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Book Review: "Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together"

Posted January 23, 2012 Brad Bell

During my years at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) I was privileged to be around some of the finest theological minds of our era. The Faculty and Staff at DTS set the bar for Biblical Exposition and thoughtful handling of the text. However, as powerful as the classroom time and chapel speakers were, the gem of DTS was the "Spiritual Formation" department. After years of seeing young theologians trained up, sent out, and then shortly after, flame out. They came back to the basics of discipleship and instead of encouraging isolation in the library they promoted "doing life together" in community. I can't speak for the entire study body, but I can tell you that the season with my group was one of the finest experiences of my life. These men were and continue to be humble, teachable, and brilliant. I was challenged at every turn by their thoughtful approach to theology and their desire to hold to sound doctrine as a group of young aspiring pastors and theologians. Throughout our time together the diversity of our gifting began to surface and it became clear to me that we were on different trajectories in ministry. My path was leading me to the pastorate. I saw a road of leadership and teaching ahead in the trenches of the local church. These men saw a much different road. They were all heading for Ph.Ds and a life of training and equipping the next generation of theologians. The joke in our group was that one day I would be reading their books and quoting their stuff as I served as a teaching pastor somewhere. Well time has a way of testing the dreams of our youth.

Today I find myself enjoying the challenge of teaching and leading in the local church. For ten years I have poured my life into The Well and have considered it one of the finest honors of my life. In the meantime, my friends have become leading figures in theological training and are all published and highly esteemed in academic circles.

I wanted to share a resource the was written by one of my DTS friends. As some of you may know, Mark Driscoll has released a new book on the subject of marriage, authored with his wife Grace. Over the years I have watched with admiration as Mars Hill set out to reach Seattle. Mark has provided strong leadership over the years and the vision of influence has grown far beyond the city of Seattle to blossom into a national training arm for young pastors called the Acts 29 Network. I have appreciated the journey that He and the church have been on and have enjoyed seeing their incredible success. Mark is a man of passion and a brilliant thinker. Over the years he has become much more confessional in nature and has become a voice for sound biblical exposition. With a strong Gospel focus, Mars Hill, and Mark Driscoll have impacted thousands with the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. For that I am grateful! As an extension of their ministry, Mark and Grace have put together a book entitled, "Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together". Like many of you, I am tempted to buy the book and read it merely due to the name on the cover. Mark has a reputation of straight shooting and candid confrontation of error. These are traits that I admire and deeply respect in a communicator. However, as the content of the book became available the controversy started. Mark has a way of taking on issues and pushing them to the edge… then walking around a bit on the controversial side of the tracks. As tempted as I was to get the book, I was grateful for some balanced and thoughtful critique before I dove in. To be fair, I'll probably still read it, but I found my buddy's review to be heartfelt, complimentary, and yet cautionary.

For those of you who might want to pick up the book, here's a little teaser to help you read thoughtfully, theologically, and selectively.

My Spiritual Formation Group: