Friday, April 9, 2010

Doctrine: Free Chapter on Worship and a Review

Mark Driscoll has recently released a new book called “Doctrine” with Gerry Breshears and over the past few weeks Driscoll has been generous enough to share certain chapters of his book for free. One of the chapters he has given away is the chapter on Worship. You can get the free chapter here.

After reading it I am deeply impressed and greatly encouraged. I have never read a book by Driscoll before but I thoroughly enjoy his writing style. First it is written very straight forward. He uses everyday language without sounding corny or faddish. The style isn’t so much ‘in your face’ as much as it just doesn’t beat around the bush. He doesn’t waste time debating himself about the topics he brings up and he does an excellent job throughout the chapter showing us how customs and worship practices in the past are not very different today. In fact the first four or five paragraphs provide examples of how much really hasn’t changed as it relates to our idolatry.

The premise of the chapter is that “We are not created to worship, but rather we are created worshiping. Everyone worships all the time.” This explodes the myth that we were created to or for worship because as Harold Best says, “This would suggest that God is an incomplete person whose need for something outside himself (worship) completes his sense of himself.” So it is better for us to understand that we were created as worshippers, and Driscoll rightly argues that since we are natural worshippers we are continually worshiping someone or something.

This sets up much of the chapter for something that, in my opinion, has often been overlooked in evangelical circles regarding worship, and that is the subject of idolatry. Driscoll does an excellent job getting to the heart of idolatry, which is namely our hearts. The emphasis is not on those things that are external which we might worship as an idol, but rather Driscoll reminds us that “while idolatry is manifested externally, it originates internally.” Idolatry is closely, though antithetically, linked to worship.

I have read many books and articles and blog posts that espouse the viewpoint that “Worship is all of life” and while I agree that the viewpoint is biblically accurate, more often than not I find myself coming away frustrated. This is because the author usually takes that view and forces it upon congregational worship, as if the congregation were nothing more than individual people expressing their own individual ways in which they worship, and anyone who raises concerns about such worship practices are promptly beat back with the cry, “Worship is all of life.” So it is refreshing to read that Driscoll has an accurate understanding of how corporate worship fits into ‘worship is all of life.’ He says on page 351,
“God must be worshiped as he wishes, not as we wish. The Bible is clear that God is to be worshiped in ways and forms that he deems acceptable. This explains why God judges those who seek to worship him with either sinful forms externally or sinful hearts internally. This is incredibly important. Some churches care more about what is in people’s hearts than about what they do in their lives, whereas others are more concerned about doing things the “right” way and care little about the motivations behind those actions. When it comes to worship, which is all of life, the God of the Bible cares about both what we do and why we do it.”
This flies in the face of an “anything goes” type attitude in worship, that many “worship is all of life” teachers advocate and I am happy to see it written so plainly. Driscoll goes on about what corporate worship should look like and the elements it includes, again in a simple and straight forward manner.
I am not sure what other doctrinal topics the full book includes but the Worship chapter also does a nice job explaining regeneration and it’s implications in regards to true worship (ie. you can’t truly worship without first being born again).

The chapter ends, once again discussing idolatry. This time Driscoll gives a few examples that are “intended to be of some practical help in uncovering our idols so that we can smash them in repentance and worship God alone.” In each case Driscoll shows us that the problem isn’t primarily laziness or anxiety or pornography or drug abuse, but rather the real problem is that those sinful acts are a natural outflow of worship towards a false god. If your body is your god you will worship it. This may be through sex, food, power etc. If comfort is your god you will worship it through laziness, avoidance, lying, etc. And Driscoll recognizes alongside John Calvin that the examples are endless because the human heart is a factory pumping out idols.

I was personally encouraged and convicted after reading through this chapter and I want to pass it along to you in hopes that the same might be true for you. In the very least you will have a better understanding of worship. After reading this chapter I am convinced that I will purchase this entire book in the future. If anyone has read the book (or just this chapter) I would encourage you to comment about it below and let me know your thoughts.

I’ll end with a few quotes I underlined:

“Christians are…defined in terms of the god they worship.”

“Worship is a biblically faithful understanding of God combined with a biblically faithful response to him. Conversely, idolatry is an unbiblical, unfaithful understanding of God, and/or an unbiblical, unfaithful response to him.”

“Just because a practice is ancient does not mean it is Christian.”

“Be careful not to worship a good thing as a god thing for that is a bad thing.”

“The mutual indwelling that God’s people enjoy in corporate worship is essential to our growth personally, joy collectively, and witness culturally.”

“If someone is alive, they are cultural. Furthermore, culture, in general, and creativity and the arts, in particular, are expressions of our worship and do not lead us into worship. When such things as the arts and music are used to lead God’s people into worship, the understanding that we are continually worshiping has been lost and we have supplanted the leading of the Holy Spirit with music and the arts. Such a move is pagan because music becomes mediatorial in a way that only Jesus Christ is supposed to be.”


  1. ATexanLostinVirginiaApril 9, 2010 at 9:17 AM

    Great review! It looks like Driscoll is right on track, as usual. I'm looking forward to picking up a copy to read through, possibly today. Thanks for taking the time to post a review!

  2. Hey, thanks for the review. And by the way, since you mentioned the related issues that Driscoll sometimes brings up in his chapter on worship...

    "Driscoll goes on about what corporate worship should look like and the elements it includes, again in a simple and straight forward manner.
    I am not sure what other doctrinal topics the full book includes but the Worship chapter also does a nice job explaining regeneration and it’s implications in regards to true worship (ie. you can’t truly worship without first being born again)."

    ...he also goes into abortion in his chapter on the Image of God, complementarianism in the same chapter, and limited-unlimited atonement in his chapter on the cross, to name a few.

    Are you going to be blogging through other chapters of Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe? As of right now, I'm doing a chapter-per-day review on my blog ( and I would love to link to your reviews if you are going to be doing the same thing.

  3. Cool idea StunkMonk!

    I'll probably just stick with the worship chapter review (at least for now) but I'll be definately checking out your blog for further reviews.

    Thanks for visiting!