Mark Driscoll, the founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, has co-authored with Western Seminary theology professor Gerry Breshears a finely tuned treatise on the importance of understanding and appreciating the depth of Christ's sacrifice on the cross and what it means to today's believer.
Written from a pastoral perspective in which Driscoll recounts 12 "counseling cases" on various topics and then answers such questions from the foot of the cross, readers will be moved both emotionally and intellectually. Driscoll and Breshears lay out the premise to this fine text by offering readers a cursory overview definition of the cross's significance and meaning to the Christian faith.
There are four central truths regarding the cross, writes Driscoll and Breshears. First, the cross is a multi-faceted jewel. Second, the cross is most definitely not a pagan jewel made over from some ancient religion. Third, the cross does not stand alone "but is mounted in the setting of Jesus' work in history." Fourth, the cross fully reveals God's love for mankind like nothing else. In this framework, the authors offer the amazing and multi-faceted jewel of the cross specific to each individual's need as Driscoll pens a personal letter in like manner as did the apostles who as Christian leaders wrote to those they loved within their flock. Further, they purport that Christians need to recognize 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."
So saying, the authors launch into the lives of men and women who have been hurt, abused, neglected, rejected and similarly have done the same against others. One of the amazingly revealing and painful subject matters includes the story of a woman (Katie) who was abused sexually as a child and grew up leading a promiscuous lifestyle. She later became a believer, married, and yet continues to confront her past and is tormented by her former sins and by demonic whisperings.
Driscoll, in a gentle yet tough love approach, walks this seared soul through the paces as he offers biblical instruction, counsel and then hope. He beautifully shares portions of scripture with Katie regarding demonic and spiritual warfare, challenging her to fight against her eternal foe with the weapons offered by Christ through the cross. Excellent in both delivery and biblical correctness, Driscoll's pastoral voice shines through as he admonishes Katie to live as an overcomer, for Jesus is Katie's "Christus Victor."
In similar style, Driscoll addresses other equally heart-rending (and all too common) human life experiences. Readers will learn about the cross's power to wield victory over such habitual enslavements as lust, anger, revenge, hatred, rape, infidelity, terminal illness and false righteousness. Powerfully presented and humbly offered, evangelicals and seekers alike will appreciate this excellent and timely text, especially when so many Christ followers continue to flounder in their faith walk due to simple lack of understanding of the cross's purpose and power for their lives.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on September 12, 2008
Death by Love: Letters from the Cross