I’m coming late to the party. Radical Reformission was published 6 years ago, and has been debated every which way since. Even Missouri Baptists have grown tired of arguing it, which should indicate that I am very late to the party. However, it is more recently that I have become more interested in what Mark Driscoll is saying than in what people are saying about Mark Driscoll. Those two things seem to be very different, so I decided to pick up this oft-quoted book and read for myself.

By now, you are probably tired of the Driscoll drama as well. If you are newer than I am at this party, don’t bother stirring it up now. I have no intention on listing surprising descriptions of biblical events, or presenting an argument for church brewed beer. Despite all I have heard of this book, those really weren’t main points. Evaluating a book by skipping the main thesis is a worthless project, that I won’t undertake.

So what is this book? For starters, it’s a harsh critique. It’s a harsh critique of the separated fundamentalist and of the culture-adapted liberal theologian. It’s a critique of modernism and post-modernism. Driscoll knows that sin effects any culture, any model, and any philosophy, so he doesn’t advocate one over the other. Thus, if mission is to be reformed, that reform would be radical.

Driscoll carefully shows the treatment of three components: Gospel, culture, and church. Where the challenge is for the church to take the Gospel to the culture, many fail. Some churches embrace the gospel, but reject culture. They do this out of the mistaken idea that the church is culture and that all that exists outside of it is something foreign that will soon pass. Others reject the Gospel and embrace culture. They do this out of a desire to be relevant, never realizing that without a message, there is no point. The challenge here is to view the church as a missionary and where we live as a mission field.

To cut through opposing views to find something else entirely takes a sharp knife. Dricsoll hacks away with the sharpest of swords: God’s word. His arguments throughout the book are well-founded in scripture. Say what you will, this book has more scripture in it then most best selling Christian books. What Driscoll argues for is not one approach or the other, but simply taking the Gospel to culture. Proclaiming it loud and clear while we still can. He reminds us that a day will come when the Kingdom of God will be complete. When sin-effected culture will be erased. Until then, we live in sin-effected culture, so its there we are to carry the Gospel.

When a successful pastor writes a book explaining his philosophy, it seems to be only natural than many will read it and attempt to copy the pastor. There are far too many attempts to clone Saddleback and Willow Creek that we don’t need a cloning of Mars Hill. I live and preach in South Central, rural Missouri. Most of what Driscoll describes as culture sounds like a travel log of some faraway land. To copy what works in Seattle in my church would be, at best, comedic, and at worse, tragic. Instead, the real lesson here is to look deep into culture and see how it is all tarnished by sin. With this understanding of my culture, I am better equipped to take to it the hope of the Gospel.

This book is controversial, so there is a temptation to suggest that although I found it beneficial, I don’t recommend it. However, I find that Driscoll’s ideas are challenging and well founded in scripture. I recommend this book, not to weigh in on arguments, or even to search for off-color descriptions of people in the Bible, but to be challenged toward the Great Commission.

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