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Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe

 

Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears, Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 464 pages, ISBN 9781433506253.

Mark Driscoll, founding pastor of Mars Hill Church, and Gerry Breshears, professor of theology at Western Seminary, describe the foundational doctrines and therein the membership requirements of the Mars Hill Church. They divide the book into thirteen theological subjects and chapters and they provide small-group study guides at the end of the book. Each chapter defines their doctrinal viewpoint in order to provide prospective church members with a catechetical foundation of their church’s beliefs. Doctrine covers elementary conservative Evangelical Christian doctrines of Trinity, humanity, sin, atonement, and salvation.

Written with common terms and vocabulary, Doctrine has not sacrificed its theological depth.

Driscoll and Breshears have written a very readable book of doctrine that clearly presents the particular theological positions of the Mars Hill Church. The doctrines are the standard fare of conservative evangelical orthodoxy. While the book is written with common terms and vocabulary, it has not sacrificed its theological depth. The stated audience is the new believer or prospective member of the Mars Hill Church; equally, this book could also serve as a college freshman theology textbook. Nevertheless, it will not likely displace an evangelical standard, such as Wayne Grudem’s theology textbook, because of their limited ecumenical scope and proprietary (Mars Hill) genre.

Mark Driscoll is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle.

Gerry Breshears is professor of theology at Western Seminary.

Its strengths are in its simplified language and conceptual presentations. These are supported by the Mars Hill website (relit.org), where the contents of the book are given in full sermon and sermon summary videos, as well as in summary teaching documents. The content of the book is available on the church webpage and it serves to communicate the same message through podcasts, audio files, videos, and documents. Together, these serve to make their conservative Evangelical Christian message abundantly clear.

Its weaknesses are also its strengths. Driscoll and Breshears plainly define their positions of exclusive male senior leadership in the church and of conservative views of charismata. They defend the “complementarian” perspective of gender at the expense of egalitarianism. Likewise, even though the book begins with robust Trinitarian and Christological chapters, it subsequently leaves us looking for an expanded chapter on the person of the Holy Spirit, the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Thus, it seems that the role of women in the church and the role of the Holy Spirit in soteriology are subordinated.

Mark Driscoll is not a stranger to controversy because he is not afraid to state his theological opinions in a straightforward, even blunt, or unpretentious manner. We can admire any person for this. He has the courage to place in print confrontational statements like, “there are incredibly powerful demons—with names such as… Allah” (14). Driscoll refutes the error of Jesus being only an inferior prophet compared to Muhammad (221). He confronts the Muslim doctrine of Jesus’ supposed swoon on the cross (298) and of another person taking the place of Jesus on the cross (300).

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Category: Living the Faith, Spring 2011

About the Author: John R. Miller is an ordained minister with Elim Fellowship of Lima, NY and serves as Pastor of Education with Living Word Temple of Restoration, Rochester, NY. He has a degree from Elim Bible Institute, a B.Div. (Trinity Theological Seminary), C.P.E. (University of Rochester), M.Div. (Northeastern Seminary), and Ph.D. (Regent University). He teaches at Regent University and Elim Bible Institute & College.

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