Mark Driscoll’s book Death by Love

This book, in 12 chapters, presents the common false gospel that the application of what took place at the cross depends on the sinner. Driscoll has no idea of an atonement in which the application of the atonement is secured by the atonement. To the question of why can’t God simply forgive sins without punishing Jesus for sins, he correctly answers that somebody has to pay for sin for God to be God and to be just. But then he undermines the justice and satisfaction of God by saying again and again that Jesus died for all sinners and even paid for all their sins. But then he assumes that this justice and satisfaction for sins will not be applied unless the sinner accepts it.

Notice that this is something different from saying that the application does not happen until the time of hearing and believing of the gospel. Certainly the elect are under the wrath of God until the time when the righteousness of the cross is imputed and applied to them (baptised into the death). But Driscoll is saying that many for whom Jesus died will go to hell. He is saying that even though Jesus died to pay for the sins of Judas, that justice and satisfaction will not be effectual for Judas in hell. So contrary to Romans 8:32, God will not freely give all things along with Jesus to all those for whom He gave His Son.

So this is not a good news message about what God has done, but only a message about what God will do if you do something. For example, on p 193, Driscoll writes, “it all comes down to you and Jesus”. But in fact his message comes down to only you, the sinner. Jesus according to him has paid the ransom from hell for every sinner, so it most certainly does not come down to Jesus. It depends on the sinner, and then God will respond by applying it. Even though he writes about “efficacious” love (p240), the success all depends on “if you turn”. He has no desire to tell the sinner that turning to the true gospel is a result guaranteed for the elect by the cross.

This is not a straightforward Arminianism. He does not say stupid stuff like: Jesus will die for you if you… But he does say: Jesus died for all of you.  He is offended by the cross making the difference. How can the cross be the difference between saved and lost when you have a cross which is saying that God loves every sinner? Yes, Driscoll is clear that God hates many sinners in the end. But he contradicts this with his constant assurance to all sinners that Jesus has already paid for their sins. Either Jesus has or He has not, and that already.

So I will not say that this is Barthianism, though he quotes Barth with favor about the need for justice (P136). I will not say that this is 4 point Calvinism, though Bruce Ware and DA Carson seem to be his models.My concern is not “isms”. My concern is that we stop the double talk about Jesus dying for non-elect sinners to pay their sins. If our sins are paid for by the blood, we will be saved. Part of that salvation will be knowing and believing the true gospel.

I suppose I could recommend some good books here. Robert Reymond’s systematic theology comes to mind. AW Pink and William Rushton and Jeff Alexander have good books talking about the fact that specific sins have already been laid on Jesus or not, and that this is not conditioned on what the sinner does. But Driscoll has John Owen and Smeaton in his book list, and they are quite good also. Books are not the solution. Like all of us, Driscoll needs to be delivered by God over to the true doctrine (Romans 6:17) and repent of the dead works of all those with the false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner.

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One Comment on “Mark Driscoll’s book Death by Love”


    Bruce Ware, Southern Baptist Seminary;—”Those in hell, who never put their faith in Christ and so were never saved, are under the just judgment for their sin, even though Christ has paid for their sin. Just as the elect before they put their faith in Christ (which is before union with Christ) are still children of wrath, even though Christ has paid for their sin.”

    p 649, From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, Crossway, 2013

    Mark Driscoll, Death by Love, Crossway, p 174—”All those in hell will stand reconciled to God but not in a saving way…In hell, unrepentant and unforgiven sinners are no longer rebels, and their sinful disregard for God has been crushed and ended.”

    mark: I thought they would never die but continue to sin. At any rate, if their sinful disregard will have ended, it will not have been the penal substitution of Christ’s death (supposedly for them) but God’s might in judgment.

    Bruce Ware—“This reconciliation (Colossians 1:18-20) must be one which includes a sense in which those outside of Christ, consigned to eternal punishment in hell, arre at peace with God. The peace they have is simply this—-they have now seen God for who He is, they have bowed their knees before God, and have confessed with their mouths that Jesus is Lord. The deception is removed, their rebellion is over, and they now know and accept the truth of what they rejected the whole of their lives. As a result, there is peace–no more rebellion, no more deception, no more lies. The truth is known and accepted by these hell bound sinners, and they go to hell knowing that God is holy and was right….

    Luke 4: 33 And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”
    mark: Did Jesus for the demons so that they demons would know this? To what purpose a death for those who will die? And how was it substitutionary?

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