By Jody Matheson
Having grown up in a small town, involved in a small church, one thing will always stand out. Every so often I would receive a letter in the mail. It would be from one of the overseers in the church. The letters were received with trepidation, insecurity and sometimes guilt. But with each letter I received from Mr. Marks, I would read the words of a caring man that could turn a phrase to both correct a young man, and encourage him for the future. I wish I’d kept all those letters…
Mark Driscoll has had a similar revelation with Death By Love: Letters from the Cross. Driscoll has put together a strong collection of personal letters written in love to someone that he has worked with in his role as one of the pastors of Mars Hill Church.
Inspired to copy the example of many books of the Bible, Driscoll explains early that many of the books of the Bible are essentially letters written from a Christian leader to someone he loved.
Each letter is written with the aspiration to share the important work of the cross to each of the people that need to hear how “the person and work of Jesus are made practical for that person’s life.”
Understanding that each of these letters, while answering to specific issues related to the person it is written, will create more questions than it may answer to the reader, Driscoll has added an answers section that covers common questions addressing further the topic at hand. The seasoned theologian Gerry Breshears provides these answers.
The letters are in-depth, and painfully real. While mankind often has a voyeuristic attitude, sharing some of these situations is painful, shocking and hard to read. I believe that we all have issues that are buried deep within us that God is trying to release so we may be free from sin.
But even with openness to these hidden skeletons in the proverbial closet, I had trouble relating to many of the issues at hand in Death By Love. Demon oppression, child molestation, rape, and abuse are strong issues that need specific help to those that suffer from those issues. Reading the letters written made me feel uncomfortable, like having sat through a revelation presented to you about a friend that you were unaware of and unable to share your concern for.
In between these heavy topics were a few nuggets that I could glean, issues about raising a child and the question of being a good’ Christian. Personally, I was thankful to read the further questions from a theological point of reference that allowed me as the reader to draw some conclusions on the issues presented, which was easier to work through. On some chapters, the theology by Mr. Breshears had a stronger impact than the detailed expression of love through Christ’s death on the cross, thus missing the point for me, a casual reader.
I would still recommend this book. The basis of the truth it is set on is biblical, loving, and has a practical application. But be forewarned, Death by Love covers some very strong issues, as well as some very painful subjects. Like the cross, this book may be hard to watch, but it should move you to change your life.
About the author: Mark Driscoll is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, one of the fastest growing churches in America. He is president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network and leads the Resurgence Missional Theology Cooperative. Click here to listen to Mark Driscoll speak about Death By Love.
Gerry Breshears is professor of theology and chairman of the division of biblical and theological studies at Western Seminary. He and Driscoll also coauthored Vintage Jesus.
Jody Matheson will be writing letters to the people he cares about most. A father of two from Canada, Jody works as a production coordinator for a local website, eh.