I finished book number one on my summer reading list this afternoon. Doctrine by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears had been on my radar since I first heard Driscoll talking about writing it during his sermon podcasts that I listen to regularly. I confess I had some doubts as to how well he would balance the serious issues of doctrine with his decidedly brash personality. Don’t get me wrong, I like Driscoll and I think he is a great preacher, but it is not every preacher who has the skill to co-author a lengthy and detailed introduction to the primary tenets of the Christian faith. I should also note that this is the first book I have read by Mark Driscoll so I honestly didn’t know what to expect from him in terms of his writing skills.
First I have to give Driscoll and Breshears major props for keeping the book succinct enough so as not to scare away the typical Christian. Many people will never crack a theology book simply because the thing weighs thirty pounds and is written with so much academic speak that even those familiar with the lingo have a hard time following along. Doctrine is accessible on everything from the size of the book, to the style of the writing, to the Greek and Hebrew words that are transliterated into English to help those unfamiliar with the original languages.
The chapters in the book average around fifty pages per chapter. Nearly every page is loaded with foot notes referring to the Scripture verses that Driscoll and Breshears use to ground their book in the Book. That is also the greatest strength of this book. The incredible amount of Scripture that they reference over and over again allows the reader to go back and check the source to make sure the authors are staying true to Scripture. Seeing all the Scripture gave me great confidence in the level of work, research, and immersion in the Biblical text that these men spent in order to write the book.
One of the most helpful chapters on the book was the very first one on the Trinity. Trinitarian theology and the implications of it are daunting for even the most seasoned theologian but Driscoll and Breshears do an admirable job of laying out what a Christian must believe about the Trinity. They also spend a good deal of time in the Trinity chapter talking about the different heresies that have cropped up over the centuries in relation to the Trinity. I found this to be particularly useful as I worry that many Christians have views of the Trinity that more resemble a heresy than that which is put forth in Scripture.
The biggest surprise in the book was the chapter on stewardship. My emphasis for my M.Div is ‘steward leadership’ so I was excited to see a chapter on stewardship included in the book. It seemed very fitting to read about it in a book on doctrine since western culture is so driven by the pursuit and idolization of wealth that Christians need to have a functional theology of stewardship in order to avoid putting money in the place of God.
Finally, I also really appreciated how Driscoll and Breshears always brought things home with practical application. They don’t just leave the reader hanging out in space and wondering how all these theological truths should play out in daily life. They carefully explain the significance of each truth and how those truths should manifest themselves in how we live every day.
Doctrine is a book that I plan on keeping handy on my bookshelf. I also plan to buy a few extra copies so that I can give them to new Christians or Christians who are looking to gain a deeper understanding of their faith. This is a book that everyone from the new Christian to old saint can appreciate. The approachable style and solid theology of the book make it an easy one for me to recommend.