Vintage Jesus

Vintage Gesus

Last week I received my signed hard copy of Vintage Jesus in the mail. I had preordered the book and received a pdf from Crossway, so I’ve already read it, but I wanted to spend a second today writing a quick review. Bottom line – I like Mark Driscoll. He has become one of my favorite preachers to listen to. I know that makes me a target for criticism, because Driscoll stirs up a bit of controversy whenever his name drops into a conversation. Whatever folks may say about his Seattle style, he holds to a rock solid theology, demonstrates a passion for the gospel, and possesses an ability to communicate it in grass roots gritty language that makes sense.

The book, Vintage Jesus, serves as a Christology 101 to an American Idol culture. Here is a taste from the opening pages:

Roughly two thousand years ago Jesus was born in a dumpy, rural, hick town, not unlike those today where guys change their own oil, think pro wrestling is real, find women who chew tobacco sexy, and eat a lot of Hot Pockets with their uncle-daddy. Jesus’ mom was a poor, unwed teenage girl who was mocked for claiming she conceived via the Holy Spirit. Most people thought she concocted a crazy story to cover the “fact” she was knocking boots with some guy in the backseat of a car at the prom. Jesus was adopted by a simple carpenter named Joseph and spent the first thirty years of his life in obscurity, swinging a hammer with his dad.

Around the age of thirty, Jesus began a public ministry that included preaching, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and befriending social misfits such as perverts, drunks, and thieves. Jesus’ ministry spanned only three short years before he was put to death for declaring himself to be God. He died by shameful crucifixion like tens of thousands of people before and after him.

At first glance, Jesus’ resume is rather simple. He never traveled more than a few hundred miles from his home. He never held a political office, never wrote a book, never married, never had sex, never attended college, never visited a big city, and never won a poker tournament. He died both homeless and poor.

Nonetheless, Jesus is the most famous person in all of human history. More songs have been sung to him, artwork created of him, and books written about him than anyone who has ever lived. In fact, Jesus looms so large over human history that we actually measure time by him; our calendar is divided into the years before and after his birth, noted as B.C. (“before Christ”) and a.d. (anno Domini, meaning “in the year of the Lord”), respectively.

No army, nation, or person has changed human history to the degree that Jesus, the homeless man, has. Some two thousand years after he walked the earth, Jesus remains as hot as ever. In fact, as Paul promised in 2 Corinthians 11:3-4, the opinions about Jesus are countless in seemingly every area of culture.

On television, Jesus often appears on the long-running animation hits The Simpsons and South Park. Jesus also appears in the comedic sketches of vulgar comic Carlos Mencia’s hit show Mind of Mencia, which explores everything from what it would have been like for Jesus to be married to his involvement in a royal religious wrestling rumble with the founders of other major world religions. Dog the Bounty Hunter, the famous Christian bail bondsman, prays to Jesus on almost every episode of his hit television show, gathering his wife in her clear heels and the rest of their chain-smoking, mace-shooting, criminal-pursuing, mullet-wearing posse to ask Jesus to bless each manhunt.

In the world of fashion, Jesus appears on numerous T-shirts, including the popular “Jesus is my homeboy” shirt, worn by everyone from Madonna to Ashton Kutcher, Ben Affleck, Brad Pitt, and Pamela Anderson.

Driscoll goes on from there walking through pop-culture and the various views of Jesus from the orthodox to the outlandish; but then he shifts gears to give a solid Biblical
picture of the person and work of Jesus. I did not do a comparative point by point analysis, but he covers pretty much everything you will find in chapters 26-29 of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. He outlines the work under a dozen questions:

  1. Is Jesus the Only God?
  2. How Human Was Jesus?
  3. How Did People Know Jesus Was Coming?
  4. Why Did Jesus Come to Earth?
  5. Why Did Jesus’ Mom Need to Be a Virgin?
  6. What Did Jesus Accomplish on the Cross?
  7. Did Jesus Rise from Death?
  8. Where Is Jesus Today?
  9. Why Should We Worship Jesus?
  10. What Makes Jesus Superior to Other Saviors?
  11. What Difference Has Jesus Made in History?
  12. What Will Jesus Do upon His Return?

