Jan 3, 2012

Tim Keller or Mark Driscoll – whose book on marriage should you buy?

Typical, you wait years for a book on marriage and then two come out within a couple of months of each other. I’m talking about The meaning of marriage by Tim and Kathy Keller and Real Marriage by Mark and Grace Driscoll.

Given that most of us will probably choose one or the other (at best) how do you go about deciding between the two.

Tim Challies considers one to be ‘my new favorite book on marriage and the best of all the books I read in 2011‘ but when assessing the other concludes ‘Would I want to read it with my wife or would I encourage her to read it on her own? Would I recommend it to the people in my church? In both cases the answer is no.’

Read his reviews to find out why and if you’ve the time and the money to read both make up your own mind!



  • So come on then, which are you recommending Mr P?

  • Thanks Helen!

    Keller’s book is excellent and the one we now give to newly married couples at the church as a wedding present. It doesn’t have much by way of teaching on marriage and children but puts the gospel at the heart of what gives a marriage power to succeed, ie the gospel enables a couple to sacrifice for one another, serve one another, forgive one another, adapt & change for one another etc. Lots of marriage books stop at practical common sense which whilst good and helpful stops short of what God enables a Christian marriage to be by thinking through the implications of the gospel in a marriage relationship.

    I haven’t read Driscoll’s book although I have listened to his series on Song of Songs (in prep. for preaching my own series). So his stuff on ‘sex and marriage’ is familiar. It only came out yesterday (Challies will have had a preview copy) so I’m looking forward to reading it.

  • Personally I’d buy Christopher Ash’s book “Married for God”! Though I did enjoy Keller’s.

  • Chris and I listened to & discussed Keller’s sermon series on marriage (Eph 5) from the (?)’80s. While allowing that the man may have matured in thought since then(!), we were disappointed. It was stimulating, but often because it wasn’t helpful in emphasis so we got to discuss it more! For the purpose of marriage he jumped into the Genesis 2 passage at v 18, and declared that man’s problem was loneliness – whereas clearly go a few verses back (or the end of ch1) and God’s given man a task to do – work the garden, fill the earth, subdue it, rule over it… he couldn’t do it alone. So Keller majors on companionship as THE purpose of marriage, and doesn’t mention other fruitfulness – work, and particularly, children. That is a major failing. He also seems to reduce headship to a mere ‘deadlock breaker’, which doesn’t adequately reflect Christ and the Church. In these ways it seemed not very shaped by the gospel, even though he mentions it. I hope in these things he has developed and been corrected, before writing.

    As for waiting for a book on marriage, I wasn’t I thought Christopher Ash nailed it – haven’t read much of the scholarly tome, but the popular version is excellent – and then Piper’s ‘This momentary marriage’ and Harvey’s ‘When sinners say ‘I do” are both gospel-saturated – and of course Mahaney wrote one too though I haven’t read it. I look forward to reading Tripp’s ‘What did you expect?’ at some point, too. What I wasn’t doing was waiting for Keller or Driscoll. They write to their contexts, I’m sure. But call us British or wat, but when we found Keller lacking we turned to Ash – most helpful. :)

    • Thanks for the comment Rosemary. I think where I’m at on a best-buy book on marriage at the moment is that ‘Married for God’ by Christopher Ash is probably the one book I would give to people preparing for marriage but that ‘The meaning of marriage’ is a better book for people who are already married. What I appreciate is the way it addresses the difficulties and challenges of marriage in a way that you instantly recognise when married and does so through the gospel. It reads like a book written for people trying to live out their marriages through good and bad and it reads like a book written by a man who’s been married for 37 years and it’s written by a man who is both Reformed in theology and gospel-centred when it comes to change in our lives.

  • Thanks, Neil – that’s really helpful!

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