“Don’t give up, don’t ever give up!” Driscoll doesn’t use those exact words in this book (it is actually a quote from Jim Valvano’s famous cancer speech), but I think it sums up well the message that Driscoll wants to convey to true born-again believers everywhere. This book is a resounding call for Christians to experience Resurgence and not to Retreat in the face of ever-growing animosity towards true Christianity.
The world loves to blend together Christendom and Christianity. However, what the Bible determines is true Spirit-wrought Christianity, and what the world classifies as Christendom, are two totally different things. Too often, those terms get blended together by ill-informed media members or church members, but they in fact have radically different meanings. Like Driscoll says, “Christendom bears the fingerprints of our faith, but it is not true Christianity.” So, what separates true Christianity from Christendom? According to Driscoll, the following characteristics are what identify true evangelical Christianity: (1) Bible – The Bible is God’s true Word. (2) Cross – Jesus died on the cross for our sins. (3) Conversion – Individuals need to be personally converted. (4) Activism – Belief in the gospel needs to be expressed in effort. If that is what truly defines Christianity, then the next logical question, which Driscoll asks of himself and the reader is, “Based on these criteria, what percentage of Americans could be classified as evangelical Christian?” Shockingly, to most people that is, the answer is in single digits (around 8% to be exact). Driscoll goes on to say, “Common statistics estimate that evangelicals represent anywhere between 40 to 70 percent of the country’s total population, or approximately 130 million people. However, more-extensive research cited by John Dickerson in his book The Great Evangelical Recession indicates that the actual range is between 7 and 8.9 percent, somewhere between 22 and 28 million people. Moreover, all studies indicate that younger people are less likely to be evangelical. According to a 2012 Gallup poll, about 6.4 percent of the US population ages eighteen to twenty-nine identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered, which means in all likelihood there are as many young people with alternative sexual lifestyles as there are active young evangelicals in the United States.” That may not have an affect on you, but it sure sobered me up. I knew that there was a radical difference in what the media was presenting as Christendom, and what the Bible defined as true evangelical Christianity, but I honestly did not expect that stat about there being almost as many alternate lifestyle young people as there are active young evangelicals. As one of the leaders of the College Ministry at my church, that was truly an astounding statistic and one that will send me to my knees in prayer for days to come.
The fact that society has progressed (or regressed depending on how you look at) should not send evangelical Christians into a state of depression. In fact, like Driscoll says, it should do the exact opposite. Instead of contending with a bunch of people who think their “Christian” morals make them true evangelicals, we are now dealing with people who no longer have any reason to keep up the moral charade and present themselves as Christians. Therefore, discerning the “wheat from the chaff” is a much easier job in the current culture than it was 60-70 years ago. Also, because of the cultures fascination with the supernatural (see Harry Potter and Twilight), it makes them much more open to the supernatural and less close-minded to a God that works both in powerful, and mysterious, ways. Knowing all of this, we should be seeking opportunities to build relationships with people around us by being intentionally missional. Our call is to go and serve and be light and salt to the earth, and that is what Driscoll exhorts each of us to do in this book. The world is filled with too many consumer-driven Christians who spend the a great deal of their time trying to see what they can get from God, their local church, and other Christians and neglecting the call to go out and make disciples of the nations. There is so much that I what to say about consumer driven Christians who treat the church and Christianity like it is Six Flags over Jesus, but I think I will let this quote from Driscoll do the talking for me as it sums up perfectly how I feel:
“I don’t care if you buy a truck or play some video games or rock out on your guitar. But the problem is when those are prevalent, predominant, and preeminent in your life. Some of you would argue and say, ‘It’s not a sin.’ No, but sometimes it’s just dumb. You got fired because you fell asleep at work after staying up too late to get to the next level of some online game and become a guild leader. That’s dumb. You work one part-time job so you can play more guitar or Frisbee golf. That’s dumb. You spend all your money on a new car or truck or toys or gear or clothes or gambling or fantasy football. Dumb. Some of you say, ‘Well, it’s not a sin.’ Neither is eating your cereal box instead of the cereal. It’s just dumb. There are a lot of things that Christian guys do that aren’t evil; they’re just dumb and childish. There’s nothing wrong with being a boy-if you are a boy. There is a big problem if you are a boy with a beard and a condo.”
Rise up, and don’t revert, evangelical men and women! Fight the good fight and be on the front-lines of a Resurgence! Love people for Jesus! Serve people in the name of Jesus! Quit playing games, grow up, and win the world for Christ!
As it pertains to Driscoll and his writings, you either love him or hate him. He is very forward (sometimes too forward) with what he is thinking and how he presents it to his readers/listeners, but as someone who is a Type-A personality himself, I really love that about Driscoll. If you have ever read anything else by him, or read any of his other books, then nothing in this book will upset you or cause you to ask yourself, “did he just say that?” However, if you are not familiar with Driscoll and Mars Hill Church, then be warned that Driscoll is an in-your-face kind of writer/speaker, but that should not detract from his message at all. The truths Driscoll presents in this book about the difference between true evangelical Christianity and what the world classifies as Christendom are a much needed wake-up call and one I hope lights a fire in all evangelicals everywhere to be much for Jesus because He gave up everything for us!
Title: A Call to Resurgence: Will Christianity Have a Funeral or a Future?
Author: Mark Driscoll
Publisher: Tyndal House Publishers (2013)
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale House Publishers book review bloggers program on NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”