According to Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA and author of the new book, “A Call to Resurgence; Will Christianity Have a Funeral or a Future?”, Christendom is dead. Christendom, a culture of religious influence and acceptance, found its beginning in America through the Christian faith of the founding fathers who governed by those same Christian values. As a result, Judeo-Christian values have influenced legal systems, social ministries, educational systems, and even the vocabulary of today. In short, Driscoll argues that the world in which we live no longer is influenced by the Christian faith. Throughout chapter one of this book, Driscoll’s plea to churches, pastors, and Christians today is to be more concerned with authentic Christianity and the advancement of the gospel than simply a religious culture that doesn’t clearly point the individual to Jesus Christ. It is a call, as Driscoll writes, “not of retreat but of resurgence”.
In chapter two, Driscoll asserts that the Christian church today is suffering from a standing knockout. This is a boxing term in which a boxer is literally unconscious after multiple blows but is still standing. Driscoll names the series of blows that have left the church dazed and confused. As he sees it, New Paganism, Homosexuality, Pornography, Intolerant Tolerance, bad Dads, and Cheap Christians are hindering Christianity’s witness today. Chapter three speaks of an identity shift among Christians from denominations to tribes. Driscoll quotes Seth Godin here, “A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and way to communicate”. Consider this example to tribalism today. A Baptist pastor who is reformed in his theology and is influenced by the teachings of John Piper and J.I. Packer may choose to relate to and network with other like-minded pastors whether they are Methodist, Church of God, or Presbyterian, rather than his national denomination. Tribes today, as Driscoll suggests, are centered on key issues such as Reformed vs. Armenianism (the sovereignty of God and salvation), Complementarian vs. Egalitarianism (roles of women and men in the church), Continuationist vs. Cessationist (spiritual gifts), and Fundamentalist vs. Missional (the purpose of the church today).
In chapter four, Driscoll introduces the concept of understanding borders. He writes, “Primary border issues are points of division between Christians and non-Christians. Secondary border issues are points of distinction among Christians. These issues merit discussion, debate, and distinction among tribes, but they should not be a point of division of we are to see a resurgence of real Christianity.” He then lists thirteen primary border issues with a description of each, as well a few of the second-tier issues. Driscoll gives chapter five to the Holy Spirit. He offers a theology on the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit in the church today. He also gives attention to the Holy Spirit‘s role in the gift of tongues, which is a prominent tribal division. Chapter six, which Driscoll has entitled, “Repentance”, brings back the six blows from chapter two that Christianity has taken in the recent decades and lays out the need to repent of these in order to make a lasting change going forward. Finally in chapter seven, Driscoll proposes seven principles for resurgence that he believes will help the church go forward in the future. The principles are:
1. Preach the Word. Churches must make the preaching of God’s Word the central activity of the church.
2. Love the Church. The local New Testament church is at the heart of God’s plan.
3. Contend and Contextualize. Without compromising the truth of God’s Word, we must be willing to change its delivery.
4. Be Attractional and Missional. Balance is needed throughout church ministry.
5. Receive, Reject, and Redeem. Keep what is profitable and let go of what is not.
6. Consider the Common Good. Everything the church does is for the good of others.
7. Evangelize Through Suffering. The church is to be prepared to suffer as the gospel message is shared.
This is the first book that I have read that was written by Mark Driscoll. Contrary to the “shock-jock pastor” label he is often given, I found “A Call to Resurgence” to be well-written, passionate, and true to God’s Word. Although we are not part of the same tribe, his love and concern for the church and the gospel is something that I as a pastor can relate to and get behind. I believe chapters 1-2 and 5-7 are the strongest. Driscoll presents the problems facing the church today and offers solid suggestions on how to recover from our standing knockout. If I had to say anything negative, it would be that chapters 3- are 4 are just a little too broad. I appreciate his tribal vs. denominational discussion and enjoyed it very much. I simply believe his tribal lines could have been a bit more definitive. That being said, this is a book that Christian leaders need to read. His effective use of Scripture, personal experiences (family and church) and outside quotes and data make this book work very well.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”