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Religion Saves: And Nine Other Misconceptions (2009)

Religion Saves: And Nine Other Misconceptions (2009)

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3.87 of 5 Votes: 4
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1433506165 (ISBN13: 9781433506161)
Crossway Books

About book Religion Saves: And Nine Other Misconceptions (2009)

So, I find Mark Driscoll to be an annoying man. When I read this book, I certainly didn't hold this opinion; after all, I was coming out of my emergent church phase, so Driscoll's new Calvinism and "manliness" naturally attracted my freshman soul. I read this book then and thought it was pretty good. His chapter on humour was funny; his chapter on contraception was well-thought out; and his chapter on TULIP appeared to be correct and the only way theologically. Unfortunately, after taking quite a few theology, philosophy, and theology classes, I have a hard time accepting TULIP theologically. Not only that, Driscoll now appears to be an egotistical man--he cannot deal with being wrong and seems to have the problems of "manliness run amuck" (Cf. Harvey Mansfield's _Manliness_, which could have its own problems).So, what criteria with which do I rate the book? How I felt when I read it or how I feel now? I go with when I read it; for I don't want to discourage others from coming to the book (his chapters on contraception, as previously mentioned, is well thought out, as is his chapter on the regulative principle... Though I'd need to read them again to know how well I agree with them). Overall, this Driscoll book should be approached under the guise that he could be wrong (whether or not his tone allows for that) and have one seeking to glean from it what they can. In general, my view of Mark Driscoll’s work is mixed at best. However, this book I found to actually be quite useful. It has a lot of what people like about Mark Driscoll (it’s hard-hitting, biblically conservative, relevant, and not afraid to question common Christian thought), and it had a lot less of what usually turns me and others of from Mark Driscoll (legalism, sloppy and forced exegesis, his elevation of his view of manliness as the highest of virtue).The book is divided into 9 distinct chapters (it’s essentially 9 separate sermons), each of which deals with a particular topic. The nine topics were chosen based on questions sent in by Driscoll’s followers, chosen by their vote. Therefore, I will give a brief review of each chapter.Chapter 9: Birth control.Gives a good defense of the standard evangelical view regarding birth control: using birth control is generally acceptable, but abortion is not.Admittedly, not a lot of scripture came up, but that’s usually the case in arguments for any position. The Bible doesn’t really mention birth control one way or another, although crude methods did exist and were common at the time. He does give some useful passages here and there, however. For example, he points to numerous passages in Song of Solomon that speak positively of sexual contact other than full, child-producing intercourse. He also points to passages like 1 Corinthians 7:5, which, in a nutshell, teaches that married people should be having sex often, with no qualification given for infertile couples.He also looks at important issues that revolve around birth control, such as the heart behind. Selfishness is never godly, so the reasons why a couple might use birth control matters. Stuff like that makes this a very useful chapter as well.Interesting factoids also enrich this chapter. I had no idea until reading this, for example, that the birth control pill might (emphasis on might) possibly not only prevent conception, but may cause an abortion of a fertilized egg. For this reason, he recommends caution and prayer when considering the use of the pill.He, like many evangelical Christians (including myself) believe that life begins at conception, and that abortion is wrong (accept perhaps in the most extraordinary of circumstances, such as when the mother’s life is at stake).Chapter 8: HumorDriscoll addresses the claim that his use of humor and sarcasm in preaching are inappropriate, and attempts to look at what the Bible says.This section, I had mixed feelings about. I think the overall point that God Himself doesn’t have the Victorian-era standards of propriety and what is “inappropriate.” As he points out, while the Bible does say to avoid crude joking and the like, something isn’t crude or prohibited by such verses as Ephesians 4:29 and 5:4 just because people don’t like it.He points to examples of Jesus using sarcasm and even insults, though always for the purpose of convincing those whose positions He belittles to repent. Other Bible authors also use strong and even “salty” language. Paul, who is among the most emphatic about crude joking and the like (you’d