If you’ve been a Christian long enough, you’ve probably memorised verses about Jesus being our ransom. You’ll willingly die in defense of penal substitution. You might even know what propitiation means.
Yet if your honest you probably haven’t understood how these doctrines affect you.
In one of the best recent books on the cross, Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears tackle these issues in an immensely practical way. The writers take a topic of the cross (i.e. propitation, expiation, Christus Victor) and apply it to a real life situation. This makes it eminently readable and immensely practical.
If you wanted to read about the cross, but you’ve been put off by weighty doctrine, this is the book for you. It’ll explain the doctrines simply and apply them powerfully.
The Argument of the Book
Driscoll and Breshears see the message of the cross as relevant for all areas of life. They write to people in many situations (including paedophiles, those investigating Christianity and those who have to forgive adultery) The doctrines of the cross are explained and applied to their situation.
After each of these sections Dr Breshears answers some common questions about the doctrine used to tackle this situation.
Primary Audience & Purpose
Each letter has a particular person in mind (someone Driscoll has actually met in councelling sessions). The idea is to apply a doctrine of the cross to some aspect of their life.
Literary Features of the Book
Writing in letters and FAQs, this book is incredibly readable. My fiancée raves about this being one of the few theology books she actually understood. Yet it is also deep and challenging.
Is it Biblical?
Yes. Their approach is soaked in Scripture. The only things that leave me uncertain are “Unlimited Limited Atonement” and the idea of demon possession (which is too easily presumed, they don’t spend long enough defending their view from scripture).
However, they don’t let the various doctrines of the cross compete against each other. Nor do they undermine the centrality of penal substitution in the death of Christ. Their approach is not only biblical in content but in discussing importance.
Does it Apply Truth?
The whole point of the book is to apply truth. Some may worry whether we can apply the truth to ourselves, as the characters tend to be extreme cases (few haven’t been raped or involved in drugs). But in a way this means that no one can say “my situation is a special case”. It applies to all from the extreme to the normal
Is it Christ Centred?
The whole book centres around the cross. The person and work of Jesus is clear. It sees Jesus as the solution to every problem. You can’t get much better than that. (Buy it in the UK)