Driscoll hits these questions from a biblical perspective with loads of scripture references in his trade-mark edgy style. Easily offended Christians who believe the seven deadly sins include getting a tattoo, reading from a Bible translation other than the KJV, riding a motorcycle, laughing out loud, downloading classic rock to your ipod, or wearing blue jeans to church, will probably not enjoy this book. For everyone else, the book offers a fresh look at the biblical historical human divine real Jesus from an angle you may not have considered before. I’ve been recommending this book to many of my friends, especially those born during the Reagan administration.

Check out the Vintage Jesus web site for more info about the book and authors, desktop backgrounds, sound clips, endorsements, and to order your copy.

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11 Comments

  1. How can you say that Mark D holds to a rock solid theology when his Acts 29 network starts some padeobaptist churches ?? As a Baptistic Calvinist I have noticed a blind eye from Baptist Calvinist toward the ” Popery” as Gill called it of Padeobaptism which springs out of Rome.

    As a pastor of a Southern Baptist Calvinistic church(Fellowship Community Church) I have grwon very frustrated with the blind eye toward this. The BFM and other Baptist Calvinistic Confessions clearly teach that valid Baptism is a prerequisite to visible church membership and to the Lord’s Table. Baptist have historically in the majority believed where there is no valid baptism then you have no entrance into the visible church.

    I personally have no problem with Mark D but I think we are wrong blasting the arminians of the SBC but turn a blind eye to the false teaching of the covenant by the padeobaptist. They are wrong with the subjects, mode, and administrator of Baptism. If we won’t let them into our churches then we should not turn a blind eye . I send this with love for my brothers and correctness in our methodology.

    Scott Morgan
    http://www.fccgrace.com

  2. Scott,

    I think thou protesteth too loudly.

    Acts 29 Network is not a denomination nor does it act like one. It is a loose network of Church Planters who try to help each other plant churches. There is no requirement that one believe in Believer’s Baptism in order to learn from Acts 29.

    Their statement of belief clearly states – “The more lengthy answer is included below and intentionally omits some finer points of doctrine and secondary issues as we allow the elders in our local churches to operate according to their convictions on these matters.”

    All Acts 29 Churches that are Southern Baptist require Baptism by immersion. So what’s the problem?

  3. I have heard of Mark Driscoll but not read any of his books. I have liked the sermons I’ve heard. Plan to get this book. It’s been to long now that the Southern Baptists took the ivory towers off the seminaries and put them on the tops of churches. Get on with the mission and leave the politics to ceasar!

  4. Pastor Don,
    Maybe I am just in a dream world expecting pastors to sound like the Word of God as they preach the Gospel rather than an MTV host. Mark Driscoll goes too far, in his coarse joking and humor. His goal seems to be, to sound like the world to win the world and that is not the design of the Gospel, nor the command of Christ to His ministers, to go and make diciples in His name for His glory. We are to be in the world not of the world. Mark Driscoll in his coarse joking and humor seeks to shock to save and I believe in this area he is dishonoring Christ and His Word, for example: “Most people thought she concocted a crazy story to cover the “fact” she was knocking boots with some guy in the backseat of a car at the prom.” is not how the Scriptures speak. We as Christians are called to Christlikeness, which means we are to strive for holiness, not worldliness. How then does a pastor justify using filthly language or imagery to proclaim the Gospel. I just don’t get all the positive reviews Driscoll is receiving, especially from reformed believers. I am not looking for pastors to have a holier than thou attitude, but I don’t think it’s expecting too much to desire Christlikeness in His children, especially those who shepherd His flock. Pastors are called to preach the WORD not the WORLD to save those who are perishing, to give sight to the blind, to give hearing to the deaf, and to raise the dead to life. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Rom. 10:17)

    God saves through His Word and by His Spirit for His glory and our eternal joy.

    This is not an attack on Mark Driscoll the man and his walk with God, but a serious call to question what motives and actions are pleasing to God (see 1 Timothy 4:12, Titus 2:7-8, Eph. 5:1-12, Col. 1:9-14,…).

