Book Review: Doctrine by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears

Title: Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe
Authors: Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears
Publisher: Crossway (2010)

Over the last three years, Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears have been releasing books at a mind-boggling pace.

Vintage Jesus focuses on the question of who Jesus is and why it matters; Death by Love looks at the atonement; Vintage Church explores what it means to be the Church.

And now they’ve released Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe. Based on Driscoll’s sermon series of the same name from 2008, Doctrine examines 13 essential beliefs of the Christian faith: the Trinity, Revelation, creation, image, the fall, covenants, the incarnation, crucifixion & resurrection, the church, worship, stewardship and the Kingdom.

In many ways, this is Driscoll’s most focused book. As the story goes, the book originally weighed in at over 700 pages. The authors were forced to do some serious pruning. The result is a sharp 464 page work that sacrifices cuteness for clarity.

This is a welcome change, particularly for those who really don’t appreciate Driscoll’s sense of humor (and even for those who do). While his personality is definitely present, it doesn’t overshadow the content (something that happened in certain passages of Vintage Jesus).  Honestly, this is exactly how it should be. The content in this book is compelling enough on its own.

Worshipful Connection

As the authors provide readers with a foundational knowledge of each doctrine studied, they manage to tie each doctrine together so that we can see how they all fit. This is particularly evident in the chapter on worship. Driscoll & Breshears write:

Worship, rightly understood, begins with the doctrine of the Trinity and the doctrine of image. . . . the Trinity [is] the uniquely Continuous Outpourer who continually pours himself out between the persons of the Godhead in unceasing communication, love, friendship, and joy. It follows that humans created in God’s image would also be unceasing worshipers as continuous outpourers. (p. 338-339)

Because the Triune God “continuously pours” himself within the community of the Trinity, we, who are made in God’s image do likewise. They continue:

As the doctrine of image reveals, human beings are unceasing worshipers. We are not created to worship, but rather we are created worshiping. Everyone worships all the time. Atheists, agnostics, Christians, and everyone in between are unceasing worshipers. Everyone, everywhere, all the time, is always worshiping. While the object and method of worship vary, the act of worship does not. (p. 339)

This explanation (citing Harold Best’s book, Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts) gives greater depth to the commands against idolatry. It’s not simply that we’re worshiping a false god—we’re actually misrepresenting God when we worship an idol.

Distinction Matters

Also insightful is the importance they stress on the distinction between Creator and Creation in what they refer to as Two-ism vs. One-ism. Where two-ism upholds the distinction, one-ism “is the eradication of boundaries and differences to bring opposites together as one” (p. 343). And this, the authors rightly say, is antithetical with the Christian worldview. When there is no distinction between Creator and creation, God and man, good and evil, man and animals, man and nature, man and woman, and between different religions, then situational ethics and relativism reign.

Subsequently a Christian who makes distinctions (such as between God and man, Jesus and Satan, angels and demons, heaven and hell, man and animals, holiness and sin, the Bible and other texts, male and female, heterosexuality and homosexuality, truth and error, good and evil) is considered a fundamental threat to the utopian world of peace, love, and oneness. (p. 345)

Read Slowly

What I enjoy most about Doctrine, its focus on the study of each essential belief, is also in some ways its weakness. Because the book is packed—and I mean packed—with information, it’s requires a much slower, thoughtful read. It is a book you can’t rush through.

I sat with this book for a little over a week and felt like I could still be going slower. Maybe devote a couple of days for each chapter and take advantage of the study & discussion questions at the end of the book.

Take your time. Let the text work through your mind slowly. Wrestle with it.

And let reading the book be an act of worship as Driscoll & Breshears encourage you to grow in your understanding of what Christians should believe.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes by Crossway Books

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  • Clark GOble

    Thanks for this review. I have been thinking about picking this title up and your review has pushed me over the edge … I’m heading over to Amazon to add it to my wish list now!


    • Aaron Armstrong

      Thanks for the kind words, Clark – you’ll really enjoy the book!

  • Colin

    Great review.  My thoughts exactly and I am only into the second chapter. I am prepared to read this book through over a period of six months as I companion it with my regular Bible study.
    I normally study apologetics but this is refreshing to go over the whats and the whys of what is portrayed in scripture and how to properly explain it to others in an explainable fashion.