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:
- Is Jesus the Only God?
- How Human Was Jesus?
- How Did People Know Jesus Was Coming?
- Why Did Jesus Come to Earth?
- Why Did Jesus’ Mom Need to Be a Virgin?
- What Did Jesus Accomplish on the Cross?
- Did Jesus Rise from Death?
- Where Is Jesus Today?
- Why Should We Worship Jesus?
- What Makes Jesus Superior to Other Saviors?
- What Difference Has Jesus Made in History?
- 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.