Tuesday, June 30, 2009

An Interview with Mark Driscoll on Religion Saves

The latest book from Re:Lit and Crossway is Mark Driscoll's Religion Saves: And Nine Other Misconceptions (also available as an audio book read by Driscoll himself).

He was kind enough to respond to a few questions:

For whom did you write this book?

While preaching through 1 Corinthians some time ago, I was struck by the fact that the letter was a series of answers to various questions that the people in the church had asked. My guess was that there were more questions than Paul answered, but that somehow those he did answer were deemed to be of the greatest interest and importance. I thought it might be interesting to do something similar and preach a series answering the big questions and issues in our own day that could subsequently be addressed in an even more thorough fashion as a book.

So we tried an experiment by opening up a section of our church’s website for people to post any question, make comments about posted questions, and vote up to ten times a day for their favorite question. We deleted the votes of those people who violated the rules. And, in the end, 893 questions were asked, 5,524 comments were made, and 343,203 votes were cast. I answered the top nine questions by an entire sermon each.

The book is a greatly expanded version of that preaching series with a lot more content than I was able to include in the sermons.

So I guess I wrote the book for the people in our church, my online friends, and anyone who wants to know more about some of the big controversial issues in our day.

What was the hardest chapter to write?

The birth control chapter was especially difficult because some of the sanctity of life issues are so incredibly complex and unclear. It took a lot of research to arrive at a conclusion on things like the pill, and I felt I packed a ton into the chapter that will really help pastors guide people through the tough decisions around family planning and birth control.

Also difficult was the chapter on the Emerging Church and some people I consider friends but have serious doctrinal differences with. That chapter was painful to write personally and I was careful to include a wide breadth of research that is well footnoted.

Even though you tackle nine different questions, is there one unifying theme of the book? Or maybe another way to ask it: What’s the one thing you hope readers take away from this book?

As the subtitle of this book suggests, many of the questions that made the top nine are highly religious in nature. By this, I mean that religious people are prone to draw firm lines on these issues, thereby making them points of debate, distinction, and even division among Christians.

The issues fall into some curious categories.

Questions 9, 5, and 3 are all related to issues of sex and dating, as sex is the most popular religion in the world.

Questions 8 and 2 deal with missional aspects of the Emerging church and how Christians should relate to mainstream culture and lost people.

Question 7 is the endless debating point between Calvinists and Arminians. Question 4 is the perennial debating point between Catholics and Protestants.

And Question 1 is a point of concern between old school and new school Calvinists.

In the end, I think people will be surprised that the book is actually about the gospel for all of life and will force readers to think deeply about pressing questions.

Everyone, I would guess, will love and hate chapters of the book. I may be the only person on the earth who in fact ends up liking every chapter's conclusions.

What book projects are next for you?

I have a free e-book called Pastor Dad that I wrote for Father’s Day that can be found at www.relit.org.

I also just sent into Crossway a mammoth project called Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe. It is a 13-chapter theological book following the storyline of the Bible. My co-author Dr. Gerry Breshears and I worked more on this book than any previous two books we’ve done together combined. It was incredibly exhausting and in the end we whittled it down to 135,000 words and nearly 2,000 footnotes to be published in March of 2010.

I also contributed a chapter to the forthcoming book edited by you and Dr. Piper from the Desiring God conference titled The Power of Words and the Wonder of God, due out this fall.

My wife Grace and I are also getting a lot of offers to do a marriage book of some kind and currently discussing doing that project together. She’s a far better technical writer than I am and has a degree in PR with a minor in technical English from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, where I studied speech. So if it works out I’d love to write with my high school sweetheart. I have humorously given it the working title Your Best Wife Now and told her she should write on how to be an amazing wife and mom to a peculiar guy--as she’s an expert.

How can we be praying for you and Mars Hill Church these days?

Thank you for asking. I am enjoying so much of God’s grace that it is hard to keep up.

Mars Hill keeps growing and is expanding to our ninth campus including our first out-of-state campus in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Our goal is 100 campuses and 50,000 people in ten years.

The Acts 29 Church Planting Network is pushing 300 U.S. planters with 400 candidates in the pipeline and a growing number of plants globally. Our goal there is 1,000 U.S. church plants and 250,000 people in ten years.

I am publishing a book every few months, preaching hundreds of hours a year at Mars Hill and around the world, doing a lot of media interviews, raising five kids, loving my wife, and dealing with an ever-growing line of critics waiting their turn to get their punch in.

I pray James 1:5 a lot, asking God for wisdom, and I appreciate anyone who does the same for my family and me.