    By His grace and for His glory
    Pastor Mark Lukens

  5. I just found this review on Steve Camp’s blog and thought it was worth posting here as well.

    Thursday, March 20, 2008
    VINTAGE JESUS
    …a book review by The Irish Calvinist

    This is an excellent book review of Mark Driscoll’s latest book – Vintage Jesus, by The Irish Calvinist, Erik Raymond. Though I have never met Erik personally, I fully agree with the biblical wisdom he has used in expressing his thoughts. These are the exact same concerns beloved that I have voiced here for many months; this is biblical discernment in action.

    In light of tomorrow being Good Friday, I felt that this was an important article to read. I highly commend it to you. Be sure to visit Erik’s excellent blog to read more great reviews and insightful articles.

    In the shadow of the cross,
    Steve
    Galatians 6:14

    by Erik Raymond (the Irish Calvinist)
    Vintage Jesus is written by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears. Driscoll is the reformed/emergent lightening-rod pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA. Breshears is a Professor of Theology at Western Seminary in Portland, OR. Driscoll is the author of the majority of the content and Breshears comes alongside to write the conclusions of each chapter.

    The book intends to answer a number of relevant questions about the person and work of Jesus Christ. To Driscoll’s credit he tackles some of the most common questions asked by unbelievers and endeavors to answer them biblically and within the realm of historic protestant orthodoxy. There are some really good sections of the book where we are given clear, biblical answers to common questions.

    Some of the chapter titles include:

    Is Jesus the Only God?
    How Human was Jesus?
    Why did Jesus’ Mom Need to be a Virgin?
    Did Jesus Rise from Death?
    Why Should We Worship Jesus?
    I feel that it is necessary at the outset of this review to show my hand a bit. I have been a Driscoll supporter for a number of years now. I have read both of his previous books and enjoyed them. I have also been a subscriber to the Mars Hill podcast for over two years. I have benefited from the ministry of Mark Driscoll in a number of different ways. All of this to say, I am not the ‘anti-Driscoll guy’. However, I did not enjoy this book. In fact, I repeatedly found myself wincing and much like an argument amongst friends, just wishing it would end soon and without further damage.

    One criticism that has accompanied Driscoll for years is his language. Ever since his days of being labeled “Mark the cussing pastor” by Donald Miller in his book Blue Like Jazz we have heard folks decry the language used by Driscoll. To his credit, we have heard what appears to be humility in the pulpit and in writing that seems to indicate that this is behind him.

    For those who are interested Driscoll did not drop ‘F-bombs’ in the book, neither did he employ any of the other socially relegated ‘cuss words’ that he has been criticized in the past for. However, in Vintage Jesus Driscoll repeatedly dips his pen into the sewer for illustrations. For example, I do not know why he feels it necessary to draw vivid pictures in his readers’ minds of groping women at frat parties (he went into some detail here). He also spoke of stumbling upon a naked woman in the frat house. (p.80-81) Is this the best illustration possible for whatever the point was that he was trying to make? As a pastor and a man I work hard at trying to keep men’s minds fixed on what is pure and good. The human heart does a fine job itself birthing temptations and lust in the heart without pastor Mark priming the pump.

    I know that some folks will say that Driscoll is trying to ‘contextualize’ and reach out to those who are unreached; those who don’t know Jesus and don’t go to church. Who else is going to reach the urban, jacked-up, fornicating, pot-smoking, violent, ungodly deviants? Well, I was that guy. And speaking as a guy from that background it turns my stomach to see appeals to the third rail of culture in order to relate. Do you know how Jesus related to me? He showed me my sin. Like those that Paul referred to in 1 Cor. 14, the secrets of my heart were disclosed and so falling on my face, I worshipped God and declared that God is really among the church. (1 Cor. 14.24-25) It breaks my heart to see Driscoll attempting to ’sanctify’ sin for the sake of illustration. This is really pointless when you think about it.

    Driscoll states that it seems that “every generation is guilty of giving Jesus an extreme makeover.” (p.42) And of course we (guys like me) tend to like much of what Driscoll says about the need for men to act like men and the fact that Jesus is not weak and effeminate but rather strong and masculine.

    However, is Driscoll not guilty of doing the same thing but with a little more spiritual testosterone?

    For example, Driscoll, in his run through The Gospel According to Mark, describes Jesus as a guy who,

    “[tells] a leper to shut-up”

    “does the equivalent of breaking into a church on a Sunday morning to make a sandwich with the communion bread..”

    “needs Paxil”

    “needs sensitivity training”

    “has his guys take a donkey without asking like some kleptomaniac donkeylifter”

    “[Is] an obvious workaholic who needed to start drinking decaf and listening to taped sounds of running water while doing aromatherapy so he could learn to relax.”

    We are talking about Jesus…right? The Son of God? He needed Paxil? This isn’t even funny. Look, I am guilty of laughing when we hear Driscoll going after the environmentalists, the charismatics, the fundamentalists, and the pastorettes, but…come on…we are talking about the Lord Jesus Christ. And I think this is what has me up in arms. Jesus did not need medication, a vacation, or sensitivity training, he is the perfect Son of God! The only thing he ‘needs’ is to be bowed down before and worshipped. Driscoll would do well to put away his sarcastic comedy routine and his sketchpad, for he, himself seems to be giving Jesus an extreme makeover. And the more I look at this Jesus that he is drawing the more it looks like Mark Driscoll.

    Some of the unnecessary references in this book to Jesus’ incarnation are included below…

    “Jesus’ mom was a poor, unwed teenage girl who was mocked for claiming she conceived via the Holy Spirit. Most people thought she concocted a crazy story to cover the ‘fact’ she was knocking boots with some guy in the backseat of a car at the prom.” (p.11)

    “Jesus’ humor was often biting and harsh, particularly when directed at the Pharisees. For example, he called them a bag of snakes, said that their moms shagged the Devil, and mocked them for tithing out of their spice racks.” (pp. 40-41)

    “Joining them later at the party at Matthew’s house was nothing short of a very bad hip-hop video, complete with women in clear heels, dudes with their pants around their ankles and handguns in their underwear strap, lots of gold teeth, bling, spinners on camels, cheap liquor, and grinding to really loud music with a lot of bass. When word got out to the religious folks, they were perplexed as to how Jesus could roll with such a jacked-up posse. Jesus’ answer was purely priestly. Jesus said that they were sick and needed mercy.” (p.77)

    “Some Catholic theologians taught that Jesus was not born in the normal fashion through Mary’s birth canal. Rather, they say he was born via something much like a miraculous C-section, as if Mary were some Messiah-in-the-box, and Joseph cranked her arm until the Messiah popped out of her gut.” (p. 93)

    From a theological perspective I found the book to be pretty tight. It was your basic Protestant defense of biblical faith. However, I was shocked to find this quote in the middle of the book (I quote the context):

    On the cross as our substitute, Jesus was made to be the worst of what we are. This does not mean that Jesus ever sinned. Rather, it means that he was made sin. As a result, in that moment when Jesus cried out that he had been forsaken by God the Father, Jesus became the most ugly, wicked, defiled, evil, corrupt, rebellious, and hideous thing in all creation. In that moment, Jesus became a homosexual, alcoholic, thief, glutton, addict, pervert, adulterer, coveter, idol worshiper, whore, pedophile, self-righteous religious prig—and whatever else we are.” (p. 114—emphasis mine).

    Jesus became a whore? Jesus became an idol worshipper? Really? So now we have Jesus with a new nature? He is sinless human, perfect God and a pervert? This is not what the Scripture teaches. He became sin (that is he was imputed or charged with our sin) on the cross he did not become the sinner (2 Cor. 5.21). I realize that he says, “This does not mean that Jesus ever sinned.” But that is exactly what he says. He could have said Jesus was judged in our place, being charged with our sins. He was treated like the homosexual, alcoholic, thief, etc..should have been treated (though he was sinless). I do not believe this is theological semantics, but rather the heart of the gospel. The numerous endorsers and his co-author should have caught this error. It seems to me that Driscoll’s penchant for dramatic hyperbole got the best of him and unraveled his explanation of the gospel. Regrettably, this really becomes a good picture of what you have in this book; Driscoll’s drama getting in the way and ruining a clear explanation of Jesus.

    Along with many people, I have been praying for Driscoll that things would get better and that he would not crash and burn. This book, in my view, goes backward rather than forward. As I read the book I found myself thinking of the NFL running back who gets up and draws attention to himself after every first down. I find myself saying, “Just go back to the huddle and run another play.” In this book I find myself saying, “Just go back to the Bible and give us some more Jesus. Enough with the ‘extra & unnecessary stuff’ it just gets in the way.”

    Posted by SJ Camp at 6:13:00 PM 28 iron sharpens iron
    Labels: book review, Driscoll

  6. Come into the city slums infested with the cockroaches and rats where the landlords don’t care, the water doesn’t run, you walk up ten flights of stairs without lights and it’s scarey. In the winter the broken windows let in so much cold air that some days are spent under the blankets. Those who live on the streets or under the bridge don’t talk like King James or the “preacher”. What about the kids who sleep on urine stained beds, hungry every night because their mom’s are out on the street? They don’t talk like the educated folks, most of whom wouldn’t last a week in the conditions these kids believe is normal. Come into the concrete and steel tombs that are the prisons of our good country. Talk with the walking dead, or the numb, or the socially twisted uneducated gang bangers. How do you communicate Jesus to them? Have you ever met someone who after growing up in American truely has never even heard of Jesus, knows nothing about forgiveness or grace or a simple act of kindness? Most church people stay close to the safety of the language that makes them feel secure or the buildings where they are comfortable. Don’t get too worked up because someone uses some “rough” language or shocking illustrations. Most lost people want unconditional love, authenticity, and the assurance that Christ died for them. King James language doesn’t always work. And I don’t think the Holy Spirit needs sweet sounding words to do His work. Life can get rough sometimes. A lot of people don’t live life they just respond in the American way – the middle class, clean way. I wonder where Jesus would spend His time if He chose to walk the earth today. Take off the suit Mark, leave Jerusalem, and come to the ends of the earth.

  7. Dear Bill,
    I will not even take the time to respond to your insults and false accusations against my character, but I must continue to ask the tough questions.

    Can you please show me in the Scriptures were Jesus or any of the disciples used foul language or coarse joking to preach the gospel? To win the lost? To proclaim the glory of God? To fit in with the lost? To stand for truth? To stand for or defend the holiness of God? To declare Jesus as the Son of God? Or any other topic for that matter?

    No one ever preached the gospel in more hostile times. No one preached the gospel to more people that hated them. No one preached the gospel to more people that had never heard. Than Jesus and His apostles. And the world was turned up side down, and God was pleased to grow His church.

    God has graciously recorded their messages and ministries for us, therefore our examples, our standards, our instruction and guidance must come from the Word not the World. And God by His grace continues throughout the ages, to give us echos/examples of these men who lived and died for God (Hebrews 13:7).

    This is not a debate wheither or not you should speak in a language the people can’t understand, that would be foolish. The message must be clear and must be understandable or we become just noisy instruments, but again should we stoop to sinful language to do share Christ and His gospel????

    Standing by grace,
    Pastor Mark

  8. Why were the responses from Pastor Mark Lukens taken off the website? His response was well thought out and passionately stated. While others seem to spew from ignorance about the subject and Pastor Mark personally,he addressed the issues directly without personal attacks. I hope this was some kind of glitch and not sensorship.

  9. Sorry Mark, I didn’t mean to sound that insulting. I don’t know you but I do value what you do. I didn’t mean for you to take it all that personal. It’s just a general perception and experience of mine about many Christians who talk a good line but are never around when you need them. I don’t think for a minute that a man who is a pastor of a church is like that. I can agree with most of what you said but I can also see a need for someone like Mark Driscoll and his ministry to those whom God has called him to minister. Why can’t it be both? I can assure you Mark, that what I wrote was not ment as an attack on your character. The nastiness of the SBC is not worth it to me anymore. All you guys seem to do is fight and argue. Sorry Don.

  10. Don, Thanks for the review. I enjoy Marky D too! I listen to him while driving and when I work out. I plan on getting this book too!

    Jeff

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