Book Review: Religion Saves

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Religion Saves

A sign of a good book is one that has an actual impact on your life. This one did. I’ll share that a little later. I hope it isn’t TMI.

“Religion Saves” by Mark Driscoll is a book that explains 9 misunderstandings as submitted visitors to Mars Hill Church’s website. These include Birth Control, Humor, Predestination, Grace, Sexual Sin, Faith and Works, Dating, The Emerging Church and The Regulative Principle.

This book is targeted towards Christians and as such, most of the topics are what I would call  “internal debates.” This isn’t a book for someone seeking basic answers, like “Is Jesus Real?” I found this book to challenge what I believe and stir internal debates about why I believe what I do.

Each chapter was insightful and really made me think. Two really stood out.

The first is the chapter on Birth Control. A little personal history…we had a difficult time getting pregnant, including multiple miscarriages and fertility doctors. I believe each one of the babies we conceived is a real person with a real soul that now resides in Heaven. With that in mind, I am probably more sensitive to the “when does life begin” discussion.

Mark describes several levels of birth control moving from:

  1. No Birth Control
  2. Natural Birth Control like the rhythm method,
  3. Non-abortive Birth Control like vasectomies, condoms, and the diaphragm,
  4. Potentially Abortive Birth Control like birth control pills and finally
  5. Abortive Murder.

Levels 1-3 are fine for any Christian couple. There are pros and cons for each type and in-depth discussions about the history of each.

We use an IUD. This might be the TMI part! As I was reading, I thought surely we would be in the “just fine” category. When I saw the pill in the possible abortive category I was surprised. The pill prevents an egg from being released. It thickens cervical mucus which prevents the sperm from reaching the egg. Lastly, the pill creates a hostile environment in the uterus thus preventing a fertilized egg from implanting. The first two are okay, the last one is not. This is a point to be argued, so Mark puts this in the “maybe” category since there isn’t agreement  on exactly how it works.

To my surprise, an IUD only prevents the fertilized egg from implanting. Abortion. I seriously had no idea. I remember reading some literature when I first started using it, saying they weren’t sure how an IUD worked. Wow. If I didn’t know this, how many other Christian women are walking around with an IUD not knowing that it aborts fertilized eggs?

It makes me sick to my stomach to think about the consequences of our birth control choice. At this point, we are taking a serious look at a vasectomy for my husband.

So, in just one chapter, this book has changed my life.

The next chapter that really caused me to pause was on Predestination. I didn’t have a firm understanding of this topic, so I guess I took the easy way out. I like to believe that we all have free will and that everyone is predestined for heaven. Mark makes clear points that it doesn’t work that way. He makes tons of good points with plenty of scripture to back him up. He persuaded me. God chooses some people and He doesn’t choose others. I don’t like the idea that people I love, mainly my family, are not predestined to heaven and there’s nothing I can do about it.

This is such a difficult topic for me to really grasp. One analogy helped:

“If a group of people committed themselves to a mass suicide pact and then gathered in a home and set it on fire, no one would claim that their neighbors were unjust if some of them died in the fire. However, if one of the neighbors ran into thee blazing inferno to try to rescue them, only to be met with resistance as he threw them one at a time over his shoulder, kicking and screaming, and ran out of the house, and he did this over and over until he saved some people before he himself died of smoke inalation, he would be lauded as a hero  and not criticized as a villain. No one would accuse him of being unjust because he did not et every suicidal person out of the home. Rather, he was obligated to save no one and gave his own life to save some. p. 97-98”

So God isn’t the bad guy for not saving everyone. I still don’t like this concept, but with the evidence Mark presents, I really believe he is right.

Mark Driscoll has an amazing ability to present very complex issues in a way that regular folks can understand. He doesn’t “dumb down” anything. He uses scripture in context to support his view, all of which are very compelling.

I highly recommend this book. Take your time to read it, study it, grab your Bible to confirm it, and meditate on it. This isn’t a beach read to zip though. However, if you take the time on this book, I can nearly guarantee you will be changed. You will come to know God and your Bible better.

Check out details of the complete blog tour for Religion Saves. You’ll gain new insight and read alternative views of the book. Enjoy!

Birth Control


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