Unlike so many systematic theologies, which are usually as dry as a bone, I found this one highly readable. In its discussion of the trinity I was a bit surprised that they omitted the fact that the Hebrew word `elohiym' is in the plural (Gen 1:1). It covers the major doctrines of the Christian faith. It would suit beginner to intermediate Christians and group study. Chapter headings are:
1. Trinity: God is. 2. Revelation: God speaks. 3. Creation: God makes. 4. Image: God loves. 5. Fall: God judges. 6. Covenant: God pursues. 7. Incarnation: God comes 8. Cross: God dies. 9. Resurrection: God saves. 10. Church: God sends. 11. Worship: God transforms. 12. Stewardship: God gives. 13. Kingdom: God reigns.
It includes small group resources, a general index and a scripture index.
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141 of 174 people found the following review helpful
Often Solid, But Be CarefulMay 15 2010
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Theology matters, and greatly so. Churches that have lost their hold on the truths of the faith are destined to drift into destructive errors or to simply become social clubs with a religious overtone. This is why books like Mark Driscoll's Doctrine are so important.
What I Liked
Perhaps the best thing about Doctrine is that Driscoll took the time to write it. It is good for churches to see their leadership caring about the teaching of the Scripture in more than a simplistic or superstitious sense. Driscoll does his best to address important issues of the faith in a serious way--his trademark sarcasm is simply not present in this work.
Many of the chapters of this book are worthy of applause. Driscoll handles some heavy topics such as the trinity (chapter 1), the cross and atonement (chapter 8), and the church (chapter 11) with a great deal of insight. In most of these chapters, Driscoll addresses the issues with a nice balance of complexity on the one hand and explanation, simplicity, and application on the other.
What I Did Not Like
There are a few places where discerning Christians will have some questions for Driscoll as they work their way through Doctrine. In some of these cases, the issues may be quite secondary. In others, however, it appears that Driscoll makes some fairly dangerous statements.
The most serious error in this book comes early, in the chapter on divine Revelation (chapter 2). In explaining that general revelation will not bring a person enough knowledge of God to save their souls, Driscoll asserts that in countries closed to missionaries, God might send dreams, visions, or even angels to the lost to bring them the good news of Jesus Christ. Though I have no doubt that such stories have indeed been told, and perhaps by those whom Driscoll trusts, this is a direct contradiction of Romans 10:13-ff. In that passage of perfectly-inspired holy Scripture, God tells us that people will not be saved without a preacher, and the clear understanding of that passage is that the preacher will be one of God's children, a human preacher or missionary, not an angelic messenger. Besides coming from outside of the Scripture, this issue matters, because if Christians believe that God might save others without human contact through personal communication or written word (including the Bible), this will do harm to the missionary Endeavour.
There are at least two other areas where I found myself concerned about the content of this work. I found myself uncomfortable with Driscoll's openness to an old-earth creation story in chapter 3. I believe in a literal six day creation, and while I will not make this a first-level issue, I fear that old earth theories play fast and loose with the interpretation of Scripture. Also, again in chapter 2, Driscoll leans in a more charismatic understanding of revelation than I am comfortable with. I believe that a closed cannon of Scripture does not leave the door open to divine revelation in the form of predictive prophecy; Driscoll disagrees.
Conclusion and Recommendation
Overall, I am grateful to Mark Driscoll for the work that he has done in writing this very accessible systematic theology. Works like this need to be written, and well-known figures in evangelicalism need to show that such things are important. There are certainly areas where I could caution readers to read with discernment and even to reject Driscoll's conclusions, but such areas are not enough to make me recommend not reading the book as a whole. I have no doubt that my own point-of-view still needs much work before I understand all of what God wants me to grasp doctrinally, and thus I have much grace for a brother in Christ who is doing the work in a far more expansive way than I. So, my recommendation: Read Doctrine, but read it carefully--as you should any book you pick up or download.
Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears. Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe. Wheaton: Crossway, 2010. 464 pp.
[For this review, I read the excellent audio book from [...]
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding Book On God's Story And Our LivesApril 12 2010
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Doctrine is in my opinion an essential book that every Christian and Pastor should make sure to have on their library. It is excellently written and thoroughly enjoyable to read. The authors nailed their goal of writing a book that is both helpful for the pastor but engaging for the layman. This book will be a great blessing to the church as it will be one that could serve for discussion groups or classes.
The book is laid out to follow along the meta-narrative for God and the story of the Bible. To highlight just a few chapters I would say the chapters on creation, Trinity, and the death of Jesus are worth the price of the book alone.
