Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Review: Confessions of a Reformission Rev

Generally speaking I've steared clear of the emerging church debates of recent years. I've not read Steve Chalke or Brian McLaren. Apparent trends in the church are all very interesting.. but here and now is often more pertinent. A month ago I had a slight change of heart, or perhaps just a desire to read something different. So, I picked up Carson's Becoming Conversant with Emergent, and Mark Driscoll's Confessions on the Amazon Marketplace.

I wont review Carson, only to say that its a refreshing view on postmodernism and on doing church in today's world. He has lessons for us to learn - not least that postmodernism might not be all we presume it to be.

Anyways, to Confessions of a reformission rev. To start with the bit that's caused much blogosphere controversy....(Challies et al) Driscoll's book tells this story of Mars Hill Church from start to today. Early on in the book we see him at work pastorally. I was struck by his honest struggles with doing pastoral work - and moments of not wanting to do it. He admits that people will not like his early pastoral style, but notes "deep down most other pastors think like I do, they just don't say what they think ..." (p60). For right or wrong he takes away the veneer of idealic pastoral work. Caring for people isn't easy, its painful.

Prior to this incident are some very astude observations on the importance of Christology. Everything depends on who Jesus is. And then we "labour with the exalted Christ" and "like the incarnate Christ" (p43). But there is one key area of difference. Unlike Jesus we sin. And therefore we have to repent, and repent, and repent...

Driscoll writes of the importance of solid reformed doctrine. "If you don't know what that means, the gist is that people suck and God saves us from ourselves. For more details... just accept a plain reading of Romans, particularly Romans 9-11" - (p85)

We also hear of Driscoll's work with McLaren and co. He speaks of his admiration for McLaren but says he's curious as to how he is doing "violence to Scripture in the name of pacifism". Ultimately they parted ways. "Though it was hard to part company with these men, I believe that convictions must override community, and we were not theologically likeminded" (p99). He writes with sure convictions but also with honesty and humility, happy to confess his errors and repentance.

Its a great read by a unconventional pastor who loves doctrine, who loves God... who wants us to read Piper and the like. As he talks about the growing interest in postmodernism in the church he reflects "...this is how a lot of my time was spent...(studying postmodernism) in the end, after muttering 1 Corinthians 1:20-21... I simply moved on to preach the bloody death and triumphant victory of Jesus. For my fellow young Christian pastors prone to jump on faddish bandwagons like I did, I would simply urge you to at least do your homework and see if you can find anyone wiser than Jesus to found your life and ministry on. If not, just stick with him" - (p206n10)

As iMonk says:
...give it to the people who dream about actually reaching the men of your city or town with the Gospel. They will appreciate every word.
This book excites me about building church on the foundation of sound doctrine. It excites me about the possibilities of church planting. And it reminds me never to pretend that all is well, or to imagine that I wont make bad mistakes. Nonetheless we can press on with Jesus.

iMonk - why Mark Driscoll bothers you, or not


  1. Dave,
    I bought the book two weeks ago and read it through in one week. It was great, but what he said was convicting because of my lack of obediance over the last few years. I realize his vision for the 'church' wasn't my vision for the 'church'. I gained new respect for my pastor at Living Hope and see more of the vision of my church, to get on board and partner with the Gospel.