Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle is known in the wider public sphere for his coarse speech, harsh tone, and for being the ex-emergent emerging pastor. His books are full of witty, if sometimes questionable content, and loads of criticisms against the church.

His most recent book, however, is quite a surprise. It’s not only not funny, but it contains a graphic nature that is entirely appropriate. Driscoll’s book Death By Love: Letters from the Cross is deeply pastoral, theologically rich, and refreshingly honest about the world we live in and the application of the cross to it.

What makes the work so great is not simply that is is a new side to Driscoll, but also that its content shows the relevance for deep theology in everyday life. So many people think that theology is for academics and professional theologians. Driscoll shows us, however, in a fresh way just how important good theology is for living.

The chapters of the book are written to real individuals in real, gritty, heartbreaking situations, from the point of view of Mark as their pastor. Chapter one “Demons are Tormenting Me” explains how Jesus on the cross is one young woman’s conquering hero. Chapter five, “I Molested a Child,” explains how Jesus’ cross is one man’s justification. Chapter seven, “He raped Me,” explores how Jesus’ sacrifice is one woman’s expiation. And chapter nine, “I am Going to Hell,” explains how Jesus’ crucifixion is an old man’s ransom. The multi-faceted nature of the cross is revealed and beloved in these pages.

What’s really refreshing about this book is that while often people think the climax of Christian cultural engagement is reached in reviewing movies, Mark Driscoll (a pastor dedicated to theological orthodoxy and cultural relevance) shows that the greatest aspects of cultural engagement happen when we bring the gospel to bear on the lives of real people!


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