Religion Saves + Nine Other Misconceptions Review (Andy)
Like Nathan, I was given the privilege of reviewing this book and blogging about it (Here is the backstory).Without further ado, here goes…
This is the 4th book I’ve read authored by Driscoll and I generally enjoy him as a writer. His writing style is very engaging and he clearly communicates deep theological and doctrinal truths in an understandable way. While his jokes don’t come across as well in his writing (they are always run-on sentences that go on and on when they should be split up into multiple sentences or else cut-out completely because they often take away from the point of the overall message :)) as they do in his preaching, he will make you laugh. Overall, my assumption is that the same audience that listens to Driscoll preach will read this book and not be disappointed. Even more, this might be one of those books to put on your shelf to share with a friend that has lots of questions. After all, that is the premise of the book. In it, Driscoll addresses the 9 most popular questions asked of him through an online poll. Below are my thoughts on each chapter (I’ve paraphrased the questions in the parentheses).
Question 9: Birth Control (Does the Bible permit birth control?)
- He begins with a 16 point explanation of his Biblical Worldview (I think he stretches on a few of his points, but overall it was good.)
- Excellent explanation of the different levels of birth control.
- The explanation of the science of the “pill” was eye opening to me.
- Good historical background of birth control.
Highlight: He goes after “…. idiotic husbands who seem to think that birthing is akin to scoring points in a sporting event and all they want to do is outscore their buddies, though they neglect to provide the kind of spiritual, emotional, mental, and financial support to enable their wife to be loved as Christ does his church. “(32-33)
- Wouldn’t be Driscoll if he didn’t kick the men in the pants (even in a chapter about birth control)
Lowlight:”(Margaret) Sanger was simply a wicked woman, and no Christian should agree with her principles or practices.”(22)
- I’m not saying she’s a great woman or that I agree with her, I just think that statement might take it a little too far.
Questions 8: Humor (Why do you make jokes about people in your sermons and then expect these people to come to know God through those sermons?)
- Not my favorite chapter.
- Literary Criticism: this has been a consistent criticism of mine for Driscoll. Too many jokes that seem out of place, and his jokes are run-on sentences that detract from the message and the joke.
- Negative:Perhaps it’s my narrow view of Scripture and it is me reading into the text, but I think he stretches in attempts to make Scripture humorous simply to make his point (Matthew 19:24???).
- Here is a better explanation of Driscoll’s methodolgy
- Interesting: “To those who have been offended by comedic banter, I would simply ask why. If it is because I have sinned, then I ask your forgiveness. But if it is because I have hit a nerve of sin or self-righteousness, then I would welcome you to repent and have a good laugh with me.” (66)
Highlight: Ten Commandments of using Humor is a good guideline.
Question 7: Predestination (Why does a loving, all-knowing God create people he foreknows will go to hell?)
- Probably the best chapter.
- Great historical explanation of Calvinism vs. Armenianism, Monergism vs. Synergism, Double vs. Single Predestination, Pelagianism, etc.
- Doesn’t go beyond where the bible talks, he allows for the mystery of God’s will.
- Instead of using cleverly made up arguments, he uses Paul, and Romans, and exposes on that to explain predestination. Brilliant.
- Even Armenians are gonna have a tough time disagreeing, or at least not desiring this doctrine to be true.
Highlight: Probably the best explanation of predestination through the analogy of a neighbor rescued from a fire. “If a group of people committed themselves to a mass suicide pact and then gathered in a home and set it on fire, no one would claim that their neighbors were unjust if some of them died in the fire. However, if one of the neighbors ran into the blazing inferno to try to rescue them, only to be met with resistance as he threw them one at a time over his shoulder, kicking and screaming, and ran out of the house, and he did this over and over until he saved some people before he himself died of smoke inhalation, he would be lauded as a hero and not criticized as a villain.”(97-98)
Question 6: Grace (What is the hardest part of Christianity for you to believe?)