never catch him saying “that’s what she said!” unless he was recounting to someone what a woman actually said), says things that many today would call “inappropriate.” He calls his prior religiosity the reek equivalent of the S word in Philippians 3:9 (often translated as “rubbish” or the like). He, surely hyperbolically, says that the judaizers who insist that you must be circumcised to be saved, who were leading the Galatians astray, should go castrate themselves (Galatians 5:12). Examples that he doesn’t point to serve the point quite well. If you’ve never read what God Himself says in Ezekiel 23:20, do so and see if I’m wrong.However, I think some of Driscoll’s own commentary can distract form his good points. For starters, just because things like sarcasm and the like are used doesn’t make the text funny. Don’t get me wrong, laughter is good. But I’m not sure a lot the types of examples were meant to actually be humerous. And at times, the only thing that would seem funny is his own modern envisioning of it (and even then, as I could hear him laughing at his own joke, I didn’t laugh). He points to Amos 6:4-6, where Amos attacks the rich by pointing to their extravagant lifestyle in contrast to their lack of concern (and even outright oppression) of the poor. He then talks about how the modern equivalent would be Amos talking about the lifestyle of those on MTV’s Cribs, and how funny that would be. I just don’t really find it funny. It’s not a big deal by any means, but when so much of his point is about how the Bible is supposed to have many funny moments, the fact that these things aren’t funny distracts from the actual good points that I mentioned above.Overall, the meat of this chapter it I good, but it gets muddied up a bit.Chapter 7: PredestinationA very touchy topic, but I think he handles it well without stepping on the toes of any reasonable person.I was not a Calvinist prior to reading this (though I do tend to kind of lean that way), and I still am not. But it framed the case for it well, didn’t make any outrageous caricatures of those who disagree, and gave us a lot of good things to think about.It was short, and so many of the biblical arguments against Calvinism weren’t really touched upon. Also, a few of his passages arguments were circular. Even a Calvinist knows that just because a passage mentions the “elect,” it does not necessarily prove predestination unless you establish that predestination is true and therefore the “elect” are those who are predestined to be saved.Not a bad section, though it won’t change many people’s minds. Chapter 6: GraceNot a bad section. It is spoken from the Calvinist perspective, but it is always good to remember God’s grace. He does then break down the different kinds of grace, saying that there are 13 kinds of grace that the believer experiences (aside from the “common grace” that God shows to everyone).Nothing bad. For some, it might be of more use than others.Question 5: Sexual SinI thought, for the most part, this section was really good. It managed to strike the difficult balance between taking sexual sin seriously and being legalistic.It is very frank and open, so if that makes you uncomfortable, you shouldn’t read it. You also shouldn’t read the Bible in that case, since it also talks about sex a lot.Just about every important aspect of sexual sin comes into play (culture, the heart, sin, repentance, the saving power of Christ). He gives some generally quite useful advice as well. He emphasizes the evil and sheer destruction of sexual sin. He also emphasizes that sex itself, when in the confines of marriage, is a very good thing, not sinful or dirty the way that too many theologians have made it out to be (despite what the Bible actually says).I think the last few pages, which are about masturbation, are kind of a weak point in comparison to the rest. He does at least point out that the Bible never forbids it and it is not itself sinful, though, quite accurately, he makes the point that it can lead to danger. I just wish he hadn’t ended it with his 5 practical reasons why it should be avoided. He goes as far as suggesting that it might be a type of homosexuality, since you are the same gender as yourself. Perhaps he was trying to be funny?Still, the section on the whole is definitely worth reading.Question 4: Faith and WorksContent is good, but it takes until the end for him to address the actual question asked.The question asked was this: “If salvation is by faith alone, then why are there so many verses that say or imply the opposite-the salvation is by works?”In this section, he talks at length about regeneration, how Christ justifies us and the Holy Spirit reforms us and gives us new hearts etc. Only at the end does he even address the question, explaining how it is because we are saved that we do the good works in passages like James 2:24-26, and not the other way