Let me commend to everyone who reads this blog the book Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll and co-Authored with Gerry Breshears. I have mentioned it in some previous posts (here), but want to take the time to give you all a brief synopsis, and my take on why I think it would be worth your time reading. First, my synopsis.
This book does a fantastic job at doing systematic theology regarding the person and work of Jesus Christ with the typical, everyday skeptic or new Christian in mind – and that is invaluable! After having just taken a seminary class on the subject (Christ and Salvation), I must say that I was hard pressed to select one of the many books we had to read as a good resource to put in the hands of somebody either questioning Christianity or recently brought into the family of God regarding this important, and sometimes daunting, subject.
Driscoll’s book does an excellent job, first identifying the major questions and point of discussion. The book is oriented around 12 key questions; they are:
Chapter 1 Is Jesus the Only God?
Chapter 2 How Human Was Jesus?
Chapter 3 How Did People Know Jesus Was Coming?
Chapter 4 Why Did Jesus Come to Earth?
Chapter 5 Why Did Jesus’ Mom Need to Be a Virgin?
Chapter 6 What Did Jesus Accomplish on the Cross?
Chapter 7 Did Jesus Rise from Death?
Chapter 8 Where Is Jesus Today?
Chapter 9 Why Should We Worship Jesus?
Chapter 10 What Makes Jesus Superior to Other Saviors?
Chapter 11 What Difference Has Jesus Made in History?
Chapter 12 What Will Jesus Do upon His Return?
Each chapter then discusses the controversy (or controversies) surrounding these questions, both in their historical and contemporary setting. Spread throughout the chapters are various quotes or insights that are pulled from not only the Christian tradition, but from pop culture and other religions. Driscoll then does an excellent job pointing to scripture and what the Bible says regarding these questions and various interpretations, or problems, we may have. Dr. Breshears then concludes each chapter with a most helpful FAQ that probes into a handful of subquestions that fall under each larger question. This format makes this a great resource for 99% of the people who would be interested and who walk through the doors of your church, or favorite local coffee shop or pub.
Now, some people may be put off by one of two things, or perhaps, both: 1) Systematic Theology, or 2) Mark Driscoll. First, regarding the Systematic Theology. I know its en vogue to question or downplay the significance of Sys. Theology these days in favor of Biblical Theology, but that really is a shame. I am personally of the opinion that we vitally need both. We need our Biblical Theology to help inform our Systematic Theology, and we need our Systematic Theology to help understand our Biblical Theology. That being said, this book is a welcome Systematics book which keeps the story of Scripture alive and in view, while being relevant and thorough in probing the subject of Christology.
Now, for those put off by the fact that its Mark Driscoll, let me say that there are several Driscoll-isms that come through in this book, and you may not like that. I would encourage you to still read this book and ask: “Does this book communicate the truths of Christ’s person and work in a way that is true to Scripture, honoring to God, edifying to believers, and accessible to non-believers?” I think for anytime we find ourselves criticizing another brother for his personality or style, if we can slow down to consider those questions, we would be better served than making quick conclusions. I believe that Driscoll comes out on top regarding all of those questions.
I wanted to read Vintage Jesus for a very selfish reason (And no, its not because I like reading everything Driscoll puts out – even though I do!): I wanted to understand how to communicate theology in a way that is faithful to scripture and engaging to non-Christians. Having read Vintage Jesus, I can say that I have a somewhat better understanding of how to do so, and for that, I am grateful. This is why I commend this book to you – whoever you are!
Whether you are a believer wanting to be challenged and strengthened in understanding the person and work of Jesus Christ, or a a seminarian looking to be challenged in how to communicate the truths of Scripture, or a non-Christian questioning how any rational human being could believe in such a story that centers on this one person, your time will be well served by reading this book.
My personally favorite part of this book is the section Driscoll deals with the fact that “Jesus was a dude.” Great stuff – funny, insightful and challenging. The book is scattered with great content communicated in witty ways. I again, highly recommend this book to you.