- Probably the most biographical, personal story yet.
- Young men need to read this
- Explains common vs. special grace. Very clarifying
Highlight: Explains the 13 different types of grace and basically lays out how our whole life is of grace and how we have no reason to boast.
Question 5: Sexual Sin (How do Christians break free from sexual sin?)
- This is Driscoll’s home turf, watch out.
- Interesting: Check out pages 155-157 for his views on masturbation. It may not be so black and white…
- Interesting background on sex education in schools.
- Scary Ted Bundy transcript, I believe it also shows up in Porn Again Christian.
- Question: Lust: “Lust for anyone but your spouse is condemned by God as grievous evil repeatedly throughout both the Old and New Testaments. The act of lusting after the unclothed body of a person is not a sin. The is is which person’s unclothed body you are lusting after. If he or she is your spouse, then you are simply making the Song of Solomon sing again to God’s glory and your joy.”(133)
- I get his point, but I think it is an oversimplification. I believe it is possible to sinfully objectify your spouse as an object for sexual pleasure rather than a person created in the image of God. Therefore, lusting after your spouse can be sinful. In fact, I think the word should be passion for your spouse. Lust seems to characterize an objectification of a person, which I think is always sinful.
Highlight: Personal Legalisms: “It is from the sinfulness of your heart that lust and sin proceed like sewage from a culvert……Practically, this means that only you and God truly know your heart, and, rather than trying to obey legalistic rules, you must be honest about the lusts in your heart and reduce those triggers that stimulate you. This does not mean you should be a legalist who seeks to impose your unbiblical rules on others, arguing that things such as a computer, Internet access, or television are inherently sinful and that no Christian should use them. However, you must have personal legalisms. Personal legalisms are ways in which you follow the conscience God gave you in order to guard your heart.” (146)
Question 4: Faith and Works (If salvation is by faith alone, then what about the verses that imply the opposite—that salvation is by works?)
- Props to John Stott
- 10 aspects of regeneration are great to look at and remind ourselves of.
Highlight:We are not saved from our good works, but to our good works….Therefore, you do not have to do good works so that God will save you; rather, if you are justified and regenerated, you get to do good works because Jesus already saved you. (179)
Question 3: Dating (How can Christians date righteously and what boundaries need to be set?)
- Surprisingly I really liked this chapter
- Lots of good stories
- I want to give this chapter to every single friend I have.
Highlight: Sixteen Christian dating principles for both men and women. Seven Seven Christian dating questions for men. Seven Christian dating questions for women.
Question 2: The Emerging Church (What can established churches learn from “emerging” churches?)
- Clarifying description of the different “roads” of the missional church conversation as well as the confusing different between the Emergent Church (Not so good) and the Emerging Church (Good).
- Good history of his role in the beginning of the emerging church.
- Excellent critique and refutation of the false doctrine of the emergent church and their influences.
Highlight: his defense and decomposition of the emergent church beliefs, writings, and overall theology. Similar to his talk at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Question 1:The Regulative Principle (Should Scripture regulate not just our theology, but also our methodology?)
- Takes the focus off of the question of “how” to conduct a worship service and backs up and explains that worship is all of life.
- Good explanation of the normative and regulative principle.
Highlight: “Some churches care more about what is in people’s hearts than about what they do in their life, whereas other churches are more concerned about doing things the “right” way and care little about the motivations behind those actions. When it comes to worship, which is all of life, the God of the Bible cares about both what we do and why we do it.” (245)
On a final note, this book has continued Driscoll’s run of being biblically theological and culturally relevant, which is a tough balance. Many criticize Driscoll, some for valid reasons, but I want to praise him. I’m not saying he’s never done wrong, or that I always agree with him, but I believe it is evident that he deeply loves and seeks to follow Jesus and desires for all of his audience to do the same. To use a baseball analogy, he may strike out, but he always strikes out swinging. In a culture of men watching the third strike, he’s a breath, more like a strong wind, of fresh air.