Posted by: Moses | January 13, 2007

Radical Reformission: Mark Driscoll

It was suggested to me that it would be helpful to give a book synopsis when I finish a book. I’ll try to present what the book says. If I want to express an opinion I’ll try to make it clear that it’s my opinion, not the author’s. So here goes.

The introduction alone is worth the ten bucks for this book. He presents a very clear break-down of Biblical separation and its potential abuses. Plus it’s great because he’s outside of the fundamentalist circle, so he’s not trying to be particularly perjorative about the subject, just admonishing his younger brothers. He presents three main characteristics of what a church should do: love the culture, love the church, and love truth. He procedes to describe three major sections of the Christianity: the parachurch, liberalism, and radical fundamentalism. Each of these have a tendency to be out of ballance. Liberalism tends to major on a love for “church” and a love for culture. It doesn’t care about a love for truth so it stears itself into heresy. Radical fundamentalism tends to emphasize a love for the church and a love for the truth. This branch tends to miss out on a love for culture, so it has perfect doctrine but becomes in-grown and ineffective. It is characterized by short forrays into culture followed by a hasty retreat into the walls of the church. The parachurch has a love for truth, and a love for the culture, but it does not have a love for the church community. Hopefully, conservative evangelicalism ballances all three, not overly divisive about Christian practice within the church, not ashamed of its love for the truth of Christ, and not miserly as at lavishes love on Christ’s body and the world Christ has given her to reach.

Into this framework he sets his book, encouraging believers to reach out into taboo places for the sake of the gospel. My favorite chapter was “The Sin of Light Beer.” First of all, that’s just funny. Second, according to him light beer tastes bad. But most importantly, a watered down gospel frought with little rules tacked on… is a sin of high order. The gospel is only through Christ, believing that God raised Him and can raise us, and confessing Christ Jesus as our ruling Lord. And a brother who can enjoy a beer within Scripture’s boundaries? “Welcome him, but not to quarrel with him about food and drink.”

The subtitle is: “reaching out without selling out.” The main thrust of the book is that the church be so radically loving, doctrinally sound, active, and genuine, that unbelievers are attracted to those distinctions: real holiness, real salt and light, real separation. This kind of church in particular mirrors Romans 14. It radically loves its brothers, and isn’t concerned about itself (reputation, rights or otherwise). Protect the weak, but don’t water down the gospel to do it. The first few chapters describe presenting that hard-core gospel through “participation evangelism.” He encourages groups within his churches that actively bring unbelievers into them, with the goal that they would see Christ at work within that body: a real testimony. Though his terminology in reference to this ecclesiology bothered me a little bit, I think his intention is solid to establish real, engaging friendships and community through home-based bible study.

The majority of the rest of the book deals with nitty-gritty details. Understsanding and evaluating types of cultures, living as you are called, distinctions of conscience (“sins and Sins”), connecting with culture, postmodernism, and the sins of syncretism or sectarianism. He has an excellent thought-process mapped out on page 104 for dealing with matters of conscience. The thought process is very loving and god-centered: unconcerned about reputation, concerned about Christ and the souls of brothers. The final chapter is a beautiful portrait of how different areas of creation (beauty, children, home, church-planting men, sex etc.) are being redeemed for the Kingdom.

Over-all, this was an excellent book. It is a funny, but poignant read similar in flow to Josh Harris. Praise God for Driscoll’s leadership over his segment of the Emmergent Church.


  1. Thanks for taking time to answer the following questions.
    1. In this summary how does he/you define “love of culture?”
    2. Can you ellaborate on what you mean by “Periodically it decides to send fifty dollars to a posh, American missionary every month.
    3. In the following statement, what do you mean by real separation? “The main thrust of the book is that the church be so radically loving, doctrinally sound, active, and genuine, that unbelievers are attracted to those distinctions: real holiness, real salt and light, real separation.”
    4. What was the terminology that bothered you in the following statement: “Though his terminology in reference to this ecclesiology bothered me a little bit, I think his intention is solid to establish real, engaging friendships and community through home-based bible study” ?
    5. What is the “Emmergent Church.”

    I think you should post some of this stuff on Sharper Iron

  2. 1. Love of culture. I guess the genitive is a pretty broad modifier huh? =) Driscoll doesn’t like the term outreach (because it implies keeping people at an arms length), but that’s pretty much what he means in an active sense. Reach out, and bring in. In a secondary sense, we should love culture! Culture is cool. We should not enjoy sinful, cultural predispositions; however, we should love people enough to adapt to and even adopt their culture in order to reach them with the gospel (1 Cor. 9:20-23). From Driscoll’s use of the term, a culture is any small unit of people with shared characteristics, goals, and motivations: goth, punk, prep, greek, hispanic, business-men etc.
    2. Posh is an inadequate term. I may go back and change it. My intention was a missionary who holds the culture at arms length. He starts a church, manages the church, get’s paid by America, and converts people to Western culture before Christ. Fortunately, in my opinion this is a dying breed of missionary.
    3. Real separation is the drive of the Sermon on the Mount. God wants a people set apart to him, not a reacting sub-culture that doesn’t do whatever the culture does. Anyone can separate from culture, budhist, business-men, hindu, teen-agers, all have outward “distinctives.” Only a genuine Christian can become distinct from culture while remaining in that culture. His distinctives are not outward symbols and standards, but rather they are a heart bred revolution: no lust, no hate, no hypocrisy, no lying… he lives within his culture, transformed by the Holy Spirit. (This was my defense, because it was my synopsizing term for much of Driscoll’s emphases)
    4. He refers to these home-based missions as church. Minor semantic issue, I probably shouldn’t have even mentioned it.
    5. The Emmergent Church is impossible to define. The easiest cop-out answer is that it’s a postmodern movement within my generation of believers. In trying to address current problems of dogmatism, division, and hypocrisy, some rebound way too far and become relativistic, unitarian, and genuinely sinful, (but honest). The left-wing side seems to be almost transcendental in its relativistic force; the more conservative leaders like Driscoll abandon some forms and molds of traditional churches, but they hold to sound doctrine and the Gospel. These infuse a radical, deferring passion. I need to study more before I can give a more in depth answer.

  3. In reference to number two, what do you base your opinion on?

  4. Just an impression. It seems that people who lean in that direction that I’ve heard of are older white men, who will only live so long. I don’t think it resonates well with my generation at all. Most of the missionaries I hear of within my current circles have a definite passion for raising up indiginous leadership. Programs like Perspectives, or missions schools like CIU make the concept of indigineous church planting a core emphasis. I have a lecture called “Spontaneous Multiplication of Church’s” thumb-tacked to my wall. I’ll have to show it to you when I see you sometime; it’s quite inspiring. I don’t have a broad sampling of research, just a hope and prayer I guess.

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