Baptist Theologians edited by Timothy George and David S. Dockery; 1990, 704 pp., Broadman Press. Reviewed by Roger Ellsworth
Here is a book that was born in a cemetery. As they took a summer afternoon’s walk through Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky. Timothy George, Dean of Beeson Divinity School, and David Dockery, newly appointed Dean of Theology at Southern Seminary, saw the tombstones of several Baptist leaders. They realized that many of the giants of the faith are virtually unknown to Baptists today. They further realized that there is “a crisis in Baptist life today which cannot be resolved by bigger budgets, better programs1 or more sophisticated systems of data processing and mass communication,” but only by a renewed focus on theology.
This book, then, seeks to restore doctrinal vigor by resurrecting the memory of such giants. But it also features contemporary Baptists who have had and continue to have a profound impact on Baptist thinking.
Here we find the good old names of Bunyan and Keach, Gill and Dagg, Mell and Boyce, Spurgeon and Carroll, and the modern names of Criswell, Hobbs, Henry, Erickson, and Ladd.
Each of the thirty-three theologians in this book is treated by a different scholar by means of a brief biography, an analysis of his theology, an evaluation of his thought and life, and a bibliography of his major works. Endnotes are also found at the conclusion of each chapter.
George introduces the book with an essay entitled “The Renewal of Baptist Theology,” and Dockery concludes it with a survey entitled “Baptist Theology and Theologians.” George’s essay alone is worth, in my estimation, the price of the book. Here is a sample: “Seduced by the lure of modernity (‘whatever is latest is best’), we find ourselves awash on the sea of pragmatism (‘whatever works is right’), indifference, and theological vacuity. The results are all about us: Church rolls stuffed with so-called ‘inactive members’ no one has seen or heard from in years, trendy sermons which lack both biblical depth and spiritual power, a generation of young people uninstructed in the rudiments of the faith, fractious controversies which sap our strength and strain our fellowship, shallow worship services geared more to the applause of men than the praise of God, a slackening interest in evangelism and missions, all amidst a hurried activism steeped in this-worldly priorities.”
Those who are interested in Baptist theology and history will find a veritable feast here, and those who think such things are boring might just find they have been sadly mistaken.
Charles Spurgeon on Saving Faith
A saving trust leads us to accept Christ in all his offices. He is to us not only Priest to put away our sin, but Prophet to remove our ignorance, and King to subdue our rebellions. If as Priest he purges the conscience, as Prophet he must direct the intellect, and as King he must rule the life. We must yield our will to Christ’s will, that henceforth every thought may be brought into captivity to his holy sway. There is no whole-hearted trust in Christ unless Christ is taken as a whole. You cannot have half a Christ and be saved, for half Christ is not Christ. You must take him as he is revealed in Scripture, Jesus Christ the son of God, the Saviour of men, very God of very God, the faithful and true Witness, your Guide, your Lord, your Husband, your everything. Do you trust him so? If not, you have not trusted him at all. This is the trust which brings salvation with it—-an entire reliance upon an entire Saviour so far as you know him.