Book Review: Death by Love

I have the tendency of dividing the books I read into 2 broad categories. The first is theology; real heady stuff by guys with a lot of degrees. The second is methodology; the kind of writing that shows me what to do in my daily life as a Christian.

In Death by Love: Letters From The Cross by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears do a unique thing by showing how the two are inseparable. Theology (the study of God) will ALWAYS affect our methodology (how we do things). That said, I loved this book.

The endorsement by Rene Schlaepfer on the first page sums it up:

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 may be the first time you ever found theology outrageous and logical, challenging and comforting, but never boring.

The book begins with an explanation of the substitutionary death of Christ. The following chapters consist of  letters from Pastor Mark Driscoll individuals he is counseling, focusing on one particular aspect of the Cross: Christ as our victory, redemption, covenant sacrifice, gift righteousness, justification, propitiation, expiation, unlimited limited atonement, ransom, example, reconciliation, and revelation.

Mark is writing to real people with real problems like abuse, adultery, divorce, rape, drug use, self-righteousness, sickness, doubts, etc. He is counseling them, not with the psychobabble of many of today’s ‘christian’ counseling methods, but with the cross of Christ.

Here are a few noteworthy quotes…

Our approach is an effort to show that there is no such thing as Christian community or Christian ministry apart from a rigorous theology of the cross that practically applies to the lives of real people. p.13

“The human problem is sin, the divine motivation is holy love, and the death and resurrection of the God-man Jesus Christ is the solution.” p.23

to an unrepentant man in sin…

“If you read your Bible accurately you will find that you end up feeling condemned, evil, and horribly messed up. This is not because the Bible is bad, but rather because you are bad and are not doing what the Bible says.”

to a man whose wife has a brain tumor…

“In Christianity Lite the cross of Jesus is overlooked by people seeking a Christianity in which the objective is to glorify Self, the power to do so is Self, and the means to do so are self-sufficiency, victorious living, pride, and comfort, which together commingle as a false gospel that is of no help when the dark seasons of life envelope you.” p.202

(See also previous post 10 Difference Between Religion & The Gospel)

I picked up this book because I thought it would help me in ministering to other hurting people. It has done that and more. I found myself constantly repenting of leaving the cross of Christ out of so many areas of my life. Driscoll and Breshears point the reader back to the Word of God to show that the Cross really is the answer for everything.

I recommend this book to seekers, sufferers, seasoned pastors and the like. I needed this reminder that no matter what I must constantly cling to the cross of Christ.


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