of his previous writing - it is far more pastoral, with "letters" to people included. The goal of this book and these "letters" is to help people be transformed by the amazing grace that is Jesus Christ. Driscoll is Gospel centered in this book, and wise in his counsel. Jesus was victorious on the Cross, saving us from our sinful selves, and Driscoll does a good job of putting that into a perspective that applies to day-to-day living. While it is theological, it is not abstract. Driscoll doesn't shy away from tough or even potentially controversial subject matter. He approaches it head on and earnestly, giving his unapologetic style real world teeth.
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Format: Hardcover
When I heard about this book, the thing that interested me was that it took real life stories and told of their connection to Christ's death. Why is Jesus the answer for the woman who has been raped? Why is Jesus the answer for the pedophile? Why is Jesus the answer for the man whose wife has cheated on him?

I bought the book because in my own life, I often see a separation between hurting people and the gospel, I was hoping to gain insight as to how to counsel individuals who have gone through similar trauma. I think I was expecting more of a narrative. Each chapter starts with a short narrative, and each letter of response from Mark Driscoll begins very warmly and in the concrete, but I found myself struggling to track with the responses. There was a very definite demarcation between the "theology" part and the "real life" part. I was hoping there wouldn't be, which is why I bought the book. From the title, cover, and much of the letters written, I got the feeling Mark was trying to communicate that Christ's horrible suffering and death takes Him from an abstract theology to a very relatable, concrete personhood. The problem is that it's hard to relate to torture, and also hard to explain to people who are hurting that someone else's torture absorbs and alleviates their own.

All that being said, the book does give a great defense of substitutionary atonement. He explains it in very simple language. I was moved and inspired by the author's heart of love for each of the people he dealt with. And I appreciate that he presented Christ as the answer. I guess I was hoping that His life and resurrection would play into that answer a little more.
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Format: Hardcover
Mark Driscoll thinks the cross is the answer to your problem. That's right. Whatever your problem, the cross provides the answer.

In Death by Love: Letters from the Cross (Crossway, 2008), Driscoll describes the cross as a multi-faceted jewel that needs to be appreciated in all its biblical glory. He refuses to pit one theory of the atonement against another, instead insisting that the proper view of the cross will lead to proper pastoral application of each theory.

"Most poor teaching about the cross results from someone's denying one of these facets, ignoring one of these facets, or overemphasizing one of these facets at the expense of others, often due to an overreaction to someone else's overreaction. Such narrow and reactionary theology has tragically caused the beauty of the cross to become obscured by the various warring teams that have risen up to argue for their systematic theology rather than bowing down in humble worship of the crucified Jesus." (10)

Driscoll may be committed to letting all of the atonement theories have their place, but he remains staunchly committed to the traditional substituationary view. He takes on the recent critics of the substitutionary view:

"Such critics are also commonly known to be the most vocal of hypocrites, simultaneously demanding justice on the earth for the poor, oppressed, and abused, while denying God the same kind of justice that is due him by those people that he created to glorify him with sinless obedience." (22)

One might say that Driscoll sees substitution as the central theory, around which all the other theories find their ultimate meaning and strongest application.


Death by Love contains powerful imagery.
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