Driscoll, Mark and Gerry Breshears. Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2010. 464 pp. $22.99. Purchase at Westminster for $16.32.
Narrated by Sean Runnette. Escondido: christianaudio Hovel. 15 hours. Download–$16.98, CD–$20.98.
The guys at Re:Lit (Resurgence Literature) are lighting up the book stores with a ton of recently published materials. Doctrine is perhaps the creme de la creme of what they have published to date. As with many books being published today, this, too, was first a series of sermons. You can download and listen to those sermons here.
At 436 pages of actual reading material, Doctrine is not a picnic. Divided into thirteen chapters, Driscoll and Breshears look at thirteen distinct doctrines of the Christian faith that are “the big theological themes of Scripture.” They begin by looking at the Trinity and move from there to Revelation (Bible), Creation, Image, Fall, Covenant, Incarnation, Cross, Resurrection, Church, Worship, Stewardship, and Kingdom.
In essence they discuss why these thirteen doctrines are necessary elements of one’s faith as a Christian. Without these doctrines, the person professing to be a Christian is, in effect, denying specific presuppositions made by the Scriptures.
Included at the back of the book is a valuable section entitled “Small Group Resources.” This little section is meant to drive small groups into studying the nuts and bolts of the Christian faith. The questions are not too difficult nor are they too easy. They will cause you to think and, most importantly, to interact with what the Bible says about a particular doctrine in context.
Unlike most systematic theology books (Doctrine is most certainly a systematic theology book), the authors chose to start with the Trinity. Most systematics begin with the Bible since all of the material must come from the Bible. Once the doctrine of the Bible has been established, then most authors move to God and break that section down into the many facets that define God including the doctrine of the Trinity.
Again, most systematic theologies take a logical, compartmental approach to laying out their discussion and teachings. Interestingly enough, Driscoll and Breshears have approached their systematic in a far more biblical manner. They begin with the Trinity because that is where the Bible begins. “In the beginning God” (Elohim which is a plural form of El) immediately introduces the reader of the Bible to a Triune God.
Next, the authors tackle the Bible as God’s revelation to man and then move on to the rest of their doctrines as they occur in the Bible. As you look at the list above once more, you will see how this order plays out in both the Bible and in Doctrine. This is to be commended and helps the reader to remain within the framework of the Bible itself as God’s plan of salvation plays out from Genesis to Revelation.
Another element found in Doctrine is one of an apologetic nature. This perspective allows Driscoll and Breshears to argue for or against commonly held misconceptions of these essential doctrines. Unfortunately, the authors become tepid on some issues. For example, they walk a very fine line when it comes to the doctrine of Creation. They do not take a stand but only state that it is acceptable to believe one of a few different understandings. What you believe and understand about Genesis 1 and 2 will greatly determine your understanding of the rest of the Scriptures.
In most other instances, they offer reasons as to why believing certain heretical understandings of these doctrines is wrong and a denial of Christ. In many cases, they do come down and state that one must believe in _____________ if they are to be a Christian.
Audio book review
The audio book was nice. It was read at a pace that was both fast enough to keep your interest and slow enough to allow you to think about what was being said. There were a few sections where the cut/paste on the digital recording fell short of christianaudio’s usual superb standards.
What I most liked about the audiobook is that you can actually listen to a systematic theology and enjoy doing so! The audiobook is ideal for that Christian who is busy with work or raising children and does not have the time to read a book about Christian doctrines. For those seeking a deeper understanding of theology, Doctrine has quickly become one of the best places to begin insofar as audiobooks are concerned.
With the publishing of Doctrine by Mark Driscoll has suddenly made systematic theology both acceptable and cool. That excites me. I recommend this book to anyone wanting to begin to plumb the depths of God and what He has revealed to us through His word, the Bible. The additional audiobook makes this a double feature worth owning.