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Death by Love: Letters from the Cross (Re:Lit:Vintage Jesus) Hardcover – September 12, 2008
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"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.
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The book's format is accessible and easy to read--which is a good thing because the subjects he deals with are not. Each chapter begins by introducing the counselee and his or her situation. That is followed by a personal letter from Driscoll to his counselee.
As is his style, Driscoll pulls no punches. For example, he begins his letter to the recently saved former child molester who is understandably dealing with guilt, "You are a despicable human being. Jesus knew you would be born and said that it would be better if a large millstone were tied around your neck and you were thrown into the sea." Then he continues by expounding the doctrine of justification to him. It is as if he is saying, "Now that we've got the fact that you are a disgusting sinner out of the way, let's talk about how you have been made righteous by the blood of Jesus.
If nothing else, this book is bloody. Rather than pointing his counselees to humanistic self-help, self-esteem psychology, Driscoll takes each of them directly to the cross and the particular Old Testament sacrifice it fulfilled. He effectively points to a single theological aspect of the atoning work of Jesus on the cross as the solution to each problem.
How refreshing it is to see the many facets of salvation effectively applied to the deepest hurts people can experience. Just as Mark Driscoll has exemplified in this book, may we as pastors and counselors wholly rely on the blood of Christ in our counseling rather than leaning on the broken reed of humanistic psychology.
"Death by Love" is ostensibly a collection of letters from Pastor Mark Driscoll to members of his church or people he's come into contact with. All are broken, sinful humans (as we all are), and many are unsaved. Most have horrible stories -- victims of rape or incest, pedophiles, adulterers, you name it. In each letter, Driscoll espouses how an aspect of Christ's character both reveals and in many cases comforts the recipient.
You'll get a thorough treatise, in a sort of theology-medium level, of everything from Christ's example to his propitiation and expiation and even issues of limited/unlimited atonement.
The letters make this an interesting read. However, at times, the letter format felt forced; it seemed as if Driscoll should have either moved into a sermon, or focused more on the individual. So there are a few weird, "this doesn't quite fit" moments. Still, it's a worthwhile read.
Protestants, especially of the Calvinist and old Lutheran bent, speak often and rightly about the importance of imputed righteousness. Imputed righteousness is the idea that, since we are sinners, we can't produce our own righteousness. Our lack of true righteousness and even the ability to produce true righteousness thus alienate us from a totally righteous God. But through faith in Christ, Christ's righteousness covers us, which allows us to have a relationship with God.
Imparted righteousness takes this all one glorious and absolutely astounding step further. Because of Christ, God's righteousness begins to flow in us when we put our faith in Christ. Lots of conservative protestants question imparted righteousness because they think it smacks of works-based righteousness.
But there's scripture to back imparted righteousness. Yet because it has been twisted around by, sadly, powerful religious forces throughout the centuries to mean something like works-based righteousness, it hasn't gotten the notice it deserved.
At first, imparted righteousness sounds like sanctification. But where as sanctification has historically carried with it a sense that it's something you have to participate in, imparted righteousness carries more a sense that it's something that gets done to you as you're banging away at sin. And often failing.
All I can say is if you're struggling with sin, ask God to open you up to his imparted righteousness.
A lot of times, when we are struggling with sin--let's just take as a hypothetical instance, anger--we think we can't go to God for help. We have to get rid of the sin first. Either that, or join the Republican Party and vote for idiots who love to start wars, and flood the Gulf with oil, and foster policies that drive us into near economic depressions every once in a while, while allowing the likes of billionaire Warren Buffet to get off paying less taxes than his secretary.
Sigh. I had to get that in before the Nov. 2010 elections.
Next time you become sensitive to your sin, or even depressed over it, or feel like you're about to fall into sin, or even are well on the way -- call, or better yet cry out, to the Lord. Ask him to implant his righteous spirit--which is the also the Spirit of Christ--into you at that very moment. A battle immediately begins between the flesh and the spirit. But as you continue to cry out, and become sensitive to God's sovereign work, the spirit get stronger.
I cannot begin to tell you how powerful it is when a sin you've been struggling with maybe for years suddenly just gets overwhelmed by God's righteous spirit working in you. You will know that God is real. And just as importantly, you will understand what life in the Spirit feels like. It's all very humbling, which is what you need to experience to advance in the deeper things of God.
I'm not a big fan of Driscoll. In this book, as in his others, he sometimes gets upity, like some kind of shock-jock-often hypocritical-prideful megapastor jerk. He gets angry at guys struggling with sexual sin when, in the past, he's semi-condoned sexual sin in pastors, suggesting their wives weren't being alluring enough. Get the 8 X 8 out of your face, Driscoll.
But I have to admit, in the book there are some pretty nasty characters.
But also in this book the authors take a magnificent page from his (and my) uber generous hero, Spurgeon, and by extension Spurgeon's Spurgeon: John Owen. (Owen, as a pastoral pastor's pastor, has no peers, except Christ.)
With the (re)introduction of imparted righteousness, I and the authors and all the people they address in the book finally have the ironclad mechanism to break the embedded sin in our lives. It's source is no other than God himself.
Seek help in the amazing work of God done in Jesus, not the Republican Party, you morons. And you moron Democrats,too, who like to parade your sin in guise of justice!
Forgive me Lord, for I have sinned, again. Implant your righteousness in my heart. Take away the bitterness and frustration.
Also fascinating to me is Mark Driscoll's understanding of Calvinism and Arminianism, he is really able show that God is both choosing the elect and has free grace available to all. You don't need to pick one or the other. It was the first time I had ever heard a point of view like that with clarity.
Very good book!