So why with all the warm word would I give this book only four stars? Good question. As I mentioned the greatest strength of this book is how broad its appeal and function will be. At the same time this forced the book (seemingly) to limit itself in a critical area of theology; the doctrine of Salvation. It was shocking for me to read through such a wonderful book on theology by a theologically solid pastor like Mark Driscoll and find no chapter on salvation. This is understandable if the book is striving to reach the entire range of evangelicals. The doctrine of salvation is historically and usually the most controversial chapter and topic any theologian writes on, and sadly, often serves as a litmus test by many pastors and readers. I am left to conclude either they forgot this (which is highly unlikely given the credentials of the authors and that I have heard Driscoll preach on it countless times). Or that they left it out in the ambition of giving the book a wider audience.
Though I am sure some could point to the chapter of worship and highlight that it does talk about regeneration, this is far from an adequate treatment on the doctrine of salvation. I had such high hopes for this book and the uses it could have in the church where I pastor. Now I am left though wanting the second edition of the book to come out so they can fix this glaring omission! Or...maybe just put this chapter on the book website for those who would not want it left out.
43 of 53 people found the following review helpful
Essential Doctrine for ChristiansApril 8 2010
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Christians are called to know, appreciate, and dispense the crucial doctrines of the biblical faith. Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears have stepped up and endowed the church with a modern and simple presentation of the most important doctrinal teachings of the Christian religion. The authors previously published the "Vintage Jesus" and in this new volume they help make theology appealing in their straightforward writing style.
Pastor Driscoll (Mars Hill) and Breshears (professor of theology Western Seminary) combine to bestow this volume to Christians whereby this very readable book instructs the reader in the most basic truths of Christianity. Yes this is not Berkoff, Grudem, or Reymond, but the authors approach theology from a Reformed position as they present doctrines concerning:
- Who God is - How God speaks - How God loves - How God saves - And much more
I came to this book because of the strong endorsement from John Frame and this work is excellent for the new believer, teens, busy housewives, and others who want to learn the basic doctrines of the Christian faith in a non-technical manner. Effective, exceptional, simple, educational, and edifying. Truth, Knowledge and the Reason for God: The Defense of the Rational Assurance of Christianity or "God Does Exist!: Defending the Faith using Presuppositional apologetics, Evidence, and the Impossibility of the Contrary"
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Doctrine or Distinctives?Aug. 25 2010
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Though I have much respect for Mark Driscoll, I found the book to be less a systematic theology as represented and more of a "distinctives" book on Mars Hill Church in Seattle. I was less then impressed with his handling of many topics including his unorthodox view on the atonement where he coins the phrase Limited, Unlimited Atonement. Driscoll's attempt to reconcile the atonement between Calvinism and Arminianism is fraught with theological holes and dramatically limits the power of the cross. This was a great disappointment to me. It also sets an attitude of "everyone else for 1500 years is wrong but me". Additionally, the flow of the book can be confusing at times. I suspect this is due to the two authors trying to blend material. This is most evident in Chapter 1 where the topic seems to change from one paragraph to another and then back again.
His handling of the gospel and living a missional lifestyle is right on and well written. To be fair to Driscoll this is his specialty and he nails it. He is equally as brilliant in the chapters on the incarnation (very well done) and the handling of the church. These chapters alone make the book worth reading. Doctrine will challenge your view of the Gospel and incite you to action and for this I applaud the book.
I would recommend his book but be discerning about the theology and don't expect it to be a robust systematic theology. It is clearly not that.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
The content is true, but dense enough that it only works as a reference bookMay 17 2010
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Potential readers should know off the bat that this book is not really designed to be casually leafed through from the first page to the last. It is a dense black brick with indie rocker artwork and a million footnotes. Which is great in a lot of ways, but it's a disappointment if you're not expecting it. I bought this book because I listened to the original podcasts and really enjoyed them. They were engaging and amusing and thoroughly Biblical. This book retains the last characteristic but basically abandons the humor that typically characterizes a Driscoll communication. As written, this work is more useful as a reference text, with overwhelmingly thorough citations to Scripture and well-reasoned argumentation. Chapters are clearly delineated, so it will be easy for a reader to find a few handy verses to answer, say, an argument that Jesus is not God or that Mary was not a virgin when Jesus was incarnated. I am happy to have this book on my shelf, and I am happy to have read it all the way through so I will know what is available when I need it, but I don't recommend this book for someone who is just looking to borrow a book to answer a few questions about who God is.