around. Theologically I think that his answer is fine, but it probably would have served to explain how what he was going to argue would address the question asked.Question 3: Dating.I expected Driscoll to lose me here, but while he is a bit old-fashioned and very much into “courtship” under the perview of the parents (if they are Christians), he was balanced and not particularly legalistic.I did take some issue with the things that he said. The way he interprets 1 Corinthians 7 and how Paul speaks so highly of singleness, I really felt, kind of tried to get around it. He is right to point to contextual factors, such as how it was written to them in a time of turmoil, but a lot of his points about how singleness is great aren’t unique to the Corinthians in that time. Jesus Himself says to His disciples that some do stay single for the purpose of the kingdom of God, and that those who can accept it should (Matthew 19:12). While Driscoll does point to extreme examples where it is good to stay single (like a missionary in a closed Muslim country whose life is in constant danger), I don’t think he gives enough credit to the idea of some Christians staying single. It is good that he rebuts the unbiblical idea that marriage is bad (put forth, unfortunately, by many influent Christians throughout history), but he swings too far in the other direction. He takes for granted that marriage is not simply a right of all believers, but something that generally is to be expected of them.There are many good parts of this chapter, however. I especially thought that his 7 dating questions for men and for women were quite good. I am especially glad that one of them was, put somewhat brusquely, “is she a b*tch/is he an a**hole?” On TV and in real life, we see way too many people who get married to terrible people who treat them badly. Asking yourself how they treat you while you are dating and if you want to be treated that way (or, probably worse) for the rest of your life is something anyone should be able to recognize as sure wisdom.Question 2: The Emerging ChurchThis chapter is largely focused on the Emergent Church, as other forms of “emerging” church movements don’t differ theologically from traditional Christianity.He looks at a number of Emergent Church leaders, including the now infamous Rob Bell, and the less than savory beliefs they espouse. I thought at times he really drove the point home well (as was the case with Brian McLaren), and at other times, left me wondering if they were saying what Driscoll was saying that they were saying.Question 1: The Regulative PrincipleI, like most readers, had no idea what this was until I read this chapter. Basically, it’s just another name for the idea, furthered by the puritans (and also by a lot of “Church of Christ churches today) that what we do in church must be commanded in scripture, or else it is sin. It’s the reason why many Church of Christ churches, for example, don’t use musical instruments. They aren’t commanded in the Bible for worship, so they are sinful. Well, I mean, they are commanded on many occasions, but it’s in the Old Testament, so it doesn’t count…Anyway, he concisely points out the numerous logical issues with taking to worship in this way, and I think he does a god job of it.I was a little unsure of what to think of the beginning, when he talked about what worship is and what it isn’t. He shows a little bit of his Mark Driscollesque legalism when he says that in corporate worship, you shouldn’t sing songs about what you will do for God because they are not God-centered (a principle of what worship is supposed to be, he says). In other words, it is bad not because it violates the rule of an actual passage, but because it violates a principle that he pulls from the scripture (even though I’m not sure how it even does that). And in worship, the sermon will be all about what God does and what God is doing, he says. So, are sermons based on God’s word that attempt to persuade people to take Godly action not allowed? It could be that he just means that those aren’t actual “worship,” not that they are wrong in church services, but he speaks rather negatively of them, so I don’t know.The main point though, about how the regulative principle is abused and cannot be taken to its logical conclusions or fully followed, stands.CONCLUSION:I thought that this book addressed some important issues and, in general, gave some very good analysis. While the title is misleading almost to the point of not even making sense (as many have pointed out already), it still is a very useful resource.

Do You like book Religion Saves: And Nine Other Misconceptions (2009)?

Spot on except I am not convinced on the predestination but overall a good book.

A fine book. Driscoll is consistantly getting better at writting.

Majorly convicting!

Good book.

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