Religion Saves, But The Book Hurts.

I have read three books in the last three weeks. The first two by Tony Jones was fantastic, the third by Mark Driscoll made my heart sink a little. I will say upfront I have read Vintage Jesus and Church as well as Death By Love in that order and most recently Religion Saves and Nine Other Misconceptions. Even though I enjoy reading books with ideas that I don’t always agree with, this is the first time in a long time I wanted to put the book down on the bookshelf and leave it there. However, I finished it and realize that yes I very much disliked the content and writing style, and tone of the book, I realize that it will be a best read for someone out there. I will refrain from making statements about Mark Driscol as a person as best I can, as I do not personally know him.

I bought the book not realizing that this was a regurgitated sermon series and if I had known that upfront I probably would have just watched the podcast. I knew upfront that there would be some bashing of the Emergent Church, or where the majority of his beef is located with Emergent Village. I was curious as to what he would say, but where he lost me was on the chapter about Humour.

Now being a speaker myself and knowing how sensitive and important my words are to the individuals around me I was really hurt by his words in this chapter. I was hurt for all the people that have felt hurt from what he decribes as humour.

My favorite targets tend to be action-figure-loving single guys who play World of Warcraft at their mom’s house while downloading porn and blogging about how the world should be, in between long sessions of sleep in their Star Wars sheets. Vegans are also funny because they get upset every time I promote bacon, and they often tell me that I will die if I eat bacon, to which I reply “Yes, praise God, I will die and go to heaven… full of bacon.”

I have a couple of problems with that. First, he knows his words are hurtful, yet it does not seem to matter. My question is this;

How do the people that are in his congregation, in the Seattle area, or reading his material world-wide?

If my pastor got up and just let loose on who I am as an individual while trying to express the way to live a life that is in line or even imitating Christ, I think I would be re-evaluating where I was going to church. I do agree that there is indeed humour in the words of God, both in the Old and New Testament, however knowing exactly the context of these words is next to impossible as translation occurs. I don’t think this kind of humour is not what Jesus did. Blatantly hurting individuals does not seem to be the style of the God I know.

He goes through ways that he sees the Bible as being a comedy of sorts, but I struggle to agree with him in the ways he finds certain Biblical accounts humorous.

I will give him credit though as he does tackle some very FAQ’s that are relevant to the everyday church goer. Such as, Is birth control ok? He also does a great job at outlining the very ominous questions surrounding predestination.

In regards to the emergent question, Driscoll attempts to show the reader the different types of leaders within the emergent movement. Rob Bell, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt and Brian McLaren are the leaders that take the brunt of Driscoll’s dislike. He attacks everything from the gay perspective, Nooma videos, the question of sin and even the cult possibility of Emergent Village. He calls this Emergent Liberalism and he really sees no use for them within Christian circles. However, to me when these Emergent Liberals can ask themselves questions like; If we were wrong about slavery and civil rights, what is it in today’s society that we are blinded to?

I have to say I really disliked many opinions that were raised in this book, but I also realize that some people that are important to me may agree with them. That’s ok! I can live with that, something I learned from Tony Jones, being a Christian shouldn’t cause me to shut out other ideals or theologies, I should be able to flourish through the discussions they may raise.


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